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Underground access – shale gas


The Government is currently running a consultation on proposals to reform the procedures for securing underground access to oil and gas deposits. The consultation aims to find the right balance between the legitimate interests and concerns of landowners, and the benefits to the community and nation at large of permitting development where that development is otherwise acceptable in planning and environmental terms. Several constituents have contacted me about the proposals that were detailed in the Queen’s Speech: it should be […]

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Speech on the “Green Investment Bank”


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A speech in committee on the so-called Green Investment Bank, which appears to have had a greater impact than I had forseen: 4.45 pm Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): I fear that we are, once again, gathered together to make our constituents poorer and to promote special-interest rent seeking. I am rather surprised that we are gathered together in this Committee. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has pointed out that Opposition Members wish to use direct intervention in the […]

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Protecting the green belt


My question yesterday as a supplementary to an oral question on green belt protection: Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con):Will my right hon. Friend take steps to diminish planning inspectors’ powers over those who are democratically elected? Mr Pickles: My hon. Friend must have come across some grumpy planning inspectors. By and large, they are there to introduce the national planning policy framework, and to ensure that decisions are made in accordance with it. Local democratically elected representatives have a duty to […]

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The Government’s plan to “decarbonise the transport fleet”


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Following a Transport Committee oral evidence session on Low Carbon Vehicles, I have received a letter from the Minister, Norman Baker MP (no relation). It’s not necessary to reproduce the lot, but I do wonder if car enthusiasts, or indeed drivers generally, realise that: … the Carbon Plan 2011 showed that we need to virtually decarbonise the car fleet by 2050 and new cars by 2040 to meet our 2050 80% GHG reduction target. To have a reasonable chance of […]

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Book review: Popper, All Life is Problem Solving


Karl Popper’s All Life is Problem Solving is a wonderful collection of his speeches and shorter writings in two parts: Questions of natural science and Thoughts on history and politics. I first discovered Popper through The Open Society and its Enemies, a vehement defence of democracy against totalitarianism. Many of the themes he explored there are naturally to be found in this much slimmer book. Two particular ideas are relevant today: the logic and evolution of scientific theory and his […]

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