Posts Tagged 'Regulation'

The Hannan paradigm

The story we covered earlier concerning Lord O’Donnell’s puff piece, in support of handing more power over the political process to civil servants and Parliamentary has-beens, has attracted the ire of Douglas Carswell.  Fair enough.

But this has subsequently prompted Daniel Hannan to weigh in, after spotting an opportunity to make one of his favourite points – related to comments made by O’Donnell on a different occasion – about how EU membership prevents the UK from negotiating trade accords with non-EU states.  The problem with Hannan’s observation is that while true, it doesn’t come close to getting to the heart of why a UK exit from the EU is vital.

The prior comments of O’Donnell that Hannan fixes upon are these:

Britain is, above all, an open trading nation, but unfortunately our main trading partner, the euro area, is unlikely to increase its demand for UK exports very much in the short or medium terms. Our historical trading patterns, which have been so beneficial in the past, are likely to condemn us to the global slow lane for years to come. Our share of world trade has declined over the last decade by more than that of all our G20 partners.

This prompts Hannan to postulate that:

[…] Ever since the mid-1960s, as Hugo Young showed inThis Blessed Plot, the campaign to mesh Britain into European political structures has been led by our permanent functionaries. It wasn’t that they were unpatriotic. Rather, they had made a calculation, understandable in the context of its time, that economic growth would be concentrated in Western Europe.

Today, no one makes such a calculation. Every continent in the world is growing except Europe. Britain, the only one of the EU’s 28 members that conducts the majority of its trade outside Europe, is especially well placed to benefit from the growth overseas: we are linked by language and law, habit and history, to the places that are doing best. When even Sir Humphrey has internalised that point, our exit is just a matter of time.

What Hannan doesn’t explain, perhaps because he hasn’t grasped the reality of the genuinely bigger picture before us, is the more crucial point that Britain, because of its EU membership, has no direct influence at the level where trade rules and regulations affecting manufacturing and the standards for a vast number of goods are decided.  Namely around the tables of various global bodies and organisations where no EU member has a seat.

While Britain’s ability to strike trade deals is important, of far greater importance is our ability to inform and shape, in our interest, the rules that will bind most countries around the world that are signed up to various conventions and treaties – and which consequently impact international trade deals involving most of the goods we make and most of what we buy.  This is what membership of ‘Little Europe’ denies us and why we have to get out.

Leaving the EU is not an end in itself.  It is merely an enabler that gives us an opportunity to fight our corner in our competitive interest, in the forums where the rules and standards are made.  The hard work therefore does not end when we simply have the ability to strike agreements with other countries on our own terms, rather than the consolidated and diluted terms suiting 27 other European countries.

Hannan’s trade paradigm is only a narrow part of the imperative for leaving the EU.  If he understood and articulated the bigger story from his substantial platform, he may actually help more people understand the benefits of British independence.

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STOR: Are even higher diesel generator costs just over the horizon for energy customers?

STOROn current figures, as Richard North, Christopher Booker and James Dellingpole have explained in recent days, the Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) scheme that provides back up for wind power and renewables in the form of a national network of diesel generators controlled remotely by the National Grid, is expected by 2020 to cost UK energy consumers close to an extra £1 billion.

However it is possible that figure could increase substantially for energy consumers because of factors that investors, who are rushing to install generators to cash in on incredibly lucrative standby payments and grossly inflated tariffs per MWh, may not have considered.

There is a very reasonable possibility that the propensity of the EU to impose regulation on anything that moves could be extended to things that don’t, such as stationary diesel generators that comprise the STOR network.  The subject of regulation of diesel generators forms a discussion piece on the website of the Association of Manufacturers and suppliers of Power Systems (AMPS).

The EU is nothing if not a fan of harmonisation and standardisation.  For while at this time the EU Stage IIIA regulations affect emissions from portable and rental generator sets in the power range of 18-560 kVA, but not emissions from stationary, non-road diesel generator sets such as those used for STOR-type prime, peak shaving, load shedding or emergency standby power, the EU could decide to move to adopt US Tier IV-style regulation for diesel stationary engines.

Stage III A of the EU regulations covers engines from 19 to 560 kW including constant speed engines, railcars, locomotives and inland waterway vessels, Stage III B covers engines from 37 to 560 kW including, railcars and locomotives and Stage IV covers engines between 56 and 560 kW.  If these regulations were to be applied to stationary diesel generators, which arguably pose a greater risk to people because of their fixed locations and their in situ emission of the nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other particulates the regulations are designed to limit in fixed locations, existing generator sets may need to be modified or replaced.

The investors who are piling in for their cut of the STOR largesse are not going to want to see margins eroded by the need to replace or update at significant cost their gen-sets.  The costs will be passed on when the government’s operating reserve becomes a hostage to fortune upon which it is ever more reliant due to its obsession with renewables at the expense of conventional energy generating plant.

In the AMPS piece it is clear the power systems manufacturers have already been anticipating what this means for their profits.  As Richard Cotterell, the General Manager at the Perkins Engines Company Large Engine Centre in Stafford makes clear:

France, Germany and Switzerland and other European countries have their own regulations. India, for example, regulates diesel engines up to 800 kVA, whereas the EU only regulates [non-road, portable gensets] up to 560 kW.

Furthermore, the emissions regulations set for electric power engines are several years behind highway engines, so as Perkins also manufactures on-highway engines we are less apprehensive about more stringent emissions legislation. Our electric power division in Stafford, UK will be able to leverage Perkins in-house expertise and knowledge that our brothers have in Peterborough, as well as our parent company Caterpillar has around the world.

In other words, they can bring modification solutions to the market quickly – but it will be at a cost to the owners of the gen-sets.  Perkins stands to do well out of a change in the regulations, as does its fellow Caterpillar company, FG Wilson (now Caterpillar NI), which is Europe’s largest manufacturer of diesel & gas generator sets and power generating solutions.

Interestingly last summer, FG Wilson as it was then, began to implement a significant redundancy programme across its plants at Larne, Monkstown and Belfast when it decided to move the manufacture of retail size gen-sets to China because that’s where its major market for the units is. A Caterpillar employee tells me its strategy is to build its equaipment as close to its customer market as possible.  So it is noteworthy and very telling that the manufacture of large gen-sets of the type used in STOR diesel parks has been kept in Northern Ireland, as demand for them in the UK is robust.

Ultimately the inescapable fact is that the UK government has put this eye wateringly costly STOR in place at our expense and we could soon see our supreme government in Brussels take regulatory measures that further add to the cost, which we will also be expected to cover through our energy bills.  We are in a lose – lose – lose situation and despite the huge implications for energy customers the mainstream media and the likes of its eco-activist, climate defending superstars like the BBC’s Roger Harrabin, remains silent.

Liverpool City Council’s latest money making scheme

In November a trawl of local newspapers unearthed this little story in the Liverpool Echo.

It is another example of local authorities looking for opportunities to use their official status to forcibly part people from their money, while increasing the powers and adding to the weight of regulation for which they are responsible for enforcing:

BUSKERS could soon have to hold a permit to play in Liverpool under new plans being drawn up by Liverpool Council bosses.

Proposals due to be put to the council’s cabinet before the end of the year could see street musicians told to buy a licence – and then being limited to when and where they can play and for how long.

Performers would also be required to take out costly public liability insurance.

Importantly, the article went on to tell readers that:

A council spokesman described the current arrangement as a “free for all” and said the proposals came in response to requests for better regulation from the public, city shopkeepers and even other buskers.

One thing that never rings quite true is a claim from a council that residents and businesses want more regulation and officialdom.  So AM sent a Freedom of Information request to Liverpool City Council to see their evidence for this claim.  The response arrived during the hectic pre-Christmas period, hence the delay in writing this up.  It is shown in full below:

Imagine my shock and surprise to find the response provides no formal evidence whatsoever for Liverpool’s council officers to justify the regulation and increase in council powers!  Yet the officers are asking councillors to put the regulation into force.  Clearly the questions are a little too inconvenient, hence the response being packed with text that is irrelevant to the FOI enquiry.

Liverpool City Council is setting itself up as the judge and jury of which performers are the ‘more professional entertainers’ thereby stopping others from plying their trade and perhaps being noticed by someone who might open doors for them to build a career.  The people who benefit are the City Council and their approved entertainers, creating the conditions for cronyism and backroom deals.

Drunk on power and free from anything approaching proper oversight and control by elected councillors, this is another example of councils serving their own interests at the expense of the taxpayers; who are treated as nothing more than cash cows to fund the whims and biases of officers and their bumper salaries and generous pension schemes.

AM has written back to Liverpool City Council asking for a copy of the papers officers have prepared for elected councillors about this recommedation to see all of the evidence the decision will be based upon.


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