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Facing the future – in the dark.

IMAGINE THE FOLLOWING: it’s a winter evening, your electricity supply is cut off for an hour, perhaps two or three hours, maybe more. You have nothing but torches and candles to provide you with light. The candles smell, produce soot, drip hot wax and don’t give off much illumination. They’re also dangerous and you’re frightened that you might set fire to something – or that your children will do so. You can’t watch TV, use your computer, charge your mobile phone, iPad, iPod or anything else, or even use the kettle to make a cup of tea. You can’t cook or microwave anything. There’s no hot water so you can’t have a bath or a shower. You can’t use the washing machine or dishwasher. The light is off in your fridge and freezer. Some of the streetlamps outside may be off, leaving your road in dark or semi-darkness. The lifts won’t be working and you have to use stairs. There’s no warmth because the central heating is off, you can’t switch on any electric fires you may have and you’ve got no fireplace, wood or coal to make a fire. Imagine this happens once a week or a couple of times every month. And imagine that you’re having to pay more for your electricity than you did before, when it was available 24 hours a day. Romantic, isn’t it? I remember going to a country pub once when we had to live under those conditions during the three-day week imposed by Edward Heath in the 1970s. We sat in suitably rustic surroundings, lit by candles and paraffin lamps, in front of a coal fire and drinking bottled beer. Apart from brief moments like that, of course, it’s a nightmare, especially if you’ve got children or are old or sick.

IT’S A VERY real prospect, unfortunately, given the insanity of current British energy policy. News that Britain could start to experience power blackouts as early as 2014 because it may not be able to generate enough electricity at peak times has at last percolated through to the mainstream media. Even the Guardian carried an article about it, although they unaccountably failed to mention the villain behind this fiasco – the European Union.

In its eagerness to fulfill EU directives the British state will be closing down a number of coal-fired power stations before it has worked out how to replace their output. Sticking up wind farms on every available acre of the land will not be enough. Generating electricity from all the hot air produced by Westminster, Whitehall and the green lobby will not be enough. Such is the wisdom of our elected politicians and their unelected bosses in Brussels. And the mandarins who service both.

This was known about more than three years ago, when Mr Ed “One Nation” Miliband’s department published a document discussing Britain’s “transition” to a low carbon economy and Ofgem issued a similar warning as the one they published this week. The media weren’t so interested then in picking up on this, probably because they didn’t want to rock Labour’s leaky boat – and because they’re a bunch of incompetents.

Mr Miliband was about five years old when the three-day week was happening, so I don’t suppose he remembers much about it. Just as most members of the green movement today will have no experience of living under the results of their proposed policies: darkness, discomfort, poverty and cold. Our progressive colleagues are leading us straight back into the past. I’d start preparing for it now.

Michael Blackburn.

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