Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Insulated from the real world

"Ere, Fletch, what are you inside for anyway?"

"Well, Godber, my son, it was just a bit of the usual - armed robbery, the odd car theft, like. Oh, and I didn't get me 'ome insulated."

"Yer what?"

"You 'eard me, son. The eco cops came round and found me 'ome was emitting about as much 'eat as Her Maj's gaff at Windsor a few years back. Gave me six years for that, they did. Only got five for the armed robberies."

That, at least, is what Dr Richard Dixon might wish to see. He's the director of WWF Scotland and wants to see it become a crime for people not to insulate their homes properly.

Now, I generally support ideas to help make people take the environment more seriously. But every so often environmentalists come up with some absolutely barmy ideas, like this one.

Just think about it, at a time when the prison population is bulging, Dr Dixon thinks it would be a good idea to drag people into the courts and turn them into criminals for not having a home which is sufficiently energy efficient for his liking. That is just bonkers.

Dr Dixon also suggests that the state could have the power to carry out insulation works on a home without permission and then bill the owner for the work carried out. That sounds like extortion to me.

Let's be clear: it is a good idea for people to insulate their homes and make them energy efficient. But the way to do that is by encouragement, through the use of grants and things like feed-in tariffs for renewable energy. Turning people into criminals because their homes aren't green enough would only create massive resentment.

Sometimes environmentalists give the impression that they are insulated from the real world. Whichever planet Dr Dixon is trying to save, it's certainly not the same one I'm on.


Indy said...

Where does he suggest making it an imprisonable offence? I don't think he is.

I'm not sure I agree with the proposal but I think your reaction is a bit OTT.

I could actually see how it might be done - every home now has to have an energy efficiency rating. If someone puts their house on the market without having improved its energy efficiency in a reasonable way you could fine them for it.

Of course you would have to define what was reasonable and how much we could reasonably expect householders to shell out to make the necessary adjustments. But there is certainly the germ of an idea there.

I believe there are already requirements on social landlords to make their housing more energy efficient. It is not wholly preposterous to extend the same thinking to private owners.

Bernard Salmon said...

He suggests it should be punishable by a fine but, as the article points out, the punishment for non-payment of a fine is jail.
And Indy, just listen to yourself: you're suggesting that it might be appropriate to use the criminal law to enforce energy efficiency? What nonsense.

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