Boy, 4, left in agony after nurse leaves broken needle in his leg during pre-school injection
It’s lucky the father was on hand and alert. The behaviour of the nurse and doctor was like something out of Monty Python
A father is suing the NHS after a nurse left a broken needle in his four-year-old son’s leg.
Eesa Shafiq was in agony after the 2cm-long sliver of metal was left in his left thigh after a routine jab to prevent against childhood diseases. Hours later the boy’s leg became stiff and he could hardly move.
The next day his father Shanwazcoor took Eesa to hospital where an X-ray revealed the needle was still in his leg. He had a two hour operation to have the needle removed and today Eesa is recovering at his home in Woodthorpe, Nottingham.
Restaurant owner Mr Shafiq is now suing the NHS Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County for negligence. He said: ‘It is appalling that my son was allowed to have a piece of needle in his leg.
‘I was with him when the nurse gave him the injection. When she removed it from his thigh the tip of the needle was not there and I said ‘is it still in his leg?’
‘She looked at me and told me she’d been a nurse for 20 years and these needles never snap.
‘I asked her where the needle was if it wasn’t in my son’s leg and she called for a doctor. ‘The doctor came in and they were looking around on the floor for the needle, with torches out. They said it was unlikely the needle was in his leg.
‘They said they couldn’t find the needle and wanted to give him a second jab. I saw her lining the other injection up but I wasn’t going to let that happen. ‘They sent us on our way and said we could go to hospital for an X-ray if we wanted.
‘I thought they would have called for an ambulance to help us. Eesa could hardly walk and was crying his eyes out with the pain.’
The needle became lodged in Eesa when he had a single injection to prevent against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio at Sherwood Health Centre in Nottingham last week.
The next day Mr Shafiq became so concerned about his son he took him to the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) where an X-ray confirmed the needle was still inside Eesa. He added: ‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw the X-ray. Who knows what kind of long term damage it could have caused if it had been allowed to stay inside his thigh. “The nurse and the doctor should be disciplined and retrained before they treat any other patient, especially young children.
‘Eesa has been left traumatised by this horrific mistake. He suffers nightmares and says he never wants to see a doctor again.’
The family have now made an official complaint and have instructed solicitors to begin a medical negligence claim.
Mr Shafiq added: ‘It is ridiculous to think my son can go in for these booster jabs and then end up in hospital. ‘It has been a shocking experience for my son. Everyone including the hospital has said they haven’t heard of it happening before. ‘We’re pleased to now have him back home. But it should never have come to this.’
A spokesperson for NHS Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County said: ‘It would not be appropriate for us to comment publicly about this case for reasons of patient confidentiality, but we would always encourage any patient who is unhappy with the treatment they have received to contact their GP practice directly or use the NHS Nottingham City PALS and complaints service.
‘We can then work with them to properly understand, investigate and resolve any concerns or issues they may have.’
No one from the Sherwood Health Centre was prepared to comment.
“Let her go blind”! Says the NHS
Paying an army of “administrators” is far more important
An Army wife with a rare eye condition faces going blind unless health chiefs fund sight-saving treatment. Dawn Thomas says her local Primary Care Trust (PCT) has denied her the medication despite it being available on the NHS in other parts of the country.
The mother-of-one fears her family will have to sell their home to pay for private care as a result. ‘If the PCT doesn’t fund the treatment it will condemn me to blindness,’ the 44-year-old said. ‘I would have to give up my job and driving – it would be life-changing and devastating.’
South Staffordshire PCT initially told the lance corporal’s wife that it would not fund the treatment injections that can cost up to £800 each. However, the trust has since decided to review its decision after it received further information about Mrs Thomas’ case from the Macular Disease Society.
Mrs Thomas, from Branston, Staffordshire, who has almost lost vision in her left eye and is having trouble with her other eye, said: ‘We are now thinking of selling our house to fund the treatment privately.’
Although Mrs Thomas was diagnosed with pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) when she was 21, it has only given her serious cause for concern in the past 12 months.
After suffering headaches and worsening vision in her left eye at the turn of the year, she saw a consultant at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital who allegedly attributed her problems to her glasses and told her to return in a year.
Concerned, Mrs Thomas saw her GP and two months later was seen at the Royal Derby Hospital by another consultant, who spotted abnormal blood vessels and the appearance of a bleed in her left eye. Another expert at the hospital confirmed the findings and said treatment was available – but not on the NHS.
He supported Mrs Thomas’s funding bid to the PCT but it sent her a letter saying her case was not ‘exceptional enough’.
Mrs Thomas said: ‘I’ve worked all my life, always paid my national insurance and thought I would never have a problem getting treatment on the NHS. ‘I thought the NHS was healthcare for everyone but since I’ve gone through all this I feel like they don’t care about people.
‘It’s about whether they meet their expenditure targets. They just seem so heartless. As far as I know, people in other PCTs are getting it – so why can’t I?’
An NHS spokesman said the original decision not to fund Mrs Thomas’s treatment was ‘being reviewed’. ‘This is following the receipt of further information from the Macular Disease Society, who are acting on behalf of Mrs Thomas,’ he said.
‘The decision will be reviewed and examined by our clinically-led panel and a decision should be taken within a month.’
Mrs Thomas needs anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medications (anti-VEGFs), which slow sight loss by stopping blood vessels forming or growing. The deterioration, known as wet macular degeneration, can be treated by three drugs: Macugen, Avastin and Lucentis.
Repeated injections into the eye are usually required. The treatment has been found to be very successful at preserving vision of PXE patients in clinical trials.
PXE is a hereditary disorder in which the elastic fibres that normally occur in the skin, eyes and cardiovascular system gradually become calcified and cause characteristic symptoms in each area. It is estimated about one in 25,000 people in the world have PXE, but recent indications are that it is more common.
Approximately 60 per cent of PXE sufferers develop eye problems and many experience the loss of some central vision.
The Royal National Institute of the Blind said South Staffordshire PCT had made a ‘cruel decision.’ Steve Winyard, head of campaigns and policy, said: ‘The refusal of her PCT to fund an effective and proven treatment is a cruel decision that is likely to mean Mrs Thomas has to stop working. ‘There will be a massive impact on her quality of life and a big long-term cost to the taxpayer.
‘If there’s an approved treatment available which will save a person’s sight then it should be given. ‘It’s vital people diagnosed with sight-threatening conditions have the opportunity to receive proven and timely treatments.’
‘Fears of being branded racist stops British police investigating crimes by ethnic minorities’
Police are failing to investigate crimes committed by ethnic minorities because they fear being branded racist, a report claims.
A pamphlet by think-tank Civitas, released today, says pressure to show racial sensitivity may have been behind the initial failure to properly investigate Asian street grooming gangs in the North of England.
Jon Gower Davies, a former academic, links the failure to police being branded ‘institutionally racist’ by the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, which he says left police ‘shackled’ by bureaucracy.
The pamphlet, which is entitled’ Mind-Forg’d Manacles: Murder, Macpherson and the Police’ finds Macpherson lacked evidence for the charge of institutional racism which he says ‘lacks substance’.
This year a gang from Rochdale were jailed for plying teenage girls with alcohol before raping them. All but one gang member was of an Asian Pakistani background.
The court heard up to 47 vulnerable girls were passed around the group and forced to have sex several times a week, but two years before action was finally taken, police missed an opportunity to stop the gang when a 15-year-old girl told them she had been raped.
A former Labour MP, Ann Cryer, said the police failed to investigate properly because they were ‘petrified’ of being branded racist.
Mr Davies, a former Labour councillor, describes the lack of investigation into sex crimes as a case of ‘reverse’ institutional racism in which the views of victims, vulnerable white girls, were not taken seriously.
The report states: ‘When in February 2012, the trial of a number of Pakistani men finally came to court, it seems that allegations of abuse by one (white) girl had been just ignored by the police’.
The pamphlet, which is published by the Civitas think tank, concludes Macpherson failed to address genuine weaknesses in police practice at the time.
It states: ‘Macpherson… not only obviated the need to make a realistic if less flamboyant analysis of the limitations of the policing of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, but also led to an over-anxious police leadership to make a fool of itself by adopting policies which are neither operationally nor socially nor ethically sound and proper’.
Writing the foreword to the pamphlet, Dr David Green, director of Civitas said Macpherson’s ‘poisonous’ legacy included failures to investigate crimes by ethnic minorities including so-called ‘honour crimes’.
Following Lord Macpherson’s use of the phrase, it became a central tenet of discrimination rules in Whitehall and among police and politicians.
In 2009, on the tenth anniversary of the Macpherson report, Trevor Phillips, the head of the country’s equalities watchdog said he had abandoned the phrase. He said the label of institutional racism became a ‘badge of shame that has hung over’ the police
Stephen Lawrence died in an unprovoked attack while waiting for a bus in Eltham, South East London. In January of this year Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of Stephen’s murder.
British villagers face jail after setting up protest camp against gypsies… while travellers stay there illegally
Despite their high nuisance value, Gypsies in Britain are treated with kid gloves because of their “minority” status
Villagers refusing to leave a protest camp set up after gypsies moved on to greenbelt land could face a £20,000 fine or jail if they do not leave.
The campaigners, including many infirm and elderly, were told that Solihull Borough Council has rejected their request to stay at the site in Meriden until the travellers go. Instead, the council has voted for legal action against Residents Against Inappropriate Development (Raid) – despite giving gypsies until March next year to move on.
The authority could also look into a Dale Farm-style ‘direct action’ demolition of their 824-day camp.
Around 250 protesters have kept up a 24-hour vigil at the site since travellers arrived during the May Bank Holiday in 2010.
Neither the locals or the gypsies have planning permission for their camps, but the travellers were told they could remain until next March after a High Court battle with Solihull Council.
The West Midlands villagers set up their makeshift shelter on a builders’ yard so as not to damage the land, as they believe the gypsies are.
But following a private planning meeting, councillors have voted to prosecute locals who have defied an enforcement notice issued in April to leave their site, although the authority says it will consult lawyers before taking action.
Yet protesters remained defiant last night – with many stating they are prepared to go to jail for their cause. Raid chairman David McGrath said: ‘The council could have given us the same extra time deal as they gave to the travellers who don’t live at the site at night but are causing daytime harm to the greenbelt.
‘Instead they have gone for an option which will waste taxpayers’ money, even though we have stated that we will leave in March 2013 if the travellers keep to their agreement to go. ‘We will not stop protesting until they go, even if that risks imprisonment.’
Wheelchair-bound grandad Russ Thomas, 72, said: ‘I’m prepared to go to jail. It’s disgraceful the council can behave in such a manner.’
Retired welfare officer Jean Greenfield, 80, said: ‘I wonder where our equal rights are? ‘It’s not feasible at my age to go to prison.’
Euro MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who supports the campaigners, said: ‘If protesting was an Olympic event, these people would get the gold medal.
‘Solihull Council is wrong and should use its own judgement to dismiss the thought of action against this temporary presence.’
It stated: ‘Following a debate of the issues, the Committee resolved that the Solicitor to the Council be authorised to issue legal proceedings if an advice is obtained from Counsel confirming that such action would be both proportionate and expedient.
‘We discussed the three options available to the Council to ensure compliance with an Enforcement Notice, those being, Prosecution, Injunction and Direct Action.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, the Council will be advised by Counsel, what, if any, action is the most expedient and proportional response. No decision has yet been made.’
The council refused to comment on the jail claims last night. Council leader Ken Meeson said: ‘We are currently awaiting legal advice on this matter and therefore cannot comment further.’
Romney’s Right: Brits & Americans Are Joint Heirs to Anglo-Saxon Liberties
by DANIEL HANNAN
Americans take justified pride in their successful assimilation of newcomers. Millions have been drawn to their country, from every continent and archipelago, determined to become American.
What do we mean by becoming American? When we break it down, there are three irreducible elements. First, accepting the values encoded in the US Constitution: free speech, the division of powers, religious toleration and so on. Second, understanding the unwritten codes bound up with those values: civic engagement, open competition, private contract. Third, speaking English.
And where do these characteristics have their roots? In Anglo-Saxon civilization. When a Romney aide told this newspaper that the US and Britain shared an ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’, he or she was stating the obvious. Those Lefties pretending to be upset – the Obama campaign called the remark ‘stunningly offensive’ – know perfectly well that the reference was cultural rather than racial. When the French talk of ‘les anglo-saxons’ or the Spanish of ‘los anglosajones’, they don’t mean Cerdic and Oswine and Æthelstan. They mean people who speak English and believe in small government.
It hardly needs saying that the United States is not genetically Anglo-Saxon. Nor is the United Kingdom: it’s full of people with non-Saxon surnames such as Hannan. And nor, for that matter, is England. Recent DNA tests have confirmed what place-name studies have been insisting with increasing stridency for the past century, namely that the English are descended as much from the pre-fifth century population as from the settlers who came after the departure of Rome’s legions. The notion of mass population displacement comes largely from one later and tendentious source: Gildas’s De Excidio Brittonum. It’s odd, in retrospect, that historians ever took it seriously.
If Anglo-Saxon is of limited value as an ethnic category, though, it is of huge value as a cultural denominator. Until the mid-twentieth century, most historians traced the notions of personal freedom, the rule of law and representative government to the Anglo-Saxon period. A free people, ran the story, governed by a folkright of common law, and ordering their affairs increasingly through popular assemblies – folkmoots – found themselves subjected to feudalism by the Normans.
Nor was the idea confined to historians. Six centuries after the Conquest, during English civil war, parliamentary soldiers told themselves that that they were fighting to ‘throw off the Norman yoke’. The idea of recovering the native liberty of the Anglo-Saxons, suppressed by an alien aristocracy, was very real to them.
During the second half of the twentieth century, some historians, sneering at what they saw as Victorian jingoism, challenged this narrative. But, as Professor James Campbell, arguably our foremost authority on the period, has shown, the Victorians were onto something: Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism was real enough.
It was certainly real to America’s founders. The histories most widely read in the colonies – Nathaniel Bacon’s Historical Discourse of the Uniformity of the Government of England; Henry Care’s English Liberties; Lord Kames’s British Antiquities – all told the same story: in 1066, a free people had lost their liberties to a Continental invader. Even in those days, of course, there were Americans who were aware of having non-English ancestry, yet they cheerfully bought into a self-consciously Anglo-Saxon political identity.
When the first shots were fired in 1775, it didn’t occur to Americans that they were fighting a foreign power. The idea of the American Revolution as a war between two nations – a War of Independence – came much later. Paul Revere never shouted ‘The British are coming!’ – an absurd thing, if you think about it, to shout at a wholly British population. What he actually yelled, during his famous ride, was ‘The regulars are out!’
Indeed, when Americans called themselves patriots, they meant that they were British patriots, fighting for their ancestral freedoms against a German king and his Hessian hirelings. How else are we to understand their complaint in the Declaration of Independence about ‘abolishing the free System of English Laws’ and ‘transporting large Armies of foreign [ie not British] Mercenaries’?
Mitt Romney – or, rather, his staffer – is on absolutely solid ground. The US is built on values which have become so uncontroversial that they are considered almost universal: representative government, the rule of law, private property, religious liberty, free speech, habeas corpus, trial by jury. It’s easy to forget that these precepts, at least in the form that the founders recognized, were products of a specifically British political culture.
Even the dimmest Romney aide must be aware that non-Anglo-Saxons form the vast majority of the US electorate. It is surely fair game, though, to draw attention to Obama’s anti-British prejudices (see here for the full charge-sheet). It is fair game, too, to posit a connection between Obama’s dislike of Britain and his contempt for those US institutions – the common law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights – that were inherited from Britain.
One thing that Britain and the US have in common is that they define nationhood in civic rather than ethnic terms. A hundred years ago, 80 per cent of British subjects were neither white nor Christian. You become British, as you become American, by signing up to a set of values.
And a pretty decent set of values they are. In two world wars, hundreds of millions of men crossed half the world in order to take up arms in their defense. Whether they were from Jamaica or Australia, India or Canada, they understood that they were fighting for freedom against tyranny. Not every country got the big calls of the last century – the two world wars and the Cold War – right. The Anglosphere peoples, by and large, did.
During the first half of 2012, I toured the main English-speaking democracies to make the case for the Anglosphere. I was struck by the warmth with which people of non-British backgrounds, especially in Australia and Canada, endorsed the concept.
If (as I hope) Mitt Romney becomes president, and if (as I hope) Tony Abbott wins in Australia then, for the first time, there will be a conservative and Anglospherist full house. It would be a pity if the opportunity to move towards an Anglosphere free trade area were lost because of Britain’s outdated membership of a European customs union. In the mean time, though, let’s at least show that we can accept a compliment graciously.
Hypocrisy of the rich British liberals who buy their way out of the schools calamity their dogma created
Sometimes, a spotlight shone harshly into one private life can starkly illuminate a calamity for an entire society.
It was reported yesterday that Sir Jonathan Miller, the theatre and opera director, playwright, neurologist, polymath and icon of the Leftist intelligentsia, is helping pay for at least some of his grandchildren to attend independent schools.
This is all the more notable since Sir Jonathan’s profound aversion to private education is well known. In accordance with his principles, in the Seventies he sent his own children to Pimlico comprehensive school in Central London.
Some years ago, however, his son William revealed his fury at having been forced to endure an education that he said had blighted the lives of himself and his siblings, all to conform to their parents’ political beliefs.
In a newspaper interview he revealed the bullying and poor education that he had endured at Pimlico school, calling the experience a ‘wholly avoidable disaster’ arising from a ‘mistaken ideology’.
Eventually, Sir Jonathan and his wife relented and sent William to the fee-paying Bedales school in Hampshire.
Now William says that he and his wife have decided to educate their primary school-age children privately to ensure that they, too, do not become – as he has characterised himself and his siblings – the ‘victims of the most cavalier of social experiments’. And his father is helping foot the bill.
Of course, it is not just the Millers but hundreds of thousands of other children who, for several decades now, have been forced to pay a devastating price for this ‘cavalier’ experiment.
They were the victims of their parents’ ideological fixation with abolishing privilege – a fixation expressed by refusing to give their children the educational advantages that all too often they themselves had enjoyed.
Sir Jonathan, for example, was educated at St Paul’s, one of Britain’s top public schools. Like a number of other ex-public school pupils, however, he turned venomously against the education system that had provided such advantages.
Whether as the result of personal guilt or socialist ideology, such people decided that selective schools discriminated against both poor and less academically-able children.
So through an utterly misplaced idealism, they resolved that if everyone could not benefit from such schools, then no one should. Accordingly, the principle of equality of opportunity that lay behind selective education – including that provided in the state system by the grammar schools – was replaced by the doctrine of equality of outcomes.
The result was a disastrous confluence of comprehensive schooling with child-centred educational theories, which in the interests of eradicating both ‘illegitimate’ adult authority over children and equally ‘illegitimate’ differences in achievement, simply undid the very concept of education altogether. The result was countless numbers of children abandoned to ignorance and under-achievement, with middle-class ones such as William Miller bullied at their comprehensives – and with those at the very bottom of the social heap, who depended most of all upon school, left locked into disadvantage.
This was because the aim of this experiment had nothing to do with education and instead everything to do with social engineering – to create a society without privilege. But this aim was always unattainable.
The result was that education was now geared to the lowest common denominator, producing a catastrophic decline in standards from top to bottom of the system.
The damage done by this experiment has been incalculable. The further irony is that it actually increased the numbers going to independent schools.
To avoid the poor standards of education and discipline at so many comprehensives, more and more desperate parents proceeded to impoverish themselves to educate their children privately – just to give them the kind of education they once would have received at the grammar schools.
Yet even now, Sir Jonathan Miller appears to have not an iota of insight into the disaster to which he subscribed. Indeed, his hatred of independent schools remains as strong as ever – even while he pays towards his grandchildren’s education.
Obviously, he is reported to have said, he wanted to secure his grandchildren’s safety and future. Nevertheless, he felt ashamed of doing so, and of belonging to a society which created a ‘profound and malignant separation of the prosperous from the poor’.
And he went on to rail at the ‘protective educational devices’ of independent schooling provided by ‘prosperity and big money’ which guaranteed that such pupils would ‘become like their parents’.
It is obvious to Sir Jonathan that he should look after his grandchildren’s interests by helping fund their private education. How extraordinary that he thinks this is, nevertheless, ‘malign’ and ‘invidious’.
This seems to be because he thinks that parents’ motivation for educating their children privately is to turn them into clones of themselves. But this is not what drives such parents at all. They merely want their children to have a good education so that they can make the best of themselves in life. Isn’t that what the vast majority of parents want?
So why does Sir Jonathan assume independent school parents have less noble objectives? It must be because he believes that the better-off are wholly driven by self-interest, whereas the poor are not. This is as absurd as it is offensive. It’s also more than a bit rich coming from Sir Jonathan who is himself?.?.?. well, rich.
So does he think, therefore, that he himself is motivated only by self-interest? Plainly not, when he was prepared to sacrifice the interests of his own children supposedly to further those of the poor. So why does he damn independent school parents as an apparently obnoxious breed apart?
One thing he does say, which is correct, is that the gulf in education between rich and poor is even wider now than it was when he chose comprehensive schools for his children.
But what he utterly fails to acknowledge is that the cause of this widening gap is the very doctrine of educational equality that he supported. That doctrine was swung like a wrecking ball at the very foundation of British society.
It is no coincidence that, back in the Sixties, Sir Jonathan Miller was also a founding member of the seminal Beyond The Fringe satirical troupe, whose anti-establishment views started to unravel the skein of Britain’s entire moral framework.
But then, those from the Left can never admit they can be wrong – because they assume that they embody virtue itself. Accordingly, they demonise and sneer at all who dare disagree. Pinning their faith on utopian fantasies, they tend to regard theoretical ideas as having more substance than what’s going on under their noses.
Sir Jonathan has previously expressed disappointment that his children seemed indifferent to his work. None of them, he complained, identified with or took pleasure from the world in which ideas and the life of the mind took priority.
But the life of the mind surely should not take priority over life in the actual world. To allow it to do so is to lose sight of reality altogether – which is surely the whole problem with the Left-wing intelligentsia.
In the past, Sir Jonathan has also expressed deep regret, and even shame, that he chose the theatre over being a neurologist, which he said he felt he was ‘meant to do’.
Sometimes, parents unwittingly force their children to pay a price for the parents’ own resentments. How sad if Sir Jonathan’s difficulties played a part in creating such bitterness and disappointment in his family.
But how sad also for Britain that such a brilliant mind became so twisted by socially destructive dogma, when it could have been used to contribute immeasurably to helping the most vulnerable instead of knocking the ground from under their feet.
British government warned: Wind Energy Is Extraordinarily Expensive And Inefficient
By Dr Gordon Hughes, a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches courses in the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics
In his economic analysis, submitted by the GWPF to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, Prof Hughes concludes that meeting the Government’s target for renewable generation would increase households electricity bills by 40-60% by 2020.
The necessary investment for this Wind scenario would amount to about £124 billion. The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a capital cost of £13 billion – the latter option is cheaper by an order of magnitude.
According to Professor Hughes, “the average household electricity bill would increase from £528 per year at 2010 prices to a range from £730 to £840 in 2020 under the Mixed Wind scenario. These figures amount to increases of 38% to 58% in the average household bill relative to the baseline under the Gas scenario. The equivalent ranges for the other scenarios are 29-46% for the More Onshore Wind scenario and 40-62% for the Future Offshore Wind scenario.”
“The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment to a technology that is not very green, in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is certainly very expensive and inflexible. Unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder,” Professor Hughes said.
UK’s Energy Policy ‘Schizophrenia’ Spreads to Europe
Who’d have thought it? The medievalists at Greenpeace have finally made a useful contribution to the energy debate by insisting Britain has two energy policies. They’re right. As the ideological fault-line in the UK coalition government is increasingly laid bare by the in-fighting between (Conservative) Chancellor George Osborne’s Treasury Department and (Lib Dem) Ed Davey’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the signs are that a new economic energy realism is also biting in Europe.
In late July Davey’s DECC won a pyrrhic victory against the UK Chancellor’s Treasury Department keeping a proposed cut of 25 percent to wind subsidies to a mere 10 percent. But the price for Davey was green-lighting a UK government push in support of natural gas; a move that will, ultimately, prove devastating to the anti-fossil fuel ambitions of Davey and his Lib Dem colleagues policies – although not for the free market and the UK economy.
UK onshore wind farms still depend on the lifeline of 100 percent taxpayer subsidy, with offshore running at around 200 percent. In 2012, UK wind farm subsidies will hit £1 billion for the first time. With end consumers footing the tab for this exercise in ideological economic plunder, power companies and wind farm developers alike are clearly greatly ‘incentivized’ to maximise their windfall ‘dividend’.
According to Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) figures, current renewable energy targets are on course to provide the power companies with a windfall of £100 billion from the subsidy regime by 2030. The top ten wind farm developing companies are set to net a mere £800 million between them in the next year alone. The Danish company Dong is the chief beneficiary of this government largesse, expecting to rake in over £156 million. And that’s before the additional guaranteed profit from its power sales to the National Grid via the market-skewing Renewables Obligation scheme, which guarantees ‘green’ electricity producers a fixed price.
Chancellor Osborne knows that UK industry has been hit hard by energy costs, especially the steel and chemical industries. Osborne knows he has little control over international energy prices. But he knows he can do something about the network of green levies augmenting those prices. Of late he has promised to help local communities block onshore wind farm developments against revised planning regulations which have effectively disenfranchised local communities. Osborne has called for an end to the UK’s unilateral climate and renewable targets and ditch entirely the post-2020 EU-imposed decarbonization strategy. Coupled with the Treasury’s austerity programme that is imposing much-needed cuts to the UK’s bloated public sector, the call for Osborne’s political head is, not surprisingly, on the increase, aided by a strong leftwing media.
Business Green’s James Murray is typical; recent commentaries being replete with the kind of anti-intellectual bunk that only a Guardian network publication could muster. If Osborne is successful, Murray has it, “the history of UK climate change policy” will ultimately be written “probably from a bunker in Northern Scandinavia”; Osborne having “finally shattered” the political climate consensus. For Murray, the Climate Change Act that currently enshrines the UK’s ludicrously over-ambitious, economy-sapping, decarbonisation targets is an inviolable bulwark against the “Tea-party-fication of British politics” and Osborne’s “fossilised vision for Gas-land UK”.
But the fact is, George Osborne’s Treasury is acting in the interest of the country. Osborne and the Treasury are proceeding on solid market advice that gas-fired electricity will remain far cheaper than renewables. This is clearly borne out by the revolutionising of manufacturing industry and reduction in energy costs in America – the direct result of the U.S. shale gas revolution. Osborne is also well aware that Britain is sitting on at least 20 trillion cubic feet of shale gas of its own, enough on its own to meet the country’s gas needs for two years without factoring in North Sea or other imported gas supplies. Meanwhile, North Sea energy is – due to ever-developing technology – the national gift that just refuses to quit. The recent acquisition of 8 percent of North Sea resources by China’s SINOPEC bearing out the fact.
But while George Osborne’s vision is certainly aimed at derailing the Green Deal Decarbonization Gravy Train, the accusation of climate ‘vandalism’ must be levelled far wider than just at him. The U.S. economy is in severe danger of being revived by what is happening in its shale gas and oil sectors. Just for good measure, the switch to gas has had a surprising ‘green’ benefit; a significant reduction in carbon emissions; a decarbonising ‘success’ story that appears not to have been missed at EU HQ.
A similar tension to that causing rift among UK government departments has emerged at the EU. In late July, the European Energy Commissioner Günter Oettinger spoke warmly of how the US is aiming to “re-industrialise the country first by oil” and “by accepting some risks with offshore drilling for own resources” including “tar sands and others”. In contrast, laments Oettinger “we import oil and have high taxation”. Europe’s energy minister has also recently mooted the notion of increasing European industrialisation from 18 to 20 percent by 2020; an achievement that would have to be fossil-fuel driven.
The green lobbies, alerted to Oettinger’s “unguarded” comments, are plainly concerned that the UK’s energy policy schizophrenia has not only spread to Europe but is indicative of growing sentiment in Europe’s capitals. Europe is already undermining its own decarbonisation regime by investing heavily in coal, now the cheapest electric power fuel. Perpetuated by its own anti-fracking, anti-shale gas policies, Europe continues to remain largely dependent on Russia’s gas imports.
Yet, late last year, the IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA) released a report showing that Europe’s shale gas and coal-bed methane prospects rival that of North America. However, the evidence that Europe’s biting economic crisis is driving a greater, fossil-fuelled, energy realism is mounting. Spain has not only been forced to terminate its renewable energy subsidies, it has recently committed to imposing a tax on renewable-sourced energy. Bulgaria has eased a ban that prevents exploitation of its shale energy potential.
But, most significantly, for Germany, Europe’s largest economy, energy is fast-becoming a key issue in the run up to next year’s election with the country’s politicians stalling over the switch from nuclear power to reliance on renewable power. Germany’s banks have recently been banned from financing offshore windfarms. And with over 600,000 households being disconnected annually as electricity bills soar, Germans voters are well aware that up to 22 trillion cubic meters (780 Tcf) of shale gas reserves may lie right under their feet.
Ultimately, Joe Citizen is going to have to resolve the growing ‘schizophrenia’ at the ballot box as the issue of green energy taxes rises up the political agenda. And which way ‘Joe’ votes ought to be guided by one of two beliefs: one in the transformational gas-fired US experience – the other in the Greenpeace-Murray “bunker in northern Scandinavia” fantasy.
Tough call that.