Sunday, June 20, 2004

Read this and weep

For many years now – since 1992, to be precise – Christopher Booker, with a little help from me and a great deal from his readers, has carved out a niche in British journalism.

Every Sunday, he churns out "red tape" stories in The Sunday Telegraph that infuriate and appal an ever-growing band of devotees, bringing to public attention the practical effects of the torrent of absurd legislation emanating from that alien form of government in Brussels called the European Union.

Despite that fact that many of the stories that Booker publishes are later picked up by other journalists – often without any acknowledgement – the reaction from the bulk of the "chattering classes" is to treat Booker with lofty disdain. "Oh, that's Booker 'banging on' again", they say, as they dissect the far more important "tittle-tattle" that preoccupies the Westminster village.

As we struggle to bring home the realities of what is happening out there, in the real world, this infuriating, patronising "clever-dickery" prompts one to fantasise about ripping the lungs out of these morons and stuffing them down their throats – such is the despair at getting these mindless buffoons to wake up to what is happening.

No more so is this the case than with the latest raft of stories in today’s Booker column, which focus on the impending disaster arising from the total, absolute, complete cock-up the EU and the British government have made of our waste-disposal policy click here.

"Oh, how tedious", one can hear the clever-dicks say. "We have this constitution thingy to write about, and all Booker can do is bang on about rubbish".

But this time, as Booker writes, it is a Government agency that is warning that the nation is about to be plunged into an unprecedented crisis, "a chaos that the Government is powerless to avoid". Theory is about to collude with practice as the consequences of EU meddling become apparent. Those lame-brained drongos in the EU have spent the last few decades dismantling our arrangements for dealing with toxic waste and replacing it with, er… absolutely nothing.

The immediate problem is that, on July 15, to comply with the EC's landfill directive, 99/31, the vast majority of Britain's 218 landfill sites will be closed to "hazardous waste", leaving only five still open. Vast areas of the country will no longer provide any site licensed to take the two million tons of such waste that we currently bury in ordinary landfill sites - anything from television sets to builders' rubble.

As Booker writes, the Environment Agency itself, in the magazine Your Environment, foresees a "nightmare" in the handling of such waste, with "criminals dumping it illegally" in an epidemic of fly-tipping, "lorries crammed full of it clogging the motorways", and even the collapse of the Government's own "brownfield development programme". And this is only a foretaste of the wider crisis that looms as the various elements of the EU's ambitious waste policy begin to impact on each other.

"But it is timely that this should coincide with efforts to agree a constitution to sanctify the EU's new system of government..", Booker notes. Despite the scale of the catastrophe, "it is just a small part of the price we pay for handing over the running of our country to the form of government Mr Blair this weekend seems happy to cement into place". Clever-dicks apart, it is a price that many of us believe is simply not worth paying.

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