But I am nothing if not fair: and in fairness must therefore record that Gummer the Bummer has delivered himself of something broadly intelligent.
Q184 You are clearly very supportive of moving to more renewable methods and you spoke about the lead that this country has had. We might be able to get a lead in tidal energy. A proposal was put forward for a pathfinder project in south Wales. Do you have any views about whether that should proceed?
Lord Deben: We have looked at it very carefully. I am a great believer, as is the committee, in the whole issue of energy diversity. You would be very foolish to rely on one sort of thing. I am instinctively for it. However, it is significantly more expensive and you have to think about whether it is the sort of technology that is likely to reduce significantly in cost if you create a market and scale it up. The problem with the whole argument is that much of the cost is in the construction business—the pouring of concrete. It is difficult to see how, by building more and more of them, they are going to decline in cost significantly. It is difficult to see that.
Q185 Would people not have said the same about wind turbines 10 years ago?
Lord Deben: People may have said that but that would not have been a parallel because, if you can, for example, change the whole system of gearing and if you can have much bigger sales on them, so to speak, if you can have floating ones and if you can take them out and plant them in the sea for 10 months of the year instead of five months of the year because they are bigger and you have bigger boats and things, then all of that could be worked out. It has just been very much faster. One has to look at the realities and we have so far not been convinced of that. I say that as somebody who is, in fact, biased; I have to aim against a bias. I do think tidal energy is an important thing ... As you know, I was a promoter, before I did this job, for the Severn Barrage, so I am not opposed to it. We have done some really hard work on it and I am open to being convinced. In the end, I think the Government are probably right in questioning whether this is where they want to put their money.Intelligent? Well, in a monkeys / typewriters sort of way. He couldn't keep it up, of course, because he went on:
If you said to me, “Will you pay a bit more for your electricity so that, in 30 years’ time, your grandchildren will have free electricity in very large amounts for 100 years without very much change in it?” I might say to myself, “That sounds rather like a good deal”.Nope - it's very stupid. But: credit where it's due. He's added his tuppence-worth to the undermining of the Swansea Lagoon monstrosity and we'll leave him alone.