Sunday, 8 August 2010

Alex in Wonderland again

Another good piece in Scotland on Sunday today. Instead of concentrating on the findings of the Beveridge Report (aka the Internal Budget Review IBR) and looking for ways of managing the budget for 2011, our First Minister continues to stick his head in the sand, trying to dream up ways of generating income for the nation without having to make an difficult choices that might harm his chances of re-election next year...not that this was ever goingto happen anyway. People in Scotland will be canny enough not to give him more than one chance in office, and he has'nt done much with the chance that he has been given up to now, with the clock now ticking down.
His latest wheeze is that we must keep Scottish Water in public hands at all costs, to leave open the option of us selling water to drier regions in future. With the logistics of moving water around the world, this policy essentially means us selling water to the English in years that they have exhausted their supplies. You can see at once why such a policy would be attractive to the lunatic fringe in the just feels right to them somehow.
Whatever way you cut this, it essentially means one thing.......we would need to increase our water storage capacity on a massive scale, to have surplus product available for such times that others (the English) are in need of water to buy from us. In doing this, we would have to massively disrupt Scottish eco-systems, drain rivers and make sure that us Scottish peasants were not somehow using water to benefit ourselves. SEPA would have to be given draconian powers, Big Brother would have to be everywhere. In the past, water shortages have been circumvented by limiting supply, and in Britain, we have a long history of making do with a bit less if we have to. Mother nature then invariably makes up the shortfall at a later date, and we get back to normal again. OK, there may be times in the future when more extreme water shortages are foisted upon us, more than 1976 or 1995 or whatever, and we have to plan for that.
We will still need extra storage, and this could only come from additional large-scale resevoirs, on a similiar scale to some of the large hydro-electric dams. Such new resevoirs could be used to give us extra renewable energy at the same time, of course...a win-win situation. But Alex's idea is not yet that well developed. All Scotland's recent hydro developments have involved small scale run-of river schemes with no capacity for storage. Policy would need to change, developing a small number of big schemes instead of a large number of small ones. The investment required is also likely to be in the £ billions.....not impossible, but not on the cards at the moment by any means.
Would the English buy water from us, and how often would they require it, given that they have never required it in the past? Not if they could possibly avoid it, would be the likely answer. I also seem to remember Wales and the Lake district being closer to their centres of population than Scotland is, and they are much more likely to look there first.
No, Wee Eck is coming up with these ideas because he is under pressure, trying to ignore the obvious. Pressure does things to people, it makes them act irrationally, and in his party he has people who hang on his every word and believe every word he says. Selling water to the English when they are dying of thirst may feel right to the SNP policy boffins, but dont expect this idea to be taking off any time soon with the wider electorate.

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