Why Energy is a bigger Secret than Defence in the UK
By NICK HUNN
Energy policy is one of the most important things for any country to get right. If energy supplies fail, the impact on the population and economy is immediate and potentially disastrous. So you’d think that debate about it would be fairly open, not least because an open debate helps make a fairly arcane subject a little more accessible. But as readers of this blog will know, the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has something of a reputation for secrecy, doing their best to block any Freedom of information requests and refusing to admit any problems with their expensive projects.
In 2011, the previous UK Government set up a Major Project Authority group to try and provide more insight into the portfolio of large, transformative projects. It’s an excellent initiative, which has just produced its third annual report. As well as showing progress, or lack of it, you get a good idea of which departments are least open. Of all the Government departments, you would probably have expected the Ministry of Defence to be the most secretive about its projects. It’s not. DECC stands out as the one which is still withholding most information on its projects. Which makes you wonder why the Department for Keeping the Lights On is so desperate to keep everyone in the dark? Under the MPA’s pressure, they are releasing more information, but recent events suggest their heart’s still not into open disclosure.
In a previous article I commented on DECC’s reaction to a Freedom of Information request – they just redacted most of the document. Here’s an example of what they think is acceptable disclosure: