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« EU considers minor expansion of corrupt biofuels scheme | Main | Mothballed plant »

The insanity of central planning

Here's an extraordinary story from Friday, which I missed at the time, but picked up via Timmy.

NHS hospitals are being asked to cut their power demand from the National Grid as part of a government attempt to stave off power blackouts, which the energy watchdog Ofgem warns could arrive as early as 2015.

According to one energy company, four hospitals have already signed up to a deal under which they will reduce demand at peak times by using diesel-fired generators.

So in order to save the planet from the perils of carbon dioxide, we are going to run major power users on diesel generators. Canny, Mr Davey, canny.

The sheer idiocy of the situation the environmentalists in DECC have got us in to is almost unbelievable. I see no alternative to closing the whole department.

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    - Bishop Hill blog - The insanity of central planning

Reader Comments (89)

In the past year, Mr Abram and Mr Zingher have built up a considerable network of customers across the UK. These include the billionaire Reuben brothers and their Eden Shopping Centre in High Wycombe, London Oxford Airport and the Cleveland Potash Mining, the only potash mine in the UK. And more recently, Millbank Tower, the London headquarters for the Conservative party.

Jul 1, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


"Legionnaires Disease at a Brisbane hospital seemingly due to the hot water thermostats having been turned down too low"

I also suspect that a lot of hospital infection is due to similar thinking with regard to laundry. My mother (who was also a surgeon) put off buying an automatic washing machine in the 60s because she was suspicious of anything that couldn't boil bedlinen. Hospitals sterilised their own equipment in those days and it all had to withstand steam cleaning in an auto-clave.

Somehow they managed without alcohol hand-gel then, too.

Jul 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


I have a soft spot for 2-strokes myself. I'm not sure how these slipped under the EU radar, but I'm quite tempted to buy one before they're found out...

2-stroke motorbike that isn't a moped

Jul 1, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Well central planning is what got the French an almost total nuclear system with a rather nicer load-balancing hydro backup system too. What we got under Thatcherism was privatisation of the utilities who have now formed an energy cartel that is fleecing the consumers and destroying the little industry that survived the Thatcher-Blair years. No chance of us building our own nuclear power plants here either because we sold off that business to the French and Japanese while still, of course, retaining the only bit that nobody wanted; the massive decommisioning costs. Of course all of this farce was predicted by the old-style lefties that your readers so revile. If you think the free-market or Thatcherism is the answer then think again.

I share your disgust at the complete lack of a credible plan but this lack of planning has been the norm through successive governments for 30 years or more.

Jul 1, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The lights are going to stay on because we’ve got a very well thought-through plan.
That wouldn't be a "cunning plan" by any chance, would it?
From where I'm sitting it certainly looks as if Baldric is in charge at DECC.

Re the comment about Nick Ridley. The situation that the UK is in now is due entirely to the fact that there are no Nick Ridleys in government and the gap has been filled by environmental activists who don't have a scientific cell in their heads (and precious few of any other sort, come to that!) and by professional politicians who demonstrate e e cummings' adage that "a politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man".

Jul 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I think that someone in “duh gubmint” has realised that, when blackouts interrupt the regular fix of BGT, BB and Strictly Get Me Out Of Voice On Ice, the drones of the country are going to realise that they are being shafted, and might do something about it – and that “something” will not be very pleasant for those doing the shafting.

Jul 1, 2013 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Its alright, Mr Davey..!
I've got a 3.2kW home generator - so you don't need to worry about the grid not being able to cope..!
Now you just get on with installing more wind turbines, and don't give grid capacity another thought..!
You know us voters/taxpayers/energy billpayers - always ready to help out when we can see a well-thought-out plan...

Jul 1, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats."
H. L. Mencken

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:25 AM | peter laux

Oh my! Never heard that one before. I think I shall remember it for a long time.

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx


......we sold off that business to the French and Japanese.....

Are you absolutely certain about that? Which part of the UK's nuclear industry was sold to Japan? Was it operations, or the technical and engineering secrets?

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

The Politicians, they told us that they could engineer an alteration, change if you like - a naturally fluctuating chaotic system......................... if we could just lay off the man made CO2?!

So, when you think about it, turning energy policy into a fudged hotchpotch, being dreamt up by a gang of crazy half baked 'green' fundamentalists - well actually that is child's play to politicians and administrators alike.

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"It's worse than we thought"!

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterCatweazle

What is the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive if not (very) Central Planning?

The LCPD is, as the name suggests, a directive. It is not a plan. Pre-privatisation, the UK's electricity supply industry was administered by the CEGB, which was also responsible for planning how it would develop. It certainly had its faults but it was a damn sight more competent at doing what had to be done than the present self-serving cabal of misanthropic eco-ideologues, DECC apparatchiks cowboy developers and brazen trough-scoffers such as Gumboil.

Every one of the several industry veterans it has been my privilege to know all supported its privatisation (I didn't) but they are adamant that the abolition of any form of central direction was a mistake with, as we now know, serious long-term consequences.

I took issue with the "Central Planning" jibe because the problem in this case is not one of planning failure but a political and commerical failure to plan for anything except next month's balance sheet and Ian Marchant's Golden Goodbye.

Though, as Richard North explains, the hospital generators wheeze is not the daftest idea in the book, it nonetheless does reflect that lack of planning. OFGEM's recent warnings would have been timely several years ago. Right now, they have something of Clive Dunn's "Don't Panic!" about them.


Hector Pascal:
Which part of the UK's nuclear industry was sold to Japan? Was it operations, or the technical and engineering secrets?

Perhaps the worst example was the selling of the UK's interest in nuclear providor Westinghouse to a Japanese consortium which couldn't believe its luck. It took place on Gordon Brown's watch in, as I recall, 2006, just as nuclear generation was at long last starting to edge back onto the political agenda.

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Central Planning will need someone to maintain it......Cue, from the magnificent film Brazil, a visit from Central Services....

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

@Charlie Flindt

Oh.. to see Ed Davey get the Central Services Harry Tuttle subversive plumbing reverse purge treatment....

Have you got a 27B-6?

Jul 1, 2013 at 2:58 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Found it. BNFL (wholly owned by the government) sold Westinghouse (American company) to Toshiba in 2006. I left the UK in 1988, so I'm out of touch. Was it Labour under Blair or Brown at the time?

Jul 1, 2013 at 3:05 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

It was Brown who was responsible for the sell-off of Westinghouse, as I recall, to help fill his coffers. Just like selling off the UK gold reserves, he got a rock-bottom price. In the industry we couldn't believe the insanity of selling off the world's top nuclear engineering company at that time. But that's politicians for you, in the era of "nuclear power, not over my dead body".

Jul 1, 2013 at 3:29 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"And what do they use for back up when the Diesel generators fail ?"

As Joe Public suggested, backup generators that are only used occasionally are far more likely to fail when actually needed, than equipment which is run regularly. Having them fully warmed up and on line during periods of high demand is not such a bad idea, as that is when grid failures are most likely.

During my time with BT I can recall one unit starting but not generating any power - this was nothing more than dirt on the exciter brushes. Another had suffered a leaking cylinder head gasket which went unnoticed until the mains failed. The starter motor tried in vain to turn it over against a hydraulic lock and burnt out. Some degree of panic then ensued...

As for hospitals, I would HOPE that they also have battery backed UPS units to supply critical loads such as operating theatres, where even a brief "outage" could be critical.

Jul 1, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

OK, perhaps an EU directive isn't Central Planning in as much as there is no plan to handle the consequences.

Jul 1, 2013 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I'd suggest shutting down the "department" at the very top of this mess.

Jul 1, 2013 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The insanity continues. The newspapers report some of the madness without critical comment. The BBC hardly mentions it, but of course the BBC is always very selective and only reports on benefit cuts and global warming.

A normal opposition party would calling for resignations and sectioning under the mental health act, but then this is the labour party led by the man who started this lunacy.

Industry leaders should be calling for Davey to be sacked (among other things) but they are too busy queuing up to tell us to stay in the EU so that we can enjoy more green legislation to make us less competitive and destroy our jobs.

I just can't understand how the government can demonstrate massive and escalating stupidity on a daily basis and yet there seems to be apathetic acceptance all around, apart from here.

Jul 1, 2013 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Of course our wondeful MPs- such as the member for Cambridge, Dr. Julian Huppert, fully support this path to chaos..

See recent email correspondence:

Dear Dr. Huppert.

A true politicians answer- avoiding the crux of the question.
So just how do you justify sacrificing the poor on the alter of Climate

For what it is worth we have now reached the logical insanity of the deluded
quest for a "greater degree of energy independence".
Thus hospitals are now been asked to sign up to generate electricity at
times of peak demand using their diesel backup generators.

As a result of policies, which you support, to reduce the production of CO2, we are going to be facing shortages of electrical energy.
This means that these diesel generators will produce power at peak times in a rather less efficient and more polluting manner than "large combustion plants" that current energy policy is driving out of existence.
By "pollution", of course I mean real pollution PM10s, nitrogen oxides and the like, not CO2.

And all this at a time when we find that, according to the the British Geological Survey the country is awash with at least 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.
Even lower estimates of recovery suggest that this is enough to supply our energy needs for around 40 years.
What is more burning methane produces only half the CO2 per unit energy as coal.

By moving to shale gas we could meet the absurd "decarbonisation" targets you and other MPs have lumbered us with- and without the vagaries of wind "power" and the massive subsidies that keep this parasitic "industry" afloat.

What is there not to like?

Best regards,

Dr. Don Keiller.

-----Original Message-----
From: Julian Huppert MP
Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 2:23 PM
Subject: Re: Wind Turbines

From the Office of Julian Huppert
Member of Parliament for Cambridge
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

24 June 2013

Dear Don,

Thank you for sending me a link to the Telegraph article “True cost of Britain’s wind farm industry revealed” (15 June 2013).

I realise that you do not share my concern that we have to ensure that we – and other countries – have to reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions we produce, but I hope you will share my concern that the increases in gas costs are driving energy prices up substantially, and we benefit from having a greater degree of energy independence. Wind is an important part of that energy independence.

Yours sincerely,

Julian Huppert
Member of Parliament for Cambridge

On 16 June 2013 14:02, <> wrote:
> Dr. J. Huppert, MP.
> Dear Dr. Huppert, not sure that you take the “Telegraph”, but this link will
> let you read the article.
> A new analysis of government and industry figures shows that wind turbine
> owners received £1.2 billion in the form of a consumer subsidy, paid by a
> supplement on electricity bills last year. They employed 12,000 people, to
> produce an effective £100,000 subsidy on each job.
> It would appear that rather than generate electricity windmills generate
> subsidies, disproportionately paid for by the poorest in our society.
> How does this sit with Liberal ideals?
> Regards,
> Dr. D. Keiller,

Jul 1, 2013 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

"Information cannot communicate with a closed mind." (Lily Tomlin, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in)
It's a quote I've always remembered though for some reason it appears to be untraceable.
Huppert's problem is terminal. He actually believes what he is saying to the extent that you can lay out any contrary proven fact complete with irrefutable evidence and he will be totally incapable of understanding what you are saying.
It's a great shame that such as he are allowed to make life and death decisions for other people.

Jul 1, 2013 at 5:54 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I think we need to start to "follow the money" and nail the green scamsters who benfit from this madness.
I have submitted a complaint about a certain MP to the Police and followed it up with one to the Parliamenary Commissioner.

Can I advise others to do likewise? it really is a "target rich environment" :-)

Here are some excerpts from the Code of Conduct.
Which ones do you think that Troffa has breached?

The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament

In carrying out their parliamentary and public duties, Members will be expected to observe the following general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its First Report as applying to holders of public office. These principles will be taken into account when considering the investigation and determination of any allegations of breaches of the rules of conduct in Part V of the Code.

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Rules of Conduct
Members are expected to observe the following rules and associated Resolutions of the House.

Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.

The acceptance by a Member of a bribe to influence his or her conduct as a Member, including any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to, any Bill, Motion, or other matter submitted, or intended to be submitted to the House, or to any Committee of the House, is contrary to the law of Parliament.

The defence of “declared an interest” is not sustainable, given the offence of Misconduct in a Public Office. The elements of such offence are summarised in Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA Crim 868. The offence is committed when:
• a public officer acting as such
• wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself
• to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder

Here the key point is motive:
“…the question has always been, not whether the act done might, upon full and mature investigation, be found strictly right, but from what motive it had proceeded; whether from a dishonest, oppressive, or corrupt motive, under which description, fear and favour may generally be included, or from mistake or error…”

Jul 1, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

dave ward: " backup generators that are only used occasionally are far more likely to fail when actually needed, than equipment which is run regularly"

What makes you think they will not be running 24/7? I suspect that is DECC's plan.

Jul 1, 2013 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

A point that I am trying to get through to another devout AGWist is highlighted by these bizarre twists and turns of this government: the basic premise of this whole farrago is that climate change caused by global warming is occurring because of increasing CO2 levels. As another blogger has put: the theory is, basically: 1. as CO2 increases so will temperature increase; 2. err… that’s it. Yet, all the evidence is that, though CO2 levels are rising, temperatures are not; surely, logic has to point out that the theory in 1 is wrong.

“Aha!” say the AGWists, “that is because other factors are involved!”

When asked to explain what these factors are, there is a lot of humming and hahhing, and thissing and thatting, yet nothing really can explain the anomalies, so an increasingly bizarre range of “forcings” factors come into play. But, they ignore the most obvious factor – there is no real link between CO2 and climate change! As Richard Feynman has said (and I paraphrase), if the facts do not fit the theory, then the theory is wrong. However, the AGWists appear to be of the opinion that there is something wrong with the facts. The simple application of Occam’s Razor should also make that obvious, too, but that, it would appear, is too simple.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

>Jul 1, 2013 at 7:55 AM lapogus<

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, special representative to foreign secretary, says governments can't afford to wait for 100% certainty.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterScud

Superficially energy saving lightbulb in the bathroom (which I bought for a heavily tax-subsidised 10p) just blew again. Must have been in there a year at most (not 10).

Of course, I'm going to take the dud 2 miles to the tip to dispose of it correctly as harzardous waste because of all the mercury and other toxic crap in it. Oh wait, no I'm not. I'm going to chuck it in the wheelie bin like everybody else, mercury and all.

Good thing our landfill is shipped to China. Thanks greenies!

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

Off topic but I just read this:

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

You laugh at Great Britain.
We already do this in the USA.
Look up Demand response.
Though in fairness much of the DR is from cutting load not running generators.

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMax Entropy

So we are all pretty much agreed that AGW and post mid-80's Green ideology is a load of bollocks. Does anybody have a cunning plan that will not take years to scupper this nonsense ?

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered Commentercicero

Here is the link to the Climate Smart Program and the Brisbane legionella outbreak:
I have also seen what hospital backup power looks like when our daughter had her 2nd baby in a major NSW regional hospital. Just enough power for the operating theatres and and life support/monitoring equipment plugged into designated red powerpoint. As for the rest, torches and emergency exit signs I am afraid. There is also athread on the legionella outbreak on Andrew Bolt's blog at:

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAxelatoz

India is more "advanced" ;-) in this field: here every hospital has a diesel generator as there are many, many and long blackouts. Mr. Davey saw the UK's future in India.

Jul 2, 2013 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAntonyIndia

I’m obviously wrong but when the grid requires the hospital generator (as a provider) wont the hospital (as a customer) require the generator at the same time.

Jul 2, 2013 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Porter

splitpin " NHS is a killing Machine "

Just Hang On mate that is a bit harsh.

None of us are anti NHS .Dont want to get rid of it just want it to get better.
God knows we pay enough Tax and NI for it.Singapore and Germany have better Health Care Systems

The majority of everyone on here was most probably born in an NHS hospital (and their kids.)
And rather depressing thought when we all get old and peacefully die in one but not for a while yet.
Most people have cried when either themselves or a relative has been taken away in an NHS ambulance to get looked after.

Ken Loach and spirit of 45 and the surreal multiple flying Mary Poppins Olympic Opening ceremony .This massive public sector Monolith does belong to the British People.Phone 999 and call an Ambulance you do actually expect one to arrive.

Its very easy to slate the NHS after Mid Staffs and Cumbria .Dellingpole did one of his DT blogs on an NHS Quangocrat called Cynthia Bower .Watch the interview on 4OD she did with John Snow on Channel Four News absolute arrogance of the woman much worse than any banker.Public sector officialdom happily take our money now take the responsibility.

Mayor Boris Johnson is on the ropes over Fire Station Closures and shutting Lewisham A and E department its going to the High Court today.Why my concern because Lewisham is my nearest hospital.

For all the mad rambling rants that are posted on here .I m not qualified to argue dots on a graph.Hopefully a few of my platitudes get picked up by the GWPF or some political researcher and get used on Question Time or some itellectual article in some political rag somewhere.

Does work we got Shale Gas into The Sun Newspaper and The Sunday Times to do a sting on Tim Yeo

Simple question for all the Lefty Guardian Readers is Carbon Reduction ,Climate Change Mitigation what ever you call it,is it just a smoke screen back door method for justifying more Public Spending Cuts.

Jul 2, 2013 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Jul 2, 2013 at 8:17 AM David Porter says:

"I’m obviously wrong but when the grid requires the hospital generator (as a provider) wont the hospital (as a customer) require the generator at the same time."

I think what's really meant by this proposal is that the hospitals supply their own sites from the generators thereby removing that load from the grid, and increasing the safety margins. Take this to its logical conclusion and every household would have their own generator, and be faced with the decision of whether to avoid using washing machines etc at peak times, or paying for the fuel for their own supply. Naturally, these sources won't be recorded, and so the consequent reduction of grid demand will allow the government to show that they are reducing CO2 emissions...

"sarc off", as WUWT would say.

Jul 2, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

jamspid, I for one enjoy your "mad, rambling rants" and believe that they contain useful facts as well as a refreshing dose of having your finger on the pulse of those riding the Clapham omnibus, as they used to say!

Jul 2, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

The fact is that you couldn't stick a thin blade between Thatcher and Blair policies; which were basically 'let's just copy the USA' in the vain hope that the USA knew what they were doing. When the Blairites seemed to be doing well, Tory intellectuals like Redwood were quick to claim that the apparent economic growth was all down to previous Tory policies. But come the crash they changed their tune...apparently it was all due to Blair/Brown after all. Labour of course said their policies caused the boom and the bust was due to a wordwide recession: Taken straight from Nigel Lawson's big book of excuses.

But surely the lack of a credible energy plan from government is really quite like having to rely on the free market? None of you free-marketeers should be worried at all as according to your overarching credo we will have lots of competition in the electricity market and prices dropping through the floor.......Or, if the lefties are right and what we really get with privatisation is a private monopoly instead of a public monopoly then what we will get are forced blackouts and high prices for a worse service. What a grand experiment! Personally I'll have one of these household solid oxide fuel cells running off the gas supply thank you. Could it happen I wonder?

Jul 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


"when the grid requires the hospital generator (as a provider) wont the hospital (as a customer) require the generator at the same time"

My thoughts exactly. I also wonder a little at the confidence of DECC wrt the combination of themselves, a new computer system (to match the supply and demand) and the NHS. What could possibly go wrong..?

Jul 8, 2013 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

To Jamesp. We didn't slip it under a net and we will not be found out as you put it. It's really simple. If a vehicle can pass a set of tests it is allowed on the road and if it can't it isn't. These are inspected and these pass. There are 4-strokes that would fail, and there are 2-strokes that would fail. Equally there are 2 and 4 strokes that would pass.

Jul 13, 2013 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Angel

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