Very, Very Scilly – Liberal Democrat Cognitive Dissonance

Energy secretary, Chris Huhne, Saturday 5th March –

Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,” he said. “The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.

Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St. Ives, Friday 4th March –

You can’t drive very far on the Isles of Scilly! With a population of little over 2,000, most of whom don’t have a private car, the cost to the Treasury of implementing the pilot 5p per litre rebate is relatively small. The key will be to see whether the full benefit of the 5p per litre rebate is genuinely handed on to the end customer and is not used to enhance the margin of suppliers/retailers.

That’s right.

While the leadership of the Liberal Democrats are arguing, in the light of recent instability, that Great Britain is far too reliant on oil for its energy, one of their MPs is, simultaneously, an enthusiastic supporter of a rebate for the price of fuel for the inhabitants of the Isles of Scilly.

The Isles of Scilly.

St. Mary’s, the largest of the Scilly Isles, is barely two miles across. The Scilly Isles have the warmest and sunniest climate of anywhere in the British Isles.

Who is driving on the Scilly Isles, and why on earth should we be making it cheaper for them do so?

But it gets even worse. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is also getting in on the act –

Everyone in the country is feeling the pressure of high fuel prices, but these island communities are where the prices are highest and the pressure is huge on families.

Perhaps these families are under ‘huge pressure’ to get in their cars and drive ludicrously short distances, on very quiet roads, on a beautiful, sunny island.

I doubt it.

If they are driving, what that tells me is that the price of fuel is far too cheap, and the last thing any political party apparently serious about reducing dependence on oil should be doing is making it even cheaper.

Last word to Andrew George –

You can’t drive very far on the Isles of Scilly!

The joined-up political thinking of the Liberal Democrats.

This entry was posted in Car dependence, Transport policy. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Very, Very Scilly – Liberal Democrat Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Amoeba says:

    I would have thought that the LAST thing one would need on a beautiful sunny island like St. Mary’s, is a private car. If one really needed to transport lots of stuff, what about a cargo bike or a bike trailer? By bike the longest journey is ~2.75 miles and that would only take around 31 minutes at a leisurely 10 mph. We should be penalising / discouraging unnecessary driving, rather than subsidising it.

    • stabiliser says:

      Thanks for that link. It really puts it into to perspective. You could walk that distance in under an hour – and, of course, that is from one extremity to the other, not to the shops on the centre of the island.

      I’m sure, of course, that Scilly Islanders will need to use a car occasionally – for moving large objects such as furniture, for example. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them all to rush out and buy heavy duty cargo bikes!

      But what I find so offensive about a rebate for the Scilly Isles is that it carries with it the notion that it is quite reasonable for the car to be used as an ‘everyday’ means of transport on the islands, and that its ‘everyday’ use is necessary, or somehow unavoidable. That’s why, apparently, families there are under ‘huge pressure’, as if they seemingly have no alternative!

      If we can’t encourage less car dependence on the Scilly Isles, where can we do it?

  2. Kim says:

    From the comments above, what the Scilly Islanders really need is a Cargo Bike Club, a simple, practical solution, which would help break their unsustainable car dependence.

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