From heat pumps to new bins, the Government keeps trying to force unworkable technologies and environmental wheezes on an unimpressed public, writes Ross Clark in the Telegraph. Here’s an excerpt.
The Government’s initiative to rationalise recycling bin collections, with the result that all homes could end up having up to seven wheelie bins or other containers, seems to have been binned itself. Meanwhile, the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which seeks to persuade us to rip out our boilers and install heat pumps instead, has turned out to be a miserable failure, with only 10,000 installations in its first year. The Government had made enough money available for three times that number – and by the end of the decade is counting on 600,000 installations every year. Nor is the great switch to electric cars exactly going to plan: the proportion of car sales made up by pure electric vehicles has stalled at 16%, with petrol cars still accounting for a stubborn 41% in March.
Sunak is rapidly finding out what Cameron previously discovered: while the public is generally very concerned about the environment, we are not going to tolerate badly thought-out policies which make us poorer and turn our lives into a misery. Sadly, that is exactly what so many green policies do. While they offer huge handouts to a lucky few – such as Cameron’s father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield, who was reported to be earning £350,000 a year from wind turbines on his Lincolnshire estate – for the greater mass of humanity green policies too often mean vast expense and a large amount of bother.
Is it really any wonder that take-up of £5,000 vouchers for heat pumps should have turned out to be lukewarm? Lukewarm, indeed, is how many early adopters have described their homes after shelling out £10,000 or more for a heat pump. Even the handout won’t bring the cost of a heat pump down to parity with a new gas boiler in all but a few cases. Moreover, if you have a gas boiler which is functioning perfectly well, why risk changing it? Heat pumps may be suitable for well-insulated, newly-built homes which don’t need a lot of heating of any kind, but even Bosch, which manufactures them, has said they are not suitable for older properties – at least not without spending at least another £10,000 stripping them back to the walls and insulating them.
As for expecting us to sort our rubbish into up to seven recycling bins, why on Earth did any Government minister think that would be a good idea? There are some environmentalists, it is true, who love the idea of people being forced to go through their rubbish with a fine tooth comb every week because they see it as doing penance for the damage human societies’ are wreaking on the natural world. But it is so unnecessary. The technology to sort out recyclables from a single waste stream has existed for many years, is widely used in the US and many other countries – and even in parts of Britain. My own local authority uses an automated plant outside Cambridge – with the result we need only one bin for dry recyclables and have one of the highest recycling rates in the country. It rose from 37% to 56% after the new plant was opened.
“The Government has made its bed by agreeing on an arbitrary emissions target, but we shouldn’t have to sleep in it,” adds Ross. After all, “crap stuff won’t cease to be crap just because it’s green.”
Read More: The Green Agenda has Become an Embarrassing Failure