'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cumbria – Consultant Fees Coast if you ask me

My reference to the Energy Coast may have baffled anybody who read my previous posting.
Even if “a blog is the sound of one person talking to himself” (*1) just so’s I can get my own thoughts sorted it’s worth me wandering through the subject.
The West Cumbria Strategic Partnership (
http://www.westcumbriavision.co.uk/) commissioned Grant Thornton to come up with a master plan for West Cumbria.

http://www.nwda.co.uk/publications/infrastructure/britains-energy-coast.aspx
This document was costly, £200k plus, and adds to the £10million (and more) of consultants fees milked out of the system over the last 15 years or so. I’m not bitter by the way - just a natural born cynic.
The rather catchy tagline ‘Britain’s Energy Coast’ and the green mesh lines stretching from Allonby to Millom confuse the reader into thinking that the West Cumbria Strategic Partnership/The Consultants Grant Thornton are proposing an economic solution for West Cumbria (from Allonby to Millom) based on Energy production.
Britain’s (Nuclear) Waste Reprocessing Coast would have been a better tagline and maybe change the colour, of whatever is obscuring the coastline, to Red.
Let me be clear about this the only energy being generated in Cumbria is from the 100 or so Windmills scattered down the coast, oh- and one gas fired Combined Heat and Power Plant on the Calder Hall site. The Nuclear power station at Calder Hall closed a while back and had it’s cooling towers dropped 2 days ago. Chapelcross on the other side of the Solway has also closed. There was an oil powered station at Workington 30 years back and all our coal was sent out of county to - I don’t know where. There’s a gas fired station near Barrow but Barrow though I believe technically part of Cumbria (West too) seems to have been largely ignored on the cover of the plan at least.
Energy wise unless there are plans for a few hundred more windmills I can’t see why we should become Britain’s Energy Coast. Windmills once built need very little maintenance and while being built seem to employ more Danish and Dutch labour and resources so the local economic benefit is at best poor.
The Solway Energy Gateway above Allonby towards the mouth of the Eden would make tremendous sense with massive energy generated by the tides and would also give lasting economic regeneration. There are some hurdles though, the main one being the local environmental impact. Local environmental impact might be the price we have to pay though to have any chance of impacting on Global Climate Change.
A new Nuclear Power Station at Calder/Sellafield would seem to be in the subtext of Grant Thornton’s plan. Whilst I have no problems with Nuclear Power Stations (I’ve made my living for 30 years or more from the Nuclear Industry), the only reason for a plant in Cumbria is the existence of a nuclear licensed site and a population conditioned, through 60 years of exposure and dependency to accept anything nuclear.
Sellafield has never been a nuclear power station – how many times have I had to tell people over the years and how sick am I of the jokes – Cumbrian – glow in the dark – 2 headed fish – pre cooked lamb.. I’ll stop.
Sellafield is a waste treatment and reprocessing plant for the nuclear industry.
Read the words from the Grant Thornton’s plan (11,000 words and loads of big pictures over 48 pages – this blog posting is 1,200 words with 1 picture; possibly 3 pages max- work out the value for money – bear in mind it took me 35 minutes to write this)
West Cumbria has major nuclear assets and internationally competitive expertise and skills in a range of related activities, including environmental remediation, engineering and decommissioning. Employment in Research and Development is double the regional average.These strengths and assets are of national and international importance. The UK’s energy, environmental and economic policy now involves a unified approach to the twin challenges of energy security and climate change. Maintaining a sustainable national economy requires integrated answers to both. This approach will also provide major business opportunities for UK firms.It will also enable the UK to make an important contribution to European energy policy. West Cumbria can provide a unique contribution to the UK’s short and long term policy goals, transforming its own economy in the process. Our Vision for West Cumbria is based on this unique relationship between local economic assets and transformation and national policy priorities.”
Now read them again.
Now tell me what they mean?
Weasel words when read with the tagline.
“West Cumbria has major nuclear assets and internationally competitive expertise and skills in a range of related activities, including environmental remediation, engineering and decommissioning. Employment in Research and Development is double the regional average.These strengths and assets are of national and international importance…..”
Yes it does have major nuclear assets but it does not have nuclear energy producing assets. The redundant reprocessing plants at Sellafield were classed as liabilities until very recently and there is a new research centre now so that must be what doubles the regional average (regional being where exactly?)
“(environmental) Remediation, engineering and decommissioning “ – yes at last – glossed over pretty quick and early – that’s what we do.
Look I’m glad that we are doing it and not anybody else.
The rest of the executive summary really means -carry on Cumbria being the nuclear waste treatment plant for Britain and the World.
The £300million a year Nuclear Decommissioning Authority continues to buy the dependency of West Cumbria. We see a succession of companies coming in to show us how to decommission – mostly American (though I used to share a building with a German/now French company) and my old factory has now been bought by a Swedish outfit. It’s a whole lot of heat and not much light as far as I can see and quite a lot of money spent on local advertising and promotion telling us Cumbrians about how good the colonists are and how much they are spending on social projects in Cumbria - sponsoring businesses, schools, the local supply chain, rugby teams. If you have to blow a trumpet it might as well be your own. It turns off most Cumbrians – they see right through it. Actions - not words about actions. Let people judge for themselves.
Instead of the NDA waste of nuclear money on themselves and commissioning consultants I could have provided the plan for free and redirected the money to better schools, a university 10 years ago (not just now), apprenticeship training, infrastructure. Focus on engineering and the environment not just nuclear. If we get a new nuclear reactor at some time then so be it. If we really need to have a windmill every mile including 60 in the Solway at Robin Rigg then so be it. But let’s not dress up what we are doing as a “unified approach to the twin challenges of energy security and climate change”. It means sod all to the population at large. All we want is a sustainable way of life not so obviously dependant on the command employer and not to be told by the incoming colonizers what a good job they are doing for Cumbria.
*1 – plagiarized from ‘the sound of 1 hand clapping’ – van morrison or zen?

2 Comments:

Blogger Stuart Jones (BusinessMatters) said...

I have recommended your article on my blog.

You may be interested in my views on "economic regeneration" in Cumbria.

http://3ca.blogs.com/my_weblog/2007/10/cumbria---consu.html

2/10/07 8:51 am  
Blogger RenMan said...

Stuart - thanks for that.
The chap who commissioned GT said it was 'really handy 'cos all he had to do was get off the train at Euston and their office was jsut across the way'
Far handier I would have thought not to have got on the train at Penrith/Carlisle/Oxenholme.

BD

2/10/07 12:58 pm  

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