My election notes. E-Day – 7

by Pseud O'Nym


I believe in President Trump. Yes I do. So when he says that pulling out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is in the best interests of America, I think ‘He looks like a details guy, someone who has carefully weighed up all the ramifications of withdrawing before deciding to do so. If he thinks it’s a good idea, then it must be.

Yes, he is the very epitome of sober evaluation and critical thinking made flesh. How fortunate America is to have elected a leader courageous enough, so confident in the correctness of what he thinks, that emboldens him to defy the doom-mongers. What a guy! I’ve no doubt that future generations will look back and give thanks for his decision.

But thankfully we have our own homegrown version, well not homegrown exactly, but more like underground, in Teresa May. As the Conservative Manifesto says:

We know that our responsibility to one another is greater than the rights we hold as individuals. We know that we all have obligations to one another, because that is what community and nation demands. We understand that nobody, however powerful, has succeeded alone and that we all therefore have a debt to others. We respect the fact that society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who are yet to be born.

Which thankfully is in no way contradicted by this;

We will therefore develop the shale industry in Britain. We will only be able to do so if we maintain public confidence in the process, if we uphold our rigorous environmental protections, and if we ensure the proceeds of the wealth generated by shale energy are shared with the communities affected.

We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime.

We will set up a new Shale Environmental Regulator, which will assume the relevant functions of the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This will provide clear governance and accountability, become a source of expertise, and allow decisions to be made fairly but swiftly.

Finally, we will change the proposed Shale Wealth Fund so a greater percentage of the tax revenues from shale gas directly benefit the communities that host the extraction sites. Where communities decide that it is right for them, we will allow payments to be made directly to local people themselves. A significant share of the remaining tax revenues will be invested for the benefit of the country at large.

An eminently sensible set of proposals! As we know the planning laws place severe limitations on businesses ability to innovate. Additionally, we can take comfort from the notion that the proposed new regulator will act in the consumer’s best interests because for proof of this we need only look to the water, rail and energy markets to see how effective a regulator can be. It is conservatism writ large that offers local communities to reap a share in the financial benefits of allowing drilling and only a cynic would suggest that this is a bribe to the local community. And call into question exactly what criteria will be used to judge exactly what constitutes a “benefit to the country at large” and who the judges are. Possibly, one might even go so far as to to ask what, in percentage terms, is a ‘significant amount of the remaining tax revenues’.

But other than that its an entirely sensible proposition.