Thursday, June 21, 2007

Boring democracy stuff

Happy solstice day everyone. So, politics is boring and too difficult and they always do what they want anyway.

A totally understandable position. And yet ... isn't it things like Make Poverty History and Greenpeace occupying incinerators that makes them change tack? Or p'raps you think they're a waste of time too and we should just blow up the House of Commons.

Well whatever you think, energy, waste and planning are the subjects of three public consultations running until September-ish.

Want more or less nukes? Motorways and runways in your back yard? To be able to have a loft conversion without going to court? Lots of flytipping? Exciting stuff, eh?

But these policies - once enshrined in law - will shape the country's future for the next decade and be implemented by Gordon Brown's government.

So, only 'cause it's my day job mind, to write these in the first place, I've kindly posted up handy summaries of the points in three pdf downloads to help you have your say.... if you feel like it.

Or you could just go and drive a car bomb into number 10 and go down in history. Who knows, we may be lighting bonfires for you in 500 years' time.

UK Energy White Paper 2007 | UK Planning White Paper 2007 | UK Waste Strategy 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oil from algae

OK, so perhaps we have here a biofuel that isn't problematic.

Judge for yourselves.

Algae represent a feedstock for oil and fuel - biodiesel and ethanol production.

Many of the problems present with the traditional oilseeds such as palm & soy, and with ethanol feedstock such as corn and molasses/sugarcane are not present in algae.

Algae can grow fast, practically anywhere in the world, do not contribute to deforestation and do not interfere with the existing food crop value chains.

Add to this the fact that the fossil oil we use today was formed primarily from algae.

All these may be reasons enough to explore algae as a potentially important feedstock for our future oil and energy needs.

Check out the Oilgae link on the right for more info and let me know what you think.

Google goes solar

Now you can search with a green conscience:
Google Powers Up 1.6 MW Solar System & Hybrid Initiative.

But it doesn't say how much electricity Google actually uses.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New nuclear build doesn't stack up

The new nuclear power station being built in Finland is often pointed to by nuclear advocates as showing that new plants can be built without subsidies.

This is thrown into doubt by more than 1,000 breaches in safety standards reportedly identified by the Finnish safety executive STUK since work began 18 months ago.

It means that safety is being compromised to cut costs.

Activists from countries including the UK blockaded the entrance and occupied giant cranes at the Olkiluoto 3 site early on Monday, May 28, in protest over safety and work standards.

The project is also being attacked by lawyers at Brussels on rounds that it violates on two counts state aid laws - ie that it is really subsidised.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Government proposals on managing radioactive waste 'incoherent and opaque'

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have attacked the government's proposals for the next phase of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme.

In July 2006 the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommended geological disposal of the UK's radioactive waste.

CoRWM also recommended the setting-up of an independent body to oversee the MRWS programme-echoing a recommendation made by the Science and Technology Committee as far back as 1999.

The government have accepted the use of geological disposal but currently propose merely to set up an advisory group, rather than a truly independent overseeing body.
  • The Lords Committee therefore recommend that the government should establish a statutory body, independent of day to day government control and accountable to Parliament, to oversee the implementation of the geological disposal programme.
  • The Committee also criticise the institutional framework for the implementation stage of the MRWS programme. They label the government's plans 'incoherent and opaque' and urge the government to establish independent expert scrutiny and clear lines of accountability for the next stage of the MRWS programme.
The Committee also raise concerns about the government's approach to site selection for geographical disposal for radioactive waste.

The Committee emphasise the importance of transparency and impartiality, and recommend that the government begin by 'screening out' geologically unsuitable areas, before looking at socio-economic criteria and inviting interested local communities to come forward with offers of participation.

This phased approach is vital to avoid suspicion that site selection is politically driven, and to ensure that partnership with local communities is maintained.

Other recommendations the Committee make include:
  • Progress in radioactive waste management should be steady and measured. So far we have had 'years of procrastination followed by ... unseemly haste'.
  • The government should delay the publication of their forthcoming consultation document on MRWS, until an independent body has been put in place to scrutinise the programme>

Commenting Lord Broers, Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, said:

"We have serious concerns about the way the government are moving forward with the MRWS programme. The decisions we take now on radioactive waste will affect future generations for thousands of years.

"The government's stop-start approach creates the impression that these decisions are being driven by short-term energy policy goals, rather than by careful and impartial consideration of the scientific and practical realities.

"The proposals they have announced so far have been incoherent and confusing.

"If the government want people to be confident about the safety of nuclear energy and the disposal of nuclear waste it is now time to appoint a truly independent, democratically accountable body to oversee the whole process.

"People don't have enough confidence in politicians or the government to support any scheme on nuclear waste that is controlled from Whitehall. Only an independent, accountable and expert body will be able to convince people nationally and locally to sign up to the programme."

> The report