Energy Efficiency Loan Fund


Investing in energy efficient or renewable technology makes sound business and environmental sense.

Signal would like to inform you of Invest NI’s Energy Efficiency Loan Fund, delivered by the Carbon Trust provides interest free loans from £3,000 up to £4,000 to facilitate an upgrade to your equipment.  Technologies eligible for 0% APR loan funding include: Lighting, heating, air conditioning, refrigeration/chillers, biomass – compressed air, process heating & cooling, solar PV and building controls.

To find out more please select the Read More link below or contact the Carbon Trust on 028 9073 4398.  .

BBC Brexit bashing needs to stop

“Anger at billionaire’s farm subsidies”, reports the BBC on the EU’s handouts to a Saudi prince. It seems to come as news to Auntie that the EU is a corporatist racket. Maybe if it gave Eurosceptics a bit more airtime, it might have found out sooner.

The BBC has been anything but impartial in its referendum coverage. Its director general, Lord Hall, couldn’t name a single programme that has been positive about Brexit since June 23rd. I certainly haven’t encountered any. Pro-EU puff pieces, on the other hand, are ubiquitous.

Barely an episode of the Today Programme goes by without a Remain ex-minister telling us how important it is to stay in the single market or the customs union – indulged by sympathetic interviewers.

Its latest hobby horse is the false option of a “soft Brexit” – meaning “EU membership in all but name”.

The BBC seems to take it as red that the single market is an economic panacea. Given the state of Europe’s economy, that’s a pretty shaky assumption. Yet it never seems to occur to BBC journalists that the problem might be crony corporatism in Brussels.

Agricultural subsidies barely scratch the surface of the EU’s favouritism for Big Business. With its reams of regulation, the single market is designed to benefit corporations that can afford legions of lobbyists and compliance lawyers. Small businesses don’t get a look in – which is why so many backed Brexit.

One of the reasons all the economic growth and progress is happening elsewhere is because the single market successfully strangles disruptive innovation. But you’d never get that impression from the Beeb.

Perhaps, as an organisation that owes its own survival to a funding mechanism that lets it extort the public and exploit an unfair advantage over its competitors, the BBC has a natural affinity for corporatism?

By constantly promoting a continuity Remain narrative, our national broadcaster is actively undermining what the nation voted for. Maybe the next referendum should be on abolishing the licence fee.

Fossil fuels: How the UK made the wrong call

Image result for Roger Helmer MEP

The underlying assumption of British energy policy for recent years – at least since the disastrous Climate Change Act 2008 – has been that as “Peak Oil” approaches and supplies of fossil fuels are depleted, prices will inevitably rise Even though renewables prices look high today (and remain high if you factor in the costs of intermittency), they would look cheap in ten or twenty years’ time.  Only five MPs in Westminster had the sense and courage to oppose the 2008 Act, and they deserve to be remembered by posterity.  They were Ann Widdecombe, Christopher Chope, Peter Lilley, Philip Davies and Andrew Tyrie.

It seemed a reasonable assumption in the Zeitgeist of the times – after all, were not those green NGOs (most funded by you, through the European Commission) constantly talking about “Peak Oil”?  Was it not obvious that the world’s supplies of fossil fuels were finite, and that even our much vaunted North Sea oil and gas reserves were running down?

No, it transpires, fossil fuels are not running out – or at least not in the sort of timescales that matter to politicians or industries.  Maybe in two hundred years, fossil fuels will be scarce and expensive.  But that’s a bit like a charcoal burner in 1750 worrying whether charcoal would run out by 1950 – and having no way to anticipate Calder Hall.

On Wednesday I attended a lunch-time briefing from a very senior and very well-informed power company executive.  The event took place under Chatham House rules, so (as my old mother used to say) “no names, no pack-drill”.  But it is clear that the world is awash with oil and gas.  For the last thirty years (we heard) new oil discoveries have been coming in at twice the rate of consumption.  New gas discoveries have come in – massive shale gas resources in the USA, gas in the Med basin, and even in the UK if we have the courage to drill.

At the moment, Russia has a quasi-monopoly with its gas pipe to Europe.  But that is not set to last.  More and more LNG is becoming available.  The USA, which long banned oil and gas exports, is now exporting, and LNG terminals are popping up all over the place.  LNG is intrinsically more expensive than piped gas, with the costs of compression/liquefaction at one end, and re-gassing at the other.  But in an amusing twist, some of the LNG re-gassing terminals may not need to be used at all – except as a bargaining counter with the Russians (and other piped gas suppliers).

The Russians can use their quasi-monopoly to demand extortionate prices for their gas – which is, by the way, very cheap indeed to extract.  But if the European buyer can say “I’m not paying that price because LNG is cheaper”, then the Russians have to bring their price down, or lose the business.

There exists an interesting parallel between Russian gas and Saudi oil.  Each is a very low-cost, high volume producer.  Each is now challenged by competition – LNG for gas (as well as Mediterranean and other sources) – and US shale oil for Saudi oil.  Both Russia and Saudi have low cost production, and can afford to compete – though at lower prices and margins than they’re accustomed to.  Each sets a high priority on maintaining market share.  Each will have to reduce prices to maintain volume.

So we may or may not seek to reduce fossil fuel use for other reasons, but we certainly won’t be reducing it (at least not for decades) because of availability and prices.  Terrible news for Greenpeace, but great news for the average motorist.  And the average Western economy.

The other key point to emerge from the briefing was that although through superhuman and vastly expensive efforts the EU is starting to get CO2 emissions under control, it is projected to be down to 8% of global emissions in a few years’ time.  So no further action in the EU will have a significant impact.  Meantime other countries – especially China and India – are building coal capacity as if it were going out of style.  Our speaker seemed to share my view that the Paris COP21 Climate Accord is scarcely worth the paper it’s written on.  Greens will insist that China is prioritising renewables.  It’s certainly investing in renewables, but it’s building coal-fired plants as well, and mitigating the local air pollution effect by putting new coal-powered plants in Mongolia.

One other little aperçu.  We are using a lot of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia to make bio-diesel.  It seems that those countries previously used palm-oil for energy production, but in many cases have now turned to coal as they export their palm oil – thus utterly undermining the logic of biofuels.  The European institutions are grappling with Indirect Land Use Change, but have yet to get to grips with indirect substitution of coal for oil.

And the British economy?  We’ve been betrayed by the facile assumption that fossil fuel prices can only go up.  We’re stuck with hugely expensive electricity from renewables (and Hinkley C if it goes ahead), while the rest of the world hones its competitiveness with cheap oil and gas.  And with less than 2% of global emissions coming from the UK, our massive sacrifice will make not a scrap of difference to the climate – even if the alarmists turn out to be right about CO2.

Sarkozy is wrong about Brexit

Nicolas Sarkozy, who couldn’t convince French voters he’d be a better president than Francois Hollande, believes he can persuade us to reconsider Brexit. Based on the way his compatriots now feel about the EU, he might be better off doing some rethinking of his own.

Part of Sarkozy’s pitch for a presidential comeback is a new EU Treaty. He wants to negotiate a “new Europe”. Where have we heard that before?

Every British prime minister for decades has assured us the European project could be reformed. Their broken promises are what made many people realise the only way out was to vote Leave.

Perhaps more interesting is how Sarkozy’s plan will play at home. According to recent research by Pew, only 38% of French voters have a favourable view of the EU today, compared to 69% in 2004. It’s no coincidence support for the Front National has surged at the same time.

Even in Germany, Euroscepticism is on the rise. The anti-EU AfD party recently beat Angela Merkel’s CDU into third place in a regional election.

While the European centre right is still committed to the European project, the peoples of Europe are increasingly Eurosceptic.

It’s hardly surprising. From the Greek debt disaster to the migrant crisis to the terror attacks coordinated from Brussels itself, Euro elites have presided over one mess after another. Yet many are so detached from the people they rule they can’t even understand why they are resented.

And this is the point: if centre-right leaders keep backing a failed, federalist Europe come what may, they will drive more and more voters into the arms of radical – in some cases, extremist – alternatives.

So, with respect Monsieur Sarkozy, it isn’t Britain that needs to think again about its relationship with the EU. It’s politicians like you.

Speed Networking For Businesses

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Signal Centre, 2 Innotec Drive, Bangor

Tuesday 18 October 2016, 8.30am to 2.00pm



Then, this event is for you and it’s FREE to attend!

Starting at 8.30am with breakfast then after a short introduction, the speed networking will commence at 9.15am and will keep going until there is no one left to talk to!

2 minutes! That’s all you need to create a business connection.

So come prepared with plenty of business cards and ready to present your business in a minute with your “elevator pitch”.

A “Meet the Funders” exhibition will be available after the Speed Networking. This will be your opportunity to meet organisations such as:

• Tourism NI
• Invest NI
• The Prince’s Trust
• The Department for Communities
• Rural Partners (Rural Development Programme)
• The Peace Programme Team
• North Down Development Organisation Ltd
• Ards Business Centre Ltd
• First Trust Bank
• South Eastern Regional College
• The Economic Development Team of Ards and North Down Borough Council

(this list is not exhaustive)

To take the opportunity to attend this unique event, please register here

or contact Susan or Karen on 02891 473788

Signal Centre, 2 Innotec Drive, Balloo Road, Bangor, BT19 7PD

Facilities Email:
Business Support Email:

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Labour doesn’t

Shami Chakrabarti has been pleading with Jewish Labour party members – who might feel let down by her report into anti-Semitism – not to quit the party. Her pitch? “Don’t leave me locked in a room with Essex Man.” Is there anyone Labour doesn’t have a problem with?

It may come as news to the noble lady, but Labour isn’t exactly flavour of the month in Essex.

Over the eleven years I’ve represented Clacton, Labour has lost a lot of its support base locally. Many of my constituents abandoned Labour because they felt Labour had abandoned them. It seems they were right.

What’s extraordinary is how narrow Labour’s target demographic now seems to be. Leave voters? Not welcome. Centrists? No admission. Jews? Only if they’re prepared to put up with what looks increasingly like institutional anti-Semitism.

Labour’s growing disconnect from most of the country isn’t just a party matter. It’s a problem with our political system.

It’s no coincidence that the big corporate parties have kept their monopoly on politics despite no longer representing the people. On the contrary, it’s by design.

More than a century of legislation has increased the power of party machines, created safe seats, shut out competition – and marginalised the views of voters. (I’ve written about this at more length in the New Criterion.)

Politics is a cartel. But the cartel can be broken.

How do I know?

Because we did it in Clacton. Twice.

Perhaps I ought to invite Baroness Chakrabarti to come to Clacton to meet some Essex folk. She’ll discover they’re as decent as anyone she sits next to in the House of Lords.

One Party State?

stormont2With the DUP and SF/IRA so comfortable in each others shoes, but still unable to deliver effective Government is time to end this failed experiment in devolved Government.

Would it be the case that Direct rule is a better option at least in the short term?

Deutsche Bank is the tip of the Iceberg

Deutsche Bank’s shares hit record lows yesterday. Its market cap has fallen by 75%since the start of 2014. Is this Lehman Brothers all over again? There’s no doubt the rest of the Too-Big-to-Fail banks are still dominoes waiting to fall.

It’s no surprise that Deutsche is in so much trouble – at least not to UKIP in Parliament.

Our study on Europe’s financial sector, published late last year, found Deutsche to be the least capitalised of any major European bank, with the lowest leverage ratio, and the worst performance under a hypothetical stress test.

But Europe’s other big banks – including the UK’s – are scarcely any better capitalised, or less vulnerable. So if Deutsche goes down, it’s taking the rest of the financial sector with it. As the IMF – in a rare moment of lucidity – warned three months ago.

The question is: why is this happening at all?

After the financial crisis, billions of pounds have been pumped into the world’s biggest banks to keep them afloat. New regulations – from Dodd-Frank to Basel III – are supposed to have made sure they couldn’t collapse again. The global financial sector is meant to be fixed.

But it’s all a sham.

Public subsidies for banks – whether QE, low interest rates, deposit insurance, or direct state bailouts – have only encouraged them to take more risks, in the sure knowledge taxpayers will pick up the tab.

New capitalisation rules haven’t raised banks’ leverage ratios (core capital vs. liabilities) any higher than they were before. The margin of error is still far too thin. In fact, the biggest banks are the most exposed to risk.

Official stress tests, meanwhile, invariably overstate the big banks’ strength. But then why wouldn’t they? They’re carried out by the same central bankers who are supposed to have reformed the system. Regulators can’t admit there’s a problem without confessing their own negligence.

The left tends to blame financial instability on corporate greed. Unfortunately, it’s much worse than that. The real problem is systemic: fractional reserve banking.

Banks that lend against deposits dozens of times over are inevitably unstable. They’re bound to be vulnerable to shocks and bank runs because they never had the capital to cover all their liabilities in the first place.

In a free market, bad banks would fail. Fractional reserve banking would be unsustainable in the long term. Why? Because the only thing sustaining it now is state subsidy.

Overleveraged banks like Deutsche are too big to survive. Fixing them requires tackling the excesses of fractional reserve banking. How? I proposed one way to do it in After Osbrown.