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« The unique way the BBC is funded | Main | Defusing the methane bomb »
Tuesday
Aug182015

DECC a dead duck?

Hints are emerging that the government here in the UK is preparing to make further cuts in departmental spending. DECC is apparently first in the firing line.

The Energy and Climate Change department...has started to talk to its staff about the need to have a smaller workforce in future. The department is not yet talking about specific redundancies, but it is preparing for bigger cuts due in the comprehensive spending review, which will be unveiled on 25 November.

There are even suggestions that the department might close completely, with its duties split between Defra and BIS.

It would certainly be useful if all of the green tendency could be "locked away" in Defra, leaving the practical types to concentrate on keeping the lights on.

 

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Reader Comments (32)

Abolish it as a department, and put it under a minister or two, and call it Ministry for Energy. Perhaps it could be subsumed by the Department for Business.

Aug 18, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Such good news, far more important than what the West Antarctic Iceshelf or the Whitley Bay Oscillation is doing.

Ecologists who study migration patterns among undergraduates have known for years that numbers increase exponentially in response to expectations of jobs downstream. When every widget manufacturer and corner shop was appointing a climate change officer, shoals swarming into environmental studies faculties grew to unmanageable proportions, and culling became inevitable. Cutting off their main food source will alter young people's behaviour far more radically than anything we could hope to achieve by rational argument. The few who escape the mass slaughter may find temporary refuge at the Graun or the BBC, but I'm afraid habitat loss will see the extinction of this species faster than climate change.

Aug 18, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

As far as I'm aware, the first person to suggest this was Ruth Dixon in her DECC as a parrot post back in May, just after the election.

"My prediction is that the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will not survive to the end of the forthcoming 5-year parliament."

"I predict that its functions will be returned to their original departments (out of which DECC was carved in 2008). Energy will go back to Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Climate Change will go to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)."

Aug 18, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I'm shocked and saddened to hear that DECC might be yet another victim of vicious Tory cuts.
And after all the great work DECC has done to ensure a reliable and sustainable energy supply and to help meet our climate change obligations.

What is the World coming too?

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Aug 18, 2015 at 10:44 AM | geoffchambers

According to the Lotka-Volterra equation
as the prey increases in number, so too does the number of predators. Perhaps that's what we're seeing now.

BTW I pity anyone who has to deal with Defra if it gets lumbered with a load more greenies.

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

My only regret is that whatever happens to DECC, Gummer will somehow get promoted.. :-(

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

I'm shocked and saddened to hear that DECC might be yet another victim of vicious Tory cuts.
And after all the great work DECC has done to ensure a reliable and sustainable energy supply and to help meet our climate change obligations.

What is the World coming to?

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The abolition of DECC would be an excellent step forward. It was an invention of Gordon Brown's and a gift to his hapless, hopeless protege, Ed Miliband. From the start, its brief was to subordinate something vital, energy, to something illusory, global warming. Yeah, they called it "climate change", to be down widda kids, but having a ministry for "climate change" makes about as much sense as having a Ministry of Tides, or a Ministry of Moonbeams.

Despising the first half of its brief, DECC presided over the destruction of Britain's traditional power generators, favouring impractical "renewables", at huge cost to anyone in Britain who needed electricity (i.e. everyone) and with disastrous effects on our landscape, seascape and wildlife. DECC became a magnet for activists, who either miraculously by-passed the civil service examination, or, as established bureaucrats, washed their brains out, to become true-believers. The entire department became an echo-chamber.

There was never a good reason for DECC's existence in the first place. It should disappear.

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

The last big climate change jolly (was it Rio - I've forgotten already) attracted a large UK contingent, many of whom were from DECC. So plenty of scope for cutting dead wood out of the department. What's needed is a competent DE able to get a grip on ensuring energy supply for the all time frames without the ball and chain of the CC cr*p.

Aug 18, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Owen Morgan,

Hey now, don't joke about something as serious as a "Ministry of Moonbeams." We have a Governor of Moonbeams here in the US.

Aug 18, 2015 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

I too believe DECC's days are numbered, so if it comes to pass then what does this REALLY reveal about the Tory's true views on 'climate change' and the 'renewables' energy market? Bear in mind they've already slashed lots of onshore subsidies, have made it more difficult for onshore wind to secure planning consent, are intent on building a new (ludicrously expensive & outdated) nuke and are also allegedly 'going all out for shale'.

They can't just junk everything in one go for multiple reasons, but I'd say the signs are crystal clear that they're slowly but surely unwinding the green obsession. If so, then the next question is 'why'? You know what? I think sceptics are finally winning the climate / energy argument, but policy overhang takes a while to extricate oneself from. Maybe sense is at last beginning to prevail?

Aug 18, 2015 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Losing the expertise before Paris would be a statement. It would also be a mistake.
We're going to be stitched up anyway but it would help if we were stitched up by Brits. They would at least know how to unstitch us.

And moving the Green paranoia from the Department for the energy supply to the Department for the food supply, how does that help?

Aug 18, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Will the most useless...........aaaaahem .....Mkay, after Defra natch - will the CC bit (the chimera of Climate Change - whoever thought that one UP??] should depart of the DE and possibly move over to the ministry of silly walks?

In light of the UK public sector pensions liability reckoned by some to be >£2 T R I L L I O N and now so steep it's stretching out of the solar system.

Would it would be preferable, for the longer term to sever their contracts - hooray but arrrrrrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhhh gov' payoffs [compo]?! And to thus, set them loose on society, where surely such well trained minds, of men and women chock full of their own self worth and calculating importance can logically and easily glide into some well paid sinecure - moreover elsewhere AND out of the public sector......shurely?

Aug 18, 2015 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

M Courtney, it might accidentally help because energy is a relatively simple system under the control of a handful of large companies, therefore quite vulnerable to government manipulation.

Food production and distribution is a much more complex and diversified system which they might find harder to influence overall. You can ultimately at some level go to the farmer down the road and offer to buy his produce without the government knowing anything about it.

Aug 18, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

As with most issues, the problem is the people themselves and it sounds like there will not be many of them left to take their poisoned ideas to DEFRA and BIS ^.^

Aug 18, 2015 at 2:41 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I think Amber Rudd should be allowed to continue her work at the DECC.
What's not to like about her efforts so far?

Aug 18, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

CheshireRed:

They can't just junk everything in one go for multiple reasons, but I'd say the signs are crystal clear that they're slowly but surely unwinding the green obsession

I agree, I think they are unwinding the position. I think behind the scenes the voices of David Davies, John Redwood, Peter Lilley etc are being listened to by Osborne. Osborne wants to make cuts, these are excellent ways to do it. Just quietly dismantle the whole charade. Someone, somewhere is whispering: no temperature change for 18 years; UK temperature index has been going down; we are making empty gestures etc etc. Politics is sometimes about saying one thing while doing something completely different.

Now throw in the mix the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn could become leader of the opposition. What's his position on AGW going to be given that his brother is arch-sceptic Piers Corbyn? Think how Farage connected to some traditional Labour supporters, think how AGW policy hurts the pockets of poor people such as through fuel poverty, think of rich landowners getting fat on wind turbines. Jeremy Corbyn is not a champagne socialist like Ed "6th Form debating society" Miliband. Popcorn anyone....?

Aug 18, 2015 at 3:29 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

I wish I could believe that Corbin isn't part of London Luvvie Labour, but then he's the MP for Islington North!
And having a brother named Piers doesn't sound particularly working class...

The whole thing sounds like a snow job along the lines of man of the people Donald "three millions" Dewar.

Aug 18, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

@thinkingscientist: Davey, Miliband and Cameron were indoctrinated at Oxford by Jonathan Porritt of FoE. The latter represents the Far Right who want to gain Oligopolistic control of energy for two purposes; firstly for profit, particularly by making it scarce by smart meters; secondly to cull half the UK population by killing off the inner cities. The IPCC pseudoscience was simply a way to indoctrinate via Common Purpose; Scientology Lite. The other part of this story is that the politicians who were chosen were selected for being quite dim and gullible so they didn't work out the scam.


Osborne is not dim, and he can think strategically. Power cuts starting from January 2016 is NOT the way to get re-elected. So, Government is desperately trying to organise a fix; to create 14 GW energy and save CO2 emissions - it cannot be nuclear because the Areva PWRs can't be built in time. Watch this space as DC leaves much earlier than expected because he has even less strategic ability than Brown, and has made too many bad mistakes, not least energy.

The interesting case is Gordon Brown, whose apparently disturbed mental state made him very vulnerable to the elite Mafia who put him in power, or not!

Aug 18, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC1701E

If it walks like a duck, and talk like a duck, it's Daffy DECC.

Aug 18, 2015 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterFen Beagle

Further to my and Thinking Scientists comments, it seems our government has opened up huge tranches of the north and midlands for fracking and oil exploration. There cannot now be any doubt there's been a serious re-think inside the corridors of power.

Suffice to say it hasn't gone down well in La-La Land.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/18/1000-sq-miles-england-opened-up-fracking-new-round-licences

Aug 18, 2015 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Couldn't redundant DECC staff be put to better use by manually sorting the shingle on Brighton Beach into colour coordinated stripes? At least after 8 (?) years there would be something to show for the wasted money, even if it was pointless.

Aug 18, 2015 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

One wonders if young Matthew Hancock has made a strategic error in refusing the DECC job. Had he persisted -- he was Minister for Energy -- he might have made amends for his stupidity in supporting the Big Green scam by making a few anti-AGW speeches and closing the department down. Now he's left with his record: mad keen on solar, enthusiastic for wind, negotiated a deal to pay for nukes which would give the operators £39,000,000,000 over the lifetime of the contract, someone* is sure to bring that up at the next election.

If it weren't for the fact that power cuts will literally kill people then we should be hoping for a harsh winter. As it is, fingers crossed that the mild run continues although I'm sitting here with the woodburner going in August and a couple of days ago the the night low at Santon Downham was 3 deg. so it doesn't inspire confidence.

JF
*Me

Aug 18, 2015 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

I've seen a few instances where governments have combined the energy and green portfolios, and it's always a massive mistake. The two portfolios should be arguing out their respective positions at Cabinet level, where discussion is more frank and Ministers think about real-life consequences. A loony green position rarely survives an open debate of that sort. But the same green position thrives in the murky world of departmental committees and claques. Before anyone realises, the greens have taken over the whole department, albeit with a few of them masquerading as level-headed energy people. You can always tell who's really in charge by the nature of the decisions coming out of the portfolio - you know the tree by its fruits. Just look at the fruits of DECC.

Aug 18, 2015 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterrubberduck

cheshirered

'There cannot now be any doubt there's been a serious re-think inside the corridors of power.'

I agree. There have been a few indicators here on BH recently.

Aug 18, 2015 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Someone at DECC should post a sign saying, "will the last person to leave turn out the lights?"

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:17 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The early demise of DECC would, of course, be welcome.
But moving the decc-chairs around on HMS Whitehall doesn't convince me as a portent of sceptics "winning".
Impeaching Miliband for gross incompetence as DECC's first Secretary of State would be better.
Imprisoning the RuinablesUK team for conspiracy to defraud the British Public would be better still.

I'm sure everyone on here could add a dozen more things to wish for without taking breath.

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Will there be redundancies?

- or will we simply witness some rearrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic - and get landed with the bill ?

DECC's "planning" hasn't exactly been successful for us peons - other departments in the same DeFRA tent like the EA have simply been spending away like billy-O on fatuous, ill conceived and abysmally executed projects - using "climate change" as an all purpose funding squeezer.

The trajectory of the now defunct and supposedly disbanded UK Borders Agency should guide any observers as to what to expect - afaics - nobody was sacked or made redundant and a pile of money was spent on re-branding. The perpetrators of the dysfunctional antics which landed them the prize of being officially adjudged "not fit for purpose" are likely still in post and things on the ground look much the same (i.e. a mess)

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:58 PM | Registered Commentertomo

It's taken Ms Rudd (rapidly becoming a favourite chez Alder) only about three months to unravel some of the madder damage done by Messrs Miliband, Huhne and Davey (*).

Seems to me she'll only need another 6 to finish the job and - as in Australia - to tame, capture and begin to exterminate the Green Blob.

Give her that time, then abolish the Climate Change bit entirely. It doesn't need a new home in Defra at all..it needs elimination. And she can neuter the CCA by decree I believe.

*Miliband, Huhne and Davey..were they distinctly third rate rivals to Emerson, Lake and Palmer?

Aug 19, 2015 at 6:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I googled "george osborne climate change" and got the following:

Interviewed ahead of the Tory party conference, Osborne told the Times: "I want to provide for the country the cheapest energy possible, consistent with having it reliable, in other words as a steady supply, and consistent with us playing our part in an international effort to tackle climate change.

"But I don't want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn't be further ahead of our partners in Europe."

The chancellor also attacked Labour's plans to eliminate carbon from the power sector by 2030. He argued that for an aluminium smelter to leave the UK and go to another country would not make much difference to climate change. But it would make a "huge difference" to those who lost their jobs as a result, he said.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/28/climate-change-energy-bills-george-osborne

Climate change should be tackled in "as cheap a possible way", George Osborne said on Thursday as he called on environmentalists to drop their "ideological" opposition to nuclear power and shale gas.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/20/george-osborne-climate-change-cheaply

Sounds to me like Osborne has got his head screwed on when it comes to climate change. ..

Aug 19, 2015 at 7:43 AM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

In government circles gross incompetence is often highly rewarded.....
"...Lin Homer, the civil servant who presided over years of chaos at the UK Border Agency, has been promoted to chief executive of HM Revenue ..."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9097782/Former-UK-Border-Agency-boss-promoted-to-head-of-HMRC.html

"Sir John Scarlett, who was responsible for drafting the Government's controversial 2002 dossier outlining the case for invading Iraq, claimed last week that intelligence indicating Iraq possessed missiles that could be launched within 45 minutes was "reliable and authoritative". But Scarlett's evidence is contradicted by the most senior WMD analysts who saw the original intelligence................Scarlett was the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee when he oversaw the drafting of the September 2002 dossier. Despite the controversy, Scarlett was promoted by Tony Blair to become the head of MI6 in 2004. Although the subsequent Butler review of intelligence concluded that the dossier had been "flawed", Scarlett was awarded a knighthood by Mr Blair in 2007. He retired from MI6 earlier this year."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-scarlett-accused-of-misleading-inquiry-1841968.html

Aug 19, 2015 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The following links should provide information about the mismanagement first of all of the oil and gas sector by DECC:

Wood Review
http://www.woodreview.co.uk/

You don't need to read all of the report - page 13 "key issues" tells it all. Essentially, the Regulation of the oil and gas sector was so crap it had to be taken away from DECC and given to an independent body from within the industry. There were insufficient numbers of staff with insufficient knowledge and resources to manage adequately the mature basin of the North Sea. Fiscal instability was one of the "key issues" with government setting of tax rates hindering the planning of long-term projects. While the Wood review recommendations were accepted, the Treasury has not given up responsibility for setting tax rates so it is possible that there will be further mismanagement.

There is a back story as well. In 1974, at the start of the North sea oil boom, Gavin McCrone, the economist, wrote a report which went to the incoming Labour government. In it he set out the potential of the North Sea oil income to promote a rise in Scottish nationalism and to transform the economy of an independent Scotland. The balance of payments gain would transform Scotland into a country with a substantial and chronic surplus.

McCrone's report was marked secret and hidden. It only came to light comparatively recently and its discovery may have been a factor in the recent rout of the Labour party in the General Election in Scotland - not necessarily turning folk towards nationalism. People will have noted the failure of the Labour party to trust the Scottish electorate. They will have seen, correctly, that the Labour party was acting for party political advantage.

McCrone wrote a second report in 1976, also hidden from public view. In this report he suggested that, with the coming Scottish Assembly an oil fund be established. the Scottish Assembly should have priority in receiving funds from the oil fund, in addition to the block grant, to help address the worst deprivation and urban dereliction of West Central Scotland, WCS. At that time, WCS was in the middle of a period of deindustrialisation along with other areas of the north of England. The Scottish Secretary, Millan, and the Energy Secretary, Benn, were in favour of setting up an oil fund but were outvoted. Income from the oil was used to pay off the debt the Labour party had run up.

When Mrs Thatcher came to power there was an opportunity to set up an oil fund that was not taken.had the opportunity been taken to start an oil fund then, at a conservative estimate, the value of an oil fund to the UK would have been in 2008, £450 billion. A more generous estimate is £850 billion. The money was not used for social spending, such as roads and hospitals, which decreased under Thatcher. It was spent on reducing taxes from 60% to 40%. Meanwhile deindustrialisation came to WCS and the north of England with a scale and suddenness that threw nany on the scrapheap for life and helped to cause inter-generational poverty.

The second link is to the submission made by Colin Gibson, Network Director of the National Grid in the 80s and Sir Donald Miller, former Chairman of Scottish Power to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee of the Scottish parliament. Here is the link:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Inquiries/Sir_Donald_Millar_and_Colin_Gibson.pdf

Among other things, the submission states that there is no body or organisation that has respoonsibility and obligations to ensure security of energy supply in the UK. It recommends that the UK government invite a competent body to examine the structure and obligations of the UK electricity industry. Failing that, the Scottish government should seek more powers to alter the modus operandi of the industry in Scotland in the interests of Scottish consumers. Two effective changes would be to require suppliers of electricity to consumers in Scotland whether or not they are generators to be required to maintain a sufficient margin of capacity to secure supplies to their consumers and also for transmission charging and dispatching charges to be under the control of a "not for profit" organisation.

While, in my opinion, the Miller and Gibson submission is scathing about much of DECC a greater overview of the utter incompetence of UK energy policy can be had by watching and listening to most of the expert opinion providing information to this Holyrood Committee. there is a link to TV covered sittings somewhere.

Aug 19, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered Commentersam

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