Trade Camilla, it's called trade


Camilla Cavendish employs the following arguments urging that we really should do something to start building our own renewable energy systems.

Take wind power, a huge growth area. We don't make a single wind turbine in Britain. We import from Spain, Germany and Denmark, which got the wind in their sails long ago and now have 90 per cent of all the industry jobs. Or nuclear. We have only one postgraduate nuclear engineering course - at Manchester University. Our nuclear engineers are as few and ageing as our nuclear plants. The consensus seems to be that any new plants will be built mostly with French and American components, and French labour.

Even solar energy is dominated by Germany, where nearly half a million houses have solar roofs because its Government pays above-market rates for individuals selling power back to the grid.

The sad thing is that these aren't arguments for us to start subsidising our own renewables industry. They're actually arguments that we should do nothing so damn foolish.

We are in a situation where Johnny Foreigner has gone and done all the research (an expensive thing to do), developed an industry in scale (more expensive) and ladled out squillions in subsidies to do so (extraordinarily expensive). Now that they've got these industries producing items that we want at prices we're happy to pay our correct course of action is to go and buy some of them. The very last thing we want to do is pay out the same eye watering sums to replicate what they already have.

Sure, we'll have to produce something that someone else wants to buy off us to pay for them but that's fine. It doesn't matter whether that something is in the green energy field, insurance, ballet performances or pork products. We specialise, just as they have, and we swap the resulting production.

We really don't have to go and build these machines ourselves when others are already better than us at doing so. There's this process called trade out there which will get them for us. Might be worth looking into it, don't you think?