DEFRA Talks to Save Recycling Tax Descend Into Farce

DEFRA’s new law forcing companies to pay to recycle their own packaging – set to come into force in 2024 – is going down like a cup of cold sick with industry leaders. The “Extended Producer Responsibility”, which could see food bills shoot up by another £60 if the costs were passed on to shoppers, has already raised eyebrows since it was announced in 2021, and crisis talks this week haven’t exactly salvaged the policy.

More than 700 people across multiple sectors attended the online DEFRA-held Business Readiness Forum yesterday, only for the call to descend into chaos during a discussion with a department official, as dozens of participants trashed the plans and called for the entire thing to be binned. Guido’s got a hold of the chat transcript for the forum. Here’s an idea of how it went…

  • “Why is this going live if you’re not ready?!”
  • “Definately [sic] need a policy person on this forum otherwise it doesn’t have much value. I’ve learned nothing in 38 minutes”
  • “This seems to be totally unprepared and heading for a car crash… similar to other initiatives!”
  • “Feels like we need a separate DEFRA READINESS FORUM???”
  • “Is the picture of a cliff that keeps flashing up an indication that we’re all about to jump of [sic] one?”

One source told Guido “the chat was like a runaway Sky News ticker“, adding they “couldn’t keep up” with the amount of criticism and abuse. Therese Coffey already had emergency talks on the policy back in November. It doesn’t look like they helped much…

mdi-timer 13 January 2023 @ 12:05 13 Jan 2023 @ 12:05 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour’s Stale “Out of Touch” Attack Backfires

As much as Labour is claiming to be a break from our current sour politics, judging by today’s DEFRA questions Labour hasn’t abandoned their love of milking political point-scoring. After accusing Thérèse Coffey of being out of touch, Shadow Minister Jim McMahon then asked her for the price of milk and bread in her local supermarket.

Short of getting a rise out of the Secretary of State, Thérèse was well-prepped on the bread-and-butter issue. She easily rebuffed the half-baked attack, conjuring up the figures for a pint, two pints and a “seeded loaf from Tesco” with ease. Better luck next time, Jim – no point crying over spilt milk

mdi-timer 12 January 2023 @ 11:55 12 Jan 2023 @ 11:55 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Coffey Forgets Environmental Achievements After Too Much Christmas Partying

Thérèse Coffey took to one of the last Westminster Christmas parties of the season last night, for the Conservative Environment Network’s annual do. During her speech, delivered sporting a Father Christmas hat, Coffey claimed she is the voice of the plants and the fungi, referred to herself in third person, and apologised for some of what’s happened this year. “Can I hope you enjoy a fabulous Christmas, I’m very sorry for some of the things that happened along the way!”   

The most enjoyable moment came when the ex-DPM tried reeling off some of her department’s achievements of the last few months, only to have to ask the eco-audience for help before admitting she’d spend the day partying with her civil servants:

“In two months since arriving as Secretary of State, we have delivered those targets, we’ve laid the statutory instruments, we’ve achieved the negotiations today on the fisheries, what else have we done today? We’ve made sure that we’ve actually put more money into making sure the sustainable farming initiative  will have more take-up of farmers, we’ve signed off the new environment land management scheme… I’m trying to remember… I’ve actually had my Christmas do today with my civil servants so that’s why I’m so effusive! And why I’m wearing this [hat]!

Coffey’s certainly the government voice of funguys…

mdi-timer 21 December 2022 @ 10:09 21 Dec 2022 @ 10:09 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Net Zero-Loving Civil Servants’ £130,000 Free Ride

As the country braces itself for a month of train strikes and travel chaos, we can rest in the knowledge that one group will always be protected from such discomfort. Guido can reveal that the tireless civil servants over at DEFRA spent a staggering £59,642 on taxi rides in 2022 alone. That’s well over £1,000 a week, and far in excess of the £23,000 spent by DCMS. You’d think those responsible for implementing Net Zero would recognise the need to reduce transport emissions…

The figure for 2022 was treble the £19,811 in 2021 and more in line with the £52,170 they spent in 2020 – bringing the three-year total to £131,623. And this is when they’re working from home…

mdi-timer 2 December 2022 @ 15:00 2 Dec 2022 @ 15:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government’s New Policy Will Block Gillian Rees-Mogg’s Somerset Solar Farm

During the leadership election Liz Truss consistently got loud rounds of applause from Tory members over her plan to ban solar projects on farmland, which she condemned as “a blight on the landscape” and “depressing”. On Monday, No. 10’s spokesman reiterated this policy to the media:

“In September [Truss] said she doesn’t think we should be putting solar panels on productive agricultural land, as well as the energy security issue we face a food security issue.”

Details of the new policy are scarce, though it’s believed DEFRA Secretary Ranil Jayawardena wants to widen the definition of “best and most versatile” land to prohibit solar farms from being built.

At this point in the story we head over to Bristol, where just 2.6 miles away from Jacob Rees-Mogg’s house a 58-hectare solar farm development is being proposed on land in Bishop Sutton. It’ll be a nice little money-spinner for those owning the land.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s own council – Bath and North East Somerset – acknowledge in a document that the development will expend “agricultural land”, “currently used for grazing”. So clearly Jacob would be unlikely to support the plans…

The biggest problem for Jacob Rees-Mogg? Much of the planned land for the development is owned by none other than his mother, Gillian Rees-Mogg…

mdi-timer 12 October 2022 @ 15:30 12 Oct 2022 @ 15:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
DEFRA Director Goldsmith Backs Extinction Rebellion

It’s been all of an hour since the last row within the Conservative Party so it’s obviously time for a new one: Extinction Rebellion. Over the weekend mass protests broke out in central London by the usual rabble, though unusually Labour came out to condemn the extremist group yesterday and call for an immediate injunction “to put a stop to this disruption.” The Tories were slightly incredulous given Labour’s opposition to the bill set to ban such protests…

This morning Labour’s anti-Extinction Rebellion stance was slammed by none other than Ben Goldsmith, eco brother of Zac and chair of the Conservative Environment Network, who tweeted “Not a good look from @UKLabour… I’m with @ExtinctionR”. Awkwardly, Ben is also a non-executive director of DEFRA…

Asked for a response to Goldsmith’s tweet a government source replied that George Eustice “was very clear about his view yesterday – people have a right to protest but not when it causes disruption. Ben has commented as an individual, and this isn’t government policy.”

Other responses included one Red Wall Tory telling Guido his tweet “is going down about as spectacularly as the Hindenburg amongst Tory MPs”. The tweet’s unsurprisingly been deleted…

UPDATE: Now Labour’s hit back at Goldsmith, with Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed saying “This from a Conservative official is an insult to people facing misery trying to get to work. While the government continues to refuse to act, Labour has called for immediate injunctions to put a stop to this disruption.”

mdi-timer 12 April 2022 @ 09:22 12 Apr 2022 @ 09:22 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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