Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Huge shale deposits confirmed in the South of England

May 23, 2014
Map of the Weald Basin

Shale deposits in South of England and Wales (BBC)

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has now confirmed the huge deposits of oil bearing shale in the South of England . Ironically this comes just days after the BBC also reported on the idiot report by the self-styled Global Sustainability Institute that the UK would run out of oil, coal and gas in 5 years!!!

BBC (23rd May)The BBC’s John Moylan said that although the BGS study will say that there are several billion barrels of oil in place, is not clear how much would be economically recoverable. ….. By way of comparison, the equivalent of around 45 billion barrels of oil has been extracted from the North Sea over the past 40 years.

Last year, a BGS study of the North of England suggested there could be as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas contained in shale rocks. ….

Andrew Austin, chief executive of the onshore energy IGAS, said it had long been known that southern England had extensive resources.

He told the BBC: “We’ve known that there’s a big potential for oil and gas explorations across the country but particularly in terms of oil in the Weald Basin which is the area that stretches roughly from Winchester across towards Gatwick, up to the M25 and down to the coast at Chichester.

“There’s been a long history of oil and gas exploration in this area. We as a company produce oil and gas from around 20 sites across that area. Around 40 million barrels have been recovered from that area to date.”

In the US, fracking for oil and gas has created an energy boom and led to speculation that the country could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer by 2020, or even sooner.

Gas prices in the US have fallen sharply as a result, and other countries are now hoping that shale oil and gas could also lead to lower domestic energy prices.

And just a few days ago the BBC chose to present this nonsense.

BBC (16th May)In just over five years Britain will have run out of oil, coal and gas, researchers have warned. …… There should be a “Europe-wide drive” towards wind, tidal, solar and other sources of renewable power, the institute’s Prof Victor Anderson said. ….

……. Professor Anderson said: “Coal, oil and gas resources in Europe are running down and we need alternatives.

“The UK urgently needs to be part of a Europe-wide drive to expand renewable energy sources such as wave, wind, tidal, and solar power.”

However, Jim Skea, Research Councils fellow in UK Energy Strategy. cast doubt on the findings of the report.

He told BBC News: “This sounds very unlikely. What’s more, it’s irrelevant – the UK has a stable supply of imported energy, even if it is a good idea to increase our own supplies.”

The government recently announced it was cutting subsidies for large-scale solar energy and the Conservatives have said there will be no funding for new onshore wind farms if they win the next election.

Ministers are hoping that enough shale gas – extracted by fracking – will be obtained to make a difference, the BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin says.

Professor Victor Anderson is an alarmist economist who used to work for the World Wildlife Fund. But to develop a catastrophe theory and predict that the UK will run out coal, oil and gas in 5 years is just stupidity.

Prior to taking up his current position Professor Anderson had worked as Senior Policy Officer for One Planet Economy at WWF-UK, a Lecturer at Goldsmith’s College, London University, an Economist at the Sustainable Development Commission, a Senior Parliamentary Researcher at Plaid Cymru Group of MPs, Board Member at London Development Agency and an elected Assembly Member at the Greater London Authority. He is also currently a Member of the Planetary Boundaries Initiative Advisory Group.

When molluscs and plovers take precedence – the “green” contribution to drought and flooding

February 13, 2014

Do-gooding idiocy has its consequences.

High rains (which happen from time to time) and undredged rivers will inevitably result in escape channels for the water being restricted and increase the possibility of water breaking out of the river channels and finding their own way to the sea. In the UK it seems rainfall levels have been very high this winter – but not as high as in 1929/1930. People are now living in much more vulnerable areas than they did before and the lack of dredging – mainly to protect some form of plant or wildlife – has led to – or at least contributed to – some of the flooding that is currently being experienced. Sections of the Thames have been left undredged to protect molluscs!

Apparently the same form of green idiocy  has also been prevalent in the US. In South Dakota plovers take precedence over humans and in northern California, the Delta Smelt – a small fish – is preventing the release of waters which could alleviate the drought being experienced by many farmers.

Human Lives Being Imperiled to Save the Mollusc and the Plover

It’s time for the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its British counterpart the Environment Agency (EA) to put humans first on their epic Endangered Species Lists. 

The new mantra of everyday people who make the populations of the U.S. and Britain should be: ‘People First, Rare Molluscs, Plover, & Delta Smelt Last’.

Thousands of people in both nations are being flooded out of house and home and lives are being imperiled because weak western leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron allow their environment protection agencies to continue to cower to the demands of radical environmentalists.

Out of decency for the devastated, photo ops for Prime Minister David Cameron and politicians visiting Britain’s flooded areas wearing “wellies” (as in Wellington rubber boots) should be curtailed. …… 

It now turns out that in spite of the afflicted region being one of the most ‘undefended flood plains in England’, the Thames was not dredged in case a rare mollusc was disturbed. (Daily Mail, Feb. 13, 2014)

The EA,  of course is claiming that the mussels were not the only reason the Thames was not dredged, even though in a 2010 report, seen by the Mail, they ruled out dredging between Datchet and Staines because the river bed was home to the vulnerable creatures. ….. 

Even with devastation as the result, in South Dakota the waters of the mighty Missouri River are held back each spring to protect the plover, a shore bird that nests along the Missouri. 

“If they let out too much water in the spring, it drowns out their nests and kills the baby birds.  So the corps holds it back to allow the birds to hatch.” (William Kevin Stoos,CFP, June 1, 2011)

“Fast forward to the spring of 2011.  As I watch my friends in Dakota Dunes frantically trying to escape the mighty flood waters released in record amounts by the Corps this week, while their houses are ruined by the Muddy Mo, and my friends, neighbors, and family members work feverishly to protect our own homes and each others’ homes in Wynstone, South Dakota—up river a ways—I thought about the plover. ……

That’s the true tawdry tale of the plovers saved by environmentalists along the Missouri.

Then there’s the never-ending curious story of the Delta Smelt, a tiny fish that is exclusive to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a once fertile area that serves as a transition for water originating in northern California, ending in water delivery west of the delta for agriculture and south of the Delta for citizens of southern California.

According to Save-the-Fish radical environmentalists, pumping stations used for water delivery were pulverizing the smelt and leading to a dramatic decrease in population and possible extinction.

“The Delta smelt is not edible, does not eliminate pests or have any meaningful commercial value.  Sometimes, despite environmentalist’s protestations to the contrary, certain species reach a natural evolutionary dead end,” wrote William Busse in the Maricopa County Conservative Examiner back in September of 2009.

“However, using the weapon of the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups sued, and on December 14, 2007, Judge Oliver Wanger of the United States District Court for the Eastern district of California, issued an Interim Remedial Order

“The impact on farmers in the area has been devastating with the San Joaquin Valley unemployment rate reaching 14% and leaving thousands of previously productive farming acres scorched and unusable.  In addition, water utilities in southern California have already begun raising rates and creating tiered pricing to address the 85% reduction in imported water.”

To this day California is still under deadly drought—and still diverting water to save the Delta Smelt.

The incredulous headlines today are about a snowstorm in Washington. A snowstorm in winter! Who could possibly have anticipated that?

Environmentalism gives little priority to humans.

Compassion – and common sense – in short supply with the UK authorities

December 1, 2013

Compassion is something disappearing from the UK –  from both sides of the political divide. Common sense has little part to play when it comes to the behaviour of officialdom.

Two stories from the UK caught my attention this morning. One, in the right-leaning Telegraph, reports on how Social Services in Essex, with the support of an acquiescent – but apparently rather dim – Judge, not only took a baby away from an Italian woman – but took it away before birth and ordered a caesarean section just so that they could get access to the child!! Ripping children from a mother’s womb in the UK of the 21st century! Not just a Nanny state but a Nanny State in Jackboots. (It has been some 30 years since I lived in the UK but I was amazed on a visit earlier this year at the extent to which the Nanny state does permeate ordinary life. The “do-gooding” Health and Safety blanket thrown across the entire country to stifle the population is particularly ludicrous – and ineffective).

The second story is in the very left-leaning Guardian and is about the Jackboots worn by the Home Secretary Theresa May and the whip she wields when it comes to the deportation of unwanted asylum seekers. But – and not for the first time – she does not seem particularly skillful in wielding her whip. She might have found that transferring the asylum seeker to a hospital run by the  Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust more “effective” than a botched £100,000 charter flight which didn’t go anywhere.

So, one story in a right-leaning paper about the arrogant excesses of a left indoctrinated Social Services and a second story in a left-leaning paper about the arrogant excesses of a right-wing politician trying desperately hard to be populist. The one illustrates the oppression by the “do-gooding left” which always “knows best”. And the second illustrates the oppression by those in power trying to perpetuate their position. And – as far as I could see – neither paper chooses to give much prominence to the excesses of their own kind!

The Telegraph‘Operate on this mother so that we can take her baby’

A mother was given a caesarean section while unconscious – then social services put her baby into care. 

Last summer a pregnant Italian mother flew to England for a two-week Ryanair training course at Stansted. Staying at an airport hotel, she had something of a panic attack when she couldn’t find the passports for her two daughters, who were with her mother back in Italy. She called the police, who arrived at her room when she was on the phone to her mother. The police asked to speak to the grandmother, who explained that her daughter was probably over-excited because she suffered from a “bipolar” condition and hadn’t been taking her medication to calm her down.

The police told the mother that they were taking her to hospital to “make sure that the baby was OK”. On arrival, she was startled to see that it was a psychiatric hospital, and said she wanted to go back to her hotel. She was restrained by orderlies, sectioned under the Mental Health Act and told that she must stay in the hospital. …… a High Court judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, had given the social workers permission to arrange for the child to be delivered.

The GuardianPrivate plane carrying ‘near to death’ asylum seeker forced back to UK. 

Home Office officials were refusing to comment on Saturday evening on an apparently botched effort to deport a seriously ill man from Britain by private plane. A jet chartered by the government was forced to return to the UK with Nigerian Ifa Muaza and immigration officials still on board, after a 20-hour flight that saw the plane prevented from entering Nigerian airspace. It diverted to Malta, where an angry dispute broke out with the authorities over the plane’s right to use its airstrip.

The aircraft then had to return to Britain, landing at Luton, where Muaza, a failed asylum seeker who was said last week to have been near death after a 100-day hunger strike, was taken off by stretcher and returned to Harmondsworth detention centre near Heathrow. The flight is estimated to have cost the Home Office £95,000- £110,000. Muaza was the only detainee on board, according to sources. ….. 

Will the UK Lib-Dems go the way of the German FDP?

September 26, 2013

Last Sunday’s election results were an unmitigated disaster for the FDP in Germany. Historically – and going back to 1949 – it was unprecedented. They have no seats in the Bundestag for the first time. Sharing power in government has not helped them.

(All charts from Wikipedia)

FDP seats won

FDP vote percentage

There is a parallel to be drawn with the UK though the German proportional representation system has generally been kinder to the FDP than the UK “first past the post” system has been to the Liberal Democrats. But when times are bad the PR system of Germany is also more ruthless. The FDP dropped from an all- time high of 14.6% of the vote in 2009 to 4.8% last Sunday. The Lib-Dems were at 23% in 2010 and are currently at 10%.

File:LibDem vote-seat percent.PNG

Votes and seats won by the Lib-Dems

Today’s modern Lib-Dem party is not quite the Liberal party of old. In my youth I read about the great days of the Liberal party of Gladstone and Lloyd George (and even the young Winston Churchill). I thought quite highly of Jo Grimond and David Steele. But the merger of the Liberals – proposed by David Steele – with the break-away Social Democrats  from the right of the Labour party in 1988 has created a strange animal which has no true identity of its own. Like the ancient chimera with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake the Lib-Dems today try to combine mutually repellent ideologies and produce rather confused, fascistic do-gooders. With figures like Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne (now disgraced), Vince Cable and Ed Davey in their ranks they are enjoying their moment in the sun but are suffering from the twin fantasies that the tail wags the dog and that they know best what is good for others.

That their time in government supporting the Tories will be to their electoral detriment in the next general election seems very likely. Whether they will be wiped out like the FDP is unlikely in the British system but a comprehensive collapse is not inconceivable. Like the FDP which participated in a government dominated by Angela Merkel, the Lib-Dems are propping up but are totally dominated by Cameron’s conservatives.

Like the FDP, the Lib-Dems now run the risk of forcing their normally middle-of-the-road base towards the left or the right.  Like in the FDP, their traditional supporters in academia and the education system and the welfare services are going to move leftwards as the Lib-Dems give in to the Tories (with student tuition fees for example and for Helath Service cuts). The Lib-Dems have been the “green” face of this government but Cameron has been quite adept at using them for cover (as Angela Merkel has also done with the FDP). The disastrous cost of the renewable energy policies in Germany and the UK are seen as being more the fault of the Greens/FDP in Germany and of the Lib-Dems in Britain. Their ususal support among the environmental “do-gooders” is likely to shift leftwards for the moderates and greenwards for the more extreme. The traditional support from small shop keepers and small businesses is likely to shift rightwards.  The NSA scandal has hit the civil liberties image of the FDP as being a colluding party within the ruling government and so also for the Lib-Dems.  The support of The Guardian for the Lib-Dems can be compared to that of Die Zeit and Der Tagesspiegel for the FDP.

The general election in the UK is due in May 2015 (Scotland independence referendum intervening in 2014) and this gives the Lib-Dems 18 months to demonstrate that they have an agenda of their own. But this requires them to repudiate much of what they have agreed to while in government and will lead to a level of schizophrenia.

My guess is that the Lib-Dems will be reduced to less than the 10% they are currently polling at (from the 23% they had in the 2010 election). Philipp Rösler has just resigned as the FDP chairman. Nick Clegg will need to do the same in 2015 – though one could argue that the Lib-Dems might do better if they got rid of him before the election. They could do with a leader who is not as light-weight as Clegg or tainted as being Cameron’s poodle (but who?).

They will probably slip behind UKIP who are also at about the same 10% level but seem to be imploding. 2015 then will be a straight Tory-Labour fight. Neither Cameron or Milliband are particularly impressive as leaders. And so it will be a battle to see who is better at losing. And Milliband may be the more prone to losing an election.

UK also following US instructions in detaining partner of the journalist linked to Snowden

August 19, 2013

The subservience of European security services to their US counterparts seems complete.

It was not so long ago that we had the story 

…. about France and Portugal and Austria kowtowing to demands made – no doubt – by US “intelligence” while forcing down the Bolivian President’s plane yesterday, suggests that this subservience of their European counterparts still continues. The quality of the US “intelligence” that Snowden was on the plane was clearly very “strain’d”. The “constraining” of intelligence” to suit a political purpose will be with us for a long time and the poodle-like behaviour of the European countries is sometimes embarrassing to observe.

It transpired later that Germany was also complicit in the massive US surveillance. Snowden has since been granted a years asylum in Russia and it is to be expected that US dissatisfaction and irritation is running high. And today we have the story of how the UK security services detained the partner of the journalist associated with Snowden while he was en route from Berlin to Brazil. He was detained, questioned for 9 hours, had his lap-top and memory sticks confiscated – all under powers available from terrorist legislation.  It does seem that the UK – like France and Portugal and Austria – was merely following instructions from across the Atlantic. One wonders what new revelations from Snowden’s material the US NSA is so paranoid about.

Reuters: 

British authorities used anti-terrorism powers on Sunday to detain the partner of a journalist with close links to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who has been granted asylum by Russia, as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport.

The 28-year-old David Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald who writes for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, a report on the Guardian website said.

A British Metropolitan Police Service spokesman said a 28-year-old male had been detained at Heathrow airport under provisions of the 2000 Terrorism Act. That law gives British border officials the right to question someone “to determine if that individual is a person concerned in the commission, preparation or execution of acts of terrorism.”

The invocation of terrorism legislation is more than a little far-fetched but was probably a quick, convenient way for the compliant UK security services to satisfy the US demands. I am just a little surprised that it did not just give rise to a case of “extraordinary rendition” with Miranda being hustled onto a plane bound for the US.

Lobbying and ethics

June 3, 2013

The UK is once again facing the unedifying view of Parliamentarians who offer their services for payment. It causes no shock any more. It has almost become the behaviour to be expected.

BBC:

Three peers have been accused of agreeing to carry out Parliamentary work for payment.

Undercover Sunday Times reporters filmed the men appearing to offer to help a fake solar energy company.

Ulster Unionist Lord Laird and Labour’s Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Cunningham deny wrongdoing.

The two Labour peers have been suspended from the party and Lord Laird has resigned the party whip pending an investigation.

In a separate investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph, Lord Laird was also secretly filmed discussing a retainer to ask parliamentary questions.

But it is not lobbying or the Rules of Parliament which are the fundamental problem. It is the ethics of Parliamentarians which is.

Not much has changed since I wrote this back in 2010.

…….  While the range of all possible human behaviour is generated by the individual’s values, it is subject to:

  • Law, which defines what a person may not do.
  • Morals, which define what a person ought not to do whether or not it is lawful.
  • Ethics, which describe what is correct and desirable for a person to do; which will always be moral and will usually be lawful.

There are probably many politicians who do have admirable intentions and who do not get involved with the murkier side of political funding. But politicians whether in the US or Europe or in Asia do sell “access” into the world of regulations and approvals. MP’s and even Ministers in the UK are not shy in offering their paid services from time to time. Ministers in India have their performance ranked according to how much they raised for the party coffers. Japanese politicians approve roads and highways in their constituencies that nobody needs, except the civil contractors, their employees and their shareholders. Parliamentarians across the world offer their services to raise questions in parliament or in parliamentary committees. The skimming off of funds, misuse of subsidies and regulatory scams such as the Carbon Trading scam are legendary in the European Union. All over the world many politicians propose the “pork belly” projects in their own constituencies, sometimes with little competition, to add to appropriations legislation. Just in the US alone there has been between 13 and 27 Billion US$ of appropriations for “pork” projects for each year between 2005 and 2009. Assuming that these projects just followed US or OECD guidelines on corruption, but made use of all the loopholes available, the contract awards could have legitimised between 400 M US$ and 800 M US $ every year which could have – and probably has – ended up in the funds of political parties and their lobbyists. A large number of the people involved in these channels have rather “sticky fingers” which allows the amassing of individual wealth as it flows. …….

….. In my experience, which is limited to contracting in the power generation industry, the reverse sequence, where corporations initiate the whole process while seeking competitive advantage and offer  pay-offs to politicians or contributions to their party funds, is not unknown but probably not as prevalent. …….

……. There is a pervasive atmosphere within the business world today taking the view that ethics is not a matter for corporations. Milton Friedman, Peter Drucker and others must bear their share of the responsibility for having propagated the view that corporations should only be concerned with the profit they deliver to shareholders. They have – maybe inadvertently – supported the view that humans in a corporate setting can and should abdicate their own ethical codes. The Wall Street Journal has declared from on high that ethics cannot be learned and ethics courses are irrelevant to business. Utter rubbish of course, but even the “newspapers of record” such as the New York Times or The Times or Der Spiegel or the Wall Street Journal have lost their famed objectivity and have become political advocacy channels. It is such high-profile and basically amoral views which have been greatly responsible for providing a cloak of respectability for the attitude that:

         i.            Corporations have no business to concern themselves with ethics, and

       ii.            Even if ethics is important then compliance with law is a sufficient substitute for having a code of ethics, and

    iii.            If an action is seen to be compliant with laws then this is sufficient.

………

The fundamental reason for behaviour to be ethical is not because of some collateral benefit it may bring but simply because it is the right and proper thing to do. The right and correct thing to do is sufficient in itself, and does not need excuses or justification. In spite of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion, ethics can be taught and can be developed.

from Essence of a Manager 

A Guard fit for a Queen

March 4, 2013

BBC

Police officers outside the King Edward VII Hospital in London, where the Queen has been admitted

Britain’s tallest police officer – PC Anthony Wallyn, who is 7ft 2in – was among the officers standing guard at the hospital on Sunday

PC Anthony Wallyn

 

Wind farm performance declines by a third in just 10 years

December 20, 2012

The intermittent nature of wind and the speed restructions on wind turbines means that the load factor of wind farms is low to begin with (about 20 -25% for on-shore units and about 35-40% for off-shore units). But this is only when they are new. They seem to age very rapidly. This study of UK on-shore plants and Danish on-shore and off-shore plants shows that

  1. Wind farms age rapidly with on-shore plants declining in performance by about one-third in 10 years and off-shore plants declining by over 60% in 10 years, and
  2. The economic life of a wind farm is, at best, around 15 years and not the 25 years considered “normal” for a power plant

REF’s press release:

The Renewable Energy Foundation [1] today published a new study, The Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom and Denmark,[2] showing that the economic life of onshore wind turbines is between 10 and 15 years, not the 20 to 25 years projected by the wind industry itself, and used for government projections.  

The work has been conducted by one of the UK’s leading energy & environmental economists, Professor Gordon Hughes of the University of Edinburgh[3], and has been anonymously peer-reviewed.  This groundbreaking study applies rigorous statistical analysis to years of actual wind farm performance data from wind farms in both the UK and in Denmark.

The full report is available here.

The Executive Summary states.

1. Onshore wind turbines represent a relatively mature technology, which ought to have achieved a satisfactory level of reliability in operation as plants age. Unfortunately, detailed analysis of the relationship between age and performance gives a rather different picture for both the United Kingdom and Denmark with a significant decline in the average load factor of onshore wind farms adjusted for wind availability as they get older. An even more dramatic decline is observed for offshore wind farms in Denmark, but this may be a reflection of the immaturity of the technology.

2. The study has used data on the monthly output of wind farms in the UK and Denmark reported under regulatory arrangements and schemes for subsidising renewable energy. Normalised age-performance curves have been estimated using standard statistical techniques which allow for differences between sites and over time in wind resources and other factors.

3. The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15. The decline in the normalised load factor for Danish onshore wind farms is slower but still significant with a fall from a peak of 22% to 18% at age 15. On the other hand for offshore wind farms in Denmark the normalised load factor falls from 39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10. The reasons for the observed declines in normalised load factors cannot be fully assessed using the data available but outages due to mechanical breakdowns appear to be a contributory factor.

4. Analysis of site-specific performance reveals that the average normalised load factor of new UK onshore wind farms at age 1 (the peak year of operation) declined significantly from 2000 to 2011. In addition, larger wind farms have systematically worse performance than smaller wind farms. Adjusted for age and wind availability the overall performance of wind farms in the UK has deteriorated markedly since the beginning of the century.

5. These findings have important implications for policy towards wind generation in the UK. First, they suggest that the subsidy regime is extremely generous if investment in new wind farms is profitable despite the decline in performance due to age and over time. Second, meeting the UK Government’s targets for wind generation will require a much higher level of wind capacity – and, thus, capital investment – than current projections imply. Third, the structure of contracts offered to wind generators under the proposed reform of the electricity market should be modified since few wind farms will operate for more than 12–15 years.

The price of longevity is degradation of the elderly

October 7, 2012

The care of the elderly passing from family members to institutions is one of the apparently irreversible  developments in all cultures today. It is not just a phenomenon of “Western” civilization but is a trend across the globe. As “joint families” have given way to nuclear families and as couples have both gone out “to work” and as the elderly desire greater independence and as people live longer, the responsibility for the care of the elderly has passed to institutions from ever-more burdened children or relations.

But a model for institutional care – whether by private players or the State – which works without the degradation of the elderly has yet to be found. I suppose the fundamental reasons are that

  1. to die quietly and with some dignity and with as little discomfort as possible is only of value to the dying,
  2. those who are “in care” have limited opportunities to make themselves heard, let alone to complain,
  3. those “in care” are no longer worth very much to the society they live in and are only seen as a cost,
  4. even for the relatives and children of those in institutional care, the elderly are seen primarily as “duties”  and they would rather not complain if the only solution is a responsibility devolving upon themselves, and
  5. for institutions providing care there is always a  financial benefit to not providing care and they get no “extra bonus” when they do provide care.

(more…)

UK cancellation of rail contract is in the style of Indian contracts

October 3, 2012

Large public contracts in India are often plagued by claims of favouritism, rigged specifications to suit a particular bidder, rigged evaluations, bid cancellations, vicious publicity campaigns by the protagonists and innumerable rebids. It is not uncommon for high profile complaints by a bidder after losing a bid to lead to a reversal of an award decision. The more high profile the complaint is and the closer in time a complaint is to an election, the more likely it is that a reversal of a decision can be achieved. The sales process in India does not end when a contract is awarded and any self-respecting sales manager does not stop until he has tried all available avenues to reverse an award decision which has gone against his bid. The primary avenues available are through approaches to politicians and the bureaucrats involved in the evaluation and award (and these approaches are not always without the appropriate lubricating flows of  money).  For politicians, the bureaucrats are both the potential scapegoats and the potential justification for reversals of decisions. For good and bad, the Indian Civil Service is modeled on the British Civil Service  and the interactions between politicians and bureaucrats in India today have their roots in the methods of the British Raj. Bidding flaws and reversals of contract awards are usually a good indicator for the presence of corruption.

Phases of approval reversals

This story in the UK where high profile complaints from Richard Branson and Virgin Rail has led to the reversal of a decision to award a contract to a competitor could be a story lifted directly from an Indian newspaper. I note that in this case the politicians who have reversed their decision are using bureaucrats as their scapegoat. Who else? And when they make a new award they will surely justify their new decision on the pronouncements of other, more senior bureaucrats. It would seem that the methods of UK politicians and bureaucrats even today are not so different from those of their Indian counterparts. In India though, the opportunities afforded to bureaucrats and politicians by the bidding process have been raised to a much higher level.

The Telegraph:

Government cancels West Coast Mainline contract due to ‘flaws’ in bidding process

FirstGroup’s contract to run the West Coast Mainline has been cancelled by the Government due to “significant technical flaws” in the bidding process, which will be re-run. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the flaws “stem from the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated”.


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