Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 28 November

Tonight Owl will be switching off!

(Between 5pm and 7pm)

UK power prices hit record high amid cold snap and lack of wind power

The anticipated surge in power demand on Monday evening will coincide with a planned use of the National Grid’s demand flexibility service between 5pm and 7pm.

Alex Lawson 

UK power prices have hit record levels as an icy cold snap and a fall in supplies of electricity generated by wind power have combined to push up wholesale costs.

The day-ahead price for power for delivery on Monday reached a record £675 a megawatt-hour on the Epex Spot SE exchange. The price for power at 5-6pm, typically around the time of peak power demand each day, passed an all-time high of £2,586 a megawatt-hour.

Prices are surging as the weather forces Britons to increase their heating use, pushing up demand for energy, despite high bills.

Snow and ice have caused disruption as the cold weather looks set to continue into this week, with snow forecast for parts of east and south-east England, as well as Scotland.

The cold snap, which is expected to last for at least a week, comes as wind speeds reduced sharply, hitting power suppliers.

Live data from the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator showed that wind power was providing just 3% of Great Britain’s electricity generation on Sunday. Gas-fired power stations provided 59%, while nuclear power and electricity imports both accounted for about 15%.

The increase in power prices come amid jitters over energy supplies this winter. National Grid warned in October that a combination of factors such as a cold spell and a shortage of gas in Europe related to the war in Ukraine could lead to power cuts in the UK.

The anticipated surge in power demand on Monday evening will coincide with a planned use of the National Grid’s demand flexibility service between 5pm and 7pm. The scheme pays businesses and households to cut their consumption at peak times to reduce the strain on the grid.

The scheme has been used several times as part of a series of tests but is yet to be used as a result of electricity supply shortages. National Grid flirted with using it under these circumstances last month but did not do so.

Dr Agostinho Moreira de Sousa, a consultant in public health medicine at UK Health Security Agency, encouraged those with health conditions to heat their homes to a comfortable temperature. “In rooms you mostly use such as the living room or bedroom, try to heat them to at least 18C if you can. Keep your bedroom windows closed at night. Wearing several layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer,” he said.

German day-ahead power prices rose 33% to €434 (£373) a megawatt-hour, the highest since 13 September, while the French contract rose 40% to €465 a megawatt-hour, Bloomberg reported.

Campers, please don’t all flush at once

From a Budleigh correspondent:

Observation suggests that trenching is occurring between the Otter Head combined sewer outfall pipe, across the fields, to link up with the Ladram Bay treatment plant (covering the Ladram Bay holiday park).

I cannot find any report of the work being carried out on the SWW site In Your Area – supply interruptions and outages (

It seems from the official SWW web site NO work is being carried out at Budleigh Salterton or Ladram Bay! People in Granary Lane, B.S. may not agree. (See

Does this mean that the Ladram Bay pollution problems will, in future, be diverted to Budleigh Salterton by creating a super combined sewer outlet at the Otter Head?

Campers, please don’t all flush at once!

Devon and Cornwall beaches break records for high water quality standards

How can this be when we all know that sewage discharge into the sea and rivers continues at record levels? – Owl

Environment Agency and see 

Most beaches met the highest international standards for water quality cleanliness where we bathe. Our beaches and coast helps define the fabulous South West.

Bruce Newport, Devon and Cornwall Area Environment Manager said:

“Our beaches are 100% compliant, so now the challenge is to work collaboratively with everyone to keep our healthy waters in an excellent state for people to enjoy. Our coastline is an incredible natural feature.

We have had relatively few reports of pollution on our beaches this summer which is a credit to everyone maintaining and improving our bathing waters. We would like to say thank you to those groups, communities and businesses which have gone above and beyond to keep pollution out of our water ways.

Bathers and surfers are using our online Swimfo app to make decisions on where to go for the best places to bathe in the summer. Just by looking at Swimfo on your mobile you can get up to date information on the water quality of many of our bathing beaches.”

This year 9 beaches in Devon and Cornwall have improved their bathing water classification, while 4 beaches have deteriorated – Teignmouth Town in Devon,  and Cornwall’s  Readymoney Cove, Porthminster and Swanpool.

Those improving from Good to Excellent are Ladram Bay, Croyde and Plymouth Hoe East in Devon, and Gorran Haven, Pendower, Porthwrinkle and Porthcurnick in Cornwall. Improving from Sufficient to Good are Par Sands in Cornwall and Combe Martin in North Devon.

The improvement this year from Sufficient to Good at Combe Martin is the result of a strong collaborative effort by the Environment Agency, local groups and businesses.

Where foul water is wrongly connected to drains leading to our beaches, poor quality normally follows – this year wrong connections have been identified, fixed and we continue to work with South West Water with this important work.

In North Devon, Croyde has improved from Good to Excellent.  Our scientists have used analytical tests to home in on pollution sources resulting in us working with farmers in the catchment to resolve potential pollution issues. We are committed to doing more in 2023.

In Cornwall, Par Sands has improved from Sufficient to Good, the result again of a collaborative effect by the Environment Agency with local people. We have carried out extensive monitoring in the catchment, investigated potential sources of pollution and ensured problems causing pollution have stopped.

At Teignmouth we continue to work with Teignbridge Council to improve water quality at Teignmouth Town.  We are carrying out investigations into the cause of elevated bacteria numbers in samples taken at Teignmouth in August.

The 9 beaches in Devon and Cornwall which have improved their bathing water classification are:

Devon: Ladram Bay, Croyde, Combe Martin, Plymouth Hoe East

Cornwall: Porthcurnick, Pendower, Gorran Haven Little Perhaver, Portwrinkle, Par Sands

Published 30 November 2022

Has Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme contributed to the labour shortage?

Did Rishi Sunak with his “passive and prolonged” furlough scheme miss a trick? 

“With the Conservatives we’ve seen our economy grow, with rising wages and unemployment at a historic low.” Eh? – Owl

David Smith (Extract)

…Brexit is one reason why the UK is an outlier when it comes to employment performance since Covid. But there may also be a contribution from other factors, including the policies designed to fight the pandemic.

The furlough scheme, a first for the UK, achieved its main aim of preventing what could have been a huge rise in unemployment. But there are growing suspicions that it may have contributed to the rise in economic inactivity.

This may have been by giving older workers, those most responsible for the rise in inactivity, a rehearsal for retirement. But also, as Tony Wilson, director of the IES, says, the furlough scheme was “passive and prolonged”.

Other countries, notably France, combined their pandemic job support with “active” measures to encourage workers to train or re-train, rather than just sit at home. Some tried to anticipate the changes in job demand. Most had previous experience with furlough-type schemes. For the UK, it was novel. As Wilson notes, people were “parked in furlough”, with few obligations on them or their employers.

Re-establishing the flow of EU migrants is not an option, at least in the short term. Getting the newly inactive (and some of those inactive longer term) into work, notably those not suffering from long-term ill health, must be a priority. Governments used to do this in response to high unemployment. Now they need to do it in response to rising inactivity, its 2022 equivalent. Both Wilson and Saunders emphasise that there is no shortage of potential “active” labour market measures, as recommended by international bodies.

The labour market needs some help, a necessary element of supply-side policy to boost long-run economic growth. Doing nothing is not an option……

The public sector pay gap and what would it cost to reduce it 

A couple of articles over the weekend consider the background, whether the government’s stance is sustainable and the “affordability” of reducing it. – Owl

The rising pay gap

David Smith (Extract)

…What can be done about our dysfunctional labour market? Starting with strikes, the root cause is similar. For public sector workers, and for those where the government stands behind employers, such as the railways, the biggest falls in real wages are happening.

A situation in which private sector pay is rising by nearly 7 per cent a year, against public sector pay growth of 2 per cent, would not be sustainable in any circumstances, let alone when inflation is in double figures.

A government that, admittedly under a different prime minister, was willing to announce big unfunded tax cuts will have to find more money for public sector pay settlements. A 19 per cent pay increase, demanded by England’s nurses, is impossible to justify. A 7.5 per cent increase, which the Scottish government has offered to its nurses — avoiding strike action — is not.

There is little danger that higher public sector pay settlements would trigger a wage-price spiral. Rather, it would be public sector pay catching up. The government wants to limit strike action by essential workers by legislating for minimum levels of service, but that is a long way down the track and of little relevance to the current disputes. The Treasury, of course, gets back some of the cost of higher public sector pay awards in tax and national insurance. Bigger public sector pay increases would flow directly into the economy in these recessionary times….

How much would a public sector pay rise really cost the UK government?

Rishi Sunak called out

Phillip Inman 

Rishi Sunak was called out last week for saying it would cost £28bn to prevent inflation eating into public sector wages. According to No 10, a 10% pay rise would cost Britain’s 28m households £1,000 a year in higher taxes.

Not according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which says the Treasury’s sums don’t add up. So how much would it cost to give public sector workers a pay rise?

A pay rise of 10%

Ben Zaranko, an economist for the thinktank, says that even using Sunak’s methodology, the figures are wrong. The total public sector pay bill in 2021/22 was £233bn. Using the 10.1% average figure for the consumer price index forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility, “the cost would be £23.5bn”.

The government has already agreed to finance a 3% rise, so the extra cost is only £18bn, he says. It could be as low as £13bn if the government’s fresh concessions for teachers and other groups are factored in as “already paid for”.

Ministers should also expect to get back about 30% of the extra spending from higher income tax and VAT receipts, reducing the bill to £8.5bn.

A pay rise of 7%

The RMT has called for a minimum of 7%, while some healthcare unions have suggested they would accept a similar amount. If all public sector workers were offered 7% rather than 10%, the total extra bill would come down from £18bn to nearer £12bn – about £9bn with extra concessions stripped out. About £4bn would flow back to the Treasury in higher tax receipts, leaving an extra £5bn bill.

Will a pay rise push up inflation?

A below-inflation public sector pay rise will not increase inflation, especially if lower-paid staff are the biggest beneficiaries of a deal. The public sector does not increase its charges to reflect higher staff pay, as private-sector firms might. The extra spending power given to public-sector workers pay is also likely to be spent on energy bills and food, which are costs dictated by global markets.