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Friday, March 11, 2011

Fantasy barrage politics

Let no one suggest that Peter Hain is not persistent, even if his tenacity is not of this world. In this morning's Western Mail, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales claims that there are private sector consortiums who would build the landmark Severn barrage and enable the generation of 6-7% of the UK’s energy needs, if they knew they had the full support of the Government.

However, his understanding of the project is clearly behind the times. He quotes the cost of the barrage as between £20bn and £30bn compared to the current estimate of £35bn, whilst he appears to have little idea of the rate of return required by the private sector. After all, if consortiums existed who thought that they could get the profits they wanted from such a project then why are they not making themselves known and getting on with it?

It is my belief that the Government would welcome such an approach, indeed Cheryl Gillan all but said so in the Welsh Grand Committee yesterday. What Ministers know that Peter Hain does not however, is that the rate of return is only marginal and the initial capital outlay is so vast that there would need to be a substantial public contribution to it. And this is before the environmental disbenefits are taken into account, not least its impact on the ecology of the Severn Estuary.

Peter Hain is pursuing a pipe dream for party political purposes. He may have a vision but it is not one that politicians of other parties have bought into nor is it one that is economically sustainable.
Off topic - census.

Why is the Welsh language treated as an absolute (can or can't speak / read / write Welsh)on the census?

Where as the English language allows you state your level of competance. (basic / fluent etc...)

I'm learning Welsh at the moment and because of that I don't fit properly into either catagory - I can speak, read and write a bit of basic Welsh, but I the census is asking if I can speak Welsh which the answer has to be 'no'.

This is poor question setting and seems to undermine attempts to promote the language as only confident Welsh speakers will answer in the affirmative.
Taffia Don, I'm in exactly the same position. Last time I could put that I had some grasp of Welsh, but I still am not proficient enough to be able to put 'Yes' to such a question. Won't the outcome of this be to show a drop in the number of Welsh speakers ?

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