Thursday, April 01, 2010

Accentuate the positive

Propaganda comes in all shapes and sizes, but no more so than the BBC's treatment of the launch of the feed-in tariff today.

Unremittingly positive, it describes "a cash-back scheme" that "will give subsidies to families, businesses, farmers and communities who generate their own green electricity." The only marginally critical note allowed is the observation that "some concerns have also been voiced about the possible impact on the rural landscape."

There is, of course, no mention of the insanity of a scheme that creates "subsidies" that will cost £8.6 billion a year or more, or that they will be paid from electricity bills, including from those who are not fortunate enough to avail themselves of this bribe.

Nor, of course, is there any reference to the pitiful amount of power that we will get for this obscene amount of money – around two percent of the total demand – the cash payments being enough to fund three sizeable nuclear plants each year.

The scale of this theft is astronomical. For twelve years of the scheme's operation, enough money will have been extracted from electricity consumers to have completely renewed the entire generating infrastructure, installing 100GW of reliable capacity.

But nothing of that must be conveyed to the public. We pay through the nose and are not even allowed by the BBC to know how much, its only concession to "impartiality" being to offer a helpful link to the Friends of the Earth website.

To give it its due, however - as a reader tells me - "Costing the Earth" did give the issue a more "balanced" hearing on BBC Radio 4 last week.