Month: October 2015

FACT CHECK 4: The Energy Bill and the Salisbury Convention

View Full Fact report: The Energy Bill and the Salisbury Convention

Every day is a school day – I didn’t know about the Salisbury convention, which basically says the House of Lords shouldn’t block something that was in a Government’s manifesto.

The penny drops…. This is why our Conservative MP’s keep insisting the Energy Bill shouldn’t have been a surprise to industry, because it was in their manifesto!  Ahhh….

Just something else to fight over in the big chambers when all we need is decent energy policy based on fact…

To find out more about the Salisbury Convention, this BBC clip explains it.

FACT CHECK 3: Is new nuclear energy cheaper and more reliable than new wind power?

View Full Fact report:  Is new nuclear energy cheaper and more reliable than new wind power?

George Osborne, who’s in charge of the country’s numbers, gets the facts wrong when he said wind is more expensive than nuclear!  I guess saying it makes it easier to justify Hinkley C and push onshore wind aside (but doesn’t make it true).

I think it’s only fair he is asked to correct what he said – will you ask him?  Tweet @George_Osborne or email: public.enquiries@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk  I’m not optimistic that he will but worth a shot – this is the whole point of this fact check – to ensure politicians are basing policy on the right facts.

Full Fact also looked at “reliability” of wind vs nuclear. This has generated a fair bit of feedback, and Full Fact say they will add additional points to the report if they think it adds to the findings.

FACT CHECK 2: The Conservative manifesto’s onshore wind pledge

View Full Fact report: The Conservative manifesto’s onshore wind pledge

I’m really pleased to see this picked up by Full Fact – Amber Rudd and other Conservative MP’s have insisted the measures in the Energy Bill shouldn’t have come as a surprise to industry.  Industry was well aware of the Conservative view towards onshore wind and knew an election victory for the Conservatives would result in additional challenges with planning and financial viability of some projects.

However, the scale of the changes was immense – one that cost me and many others our jobs, shook investor confidence and poured millions of pounds of investment in some really good projects down the drain.

FACT CHECK 1: How many Jobs in the UK Oil and Gas Industry?

View Full Fact report: How many jobs are supported by the UK’s Oil and Gas Industry?

As well as removing subsidy for onshore wind farms and putting decisions directly into community hands, the Energy Bill includes provisions to support North Sea Oil and Gas by setting up an Oil and Gas Authority.  Differing figures have been bandied around the House of Lords as to how many jobs they support.

Full Fact tell me they will be bringing out regular checks starting this week, so I’ve digested this one, and eagerly await the second.

it all starts this week

Just a quick note to say that Full Fact will start releasing their fact checks this week. I am told they will take one or two facts each week, and put them under scrutiny.  I don’t know what facts they have picked, or what they will say, but like many others, I await with interest.

I’ll make sure they are all added here, but to make sure you don’t miss anything, follow them on twitter, like their facebook page, and subscribe to their newsletter.

Progress Update: Full Fact in Full Swing

I have transferred all the pledge money to Full Fact and work is well and truly underway.

I received all pledge money on 23 September, but before I could transfer that to Full Fact and hand over control of the project, there were a few conversations I had to complete with Full Fact’s Director…. mainly around how they would manage the budget and their research process.  I was pleased to hear they have identified a small pool of experts who can be called on to look at different issues surrounding energy policy, rather than just relying on one person.  We also discussed the risk of spending lots of time on one or two big issues which could chew through all the funding and potentially not have as much impact.  This is their “thing”- they know what they’re doing and very patiently talked me through it. Full Fact are well respected for their work in other areas and are used to managing tight budgets, I trust them to do the same for energy policy. I admit it’s been a bit difficult to hand over all funds and control to them but that’s the only way they can ensure complete impartiality, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because Full Fact received the pledge money on 29 September, my intended Stages I and II have now merged into one, but that shouldn’t negatively impact on the project.

I would like to be clear on the process from this point.  Full Fact are now monitoring statements made by politicians, members of the House of Lords and the media (or anyone else who gets airtime) surrounding onshore wind and UK energy policy, and selecting claims to fact check.  It won’t be possible to fact check everything, they need to balance managing a tight budget whilst achieving the project aims.

My involvement will be from the sidelines – helping collect transcripts, suggesting what could be checked and basically anything useful that might save them time (and therefore budget).  I’ll have absolutely no say on what they select to research, or have any reviewing rights.  They will keep me updated with progress, which I will update on this blog.

As you would expect, I’m busy with my own job search, so I welcome any suggestions for fact checks you have heard or read (from either side of the debate).  Please drop me a line and I will pass on to Full Fact, or feel free to contact the Full Fact team directly on team@fullfact.org.