It turns out the Alok is a real smooth talker with all the sincerity of David Cameron. Naz is a bit sharper but clearly not at his best on environmental issues. Adrian was at least consistent and set out a green view of the issues with sincerity and plain talking. I am not sure that I am a brilliant debater (actually I know I am not) but I did manage to get some policies over.
I think Ricky did ok, he was a decent substitute. The only clear mistake he made was on the Rushey mead wind turbine, which is in the countryside near the M4, not in the town as he said. To be fair this is not in Reading West, so it isn't too surprising that he doesn't know.
Ricky goes on to discuss the possibility of turning food waste into biogas. Its not a bad idea, though I would rather see less food waste. I did question Aloks statement that 50% of our gas could be provided by biogas, but there is a report that says its possible. CAT say 'the climatic conditions in the UK require heating and/or insulation, leading to complex and expensive digester designs' which explains why they are more popular in China and India. A problem with the use of biogas for CHP (combined heat and power) generation is that biogas plants are not normally located in densely populated areas. This makes piping of heat for district heating less viable. In Germany, where government subsidies have lead to the creation of around 4,000 farm-scale biogas plants, and in the USA, biogas farms have started to export purified biogas into the national gas grid. This is one in Shropshire.
I am sceptical after the disaster of biofuel where we have seen fuel replace food as a crop in some areas, and wildlife killed. Seven years ago biofuel was going to be made from converted waste oil, but unscrupulous people thought otherwise, endangering rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations is also putting further pressure on orangutans and other endangered wildlife.
I think Ricky was a bit kind to Naz though, in my view Naz knew little of any of the issues discussed, his answer often seemed to be that he didn't know. He did know about TIF, and he argued strongly on that. He also argued that the government shouldn't act without 'taking the people with us', an excuse for doing nothing.
Alok I think had prepared well, he seemed to know a bit about the environment. He likes nuclear weapons and is against congestion charging, and said so. A contrast to Martin Salter who would always say what the audience would want to hear, and then do the opposite.
I didn't say it last time but I am rather proud of that hustings, its my first for years, and I was not confidant. As always I thought of better things to say after I had answered questions, but I expect that's true of most people. I think I was the only one who knew about the feed in tariffs, the waste hierarchy.
I should have mentioned Rob White living for a year with just one bin. And said coal was polluting, CCS a waste, but someone else in the audience had already said it so I didn't.
I said a lot about flooding in Reading that no one else said, about the need to stop building on the flood plane, and perhaps dig up sealed car parks like the one at the Oxford Rd Tesco built on the flood plane. I am proud that we were the only party opposing that development, the others seem to have learned something since.
Though the LD is against trident, they are pro nuclear weapons and vote for AWE, I got a cheer when I spoke against that.
Then there is Daisy. She twitters that 'Teather - "we are the only party going into the GE with a sensible housing policy or indeed any housing policy" #libdems #ldconf'. She wrong on every count. Unlike Ricky, who can say what is true about other parties without being so partisan. Her determination to say 'only the LD...' undermines any credibility of what she is saying. Why get caught out spreading such guff? Is she modelling herself on Gordon Brown?
So to prove she is wrong, here are some Party Policies on housing.
Housing Policy from Tory,'That’s why local people need to decide where new homes should go, instead of Whitehall bureaucrats. And that’s why we will use incentives to encourage new homes to be built, rather than letting unelected quangos impose unsustainable development on communities.
Labour’s planning rules have resulted in a shortage of family homes and the bulldozing of homes with gardens - and they have prevented the market building new homes with parking spaces and gardens. A Conservative Government will change these rules as a matter of urgency.'
Lab, 'Labour believes everyone should have access to a decent home, at an affordable price, in the area where they want to live.' But doesn't say how. And what if we all wanted to live cheaply in Notting Hill?
LD , 'The Liberal Democrats today set out plans to bring a quarter of a million empty homes back into use, making homes available for people who need them.' There aren't enough empty homes, its the LD policy that looks empty. And the Greens have been talking about empty homes for years anyway.
And Green. The Green Party believes that it is for governments to employ building workers in a large programme of social housing, and by further expanding the public housing stock through a Right to Rent scheme. Homes should also be retrofitted with energy efficiency measures and new stock should be built to the highest standard. Insulate over five years all 20 million uninsulated homes in the UK.
Even ukip have a housing policy. Not so much about building them, but it does call itself a housing policy anyway. It seems to be based on reading tabloid headlines on 'benefit cheats'.