Monday, 16 March 2009

Stories From My Youth (no 3291): Goodbye Gasometers

When I was approaching my early teens the country went through a massive infrastructural change: thousands of gasometers came down and all the gas pipes were changed to take North Sea gas which had some mysteriously different quality to the previously used coal gas.

Can't we have a similar programme written into the budget which goes for universal house insulation? Surely it is the perfect Keynesian counter-cyclical measure:
  • It is a one-off capital project;
  • It would be labour intensive at time of rising unemployment;
  • It would spread employment opportunities to where people actually live, not require them to move; and
  • It would leave the country with a vital strategic heritage of reduced Co2 omissions.

What's not to like? (Apart from the cost of course - but, hey, as we've seen with the banks, what's a few billion between friends?)


  1. Charlie, as you know we've already had the Govt appropriate this idea for the purposes of spin

    with Ed Miliband's earthshaking "pledge... to give every home a green makeover by 2030".

    Which will put us on target to solve the depression by 2100...

    Of course it costs, but if you are going to print money, you might as well spend it on something useful. What would be your target year to complete the green makeover?

  2. I've seen no details of Milbands plan. I have no reason to imagine it will be free, or even particularly cheap, and I had imagined it was largely going to be leaflets about buying draft excluders and low energy lightbulbs, old cynic that I am.

    If I'm wrong and they really are going for something on the scale of conversion to North Sea gas - an analogy I chose for its dullness and seemingly unrevolutionary nature - I applaud them. Conversion to North Sea gas took ten years - I suspect that home insulation could be done significantly quicker, as it doesn't require so much large scale civil engineering.

  3. Gas is a good analogy indeed. Another one would be the 1970s programme of grants to give everyone a few basics like an inside bog without having to knock whole districts down.

    We used to be able to do this kind of thing. Can we do it now?