Sunday, July 25, 2004

Booker column

In today’s Sunday Telegraph column, Booker offers three stories, all of which have EU associations.

The first is a report that a press conference will be held tomorrow morning at Conservative Central Office. There, standing alongside conservationist Professor David Bellamy, Tory leader Michael Howard will announce a dramatic policy shift by his party on the increasingly contentious issue of wind energy.

This has been triggered by a huge wind farm proposal for Romney Marsh in his own Kent constituency, Mr Howard will come out with all guns blazing against the Government’s plans to cover vast areas of Britain in giant wind turbines, as the centrepiece of its energy policy.

That policy, of course, is dictated by the Labour government’s determination to keep to the Kyoto protocols on reducing CO2 emissions, to which it has signed up us part of the European Union delegation.

But there is also a UK "twist". The plan is the first test of a new government policy which, for wind farms above 50 megawatts, allows the DTI to override all normal planning procedures by holding its own public inquiry, under its own inspector, then deciding whether a wind farm can be built regardless of the views of residents or local councils. Little by little, this government is destroying every semblance of democracy.

There is also a Focus piece on wind farms in the Sunday Times.

For his second story, Booker also returns to the story about Ross Donovan, the Bedfordshire engineer who has spent seven years developing an ingenious solution to the problem posed by the 9 million tons of cardboard and paper we generate each year which cannot be recycled.

In response to an adjournment debate initiated by Alistair Burt, Donovan’s MP, Elliott Morley, aka Morally, has simply answered criticism from this column by claiming that Booker had got something "completely wrong". Needless to say, Booker has got it absolutely right – and has the ECJ judgments to prove it. Writes Booker,

All this bluster and duplicity is adopted to defend a crazy decision, sabotaging an invention which could save this country many millions of pounds a year (and a decision which it seems does not even now have the backing of EC law) – leaving Mr Donovan destitute, and having to take employment as a baker’s roundsman to stay alive.

So bizarre was this decision that even Mr Morley admits Mr Donovan’s system would be perfectly acceptable if it used ‘virgin cardboard’ as a fuel. It only becomes unviable because it burns cardboard used first for another purpose, millions of tons of which Mr Morley would therefore prefer to see chucked away uselessly into landfill.

In his third story, Booker notes that Keith Vaz, our former Europe minister, was burbling on the BBC about how Peter Mandelson, as an EU Commissioner, would be in a good position to "protect this country’s interests".

"Clearly", Booker writes,

Mr Vaz has never read the article in the Treaty of Rome, amplified in the commissioners’ code of conduct, which lays down that commissioners must act, not in the interests of their own country, but "in the general interests of the Community". If Mr Mandelson was to act as Mr Vaz hopes he will, in protecting Britain’s national interest, he would be in breach of a central principle of the Treaty.

Admittedly this has not prevented commissioners acting in such a manner in the past (one thinks of the time when a Spanish commissioner succeeded in arranging for the Danish official at the head of the fisheries directorate to be sacked for failing to bow to Spanish wishes on the future of the fisheries policy). But it is still a trifle odd to hear one disgraced former Labour minister exhorting another so blatantly to break the law.
To read the full Booker column, click here.

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