Saturday, August 13, 2022

WEEKENDER: A tsunami of bad news, by Wiggia

This was taken at Ardingly reservoir in 2011, showing that capacity was inadequate even before the drought we have this year.

It is hard to believe, but every day appears to have another story of doom and gloom, and all fall into that category of problems with no obvious answer.

I wrote a while back about how the failure over decades of this country to build new infrastructure in almost every category was going to come home to roost; that moment has come in spades.

And almost without question you can lay the blame for 90% of it at the door of successive governments who have been totally derelict in putting right the obvious, in exchange for short term advantage.

The very real threat of power cuts this winter, something that has been on the cards for some time pre the gas and oil crisis, was not something the government would be likely to shout about from the rooftops. Nonetheless the likelihood is staring us in the face. What was buried on page 26 of whatever paper you read is that Norway with whom we have an interconnector may not be able to supply us at all this winter as the hot weather Europe-wide has depleted their reservoirs and the hydro plants are being seriously affected. Despite having nuclear they rely on a large hydro scheme and the usual surplus is sold off mainly to us; not this year, as they are looking after their own.

Our hurry to bulldoze all coal fired plants to make the government look as though all was well with our new renewable strategy and the concreting of the fracking test site just show how ridiculous our energy strategy has been for decades and now we are about to find out. A mild winter and we might scrape through and the fact that the cost of energy will dampen demand will also help; the latter can hardly be called a policy and will have consequences for health especially among the elderly, among whom many already cannot afford with inflation to put the heating on. Welcome to the 21st century.
“The National Grid has said that it is worried that we will fall short of power as early as December. This is partly because of our reliance on green power and partly due to gas problems. The grid had put what few remaining coal-fired stations we have on stand by. But these shortages are basically of our own making, we have closed down coal-fired stations and replaced them with intermittent wind turbines and solar panels. We have run down nuclear power stations and not replaced them. We have decided not to frack the huge volumes of gas we have under our feet and import more of it as we have run down our North Sea resources. We have closed down our gas storage facility. We have partially relied on inter-connectors to France, but they have been importing from us as their nuclear stations have problems. So now put what little coal plant we have left on standby, but we have closed down all our mines and will have to import the coal. This whole policy is mad, we need to frack, mine coal and build small modular nuclear power stations today.“
Elsewhere in the Ukraine, a corrupt regime is now wanting to prolong the war and get Crimea back into the fold. Naturally the Ukraine has no money, nor do we, and is banking on the successor to Boris to further impoverish the UK by giving arms money indefinitely, much of which is seemingly disappearing once it crosses the border. I am sure our betters will oblige, under the banner of ‘it is the right thing to do’

Back in Blighty the DM, obsessed with house prices, warns of the hurt that rising interest rates will have on those with mortgages:

Many of the problems with house buying or to be exact the ability to buy, stem from measures taken over many years to stimulate the market and ‘help’ those who want their own house onto the so-called housing ladder.

Nearly all help has itself fuelled house price rises. Make the money easier to get and the house prices go up; give people deposits and easy start schemes so they never have to save, the house prices go up; increase earnings ratio, house prices go up. 

All and everything has fuelled house prices and kept the financial sector happy and housebuilders too, they of course are major donors to the Conservative party.

It is interesting that through all this the quality and size of new builds has remained largely p*ss poor, both items ensure bigger profits for the builders, yet they still sell to a gullible and malleable public, in a market that is supposedly cooling! 

And it has to be said, how on earth during the last two years has the only thing to make a profit been a house? Apart from pent-up demand, house prices have escalated on such a scale they are in a parallel universe to everything else. In reality we don’t need more houses, the indigenous population remains largely static, so any extra demand is by way of government policy on immigration: every year the failure to curb immigration brings another half a million that need housing, health care, social services etc. that a hard pressed taxpayer has to fork out for, the same taxpayers who mainly want a stop to this unfettered policy on immigration.

And now building societies in an effort to keep the ball rolling are proposing 50 year mortgages that can be passed on to one's children, should they want to live there and if they don’t then the mortgage becomes no more than a rent as the difference will still have to paid by selling the place. With six times and more earnings ratio now the norm this Ponzi scheme is heading for a fall one way or another, but we have said that in the past. Yet miraculously another wheeze to keep it all rolling along seems to appear and save the market.

An extra factor emerged linking the lack of housebuilding with the energy crisis when in west London a major building project has been pulled because the grid could not supply the needed energy in the area and wouldn’t be able to for several years. They all of course blame one another for the fiasco.
This could spread with the lack of energy to other areas where large building projects are planned: no power, no houses.

GPs are now looking for the sympathy vote. Full time GPs are at the lowest level for in five years after doctors complained of being stressed; so few work full time now that stress must be being gauged by a different system from the rest of us - with a few noticeable exceptions GPs have long since stopped putting in a shift like their forebears did. A quarter of all GPs last week did a 37.5 hour week and that would include in many cases extra earnings outside the surgery; stress!

The water companies are starting to impose hose pipe bans. These are the same companies that have milked their customers and totally failed to increase capacity in line with the population. The fact they are leaking 2-3 billion litres of water a day does rather increase the cynicism they bring on themselves when making demands on others.

Selling off reservoirs has been despite a growing population been going on for decades. On many occasions when asked about capacity the answer has been ‘we have over capacity’ and the surplus reservoirs are sold off; no one, who could have done, pointed out the obvious in line with all other infrastructure failings.

A letter in the Times spells out the facts…
“Water leakage rates in the South are about 25 per cent. So of the total water supplied only 75 per cent is available. Commercial and agriculture use 90 per cent of that water. This leaves 10 per cent for domestic customers. A hosepipe ban saves only 10 per cent of that water or 0.75 per cent of the water supplied.

My thanks to Mr Armistead of Hampshire also for pointing out that in 1976, there was talk of building a national water grid to bring water from the North to the South. Naturally, nothing happened.”
The unions are not going to be left behind in all this. Various strikes are planned and some have started in a bid to raise wages in line, some hope, with inflation. Why not? For once I am with them: the MPs got their rise without so much as a sneeze; though the Felixstowe dock one, should it start (Felixstowe handles 50% of container traffic) will have a big impact on already stretched supply lines.

To finish a tale of government profligacy, 12 fig trees gifted by Jeb Bush erstwhile governor of Florida (though there seems some doubt about this as other sources say they are rented and others they were purchased for £150,000) stand outside Portcullis House at the entrance to Parliament. In essence the trees were unsuitable for the position in which they were planted and grow sideways. Efforts to keep them upright have resulted in a two-decade battle to to stop them from falling over. Between 2001 and 2012 the Commons spent £400,000 on maintaining them, it then cut costs and spent a further £137,000 on them. The solution is to remove three trees? No, the solution should be to remove all trees for obvious reasons, as not too far into the future further thousands will be required apart from maintenance costs, to remedy an error of their own making. Nice contract, though...

Just listen and look at the cringing MPs defending this in 2012 at the end of the first contract… they don’t give a fig!


Man Beach said...

The article about water companies selling off reservoirs and not building new ones is a load of tosh. When you say 'reservoir' people tend to think of somewhere big, like Roadford in Devon or Rutland Water, where you can sail a yacht or go fishing. Most of the 'reservoirs' sold off in my area over the past few decades were little more than large water tanks - might keep a town going for a day or two at most. As for not building new reservoirs - well how about South West Water's Park Lake on Bodmin Moor? 125 hectares of former clay pit, now a reservoir?
Andrew Sells, who apparently was once head of Natural England, would have known about Park Lake. Maybe it just slipped his memory, but when you find one thing wrong in an article, you tend to question the truthfulness of the rest of it.
Oh, and I particularly liked the quote from "singer Feargal Sharkey" at the end. WHAT??? What's he got to do with water companies?

wiggiatlarge said...

Plenty of facts on the lack of infrastructure in the water industry..........
This one was planned in '96 but the locals object.

I could go on and the same with our energy supplies, but I think you know that don't you?