Utility Week

Utility Week 27th September 2013

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Community Disconnector Out come the freaks Politicians can be a mealymouthed lot, but as the party conferences roll into town, Disconnector is heartened to observe that at long last a political champion has emerged to come out unequivocally in support of shale gas exploration in the UK. Unfortunately for the nascent shale gas sector, it's not energy secretary Ed Davey, or even shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint, but UKIP energy spokesman Roger Helmer. Helmer told an appreciative UKIP conference that Blighty ought to exploit any shale gas reserves it had forthwith and plough the profits into a sovereign wealth fund – like they do in Norway – to stop the money "being squandered" by spendthrift government departments. That would be government departments other than the one in charge of the sovereign wealth fund, Disconnector imagines. To rapturous applause he told his party conference that the UK should focus on "grownup" sources of energy, such as gas, coal and nuclear, and dismissed wind power and other renewables as "playground technology". And keen to lay to rest once and for all the slander that UKIP is a party of swivel-eyed loons, he dismissed those who disagreed with UKIP's brand of good old-fashioned common sense as "rent-a-mob Swampies" and "eco freaks". Hmm. Disconnector is not sure how people who regard themselves as environmentally aware are going to be won over by that argument. Hey, at least Helmer didn't berate them for not cleaning behind the fridge. Or call on them to bugger off to Bongo-Bongo Land. Ballooning protest Meanwhile, in Fernhurst (near Balcombe in West Sussex, which saw fierce anti-fracking protests), Celtique Energie is sizing up a site for exploratory fracking. It has not yet submitted a formal planning application, but that hasn't stopped protest group Frack Free Fernhurst springing into life. Last week it floated a large dirigible above the village, tethered to a height it claimed matched that of the proposed rig (a claim denied by Celtique). Martyn Knights, the spokesman for Frack Free Fernhurst – or eco freak, if you belong to UKIP – said the balloon illustrated "to every ody in the community b that when this thing is running – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – fully lit at night, it's going to be visible from a long, long way away". A spokesman for Celtique Energie said it would be hosting the first of regular community surgeries in the area later this month to discuss its proposals in detail and answer questions. As it happens, Celtique also wants to sink exploratory wells in Kirdford and Wisborough Green, also in West Sussex, so it will have plenty of opportunity to meet the neighbours. Papering over the cracks These days, the merest inconvenience sends us into frenzies of indignation. God forbid that someone tells us not to use a hosepipe for a couple of weeks in the summer, or puts an extra ten minutes on our commute by making us wait at temporary lights while they fix a gas leak. Spare a thought for the poor denizens of Venezuela, then. They've been inconvenienced big time because the entire country has run out of toilet paper. There have been shortages of the stuff for months, and the government has had to import millions of rolls in a vain attempt to ease the situation. Last week, president Nicolas Maduro created a special committee to tackle the problem, which the government blames on unscrupulous traders. Their answer was to send in the National Guard to take over a toilet paper manufacturing plant in Manpa in the northern state of Aragua, in order to guarantee production. Disconnector kids you not. The likely reason for the shortage is panic buying, but governments aren't always best placed to find concrete solutions. Someone tell UKIP that. Editor:  Ellen Bennett, t: 01342 332084, e: ellen.bennett@fav-house.com; Energy editor:  Megan Darby, t: 01342 332087, e: megan.darby@fav-house.com; Features editor:  Karma Ockenden, t: 01342 332086, e: karma.ockenden@fav-house. com; Reporter:  Mathew Beech, t: 01342 332082, e: mathew.beech@fav-house.com; Reporter:  Conor McGlone, t: 01342 332083, e: conor.mcglone@fav-house.com; Production editor:  Paul Newton, t: 01342 332085; Business development manager: Ed Roberts, t: 01342 332067, e: ed.roberts@fav-house.com; Sales executive: Nicky Shaw, t: 01342 332070, e: nicky.shaw@fav-house.com; Publisher:  Amanda Barnes, e: amanda.barnes@fav-house.com. General enquiries:  01342 332000; Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year, t: 01342 332011. ISSN: 1356-5532. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Printed by: Buxton Press, Palace Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE. Published by:  Faversham House Ltd, Windsor Court, Wood Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1UZ Empty talk Maybe the no-shows for shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint at Labour's party conference knew something. Caroline was playing second fiddle on energy, for fear of raining on Ed's parade with his "freeze energy prices" wheeze. Appy returns With two party conferences down, Labour is winning the battle… of the smart phone apps. The Lib Dem offering looked the part but fell short of what was promised. Labour's app delivered on its commitments… The fallout The Liberal Democrats' decision not to oppose nuclear power was a momentous one in the party's history, and one that has upset a number of its members. One was overheard telling a colleague that she "felt like crying" once the votes had been counted. Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year fhcustomerservices@ abacusemedia.com 3,580 Average circulation Jan–Dec 2012 UTILITY WEEK | 27TH SEPTEMBER - 3rd OCTOBER 2013 | 31

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