Some brief advice from our legal department:

Just a short note on the possible complete illegality of the entire Treasury strategy on gas:

Eagle –eyed readers of this blog will have spotted that I drew attention some time ago to the, how can I put it, tampering with DECC’s previous gas deployment projections that accompanied the Treasury’s “dash for gas” proposals as set out in the “Gas Strategy” (here and here). This turned a proposal to generally review the fourth carbon budget in 2014 into a plan to revise targets in the fourth carbon budgets upwards if the EU does not stiffen its climate change targets by that date. And of course, the purpose of that upward review would be to pave the way for large numbers of full-time producing gas-fired power stations to be installed at the heart of the energy mix, way into the next two decades, sidelining those awful windfarms and the like.

Well…the legislation under which carbon budgets are established, the Climate Change Act 2008, permits  a review of the budget and its targets if the circumstances under which the budget was set have significantly changed. What the EU may or may not do concerning its own legislative targets cannot be classed as one of these circumstances.

This is the thrust of  last week’s sharply worded letter from the Committee on Climate Change to the hapless Secretary of State who had the misfortune to have to write the Treasury’s gas plans somewhat awkwardly into his own department’s documents. It is, even if you only read it once, quite clear – revising carbon budgets upwards on this basis is a legal non-starter.

The only remaining question then, I suppose, is who gets to tell the Chancellor that the plan has no legal foundation, that it would certainly be judicially reviewable if proceeded with, and that another way forward will have to be devised.  I’m already picturing the scene as Ed creeps along the corridor and pushes the note with the good news under George’s door. And then runs.

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One thought on “Some brief advice from our legal department:

  1. There has been a change to circumstances – the BGS report suggests that we’ve got recoverable shale gas resources which were not known about when the previous budgets were drafted .

    Then there is a massive recession .

    People have grown tired of the idea that the UK should wear a hair shirt for some unproven hypothesis when countries like China which burn far more fossil fuels are questioning and don’t intend to act on .

    The legality of one Parliament trying to restrict following parliaments grounds for amending legislation is spurious anyway .

    It’s a bit like EU treaty’s ratcheting clauses .

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