Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Why nothing gets done

Fuel hoseIf you ever detect the merest hint of satire when I blog about councils, you might just possibly be right. While I really don’t have any particular agenda with regard to them or their members, I despair at the way common sense (remember common sense? – we used to use it before Political Correctness was invented) is thrown out of the window when individuals can hide behind collective responsibility, and what might otherwise be a good idea gets strangled by due process.

One such example surfaced recently. A simple suggestion made in Dumfries and Galloway proposed that council vehicles be run on biofuel made from recycled cooking oil collected from school kitchens. The council is said to have a current annual fuel bill of almost £2 million.

As individuals, you or I might just go out and do this without much further thought. Motoring programmes have dispelled most of the myths around used chip fat when as a fuel for diesel vehicles, and in summer all that’s needed is filtering to make sure none of the bits get into the vehicle’s fuel system. In winter, the old oil tends to become too thick thanks to the cold weather, but additives can cure this.

Job done, and…

If you want to go one better, for a few thousand pounds, you can buy your own biodiesel converter to store in your garage, and this will purify and convert the old cooking oil into genuine biodiesel.

There are a few pitfalls, and one or two cars have seals that don’t like biodiesel, but these are generally well documented, so there should be no difficulty in avoiding such vehicles. Warranty may be an issue, but as individuals, we’re likely to be running cars where this is not relevant (they’ll be too old). Again, these problem manufacturers have all been documented, so the smart thing would simply be to avoid them when buying a new vehicle, and avoid their restrictive warranty conditions too.

However, things are not so simple when you’re the council, and have a committee to play with.

First, someone will be concerned with small size of the saving.

Then someone will want a study into further alternatives to be conducted.

Someone else will be concerned about the cost of vehicle conversion.

Someone else will worry about those manufacturers that don’t support the use of such fuel.

Someone else will shake their heads and ask about the cost of collection, processing and storage.

Someone else will demand a consultation, probably costing around £5,000 for a feasibility study.

(By then, someone else will want to know if the tea and sandwiches have got lost, but that happens at every meeting, so doesn’t count here.)

And that takes us back to the first point, as the size of the saving,  estimated to be abbout £5,000 per annum.

It makes you wonder how much it cost in council wages to discuss the issue in the first place, and if all the hot air produced made up for the waste of gas/electricity used to keep the council chamber lit and warm at the time, while the proposal to re-use some waste was stillborn, before it even had a chance to prove itself…

And wonder why anyone bothers having any ideas in the first place.


03/04/2009 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

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