Freedom without responsibility is …

  • Freedom
  • Responsibility
  • Regulation
  • Result

By Bill Butterworth

5 February 2015


Compound and gas head

Setting up a gas pipeline from the mainland to the Isle of Wight. That was four years ago. Now it is a green field again. Everyone uses energy.

Freedom without responsibility is anarchy.

Most human beings would condemn the recent reports of terrorism as barbaric. Putting it another way, we are all free to torture and kill but most religions also teach responsibility to act humanely and that rules out torture and killing, including in revenge for the same things.

In the developing world, especially Europe and top of the list the UK, governments have developed a society where ‘proscriptive’ regulation tells us what we cannot do and, if there is anything left to do, how to do it. This, logically, progressively erodes responsibility, common sense and an active mind ready to deal with any unusual vent that was unpredicted.

The historian Jane Marshall once said: “It is in the history of the world that, whenever an empire collapses and for whatever reason, those left in power in the middle pass more and more regulations, involving more and more public servants, in order (they think) to reverse the collapse. What actually happens is that they stifle innovation and inhibit entrepreneurial activity, so accelerating the rate of decline. That is what is happening in the UK, here and now.”

What has all this got to do with fracking and renewable energy?  Well, there is a moral maze here.  How do we develop new ideas, ways to adapt ion a changing world, economic survival for our children and balance that with the rights of individuals and environmental sustainability?  When I was born, we still had an Empire.  Does our Civil Service rally believe that all this regulation preserves their index-linked pensions? How do we afford new hospitals and care for the aged without crippling our children with a tax burden?  How do we avoid becoming a Grecian economy.

Jane Marshall was, and remains, absolutely right.  Proper monitoring by science-based people with professional standards and integrity is, without argument, necessary.  Pilot operations to prove new technology and demonstrate respect and safety are of “asap” urgency. We have the best professionals in the world.  Let us get on with the first steps and demonstrate, one way or the other, that we can do it and do it right.