- The proposed increase in the speed limit from 70mph to 80mph.
- The incentive to almost blackmail councils into providing weekly collections for household waste - the waste that is dumped into landfills.
The reason these two stories have struck a chord with me are simple - when he stepped into Number 10 David Cameron said that he wanted the Government to be "The Greenest Government Ever", but these two policies are totally at odds with that.
Firstly, increasing the speed limit may sound like a vote winner and in a way I agree... the current speed limit was set when cars and roads were a lot less safe and I believe a minority of deaths on the roads are caused specifically by excessive speed rather than excess speed for the conditions and the road. However, it is completely uneconomical to drive a car too fast as the increased air resistance requires a greater amount of fuel to be burned per mile - the optimum is apparently around the 50 miles per hour mark. Encouraging increased speed will therefore be encouraging additional fuel consumption - totally at odds with being the "Greenest Government Ever". I also seriously doubt that this would increase economic activity (except increasing spending on fuel)!
Secondly I have no sympathy with. I currently have weekly collections, however would prefer the council to move to fortnightly. Not only would this save money, but by keeping a weekly recycling and food waste collection it actively encourages people to think about what they are throwing out. One complaint is about rotting food - well that should be thrown in the food waste bags, which should be available to everyone on a weekly basis. I could find some sympathy for parents with babies (is it possible to get recyclable nappies?) but even a family with four kids could manage their waste better if pushed. The only reason I can see for the Conservatives wanting to throw £250,000,000 at this guarantee is to curry favour with voters - it is a politically motivated decision rather than the right decision. Remember the AV campaign and all of those things the Tories were telling us could be done with £250m (which would not have been the opportunity cost - where as in this case it is!) well apparently what they wanted to do with it was to decide to damage the environment that little bit more for our children.
I hope Chris Huhne pushes the environmental arguments and knocks some heads together at the earliest possible opportunity.
On a side note I have to say I do completely agree with George Potter again, the Tories do seem to be going about things in the right way, being neutral or even praising us after the bashing we gave them - it makes us look rather childish.