Thursday, 18 March 2010

Woking - home of McLaren F1 and the new MP4-12C

This is the new, environmentally-friendly McLaren MP4-12C.

Actually it's a gas-guzzling beast, but according to the marketing blurb "With the 12C’s power output of around 600hp and its low CO2 emissions, it delivers the highest horsepower to CO2 ratio of any car on the market today with an internal combustion engine…and that includes petrol and diesel hybrids.”

So your conscience is clear.

The car will be built in a new £40m factory in Woking (where the McLaren F1 team are based), creating 300 jobs.

Quite how the construction of the 12C sits with recent comments made by Woking Borough Council about how we should all be doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint makes for the subject of an interesting email from Mark in Woking. It's the longest email I've ever read out on air, but I thought it was worth sharing.

"Hello Nick,

A recent edition of the "Woking Magazine", contained the obligatory environmental feature mentioning Woking Borough Council's Climate Change Strategy, stating: "this is not something to be ignored, we all have to take action now".
We now have the MP4-12C, McLaren's new road car, to be built in Woking.

I must congratulate McLaren on the environmental "spin" in their press release: "lowest CO2 emissions per horse power of any car". Definitely worth shouting about if the car is 60bhp, but surely not if it is 600bhp!
The facts are it is a two seater, 3.8 litre twin turbo, that does 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds, with a top speed of over 200mph, and will cost £150,000. It does not sound like a vehicle that will "save the planet".

Ron Dennis (McLaren Automotive Chairman) describes the car as a "long held dream". Surely for WBC it should be a climate change "nightmare".

I have nothing against McLaren as a company, indeed I know them to be an excellent employer. But I wonder if any representatives of WBC will be at the McLaren party when the production line starts in 2011.

WBC recently granted planning permission for the new factory. It will be discreetly hidden behind trees and a grassy mound. (Out of sight, out of mind?). You would presume WBC would want McLaren's employees to cycle to work, or use public transport. Wrong. There is also a 400 space car park included in the plans.

So why did WBC grant planning permission? Probably because this new facility will provide 300 new jobs. Is it an uncomfortable truth that the economy always has priority over the environment, even in Woking?
Perhaps I have got it all wrong, and this is a wonderful "carbon neutral" project. I would be very interested to hear a public statement from Ray Morgan (WBC CEO) as to whether our green council endorse the production of a 600bhp road car.
Instead of "By Faith and Diligence", perhaps the Woking Borough motto should be: "Don't do as I do, do as I tell you", or "One rule for the rich, one rule for the rest".

So come on everyone, change your light bulbs, get on your bike, and order your photovoltaic solar panels. Remember, as The Woking Magazine says: Climate Change "is not something to be ignored, we all have to take action now".

Well, perhaps not all of us it seems."

As I write I am earwigging a conversation with my producer who is on the phone to Woking Borough Council trying to persuade them to come on and address the points Mark raises in his email. We'll see what happens.

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