People will have 'turbine pride'The contractor building Devon's first wind farm is confident residents will learn to appreciate the turbines.
The 84m tall (276ft) turbines at Stowford Cross, near Bradworthy, are due to start delivering power at the end of the month in a £3.6m scheme.
Many people say their views have been ruined and they are concerned about possible health and noise impacts.
But Jamie Mathlin, from contractors TJ Brent, said he believed they would soon "become proud" of the turbines.
Plans for the site were originally turned down by Torridge District Council. But that decision was overturned by a government inspector.
Developer Energie Kontor and contractor TJ Brent are trying to reassure people, saying the turbines will be silent and will not affect people's health.
Mr Mathlin added: "I'm pretty confident that once people have got to understand how the site works they will lose a few of the anxieties, particularly about noise.
"Once they get used to the fact they are here, I think people will become proud of them and the fact they're producing green power."
The turbines will produce power for up to 2,500 homes.
Study: N-E can expect more wind turbines
THE North-East will continue to lead the way in renewable energy and can expect to be the location for more windfarms, according to research.
The research, by Ernst and Young, said Government targets to increase the amount of renewable energy had increased competition among suppliers to build windfarms.
Jonathan Johns, who leads Ernst and Young's global renewable energy unit, said windfarm projects were also providing attractive returns for investors.
Its report said the UK and Spain had been most successful with windfarm initiatives.
In particular, the North-East has emerged as one of the best areas for windfarms, with 11 sites operating and six planned.
Mr Johns said a key aim for developers was identifying sites that met with public approval so progress to meet the Government targets could increase.
The North-East's popularity for windfarm sites is expected to lead to a jobs boom.
However, some developments have proved controversial.
Protestors recently succeeded in persuading councillors to reject plans for four wind turbines at Southern Law, between Town Kelloe and Trimdon Grange, County Durham, a mile from the Prime Minister's constituency home.
Reports of likely windfarm development 'overstated'
The amount of windfarms in Scotland needed to meet renewable energy targets will not match the "vastly exaggerated" reports appearing in the press, the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FREDS) pledged today.
FREDS chairman and Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace said reports outlining all the applications in Scotland were simply scaremongering and ignored the facts.
At the last meeting of the group it was made clear that a great deal of the existing applications were either speculative or would not meet the high standards of the Scottish Executive's planning guidelines.
And it was explained that the large increase in the number of applications towards the end of last year was due to a change in the terms for connecting to the national grid that came into force on January 1st 2005. It was also made clear that Scotland's energy needs would be best met through a full mix of renewable energy technologies.
Mr Wallace said:
"Reports suggesting the massive proliferation of windfarms across Scotland are simply nonsense. It is true that a large number of applications are in the system, but a great deal of these will not meet our stringent planning regulations. These are designed to protect our countryside, wildlife and natural habitats and this is exactly what they will do.
"We have ambitious targets, but I am confident 40 per cent of our electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020. If we are to achieve this goal we will need new windfarms, but on nowhere near the scale often quoted in the press. We have seen an increase in the amount of applications to connect to the grid. However, this is more to do with a change in the terms of connecting to the UK system rather than an accurate reflection of the amount of windfarms that are likely to be built in Scotland.
"Both FREDS and the Executive are committed to ensuring that only those wind farms that meet our rigorous planning guidelines proceed. These developments will play a crucial role in helping to cut harmful emissions. Scotland must stand up and be counted in the battle against climate change. I believe overwhelming numbers of people in Scotland share that aim. However, schemes that come at an unacceptable environmental cost will be rejected - and rightly so. There will not be a windfarm on every hill in Scotland. On the contrary, windfarms will be developed only where it is right to do so and where stringent planning regulations allow.
"Our priorities must be to carefully support the development of on-shore wind energy in the right locations while continuing to maintain the confidence of investors in new renewable energy technologies. Wave, tidal, biomass and solar energy will all have an important role to play in achieving our 2020 target and we must support the industry every step of the way as these emerging technologies develop."
FREDS member Sandy Cumming, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said:
"With some of the best wind, wave and tidal resources in Europe and abundant wood fuel supplies, the Highlands and Islands have a major role to play in the emerging renewable energy industry. It is a sector with the potential to bring real and sustainable benefit to the area's economy while playing a key role in helping Scotland as a whole tackle the problem of climate change.
"But, environmental cost and planning regulations will always be central to our considerations as we seek to make the most of these opportunities."
And FREDS member Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, added:
"Fulfilling Scotland's renewable energy potential is not only vital for 'green' reasons but also to maximise the amount of energy we can source from within our own country. The current policy framework provides enough safeguards to ensure that only good wind farm developments get the go-ahead. It also ensures that there is a climate of confidence which encourages companies in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK to invest time, effort and money in developing the new generation technologies which, with the right support, will mature over the coming decade."
Fellow FREDS member, Rob Forrest, Director of Scottish Renewables said:
"The renewables industry has responded to the challenge of delivering the Executive's 18% renewables target so Scotland can tackle climate change and create new employment. FREDS is clear that the planning system has the necessary tools to deliver the right renewables projects for Scotland, and we welcome this positive debate on how renewables can help to meet Scotland's future energy needs".
Jim Wallace is Chairman of FREDS - the forum brings together representatives from the Scottish Executive, local authorities, the Enterprise Networks, the new renewables industry, the established energy industry, academia and other stakeholders.
FREDS has made this statement following the major increase in the number of new applications for connection to Scotland's electricity transmission system by wind farm developers in the final quarter of 2004. This increase followed the announcement by the Department of Trade and Industry and Ofgem that any developer submitting a valid application for a connection to the electricity transmission system before or on 1 January 2005 would receive an offer that would 'not be contingent' upon development work relating to the Scotland-England interconnector or other parts of the transmission system in England and Wales.
Investment in renewable sources of energy is encouraged by the Renewables Obligation, which provides an incentive for generators to produce progressively higher levels of renewable energy, up to certain targets. The Obligation is designed in such a way that when targets for renewable energy are achieved its value falls away. This market-based mechanism effectively puts a commercial cap on renewable energy developments. The electricity transmission companies' strategy for developing the network in Great Britain was founded on there being between 2,000MW and 6,000MW of additional renewable generation in Scotland by 2010. However, in practice, the availability of connections to the electricity network is likely to mean that the higher end of this range is unlikely to be reached.
The target of 18% renewables generation by 2010 now looks likely to be met by a combination of the c.1,150 MW of hydro power already in place and the c.1,250 MW of wind generation already consented, of which about 300 MW is already in operation. Even if all of the 40% 2020 target were to be met by onshore wind, a scenario which the Executive does not envisage, then only around a further 4,000 MW of installed wind capacity would be required. This compares to the 20,000 MW of onshore wind proposals, referred to in recent media reports.
Wind farm protest full of bluster Wind farm protesters have been accused of scaremongering over suggestions that every hillside in Scotland will soon have a turbine on top of it.
Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace said media reports had ignored the fact that many applications are speculative or would not meet planning guidelines.
Mr Wallace made the statement following a major increase in wind farm applications at the end of 2004.
However, protesters said his words were "hard to swallow".
He explained that the jump had more to do with a change in the terms of connecting to the national grid that came into force on 1 January rather than an accurate reflection of the number of wind farms that were likely to be built in Scotland.
He also made it clear that Scotland's energy needs would be best met through a full mix of renewable energy technologies.
Mr Wallace said: "Reports suggesting the massive proliferation of wind farms across Scotland are simply nonsense.
"It is true that a large number of applications are in the system, but a great deal of these will not meet our stringent planning regulations.
"These are designed to protect our countryside, wildlife and natural habitats and this is exactly what they will do.
"There will not be a wind farm on every hill in Scotland.
"On the contrary, wind farms will be developed only where it is right to do so and where stringent planning regulations allow."
Mr Wallace said he was "confident" that the Scottish Executive's ambitious target to generate 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 was achievable.
He added that to achieve the goal new wind farms would be needed but not on the scale often quoted in the press.
The Liberal Democrat leader was also speaking as chairman of the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FREDS).
The forum brings together representatives from the wind farm industry and its various stakeholders in the private and public sectors.
Mr Wallace said that both FREDS and the executive would ensure that only those wind farms that met planning guidelines would proceed and would play a crucial role in helping to cut harmful emissions.
However, he added that schemes which would levy an unacceptable environmental cost would be rejected.
Fellow FREDS member and the chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, Ian Marchant, added: "The current policy framework provides enough safeguards to ensure that only good wind farm developments get the go-ahead.
"It also ensures that there is a climate of confidence which encourages companies in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK to invest time, effort and money in developing the new generation technologies which, with the right support, will mature over the coming decade."
Anti-wind farm campaign group Views of Scotland said Mr Wallace's comments were hard to take seriously considering that only a small percentage of projects had been turned down so far.
Gillian Bishop, media officer, said: "Jim Wallace's claim that stringent planning regulations will protect the countryside against many of the current proposals is very hard to swallow.
"Whether the minister likes it or not, the executive's renewable energy policy has opened a Pandora's Box.
"The applications in the planning process are enough to meet Scotland's renewable energy target and there are added proposals for twice that amount.
"The current refusal rate by local councils is about 11% and it is not uncommon for refused applications to be appealed or slightly redesigned and resubmitted under another name.
"It is hard to believe that councils are suddenly going to do a volte face and refuse the majority of applications."
The end is nigh - but Kyoto will cost us dear
That would be the flattest of truisms were it not that on global warming, government policy is increasingly driven by alarmist scenarios about the world in 2100 that make long-range weather forecasting look rock solid by comparison.
THE globe will not notice Kyoto — but we will notice, because it will cost us a bomb. What is the collective noun for environmental modellers? Try a catastrophe.
The “scientific consensus” on global warming is not only that it is occurring, and that heavy use of fossil fuels is mainly to blame, but also that the impact on the Earth will be catastrophic unless the trend can be slowed or reversed by dramatic — and dramatically expensive — policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This progression moves from established fact to reasonably high level of probability to the realm of guesswork — and the farther into the future, the wilder the guesses.
A recent scientific conference at Exeter University, summoned to provide Tony Blair with environmental ammunition for the G8 summit, became like a contest between horror stories — the Vanishing Gulf Stream, Millions Dead of Malaria in the Midlands, the Parboiled Polar Bear — that would do the best job of making the public’s flesh creep. As spin for the Government’s case that climate change is a threat greater than terrorism, this was all no doubt effective.
But these scenarios are what scientific insiders know as “computer-aided story lines”, not reliable predictions. Tall stories have no place at G8 summits. To base decisions on them would be not only absurd, but pernicious. For example: a shutdown in the thermohaline circulation that produces the Gulf Stream would indeed be disastrous for Europe but it is what scientists call a “low- probability high-consequence event” — in plain language, it has a more than 95 per cent chance of not happening. Malaria could indeed make a comeback in Europe, but this is a land-use and public health issue more than a climatic one. Polar bears . . . pass.
It is no doubt fascinating to feed a load of worst-case assumptions through computers to see what happens. Climate change modelling involves assumptions about all sorts of things — population levels, rates of economic growth, energy efficiency and the weight of fossil fuels in future energy production — that are hard to forecast over an extended period. These assumptions are then fed into models that predict how the climate would react in the future. Uncertainties abound.
So long as it is made clear that these flights of fancy are in no sense forecasts of what is likely to happen, there can be no objection. But the phrase “scientific consensus” produces a tremor of doubt among people who admire scientists for their inherent distrust of received wisdom. And that tremor becomes an apprehensive shudder when these speculative “images of alternative futures” come to be thought of as “the latest scientific evidence” and work their way into the decisions that politicians take and taxpayers and consumers pay for. In climate change, careless talk costs livelihoods.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has drawn up scenarios of mean temperature rises from 2000 to 2100 of between 1.5C (34.7F) and 5.8C above 1990 levels. The difference between these two guesstimates is, baldly, from inherently manageable to seriously alarming. The top-end IPCC scenario, codenamed A1FI, assumes that per capita carbon emissions rise to four times current levels (they have been stable since the early 1970s) and that methane concentrations more than double (they are currently declining).
Another high-end scenario, A2, not only puts the world population in 2100 at 15.1 billion, half again as high as the 10.4 billion projected by the UN, but assumes more carbon- intensive energy use — turning the historical trend on its head. Both scenarios artificially inflate the magnitude of the challenge of climate change.
These top-end 5.8C scenarios are constantly cited and are distorting policy. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which comes into force tomorrow, already has “Past sell-by date” stickers all over it. The argument is that Kyoto does not go far enough. The proposed remedy is “Kyoto plus” — more stringent emissions cuts applied to more countries. But this would compound the deleterious consequences of a product so flawed that it should never have been put on the market.
For a start, the protocol’s implementation will require such heavy-handed regulation that Andrei Illarionov, the senior economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin who opposed Russia’s ratification of Kyoto, sees it as a recrudescence of the command economy. Appealing last week to Mr Blair to listen more to informed sceptics, he asked: “Have there been any international agreements to limit economic growth and development before Kyoto? Yes, there were two: Communism and Nazism.”
It is not necessary to go that far to see that in cost-benefit terms Kyoto is inherently inefficient. It obliges industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Along with other developing countries, India and China are permitted unlimited emissions. Instead of going for emissions cuts with the lowest marginal cost, Kyoto imposes reductions on those countries that have already taken the “easy” steps to less carbon-intensive growth.
Energy conservation makes sense for many reasons. I am tempted to suggest that if Mr Blair and Gordon Brown were serious they would levy standard 17.5 per cent VAT on domestic gas and electricity bills, offer tax breaks for solar panels and replace the Millennium Dome with one of China’s pebble- technology nuclear reactors.
But cost-benefit analysis should still apply to energy conservation. Last week the National Audit Office pointed out how the UK’s Renewables Obligation — which compels electricity suppliers to buy quotas from wind farms and other renewable sources of power at nearly three times the market rate of £25 per megawatt hour — will add more than £1 billion a year to consumers’ bills within five years.
A conservative estimate of the cost of meeting the Kyoto target is £150 billion. Britain’s bills will be disproportionately high, since Mr Blair has decreed that Britain shall exceed the target by cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 and 60 per cent by 2050.
Objectors take dim view of wind farm plan
GIANT wind turbines planned for Broadmeadows will be clearly visible from about a third of homes in Selkirk, it has been claimed.
And, according to those fighting the proposal from renewable energy firm Greenpower, the 13 towers – each 400ft high – will despoil a landscape loved by generations of Souters.
Less than a mile from the Three Brethren, they will also form an incongruous backdrop to Selkirk Common Riding, say the protesters.
Now an action group fighting the scheme – just four miles from the town – will seek the support of Selkirk Community Council in defeating the plans.
Greenpower displayed a model turbine at a Yarrowford roadshow in 2003.
A group spokesman told the The Wee Paper: "I don't think Selkirk folk realise the radical change to their quality of life that this will mean. A wonderful unspoilt asset will be ruined and visitor numbers will definitely be affected, hitting businesses in the town."
That is also the view of the Selkirk-based Scottish Borders Tourist Board. We can reveal that tourist chiefs have formally objected to Scottish Borders Council's planning department.
The board says that although it generally supports the development of green energy, it feels the Broadmeadows project, along with the AMEC proposal for Minchmoor on the other side of the Southern Upland Way, must be opposed.
The board claims the Broadmeadows turbines will clearly be seen from Scott's View, the Three Brethren and Bowhill House. It fears a region in which tourism is now by far the biggest employer could become synonymous with wind farms if developments are allowed on exposed open ridges in areas of great natural beauty.
The board says the A708 Yarrow Valley road is one of the Borders' major tourist routes and it claims the main reason people come to the region is because of the landscape, which would be "significantly" changed.
On Monday, community councillors will hear that tourism could be virtually wiped out during and post-construction, with road-straightening and bridge-strengthening required along some of Selkirk's favourite routes.
The action group spokesman told The Wee Paper that what appeared a clean energy resource had many downsides.
He cited the notice on the gate of the Crystal Rig wind farm in Berwickshire which warns walkers that their lives are in danger not only from electricity, but also from snow and ice falling from blades and towers. "There is also the unanswered question of noise from the turbines, which will be exacerbated in a valley environment."
Those wishing to have their say on Monday should note that the open forum part of the meeting in the Victoria Halls committee room starts at 8pm.
14 February 2005
POLICIES FOR WINDFARMS WILL SUFFICE, SAY EXECUTIVE
09:00 - 12 February 2005
The Scottish Executive came under renewed pressure to draw up a national policy to control windfarms after the revelation it is taking longer than ever for ministers to approve applications.
Local authorities, some politicians and organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Macaulay Land Research Institute have been calling for a national framework because of the controversy surrounding the number of applications and their impact on the landscape.
The executive and the windfarm industry insist that current planning guidelines suffice.
There is also opposition to section 36 of the Electricity Act, which allows ministers to have the final say when an application is for a generating capacity of 50MW or over onshore and 1MW and over offshore.
Deputy Enterprise Minister Allan Wilson revealed in a parliamentary answer that the average time to determine an application under section 36 went up from 13 months in 2003 to 17 months last year.
There are currently 31 applications outstanding and only 13 have been determined in the last three years.
Mr Wilson said planning guidelines ensure that decisions are made locally and in the best interests of the environment.
"Planning guidelines set out by the executive are robust and ensure factors such as community opinion, environmental impact and the consequences for wildlife and natural habitats are always taken into consideration," he said.
"This can sometimes take time, but ensures that only environmentally acceptable proposals are approved.
"Local planning authorities are looking at applications in their area."
The question was asked by SNP environment spokesman Richard Lochhead, who accused the executive of being like a "rabbit stuck in the headlights" when it came to the development of wind energy.
"Wind energy has a role to play but there has to be a national strategy to identify the best locations for windfarms, the environmental factors that need to be taken into account and the benefits for local communities that can be expected," he said.
"More importantly, ministers must state the extent of the contribution they envisage making - both onshore and offshore windfarms - towards achieving their renewable-energy targets.
"Developers, communities, and even public agencies, are clamouring for political leadership but, so far, their calls have gone unheeded."
Maf Smith, chief executive of the green-energy forum Scottish Renewables, said current planning guidelines were enough because applications were best made at a local level.
"We want to avoid creating a situation where windfarms are decided by civil servants sticking pins in a map in Glasgow."
It was right that complicated decisions were looked at "vigorously", he said, but there was concern about the number of undecided applications.
"A lack of decision-making doesn't help anyone. It doesn't help developers, good practice, or communities which have applications in their areas."
EXPERTS SET FOR WINDFARM BATTLE
09:00 - 12 February 2005
The Largest clash between environmental experts in the history of East Staffordshire is expected following a company's official application for planning permission for a gigantic windfarm near Uttoxeter.
Ab Energy has confirmed that it has now submitted to the Borough Council its plans to erect seven wind turbine masts, each over 300ft tall, on farmland at Bagot's Park, Abbots Bromley. The site is adjacent to designated areas of natural beauty which include a stretch of the Staffordshire Way and the Marchington Woodlands.
Keith Albrow, the company's projects director, said its application, modified from eight to seven wind turbines, had been preceded by full environmental impact assessment in line with the demands of the Government office for the West Midlands.
This was being made available for public scrutiny to scotch fears that the windfarm would severely damage areas of natural beauty and the environment in general.
Mr Albrow claimed: "From our evidence we have found there is a demonstrable level of support for a project which would make a major contribution to national aims to generate clean electricity on a scale where greenhouse gas emissions are cut significantly. We have high hopes for this project which could produce enough electricity to supply nearly 8,000 homes in East Staffordshire which represent 17 per cent of all domestic properties in the district."
He said reputable technical evidence in favour of the development was among documents submitted to the borough council.
But many local organisations plan to protest against the scheme, including the Abbots Bromley and Marchington Woodlands Windfarm Action Group.
Its co-ordinator, Mark Newstead, said it was now 'full steam ahead' in terms of marshalling leading local, national and international experts and organisations firmly against such wind power developments in lovely stretches of the British countryside.
He said: "Let battle commence because we believe we can present undeniable evidence that a scheme like this will blight the countryside with huge structures which damage the environment and blight the health, wealth and quality of life of the thousands of people living in the communities which surround them."
He said AB Energy was making 'unbelievable claims' about the supposed benefits of the project, he said, but a facts and not fantasy campaign being organised by the action group planned to highlight the true cost of wind power to the environment, local people and a far wider population.
It would visually devastate communities yet such a scheme could not make any realistic or significant contribution to the national production of clean electricity, Mr Newstead said.
Councillors back turbines project against officers' adviceby Haydn Lewis
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build two wind turbines south of York have been backed by city councillors againste and location would harm the setting and historic character of York.At a meeting yesterday, City of York councillors gave their full support to Powergen's plans to site the two 364ft turbines on the Escrick Park Estate, south of Escrick, between York and Selby.
The decision went against advice from council officers that the plan should be opposed because the turbines' size and location would harm the setting and historic character of York.
Members of the group opposed to the plan, Selby Community Residents Against Powergen (SCRAP), fear the scheme will blight the landscape, harm wildlife and devalue their homes.
Chris Clay, the group's chairman, told the meeting the overwhelming majority of local residents were against the plan.
He said: "These things will be some of the largest of their kind in the UK - they are going to be almost twice the height of York Minster. They will dominate the landscape and be clearly visible from York.
"And it's not just a size issue. The noise they will generate will be considerable."
He also voiced concerns that wildfowl such as ducks and geese using Wheldrake Ings five miles away could be affected.
But in an impassioned plea, Lib Dem Wheldrake ward member Coun Christian Vassie asked councillors to support the plan, saying the city should be at the forefront of initiatives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Coun Vassie claimed the two turbines could produce enough renewable energy to power 2,300 homes - the equivalent of all the people living in Escrick, Wheldrake, Skipwith, Stillingfleet, Elvington, Naburn, Deighton and Crockey Hill.
He said: "Cities like York, with its history of flooding, should be particularly aware of the dangers of rising sea levels and should be at the forefront of initiatives to reduce our dependence on carbon dioxide- emitting fossil fuels."
As York planners debated the wind turbine application, hundreds of residents attended a public exhibition organised by Powergen in Skipwith.
Selby District councillors now hold the fate of the project in their hands, having the final decision on the planning application. This will not be considered until March 2 at the earliest, and a final decision is not expected until April or May.
Updated: 09:54 Friday, February 11, 2005
Wind farms will devastate tourism
IF THE Scottish Executive have their way there will be few places in Scotland from which one will not be able to enjoy views of wind farms.
This mass industrialisation of the countryside will result in an unreliable and expensive source of electricity, which will have no appreciable effect on carbon emissions or climate change. It will seriously affect the economy by an overall loss of jobs due to a fall in tourism, and higher electricity bills will be bad news for both industry and the domestic consumer.
As a result of this policy the citizens of this land can say goodbye to our well-loved landscape, quiet and unspoilt natural beauty, goodbye to our stunning, unadulterated sunsets, because the evening sky will be illuminated by flashing red lights atop the turbines, goodbye to our abundant wildlife and our thriving tourist industry upon which the economy of Scotland depends.
This appalling situation will lead to already economically fragile local communities losing the prosperity brought by tourism. People trapped by circumstances beyond their control, unable to move house due to devalued property prices, as purchasers do not wish to move to blighted areas.
The majority of MSPs, with a notable few exceptions, local councillors and, surprisingly, the Churches, are silent about the greatest threat to Highland life since The Clearances.
Judith Hodgson, Skye
SIR Donald Miller (Letters, February 6) and your correspondents fail to weigh the costs of subsidies to renewable energy development against the costs to the economy of pollution by fossil-fuel burning for power generation.
The annual costs to Scottish consumers of wind power - "the startling figure of £55 per head" - must be set against the costs to consumers, taxpayers and industry of, inter alia, clearing slag heaps, land decontamination, mine-site restoration, rehabilitation of acidified lakes and adaptation to climate change. Somebody does pay for clearing up the mess left by fossil-fuel burning and I venture it is you and me in the end.
Any subsidy to renewable energy development which reduces or avoids these costs might therefore be very good business for the rest of us, even if those in the conventional energy sector perceive a threat to their vested interests.
The threat of wind farms to ecosystems needs to be similarly set in context. I find it very difficult to believe that the threat to biological systems posed by wind farms is anything like the degradation of aquatic, marine and terrestrial ecosystems wrought by fossil fuel extraction, shipment and burning.
Impacts of wind farms on ecosystems have tight boundaries in space and time and, surely, are readily managed, not least by selecting sites which minimise trade-offs with conservation and landscape values.
I have seen little evidence in your ‘Wind Farm Watch’ series of objective analysis which considers the full costs and benefits of wind power to the Scottish economy or to ecosystems.
Dr Mark Smith, East Kilbride
Persuading U.S. on Climate Is Top Challenge - Blair
Sat Feb 12, 2005 12:43 PM ET
By Katherine Baldwin
GATESHEAD, England (Reuters) - Persuading Washington to support global efforts to tackle climate change is Britain's main challenge over the coming months, Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Saturday.
Global warming is one of Blair's priorities for London's chairmanship of the Group of Eight rich nations this year.
"The reality is that unless America comes back in to some form of international consensus, it's very hard to make progress," Blair said when asked if he could get the United States on board over measures to slow global warming.
"I hope, and this is the diplomatic challenge for the next few months, I hope we can reestablish that dialogue," he told a conference of his Labour Party in Gateshead, northern England.
Blair said last week he believed President Bush wants to start discussing measures to combat climate change and suggested there may be an agreement during Britain's G8 presidency, to be showcased at a summit in July.
Scientists say global warming could have catastrophic consequences, causing ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise. Coastal towns and even cities like London could be submerged. Climate changes could also destroy agriculture and wipe out thousands of species.
The United States is the world's biggest polluter but rejects most scientific opinion that mankind is largely to blame for global warming and has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse emissions.
Blair said he hoped advances in science and technology to increase energy efficiency and concerns about energy supply would help bring the Americans on board.
His comments came as protesters marched on the U.S. embassy in London to urge Bush to sign up to the United Nations Kyoto agreement, which comes into force on Feb. 16. Blair has accepted the U.S. Senate is unlikely to back Kyoto.
Many Labour supporters were angered by Blair's support for Bush over the Iraq war and want Blair to prove the Anglo-American relationship is a two-way street by getting Washington's backing on global warming.
Referring to Labour unease over his closeness to Bush, Blair said: "People may sometimes worry, in fact I'm sure they sometimes do worry about the relationship with America. But if you simply exclude America from this equation, we'll never get it done.
"Can I do this? Can I get them back in dialogue on this issue? We will see but I will do my damnedest to achieve it."
CIS puts wind in the sales of renewable energy
Terry MacalisterThe Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>
Monday February 14, 2005
The Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) is to encourage companies in which it invests to support renewable power with innovative supply deals that promise lower prices.
The CIS wants firms to follow the lead of its sister-company, Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), which has signed an eight-year contract with the green energy provider Ecotricity.
This guarantees the financial services group will pay less than the going rate for its power, whether renewable or standard.
CIS is approaching 40 companies, in which it collectively holds some £1.5bn in shares, outlining the advantage of the wind energy deal that CFS has struck and encouraging them to do something similar.
The move comes two days before the Kyoto treaty comes into effect and just days after the National Audit Office claimed that consumers would have to pay 5% more for their electricity by 2010 due to government support for green generators.
"With the Kyoto protocol becoming legally binding everyone is focused on how we reduce global climate change," said Simon Williams, the CFS director of corporate affairs.
"There is a compelling business case for using renewable energy and we therefore wanted to bring this innovative solution to the attention of other companies."
The £4m Ecotricity contract is said to be the first of its kind and guarantees that CFS - which sees itself as pioneering responsible investment - will save £250,000 between now and 2012.
This has enabled Ecotricity to finance the construction of six new wind turbines in Lincolnshire.
These purpose-built machines will provide light and heating for CFS office buildings. While most green energy tariffs provide electricity from existing generation sources, the Ecotricity contract guarantees new capacity is built.