Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest green assault on property rights and freedom is to ban coal fires.
From February next year, bags of traditional house coal will be banned from sale, with deliveries of loose coal phased out by 2023. There will also be restrictions on the kind of wood you are allowed to burn, newly cut (green) wood to be made illegal.
Together with a mooted ban on gas-fired boilers and gas-fired cookers — both extremely popular in the country — the new, green-obsessed administration appears to be signalling that an Englishman’s home is no longer his castle and that his hearth now belongs to the government.
A coal fire is one of the few things that makes winter enjoyable, so naturally the government is going to ban it. pic.twitter.com/ykJ2e0vbdC
— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) February 20, 2020
This intrusive and vexatious act of gesture politics will, of course, make no measurable difference to ‘climate change’. But it will hurt lots of rural households where the glow of a coal fire is still a welcome respite from the damp and misery of a country winter; and also working-class communities in areas like the north of England, where coal is still a source of convenient and cheap energy.
Among those condemning the decision is science writer, environmentalist and peer Lord Ridley, who says:
“In the northeast of England, especially in rural areas, there are many people who still heat their homes with coal, in some cases by preference rather than for want of alternatives. It’s cheap and they only pay when they need to. This ban will hit poor people in rural areas, where there is not an air pollution problem anyway. Plus, bizarrely, you get a higher — yes, higher!! — energy-performance certificate for a house with a coal-fired heating system than one using oil or gas. So the requirement to pass an EPC test before selling or renting a house could make houses unsellable if they are forced to spend a lot of money converting to gas. This has not been thought through, and it is a move that could have been designed to punish northerners.”
Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, echoes Ridley’s concerns. He says:
“This is really, really stupid. Boris seems to be doing everything possible to make life more difficult for as many people as possible. Eventually, just like Macron in France, he’ll pay a huge price for this.”
The ban on domestic coal and wet wood was announced by Environment Secretary George ‘Useless’ Eustice, who said:
“Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country, but the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK. By moving toward the use of cleaner fuels such as dry wood we can all play a part in improving the health of millions of people.”
This health claim is at best moot. First, coal fires are already banned where they are likely to pose any kind of health threat — in towns and cities. Second, as Steve Milloy has demonstrated, the threat of small particulate pollution — notably PM2.5 — has been massively oversold by the environmental lobby.
In reality, it is part of the Johnson administration’s mission to take total control of Britain’s energy economy by removing traditional fossil fuel alternatives like gas, coal and wood from the mix, and forcing households to use increasingly expensive electricity generated from such government-approved sources as wind, solar and the overpriced nuclear power generated by Hinkley Point C.
Boris Johnson was formerly a sceptic of climate change — and of the ‘solutions’ being forced on taxpayers by the powerful vested interests of the green lobby. But he appears to have been converted by his environmentalist girlfriend — and also by his two most influential right-hand men, Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings.
Cummings — for all the hopes many had pinned on him as a radical, reforming thinker — appears to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the climate alarmist narrative. Or rather, he appears to have taken it on trust that the climate change ‘problem’ is a real one — and has subsumed it into his vision for a new technology and science-driven economy.
“Cummings is a complete plonker. He thinks the Government has to go green because it’s popular. But I’ve been warning for some time he will pay a hefty price for this. The public mood can turn very quickly.”
He cites the example of France’s gilets-jaunes protests which were originally sparked by a small rise in petrol prices imposed by Macron as a tax to help save the environment. Britain, he argues, is heading in the same direction with a threatened rise in fuel duty – which could make a bitter enemy of Britain’s 40 million motorists.
Boris, argues Peiser, is turning into the anti-Donald-Trump. Whereas Trump rewarded his base in America’s industrial heartlands by encouraging the cheap, abundant, fossil fuel energy that ordinary folk want and need, Boris is doing the opposite by going full on green and appealing only to affluent, middle-class townies.
The list of unforced errors made by the Boris administration in pursuit of its foolish quest to take Britain Net Zero by 2050 includes: the planned cancellation of diesel and petrol cars; no extension for Heathrow airport; no exploitation of Britain’s abundant shale gas reserves; a mooted rise in fuel duty; the replacement of gas boilers and cookers with electric ones; Extinction Rebellion protestors allowed to block highways, vandalise private property with impunity; and now the abolition of coal fires and the threatened cancellation of woodburners.
This is not why Brexit Britain voted for Boris. In fact, if you had to sum up everything that Brexit Britain loathed about the bossy, nannying, politically correct, interfering, freedom-hating, green-obsessed European Union, all you need do is look at the Boris’s administrations list of green policy proposals — and weep for the future of the country.