Kyoto Makes UK Energy Policy All Wind

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Byline: By PADDY ROONEY

The Prime Minister recently announced that climate change will be a key theme of Britain's forthcoming presidency of the G8 group of rich countries. There are indeed issues to be addressed, and unsuitable policies could have serious implications for the rural economy.

The Government's approach has not been reassuring. Its enthusiasm for cost-inefficient and unsightly wind turbines seems curious when less obtrusive technologies are available.

The Assembly's TAN-8 planning paper would seem to permit wind farm developments to override sensible local priorities.

And the Treasury regards climate change as a tax-raising excuse - 'environmental' taxes cost the productive economy pounds 34bn last year, two-thirds coming from fuel taxes which especially disadvantage rural interests because of our dependence on road transport.

Government policy is driven by the Kyoto Protocol, which focuses on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

But many factors influence climate, the man-made contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide is small and the cost of reducing it immense, and despite the hype there is little sign of the catastrophes predicted to result from our environmental misbehaviour.

Sea levels and average temperatures may be rising slowly, but both were higher 1,400 years ago, before the Little Ice Age, and there is ample historic evidence for violent climatic events.

One informed commentator recently described the Kyoto Protocol as the most expensive confidence trick pulled on the world since Yalta - certainly it seems perverse to impose hugely expensive measures to tinker with a single climate factor.

Moreover as neither China, India nor the United States support it, the likely consequence of current British policies will be to export jobs and increase imports - not least in the agricultural sector. …