SHEDNOTES 61: After reading the following report by Christopher Booker in Sun. Tel. 8.2.15, The Shed was ready to swing a point or two in favour of anyone with anything useful to say about this sort of shit.
As the Chilcott farce shows, the one thing modern government is really good at is keeping secret what we have a right to know. Yet another example of this has now been endured for more than two years by Alex Henney, who formerly held senior posts in the electricity industry. Some time ago he and Ross Anderson, a Cambridge professor of engineering and computing, looked at one of the more fanciful features of the increasingly chaotic plans for Britain’s energy policy devised by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).
For years Decc has been planning to force us to replace our existing electricity meters with 50 million electronic “smart meters”, supposedly to allow us to save energy at a cost of £11 billion. When the two experts compared Decc’s proposal with similar schemes in a dozen other countries, they found it was not only absurdly expensive but also so complicated that it would be unworkable.
In 2011 they handed their report to Decc and were intrigued to learn that the Cabinet Office’s “Major Projects Review Authority” had then produced a review of the smart meter scheme. In November 2012, Henney put in a Freedom of Information request to see it. After 60 days he was sent the 16-page paper, 15 and a half of which had been redacted. The only half-page they were able to read contained a serious error. After 60 more days he was sent the paper again, only half-redacted but with more errors.
When Henney appealed, the Information Commissioner took 10 months to rule in his favour. Decc then took 30 days to appeal against this to the “First Tier Tribunal”, which took five months to meet and three more to rule that Henney was right to ask for sight of the full paper. Last week Decc gleefully wrote to Mr Henney to say that it has now been given permission to appeal against this ruling to the “Higher Tribunal”.
Anyone familiar with Kafka’s novel The Castle will know what is going on here. Meanwhile, Decc stumbles blindly on towards landing us with one of the most pointless and costly IT disasters in government history.