Harold Wilson is credited with coining the phrase “A week is a long time in politics”. In that case, the three months since we last provided you with an update on what’s happening on Isonomia must count as an age – especially given the amount of politics that has passed under the bridge in the meantime.
When the admin team last shared our thoughts with you, we still had a coalition government. Just as we’ve seen major changes in the complexion of UK politics, we’re also ushering in a new look for our regular update to you our loyal readers. From now on we’ll be bringing you quarterly reviews, taking a broader look at events occurring beyond the Land of Blog while continuing to keep you informed of developments within its borders.
Political developments have inevitably been the theme of many of recent articles, starting with the pre-election manifesto summaries we brought you in April and May. Isonomia viewing figures seem to have provided a more reliable prediction of voter behaviour than the opinion polls: aside from an unrepresentative interest in the Green Party Manifesto among our readers, the number of page views for each article broadly reflected the number of seats they garnered. Martine Kurth’s analysis of Conservative policy came out top of the Isonomia readers’ poll, while interest in the LibDems’ many interesting green polices was decidedly subdued. We await a call from YouGov regarding our methods….
Regardless of how you might have felt about a Tory victory – both in the Land of Blog and the country at large – the new ministerial appointments in key departments affecting the environment (DECC, Defra and DCLG) seem to present some new opportunities for greener polices. For a start, Amber Rudd at DECC seems to say many of the right things about the need to tackle climate change, although we’ve explored possible reservations about other DECC appointments and concerns about the Conservatives’ opposition to onshore wind.
Lib Dem Dan Rogerson has of course been ousted from the Defra waste and recycling brief, replaced by Rory Stewart. Where Rogerson’s stint started with a letter to the waste sector to say that Defra would only be doing “the essentials”, Stewart has entered office saying that he wants to listen more to those acting on a local level when it comes to tackling food waste. While not quite a commitment to action, it is at least an expression of interest, and seems to indicate a new level of engagement from his department.
The appointment which will have the most dramatic effect here at Isonomia has been the appointment of Greg Clark as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – principally because of the concomitant departure of soon to be knight of the realm Eric Pickles. Eric’s exhortations regarding local authority waste collection spawned over a dozen articles in the last four years; his toppling from the top job has sent seismic ripples through the Land of Blog.
It was only right, then, that we should mark his passing. Just as Pickles took a parting shot at local authorities regarding their procurement of bins and vehicles, Joe Papineschi and Gwen Frost delivered a blog in response, exposing the fallacies and confusion to be found in the department’s report.
Clearly, Greg Clark has some mighty big boots to fill, and in a curious way we’ll miss writing about Eric’s decidedly slanted view on waste. Still, we hope that our loss will be local authorities’ and the environment’s gain.
Clark is a longstanding advocate of localism, which would offer relief to councils pummelled by Pickles’s penchant for imposing departmental control. Back in 2010 he spoke in favour of increasing UK EfW capacity, but that’s getting towards time immemorial in political terms – we don’t yet know how he will handle future planning applications, whether for EfW plants or for wind farms (should developers still find it economic to put them forward).
What we do know is that Isonomia will be on hand to provide you with expert commentary on all the new ministers’ forays into matters environmental. And while political prognostication might be tricky, we can give you a pretty good indication of what’s coming up on the blog.
We’ll be thinking about the implications of our changing ways of dealing with residual waste, with articles on the challenges of managing the soon to be redundant legacy of landfill in the UK and thoughts on the implications of highly competitive residual waste treatment market. You can also expect an exploration of the economics of recycling and discussion of the impact of green energy policy as we try to meet our 2020 emissions targets. And as ever we’ll be thinking about the environment in some less typical contexts – including marking the start of the new football season by looking at what the beautiful game is doing to be beautifully green.
As ever, we welcome contributions from both established and first-time authors, and if you’ve got an informed opinion on how the political climate might impact the global one, or an expert view on any other matters environmental, please do get in touch. Many of those who’ve written articles for the site started out just as visitors, and we’re always glad to hear from you if you want to pitch an idea. With your help we will create a space where thoughts on topics from across the environment sector can be expressed and explored, enabling communication and cross fertilisation of ideas.
Isonomia is more than just a blog these days – we’re hooked up to all sorts of other outlets. You can now follow us by subscribing to our Paper.Li site, where you can see Isonomia’s articles, and other interesting material, gathered together in a newspaper format. We also post our articles via our Facebook page, and tweet about each new piece. Of course at the top right of each page you can still subscribe to have each article e-mailed to you. It couldn’t be easier to follow all we have to offer.
We’ll be back to draw it all together in another three months; who knows what might have happened by then!