Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tories have rapidly backed away from a green policy on airport expansion

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I see that 'green' David Cameron's Conservative Party have rapidly backed away from a green policy on airport expansion. They've abandoned the idea of stopping all airport expansion, even though their advisors thought it a positive policy. So much for their words of concern about climate change. Under a Tory government Bristol Airport could still expand if it got through the local planning process.

Inaccurate, unbalanced Evening Post story on major tidal energy report by the Sustainable Development Commission: Why??

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Todays Bristol Evening Post story about the Sustainable Development Commission’s report into the barrage and tidal energy, released yesterday, is inaccurate and unbalanced. It chooses to focus in on one small part of the major report, tidal lagoons - just one alternative to the barrage - omits several key points emphasised by the Commission, and doesn’t even get the number of pages right (it actually has more than ten times the pages stated in the story). Accuracy and balance are obviously valued qualities in a good news story, doubly so for a major and complex issue like the barrage.

For the record:

1. The Commission emphasise that the barrage would have to meet tough tests to be considered a sustainable, green project. Not mentioned in the story.

2. The report states that the barrage would have to comply with environmental legislation protecting the estuary. Not written about by the Post.

3. The report emphasises that very large scale compensatory habitat creation should be seen as an opportunity. Not a dicky bird in the story on this though.

4. The report says that going for tidal power should not result in ignoring the dramatic reductions in our energy consumption, increased energy efficiency and decarbonisation of our energy supplies, that are needed. No coverage of this vital point though.

The Post’s story does cover the Commissions view, challenging the government position, that any barrage project should be publicly led and owned – perhaps the key economic issue – but does not put this in what should be its proper place, at the head of the piece, instead putting it in the middle.

What’s more, the story’s main line, that tidal lagoons are considered no better than a barrage by the Commission, is not based on an accurate reading of their report. Their report in fact says that not enough is currently known about the practicalities of tidal lagoons to make firm decisions, so pilot work should be done on them to find out more.

Informed readers following this issue may be wondering why comments from barrage sceptics, like the RSPB and Green Party, accurately included in the story, broadly welcome a report apparently criticising one of their more favoured tidal energy options! This is because the RSPB and Green comments reflect the report accurately and the Post’s story does not.