The EU's 1999 Land Directive is part of the green credentials of the EU. On the positive side the aim is admirable, namely to force governments to recycle waste, save energy, reduce emissions and protect the environment. However, as with many of such edicts there are unintended consequences and things are rarely as simple as green campaigners would have us wish. It is as if anyone who criticises such simple solutions is an 'environmental denier' and wants to ruin the environment. However, there is always another side of the coin and this side may be equally important. There have been protests and pages of newsprint regarding the great bin debate. Should they be collected fortnightly or weekly? Should there be charges? Only now is the mainstream media mentioning that this is a result of the landfill Directive and Britain's belated awareness of this.
The report on the elections held in May this year for the Scottish Parliament and local councils has just been published. On the one hand 49% of those eligible to vote in these elections did so, which may be regarded as a good turnout. On the other hand, about 140,000 ballot papers were 'lost', for a variety of reasons, and this number is high enough to reduce the value of the results for all parties. Also, the report's author, Bryan Gould, suggested that all the Scottish political parties have to shoulder the blame for the outcome, he says that they treated the voters as, "an afterthought", and were too "partisan". As a Labour MP under the former Labour Leader John Smith, who, as a Scot, was very sympathetic towards more power for Scotland, we may conclude that Gould would know about these things. The report makes many suggestion for the future, so what of the future?
One third of the UK's current generating capacity will be out of use by 2015, a third of our power stations will be worn out or against EU pollution laws as North Sea Oil dries up. Our government states that world consumption of energy will increase 50% by 2030 , so there will be a lot of competition for resources. Whatever your views on nuclear energy, the government is dithering and these plants need to be being built pretty soon if they are to fill the energy gap and they need to sort out who is to pay for the disposal of the waste. The government states in its energy white paper that we'll need to increase our 'gas import capacity' by 15-30%. This is not a particularly secure way to fill the gap. Norway may look upon us kindly but many other potential gas suppliers may not.
The EU has thought up a figure of achieving 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2010 . To reach this target the UK will have to produce 6% more in the next couple of years! Government is already thinking up spin as to why this will not happen. Mr Blair also said we would reduce our carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050!!! And the EU proposes a 20% cut in TOTAL energy consumption by 2020. Golly.