Colum Eastwood: NI Executive need to come to a collective response on RHI

Colum Eastwood writing exclusively for Slugger …

There is an old political truism that if a story involving a political scandal runs into the second week then resignations always follow. Survive one week and you might be ok – two weeks and you’re in deep, deep trouble. Arlene Foster is now facing into her second week of the biggest political scandal to hit Stormont since devolution. This story isn’t go away anytime soon, in fact it’s growing legs.

In the wake of the Spotlight programme I deliberately reserved my judgement on Arlene Foster’s continued position as First Minister. I wanted to afford her the opportunity to answer all the questions about this £400 million scandal. Up to that point she had only revealed she wasn’t getting into the ‘jot and tittle’ of this issue.

She has now selected to do two other media interviews on her own terms and yet has still failed to answer any of the real questions. Instead of honesty and humility the First Minister has served up distractions seeped in arrogance.

Into the second week of this scandal the questions keep mounting, the whistle-blowers keep emerging and the answers are still not forthcoming.

So what do we all really want to know? Let’s call a spade a spade.

We want to know why Arlene Foster designed the scheme differently from the one which was operating in Britain? We want to know if during the spike in applications in 2015 the word went out amongst people close to the DUP that they should pile on to the RHI gravy train? We want to know if Arlene Foster, Jonathan Bell and their special advisers knew if any of this was going on, and if not, then why not?

Into the second week we still don’t have any answers to these questions. Instead we’ve been treated to DUP spokespersons blaming civil servants, the media or the opposition. Anyone and everyone but those who took the decisions.

Last week the more measured tones of Simon Hamilton tried and failed to give reassurance that his boss had done everything she possibly could. This week that media policy changed. You know the DUP have really reverted to old school tactics when they wheel-out their favourite attack dog Gregory Campbell.

The DUP strategy is becoming clearer. Baton down the hatches, circle the wagons, threaten genuine opposition and genuine journalism and try to survive until Christmas.

This scandal is now a test of Sinn Féin. Are they happy enough to go keep holding the DUP’s hand on this one? Are they happy to let them away with this strategy?

Tomorrow the Executive is meeting for the first time since this scandal. It is their job to come to a collective response on this scandal. That means that the First Minister is compelled by her Executive colleagues to open herself, her special advisers and her party up to full transparency and accountability.

Instead of maintaining their sincere silence, it’s about time Sinn Féin caught up with the public mood and sought the same answers we are all waiting for. This cannot be another case like Charter NI where Sinn Féin say one thing on the funding of a UDA boss, the DUP say another, and then nothing is done. Public confidence simply cannot afford another week filled with an absence of answers.

If these answers from Arlene don’t come Sinn Féin will have another question to answer. Is there any tipping point in this scandal when they’ll abandon their policy of appeasement toward the DUP and stand with me in defending the public interest?

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  • Korhomme

    Arlene apparently said that the scheme in NI was different to that in GB because the central heating in GB is much more likely to run on gas; in NI, we are much more dependent on oil.

    While this is probably correct, it is a very specious argument. Oil and gas are both fossil fuels, and are both non-renewable.

  • Reader

    “seeped”, “baton”
    Colum needs a SpAd…

  • Reader

    Korhomme: Oil and gas are both fossil fuels, and are both non-renewable.
    So is coal. However, coal produces more CO2 per unit of heat generated than oil, which produces more CO2 per unit of heat generated than gas. So gas is the best of them.
    I prefer nuclear, though.

  • Peter Ryan

    Fukushima, Chernobyl…

  • Korhomme

    I prefer ground source heat combined with solar panels or a turbine, used for underfloor heating.

  • DCFC 50

    Seeped is correct isn’t it? Good to see you’re dealing with the substance of the piece though…..

  • Declan Doyle

    This is a real hot mess, but why should it be a resignation matter? By all means fess up the info, but resigning seems unnecessarily nuclear.

  • NotNowJohnny

    One could argue that SInn Fein’s approach to date has been a wise one. What has SF to gain by abandoning its sincere silence? SF was not in charge of either DETI or DFP at the time and therefore its hands are clean on this one. The pressure on the DUP is building and considerable damage has already been done. SF’s involvement at this stage only risks causing a distraction. If Foster is going to go it certainly won’t be at the behest of Sinn Fein.

  • doopa

    Should be steeped. Can we go back to the piece now please?

  • NotNowJohnny

    This surely begs the question as to what magnitude of a financial burden must be imposed on the tax payer as a result of a flawed policy approved and implemented by a minister before it becomes a resignation matter? £500million? £1billion? £2billion?

    At what point does a government lose its credibility if its ministers have demonstrated that they lack the competence to prevent abuse of the public finances of gargantuan proportions or if its ministers have overseen the squandering of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money as a result of flawed departmental policies which they were responsible for?

  • file

    It is not a government: governments are in charge of countries and have tax-raising powers. We have a legislative assembly for a region. And for a reason.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Perhaps you need to familiarise yourself with the definition of ‘government’. Perhaps I need to point out that we also have an Executive with executive powers and ministers which is separate and distinct from the legislative assembly.

  • john millar


    Millions( Billions? have been laded out to buy of the thugs and their mouth pieces at stormont whats a few more

  • Gopher

    The next move is relatively straightforward, if infact you are serious about opposition call for HM Treasury to audit the Executive and publish its findings and recomendations. Take this motion to the floor of the assembly and force the DUP and SF to vote it down.

    Arlene and the DUP’s tag line is “SF are economically illiterate”, this is nothing short of hiliarious now. It is interesting how all these cash schemes help a miniscule gene pool instead of doing something for everyone like improving roads, scrapping passenger duty or caring for the elderly. These people should be in prison.

  • murdockp

    turkeys tend not to vote for Christmas and SF and DUP are both guilty of incompetence on a grand scale. (remember the big freeze a few years back and the water scandal)

    these discoveries or the known knowns. one thing we can be sure of is there are unknown knowns lurking out there too and these will only come to light either through another whistle blower or good journalism.

    Sadly I feel the love of power is to great for SF and they will side with thier partner on this on and everything else.

    on the positive side we now know with certainty that all NI political parties are incompetent. before we just thought they were inept.

  • murdockp

    gas can be renewable. anaerobic digestion anyone?

  • murdockp

    and much of NI sits on granite hot Rocks and we have failed to exploit this resource.

  • murdockp

    she won’t go. the majority of the population 63% don’t give a damn about stormont.

  • murdockp

    did it ever have credibility?

  • murdockp

    stormont does have tax raising powers.

  • wrongthinker

    There is nothing wrong with CO2. Stop falling for the scaremongering. Without it most life on earth would not exist.

  • austin mcclafferty

    So money sows seeds of discontent yet again. Equilibrium neither here, nor there but only for the lack of being able to discover where the middle is. Seemingly what passes for politics here has got to pass when it becomes a truer reflection of a more engaged society. The stand around time may create more economic death, dare I say it, “chaos” . Yes throw, no. Shower loads cash building schemes on the gamekeepers, the instruments that shoehorn the mindless where needs must, if for no other reason than to keep subserviant and gorging political gravy as your reward. Not until you become politically obese with self endulgence will you realise that you have become a loathsome past that was left in the wake of a more wholesome future.. Maybe

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Like the monastery in portglenone 🙂

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and tidal wave and Chernobyl was ancient, antiquated and run by a decaying regime.

    There’s been great advances in this field and the days of Mr burns and the evil nuclear plant are outdated.

  • file

    OK then, stickler, income tax raising powers and the ability to borrow and issue bonds. It is not a government; that is the point. It is a local administration. And it is not a government because Northern Ireland is not a country. Have a look at the ISO list of countries.

  • file

    You do not need to point out anything, apart from the hole in your logic that the executive is somehow separate from the assembly, from which it is appointed. The Mid Ulster Council also has executive powers in certain areas – does that make it a government? Look at the list of ISO countries and try to find Northern Ireland. Terms like ‘national stadium’ and ‘government’ do not apply to this provincial backwater. Governments can borrow money, raise income tax and declare war … can’t see the eejits on the hill ever getting around to doing any of those, thank God.

  • Mark Anderson

    I cant speak on behalf of AF of DUP, but i do believe some of these answers are already in the public domain:

    We want to know why Arlene Foster designed the scheme differently from the one which was operating in Britain?
    The economic consultants employed to cost and investigate NIRHI suggested that a tiering system would not achieve the uptake of the RHI in NI that is required, there were a number of factors for coming to this decision. In their report they recommended rates for payment and no tier, the rates they suggested are the important part and i quote “We considered tiering for the NI RHI rates, using the DECC approach. However, when setting the NI recommended levels for this report, the incremental fuel cost was higher than the subsidy rates in all cases. Therefore no tiering is provided in the rates in this report.”
    So the rate proposed was designed not to be above cost of production therefore why would you burn fuel you did not have a heat demand for.

    The problem arose when the consultation started, of course turkeys will not vote for xmas and the respondents asked for a higher rate. Which the department then spoke to the consultants about and applied, even this rate wasn’t the problem as it was only marginally above the cost of fuel at the time and probably would not have caused a burn to earn situation. Where the issues arose was with inflation, as the rate increased, the cost of fuel plummeted with increased competition. It seems when this rate rise was originally set after consultation the officials remembered about the “no need for a tier” line in their advice, but forgot about the “as fuel cost was higher then subsidy caveat”
    The majority of this information is public in the NIOA report.

    We want to know if during the spike in applications in 2015 the word went out amongst people close to the DUP that they should pile on to the RHI gravy train?

    Again an accusation i cant fully answer however think about any change in policy, there is always a rush. Planning, building control, everyone rushes to get in before there is a policy change that will effect a project or development. The NIRO (subsidy for renewable electricity) is about to close, there is rapid development of projects including the commissioning of generating engines to claim subsidy, long before the technology to actually produce the fuel for the engines has started to be constructed. All within the policy rules.
    Again the NIAO report outlines the delay in changing the policy and states it takes approximately 10 weeks for such policy changes.
    Where the department did miss a trick was checking all the installations that were submitted in those short few weeks. Id be surprised if all were fully compliant the day after the deadline.

    We want to know if Arlene Foster, Jonathan Bell and their special advisers knew if any of this was going on, and if not, then why not?

    The policy allowed an installation and then an application for incentive, I’m not sure how they could predict any numbers.

    Hope this helps Colum!

  • Gopher

    This is exactly true, I imagine this is only one small gene pool scheme of many. Nama after all helped very few people for an exhorbitant amount of cash, the Northern Ireland events fiasco also seen a small number of people benefit. This is why the Executive needs an outside Audit and the only people with the competence and independence is HM Treasury. We need to get these guys in. Alliance, SDLP, UUP and Allister have to bring this motion. Of course it will never pass but becasue we now the executive is built on a pile of dirt but it puts them firmly on the defensive and siezes the political dynamic away from the encumbents.

  • Reader

    So, Peter – are you not concerned about predicted multi megadeaths from climate change? Or do you find the threat of climate change remote and unconvincing in comparison with the nuclear bogeyman?

  • John Collins

    Well Windsale was only supposed to be built to last about twenty five years and parts of it are still in operation. The disposal of the residential material is also a problem.

  • file

    Colum: I wouldn’t worry too much about ‘public confidence’ not being able to ‘afford another week filled with an absence of answers’. There is no public confidence in the abilities of local politicians, collectively and individually.

  • Nevin

    “of course turkeys will not vote for xmas”

    Has there been a burst in poultry house construction in the past two or three years? Might it be related to RHI? Which government departments would provide funding for these new or refurbished poultry houses, including heating installations? I was told yesterday that a new boiler system was installed and commissioned before a certain deadline even though the building was just at the floor stage.

  • ted hagan

    Fukushima was hit by tsunami and the area will be contaminated for centuries. It was a recent event caused by a natural phenomenon. Surely you’re not claiming that ‘great advances’ have tamed nature?

  • ted hagan

    I listen daily to revelations on the Nolan Show about this heating scandal created by the DUP, and to the opposition hanging on to every word and chipping in when opportune. What though, were these self same opposition members doing while these events were going on, and has the Nolan Show, and fair play to Stephen, now become the unofficial opposition? Seems to me it’s all the public has got to protect their interests.

  • Mark Anderson

    I would say you are correct, and there would be nothing illegal about an install and commission then wait for construction if you look in detail at the legislation. Probably outside the ethos however.
    This is the exact same as I described above with the NIRO renewable electricity incentive.
    The boom in the poultry industry has without doubt contributed to the massive numbers of RHI installs defiantly, but not the other way round!
    RHI has helped improve the welfare of birds and increase the crop efficiency massively. I believe all poultry house construction on the ground is self funded, the government may be backing the companies at a manufacturing or jobs level above farmers however

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Not at all Ted rather I’d advocate not placing such things on fault lines.
    I think our fear of nuclear has hampered our understanding of it greatly and as such we’re stuck in place where we’re still fussing over fossil fuels and fighting to get renewables off the ground.
    I’d advocate nuclear power supplemented by renewables where practical.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Again it’s a question of how you look at it; if a first generation plant nearly half a century old can still be operational then imagine what can be done with a brand spanking new reactor? And in another 50 years? And 50 years after that?
    The waste disposal is a problem but then so are CO2 emissions.

  • Nevin

    Mark, I had in mind the timescale. Perhaps this could explain the delay in making changes to the original scheme as there would probably be lobbying from a range of interests.

  • Mark Anderson

    NIOA report:
    “The timescale for approving and making the legislation using normal procedures meant that the new arrangements did not come into force until 18 November 2015. There was a very large spike in demand during the 10 week period between the announcement of the new arrangements on 8 September 2015 and their coming into operation.”

    Biggest flaw in the system was not a pre approval process, install the boiler and then apply with 98% acceptance proved to be the problem. Also lack of technical scrutiny of inefficient and bad design.

    Although i believe the poor designs and installs outside the ethos of the legislation will be stopped, the vast amount of “good enough” installs will still result in large overspend.

  • ronanpeter

    You made the point that Chernobyl was at risk due to it being antiquated to dismiss the dangers of nuclear while on the other hand you use the example of a nuclear plant 25 years past its sell by date as an argument for nuclear.

    Chernobyl was caused by human error as warning signs were dismissed as it goes. I’d like to see the research that suggests it was down to antiquated tech or political realities at the time

  • Simian Droog

    Because if I oversaw a feck up of that magnitude (and cost particularly) I would be fired for gross incompetence and have trouble ever finding a job again.

  • Lex.Butler

    Reading Mark’s excellent post does give one clue to the problem. It needed clear minds to look at the stats and model the variations and possible outcomes. I suspect such minds are in short supply amongst the Stormont Civil Service.

  • Gopher

    Im sorry but this is waffle and a pitiful attempt at obfuscation. First and foremost why was this scheme necessary? It won’t effect global warming one bit. This scheme appears to have been a pre meditated attempt to supply cash subsidies to a few individuals. Dressing it up as green was just a subterfuge all the empirical evidence points to this fact. What’s the annual budget for NI 10 billion? Let’s put what occurred in perspective.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I simply pointed out some facts surrounding Chernobyl, they may perhaps be irrelevant, I’d need to dig more to be certain but the fact remains that said power plant did run into difficulty under a collapsing political regime whereas a steady regime managed to keep an equally old power plant chugging along.

    Again, this is all circumstantial but then again the main arguments against nuclear power tend to be reduced to equally (if not more so) flimsy levels e.g. “out of the hundreds of power stations in the 60-70 years of nuclear power a handful of stations have had problems”.

    We don’t yet know the long term effects of the high freq carrier signals from mobile phones but we use them any way.
    Planes crashed by the bucket load in the early days of aviation but we persevered.

    Yet when it comes to nuclear we’re expected to believe that we’re constantly living on the brink of an Irwin Allen-esque disaster even though we all know the alternatives will ultimately revolve around fossil fuels (despite the great advances of renewables).

  • Zorin001

    Even if there were genuine concerns over the legal aspect of closing the scheme which required a delay of 2 weeks its headlines like this which make it look like Arlene has something to hide.

  • Mark Anderson

    The above is accurate, no attempt to confuse.

    The scheme is necessary as the EU have requirements for renewables in electricity, heat and transport. Fines imposed if not achieved.

    It’s a mess I know, and was not done correctly. I wasn’t trying to defend anyone just point out the already available facts.

  • Gopher

    I think you will find a wide political religious and social uptake in the last spike which is the likely cost of staying shtum.

  • Gopher

    Wind farms are renewable and generate electricity, Schools and Hospitals could have had these boilers. Let’s strip the BS here I can’t think of a better way to put money in a few individuals pockets than the one we are discussing here. The EU and greens have nothing to do with it they are just obfuscation.

  • Zorin001

    I’ll be very interested in seeing a breakdown of the spike when we get it.

    Safe to say that the reputation that Arlene built up in DETI for competence is shattered; the honeymoon is well and truly over.

  • Gopher

    The fact that she is still in office suggests that breakdown is very interesting.

  • SDLP supporter

    The NI Audit Office and the Assembly Public Accounts Committee exist precisely to shine a light on scandals like this. Fair dues to Nolan etc. for the investigative journalism but if the opposition political parties acted as sleuths in matters like this, people like you and others on this site who wish a plague on all political parties, whether deserved or not, would be the first to complain.

  • ted hagan

    I’ll put it this way. Since the so-called whistleblower took about five minutes to realise the financial consequences of the cash for ash scheme, surely we could have expected at least one of our elected opposition representatives to have twigged as well?
    And no, I don’t expect members of the opposition to act like ‘sleuths’, I expect them to be alert and intelligent watchdogs guarding the public interests against the abuses of a pathetic executive coalition. That’s what they are paid to do.

  • ronanpeter

    It’s usefulness as a fuel source is undoubted. However the main arguments against it are not flimsy at al To take your own argument, a stable political regime is required to maintain the infrastructure involved, otherwise risks are huge. How can this be guaranteed for 50 years or more (as you point out existing plants are still in working mode after such time), infinitely so if we are talking about the nuclear waste issue?

    Even from an economic point of view it requires public subsidy and guaranteed prices to be able to make it viable. These arguments are far from flimsy.

  • Mark Anderson

    Schools and hospitals do have these boilers, as well as churches and community groups. Wind turbines generate electricity, not renewable heat! I still agree the policy was a mess. I have just tried to clarify some points.

  • Gopher

    Yes we know certain churches have availed themselves of this miraculous scheme perhaps the Lord God gave them guidance. I would not. be surprised if community groups (sic) could not believe their luck in getting indirect funding. We could have just heated every civil service building after all that’s more than the 12% UK requirement. But no it was decided to help the few at a cost to the many. The policy was exactly what it was designed to be.

  • SDLP supporter

    Ted, the whistle-blower (still anonymous, though I can’t believe that situation is sustainable for long, as her emails are being put in the public domain by the DUP) was a specialist in energy. Fair dues to her for spotting the flaw in the scheme within five minutes, and-yes-the opposition could have been sharper-but the primary responsibility still lies with Foster and then with the civil service advisers.

    As an ageing political activist, I do get a bit fed up with commentators on this site-sometimes intelligent-who could have a lot to offer in the political arena, but who just sit at home pontificating.

  • NotNowJohnny

    The Assembly is seperate from the Executive. Indeed separation of powers is an important constitutional principle in the UK. The Assembly and the Executive have completely different powers in the same was that the UK Parliament and the UK government have completely different powers. For example, the Executive has no power to make Primary legislation while the Assembly has.

    I note that you haven’t pointed me to the definition of the term ‘government’ which supports your definition. Perhaps you should take a look at the Northern Ireland government website to better inform yourself about the use of the term.

  • billypilgrim1

    “The Assembly is separate from the Executive.”

    The Executive is drawn exclusively from the Assembly. This is not separation. This is a unitary parliamentary system.

    ‘Indeed separation of powers is an important constitutional principle in the UK.”

    Actually, no it isn’t. That’s the USA you’re thinking of. The UK goes radically in the other direction. The UK is one of the most extremely centralised unitary parliamentary systems in the world. The powers of the UK prime minister are actually absolutely bloody staggering.

    A UK prime minister who can command a majority in the House of Commons may (often via royal prerogative):

    sit in parliament
    whip parliament
    run the executive
    set the budget
    appoint members of the cabinet
    appoint members to the upper house
    appoint ambassadors
    appoint senior members of the judiciary
    appoint senior officers in the armed forces
    appoint even the senior bishops of the established church (!)
    appoint members of the Privy Council
    appoint senior officers of the civil service
    grant honours
    declare war
    be de facto commander in chief
    dissolve parliament
    hold power indefinitely
    pardon convicted felons
    grant and withdraw UK passports
    appoint senior police officers
    assume operational control of police
    prorogue devolved parliaments
    abolish local authorities

    and many other powers too.

    The US president, in contrast, has very few of these powers / privileges / prerogatives.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I hardly know where to start here.

    1. You are wrong in your claim about the separation of powers in the UK. Indeed the main reason the Uk Supreme Count was established was to ensure greater separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature. So no, it isn’t the USA I am thinking of.

    2. The fact that the Executive us drawn exclusively from the Assembly does not mean they are not separate.

    3. The long list of things which you claim the UK PM can do is confusing to say the least. It would have been much more useful if you had separated them into things the PM can do through the Royal peogative and which things she can do only with the consent of parliament. As it stands I have no idea what point you are trying to make here or whether you have even succeeded in making it.

  • billypilgrim1

    Unsubstantiated assertion is not argument.

    The US is the nation that gave us the term “separation of powers”, and it means there’s a firewall between executive and legislature. It means one is NOT drawn from the other, no-one can simultaneously serve in both. No amount of unfactual assertion changes that.

    I don’t see how you got confused with my list of UK PM powers. I acknowledge that it includes both de facto and de jure powers – but this is a distinction without a difference. These powers are real, and routinely exercised.

    The only point I wanted to make was that you were wrong about separation of powers being an important constitutional principle in the UK. On the contrary, the UK is a radically centralised state, and the UK prime minister has powers that would embarrass any despot. Your claim of the 180 degree opposite of the truth could not go uncorrected.

  • ted hagan

    First of all, I suspect the whistleblower’s warnings weren’t acted upon because the powers that be knew all along what the costings were accurate and therefore dismissed the warnings. Secondly, of course the responsibility lies with Foster, that’s not the point I am making.

  • Fear Éireannach

    You don’t need a PhD in Economics to realise that a subsidy should be less than the price of the product subsidised and one would expect some sort of audit process in the public service for this.

  • file

    well if you insist

    The relevant part of definition being ‘to govern a country or state’. Northern Ireland is neither.

    And you can have a read of this too, if you wish.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Long term government stability is indeed key but that applies to things other than nuclear power and they continue unabated.
    And the public subsidy is a thing of the present, not a guaranteed long term constant, should it be a definite constant then perhaps it would be time to pull the plug however the industry is still relatively young and faces opposition in ever turn, it needs time to reach a mature level from where we can make balanced judgement calls but I believe it’s too early to do so at present and am in favour of persevering (and I say this as someone whose livelihood would be endangered by threats to fossil fuels).

  • ronanpeter

    The long term political stability aspect, while important for all infrastructure, is elevated when we consider the impact of a nuclear meltdown. Does a rusty windfarm carry the same consideration of risk? Obviously not. In a fractured nation state such as Syria today for example, the worry surrounding a hit on a nuclear plant would be huge and have ramifications well beyond the immediate battleground.

    I think the debate is already at a mature level and that is why many find the arguments against nuclear insurmountable. It is not simply anti business greens that provide the opposition.

  • Whogetstosay?

    SF were as likely to see the moneymachine lorries in the big house drive as anyone else.
    (Terrible warm in there these days, isn’t it?)

    It is not easy to tell from the photo whether the Balcas Lorry is heading back to Enniskillen after delivering biofuel from its DETI funded factory or after making a collection…

    The cost of the biofuel you are paid to burn is of course moot if you are not buying it, and are one of the largest producers of it for the UK and Ireland, and being paid at a profit to make the heat to manufacture it.
    In the very recent pic of another of our public representatives with Balcas biofuel bags. They probably do in fact actually contain biofuel. probably.

    Whistleblowing becomes moot given that the overly high tariffs in the initial scheme were very much influenced by DETI 2011.

    This is no oversight issue.
    I would love to believe that this was merely incompetence.
    This scheme was engineered.

    The question is why, when CEPA’s “FINAL REPORT” in 2011 advised payments at an already too generous level of 4.5p did DETI, under Arlene, go back and ask them to reconsider and increase it to a foolish level.
    And further why CEPA did not stick to their guns and say, no 4.5p is more than enough, and agreed to adjust their recommendation upwards.
    Who benefitted?

    Initial take up of the scheme may have been slow, but it would have suited the few in the know very well for that to be the case.
    Again there are those who it suited nicely to hurry along a mountain of new biofuel installations before say, next March.

    We could even put some in if it helps!!

    (The dark road of ANY initiatives promising our, probably wiser, children’s tax money far enough into the future that half of us will no longer be here is very very worrying. How long til we will be funding based on payments for the next 50 years with payments deferred for the first 20? )

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I appreciate that however the Middle East has seldom been held up as the exemplar of stability; PJ O’Rourke noted how the similar current affairs, strife and tribal conflicts noted by Josephus 2000 years ago could be applied to his own time of writing (late 80’s/early 90’s).

    If the arguments were insurmountable then we wouldn’t be building any new ones, but we are ergo I think we’re obliged to refine the technology, minimise the dangers that come with it and hope/pray for a break through in a related field.

    It’ll be messy and expensive but it could very much be worth it in a couple of hundred years.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That’s an excellent suggestion Gopher.

  • NotNowJohnny

    What’s your Oxford definition if a ‘state’ then?

  • NotNowJohnny
  • file

    Something that you are in over this. :):)

  • mickfealty


    As someone who has a very clear eye on the policy aspect of this story, I’d be happy to give you a slot on this.

    In the meantime, thanks for the heads upon the Audit Report. Lots of good information in there.