Sunday, April 02, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 10

In the news this week:

£1m on government boozing- "New Labour has spent almost £1m of taxpayers' money on replenishing official wine supplies. There are 37,000 to 39,000 bottles tucked away in the official wine stock, including 180 different clarets. But oenophiles eager to know more have been rebuffed: because its holdings are so extensive, the Government claims, that revealing exactly what it has, and how much, could disrupt the entire market for fine wines. Yet the authorities cannot resist boasting about a 1961 Château Margaux now worth £1,000 a time." (Independent 2.4.06)

£160bn for nuke clean up- "The true cost of cleaning up Britain's nuclear legacy is more than twice the £70bn figure given out by the radioactive clean-up body this week. It excludes decommissioning British Energy's seven nuclear power stations, the first of which is due to close in 2011, dealing with the Ministry of Defence's nuclear sites and the long-term storage of the waste. Adding those all in would bring the total cost to around £160bn. "Most of the UK's nuclear stock was developed in the 1950s and 1960s and little thought was given to the potential waste issues," said Colin Robertson, a nuclear consultant at civil engineers Halco." (Independent 2.4.06)

£250,000 to sue school- "A CHILDREN’S charity has been accused of “wasting” £250,000 of taxpayers’ money by helping a pupil to sue his school after he had been excluded for alleged arson. Abdul Hakim Ali was helped by the Children’s Legal Centre (CLC) to sue his school for damages. The CLC, which receives cash from the national lottery and BBC Children in Need and used £50,000 of legal aid money to fight the case, claimed Ali’s human right to education had been breached. It brought in Cherie Blair to act on his behalf. But last month the law lords ruled in favour of the school, arguing that it was right to exclude him, and ruled that it had done enough to provide him with alternative arrangements for his education. The school, which spent about £200,000 on its defence, hopes its costs will be awarded against CLC." (Times 2.4.06)

£19m fishing tax to fund ethnic and gender diversity- "The Environment Agency has decided to spread the message about coarse and fly fishing to ethnic minorities and women. The agency's 10-year campaign will use money from the £19 million raised each year by the sale of fishing licences, and a leaflet has already been produced telling us: "Angling does not discriminate against gender, race, age or athletic ability. Government is interested in angling in the context of social inclusion in deprived urban areas". Pilot schemes, where Muslim women and children have been taught to fish by experts from the Salmon and Trout Association, are set to be extended nationwide. Richard Wightman, the angling development manager for the Environment Agency, said: "We have a corporate commitment to diversity. There is a huge number of social benefits." (Sunday Telegraph 2.4.06)

Total for the week: £160,020,250,000

PS Nuclear legacy- In our blog on the outrageous British Energy bale-out, we wondered what the real cost of Britain's nuclear clean-up was likely to be. We guessed £100-200bn, so today's Indy estimate of £160bn is in the range. They say: "The only reference to the total expense was made by Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment in October 2001. In Parliament she produced an estimate of £85bn, made of £34bn for sites run by BNFL, £7bn for the UK Atomic Energy Authority, £14bn for British Energy and £30bn for the MoD. The BNFL and UKAEA sites are now part of the NDA and covered in its £70bn estimate. British Energy recently put the cost of its clean-up at £5.6bn - however this is a discounted figure and represents a total cost of around £10bn. The MoD said that it had no current estimates of how much it would need to sort out its nuclear clean up issues. It is currently consulting on how best to dispose of spent nuclear fuel from its decommissioned nuclear submarines. However, using NDA calculations based on Mrs Beckett's 2001 estimates, the total bill for the MoD would be closer to £50bn. Mrs Beckett did not include any estimate for the long-term storage of waste. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management will produce an interim report this month recommending what the Government should do. Its various options - from surface storage to a deep geological repository - have been priced by the committee at between £7bn and £30bn. Adding all those estimates together comes to a worst-case scenario of £160bn to deal with all the outstanding nuclear issues." Nuclear waste is one of the very worst examples we have of government ignoring long-term costs in chasing after perceived short-term benefit.

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