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A Low Carbon Tale for Halloween

November 1, 2009

[picapp src=”a/9/8/4/Cutty_Sark_3811.jpg?adImageId=7069641&imageId=3644603″ width=”380″ height=”269″ /]

Avebury, England – Halloween, I’m not talking about the US instigated commercial shop and pub fest we now ‘enjoy’ in the UK, or the generic J. K. Rowling inspired witchy stuff no its the Back Roads Rider’s vision of Halloween that’s under discussion here.

Apologies to those amongst you who know that the real Halloween is rooted in the Celtic festival of Samhain and to Wiccans some of whom feel that the tradition is offensive to ‘real witches’ for promoting stereotypical caricatures of ‘wicked witches’.

It’s definitely the wicked witch thing that does it for me. As we know it’s on Halloween that those witches of the wicked variety give their hard-working familiars the night off and head out on test flights aboard their witchy broomsticks. Yes folks those witchy women like a midnight burn up through a spooky wood (I like spook) with only the moonlight and the sound of the air rushing through broom’s hazel twigs for company. Its speed mania you see.

However, to find the ultimate witchy speed freaks we must travel to Scotland where a Mr Tam O’Shanter was reportedly chased by a comely female witch, Nannie Dee, whose blouse or cutty sark came adrift in the course of the pursuit. O’Shanter made good his escape by encouraging his horse to jump a steam, witches and cannot cross running water, but not before Nannie had pulled off his mounts tail.

Thus the bewitching Nannie Dee and her cutty sark became synonymous with speed. Consequently Cutty Sark was chosen as the name for a clipper ship designed by Hercules Linton and built in 1869 at Dumbarton, Scotland by Scott &Linton, for John Willis & Son and Captained John “Jock” “White Hat” Willis. On her bow the ships figurehead, Nannie Dee, her cutty sark still adrift and clutching a horses tail.

Of course the Cutty Sark and her like were the perfect low-carbon transport. Not only were ships like her built from organically produced sustainable recyclable materials but they were 99% carbon free in operation.

Which brings me to the biking bit.

Ever wondered why motorcycles and scooters in the UK are not road taxed on the same basis as cars i.e. taking into account their CO2 output.

Well it’s not because the UK Government can’t do it, and it’s not because the CO2 output figures for bikes is not known, they form part of the European Type Approval procedure, and it’s not because we don’t have proper emission controls for bikes.

It is because during all the ‘horse trading’ on this issue at both a European and Global level a ‘gentlemen’s’ agreement was reached that publishing the CO2 outputs for bikes was not currently necessary or feasible. Was this because it would be red faces all round for the big names if some of the emission figures for the top end super bikes were published. Or was it because people would buy the smaller engined cheaper low emission environmentally friendly bikes and thus cut into manufactures profits. Well you can make up your minds on that.

What I do know is that if the proposal for an update of the UK CO2 emission based road tax system is introduced in 2010 motorcyclists and scooterists will miss out.  Because if a tax banding system with proportionate ratings similar to those for cars was in place for motorcycles and scooters, a considerable number of users would pay nothing or less than they pay now.

It would seem that we are being denied access to an environmental ‘dividend’ which would cut costs to current owners and encourage new users.

Read more on the CO2 tax issue here………

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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