Simon Nixon

Whistling in the dark

Simon Nixon says the government is powerless to prevent an energy crisis that could strike as early as this winter

Power cuts and rolling blackouts are about as Old Labour as rising taxes and paranoia about spooks, so it should come as no surprise that astute observers of the political scene are stockpiling candles. A report published this week explains why. According to the Institution of Civil Engineers (Ice), Britain is heading for a repeat of the 1974 three-day week, with the government forced to impose power cuts and homes left without light and heat. Ice says these problems will be upon us by 2020, but many industry experts think this is too optimistic. Professor Ian Fells, chairman of the New and Renewable Energy Centre, says that there is a 20 per cent chance that power cuts will start this winter, while Nial Trimble of the Energy Contract Company says that, without urgent action now, power cuts are a racing certainty in the winter of 2005

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