WE HAVE become accustomed in recent years to bans on products we may want to buy – for instance, incandescent lightbulbs and John Prescott’s ban on old-style gas boilers.
But we are beginning to see something much more insidious. In increasingly Stalinist fashion, the Government is planning to force us to buy products whether we want them or not.
Take electric cars (EVs). The vast majority of drivers do not want them as they are far too expensive and utterly unfit for purpose. Although EVs make up about 15 per cent of all sales in the UK, that figure has stalled in the first quarter of this year.
The writing has been on the wall for a while now. While EVs are attractive to company car buyers because of the tax benefits, and to eco conscious city drivers, they have failed to break into the mass market. EV sales are dominated by expensive models such as Teslas. Out of the ten top-selling EVs, only the Nissan Leaf and Mini cost less than £30,000, and these account for only a tenth of EV sales. Neither are suitable for use as family cars.
However the Government is desperate to get millions of EVs on the roads long before the ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) cars takes effect in 2030, with a target of half of all car sales to be electric by 2028. Since very few want to buy them, the Government plans to mandate for electric cars to make up a certain proportion of manufacturers’ sales in the UK. The plans are still under consultation, but a figure of 22 per cent is suggested for next year, steadily rising each year after. Manufacturers who fall short of the quota will be fined, with a suggested figure of £15,000 for every car below quota.
What are car manufacturers supposed to do if nobody wants to buy electric? They will be forced to practically give them away, in which case the cost will be loaded on to the price of petrol and diesel cars. If they do that, of course, drivers will simply buy cheaper imported models, so it really is Catch 22. It is much more likely that car manufacturers will reduce the number of ICE models they make and shrink their operations accordingly, which would be disastrous for the country’s economy.
Then there are heat pumps. The Government faces the same problem as with electric cars – nobody wants the useless things. A couple of years ago, Boris Johnson set a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year. In the last 12 months, only about 30,000 have been installed, despite government rebates of £5,000. (The target shows, by the way, just how out of touch with the real world our leaders are.)
The Government’s solution? Gas boiler manufacturers will be given quotas for heat pump installations, and fined £5,000 for every heat pump under target. As with EVs, companies will have to heavily subsidise heat pumps or pay the fine. Either way, it is homeowners who buy a gas boiler who will end up paying the bill for disobeying the government’s diktat.
Meanwhile the cost will be so onerous for gas boiler manufacturers that they will probably end up shutting down. Then if you want to buy a gas boiler, it will have to be imported.
In short, whether it is a car or a heating system, consumers will either be forced to buy what the Government tells you to or pay what is in effect a draconian fine.
The Government also wants to punish us if we use too much water. As part of a new package to improve water quality, the Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has ordered water companies rapidly to increase the rollout of smart water meters.
The Government wants to cut household demand by 25 per cent by 2050, on the spurious, not to mention fraudulent, grounds that climate change will dry up our reservoirs. According to the Telegraph: ‘The use of smart meters would enable water companies to charge different tariffs for households with a high usage, known as dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing is being encouraged by Ofwat and trialled by water companies including Affinity, which will charge some customers a higher tariff if they go over a limit set by the company. The regulator expects water companies to set out their plans to reach 100 per cent metering and has warned they could face penalties if they continue to miss targets to cut consumption.’
As with smart electric meters, it is Joe Public who will pay the bill. And woe betide anybody who uses more water than their ‘allowance’.
The Net Zero juggernaut is also set to decimate high streets up and down the country. The Government has said it intends to ban commercial properties being rented out unless they are assessed as having a minimum energy performance rating of C by 2027, and B three years later.Experts reckon this will cost £90billion and affect nine out of ten shops. Given the age of many properties, many shops and offices will need major refurbishment, which will simply not be affordable.
The inevitable result will be more boarded-up shops in high streets which have already been struggling for years. Retail properties will become stranded assets, probably leading in turn to a property market crash.
All these proposals have been announced in the last few weeks, and represent just the tip of the iceberg. They hint at a future where our lives are increasingly controlled by the State and its bureaucracy, all in our best interests, of course.
Windfall for the wind farms
THE renewable lobby were quick to crow a few months ago when spiking gas prices meant that offshore wind power under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) subsidy mechanism was cheaper than the market price for electricity, and consequently was paying money back to energy users. (CfDs offer a strike price: when this is higher than the market price, a subsidy is paid to generators; where the market prices is higher, they pay money back to the government.)
However, that spike did not last long, and market prices have fallen back this year. In the January to March quarter, the market price averaged £120/MWh, whilst the average strike price for offshore wind was £166/MWh. As a result wind farms have received a subsidy of £231million.
This cost to energy users comes on top of the subsidies paid out via the Renewables Obligation, which are estimated to amount to an enormous £6.8billion this year, two-thirds of which goes to wind farms.
Don’t let anybody tell you that wind power is the cheapest form of electricity.