"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."
"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.
A walk through Montpelier, Bristol
4 months ago