February 2005 Windfarm stories
EXECUTIVE REJECTS PROTESTS AND APPROVES WINDFARM
09:00 - 04 February 2005
A Controversial windfarm development overlooking a Moray community has been approved in the face of fierce opposition from local people.
The 21-turbine scheme at the 1,100ft Hill of Towie, near Drummuir, has been approved by the Scottish Executive following a public inquiry.
Opponents of the plan said it was a "dreadful" day for Moray and local democracy and warned it would have repercussions on windfarm plans in other parts of Scotland.
The Drummuir development is the first to have been approved on appeal and protesters fear that could set a precedent for future applications.
The proposal for the Hill of Towie by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) was thrown out by Moray councillors because the scale and design of the development would be visually intrusive and in response to nearly 100 formal objections.
The firm appealed and a week-long public inquiry was held in Keith last September.
Yesterday it was confirmed Scottish Executive planning official Trevor Croft, who chaired the inquiry, had recommended to ministers the application should be approved.
It is the third windfarm approved for Moray, with work already nearing completion at Cairn Uish, near Dallas.
The delight among protesters after the council's unanimous rejection of the Drummuir proposal in November 2003 was replaced last night by anger and disappointment at the outcome of the inquiry.
David Whitehead, whose home at Botriphnie is three miles from the windfarm site, said he was disgusted and was considering moving away.
Mr Whitehead, 58, and his wife Carol retired to the area from Lancashire six years ago to enjoy the scenery and tranquility.
"We moved here for all the things that are now being destroyed," said Mr Whitehead.
"I can't believe that people are prepared to accept these windfarms after the damage they have done elsewhere."
Anti-windfarm campaigner Bob Graham said he was "absolutely devastated".
"The council's decision was based on genuine planning grounds, but other local authorities will now question whether it is worth their while trying to oppose these windfarms," he said.
"This is the first big application that has gone to appeal and local authorities will be looking very closely at the outcome."
Mr Graham added: "It is a dreadful day for Moray and local democracy. Councillors took a unanimous decision, but what is the point in having local government if decisions like this are going to be overturned?"
Mr Graham said the fight was not over. He said he planned to launch a fundraising campaign to seek a judicial review of the decision.
Ray Hunter, Scottish development manager for RES, said there had been a number of important principles which needed to be tested at an inquiry.
He said: "It appeared to us that Moray Council's refusal involved using policies, which were not designed for windfarm applications, to argue against the council's own windfarm policies.
"If Scotland is to meet its ambitious renewables targets we need to develop more onshore windfarms.
"Offshore alternatives such as wind, wave and tidal power are not yet viable in a Scottish context."
He said another important issue had been the relevance of economic benefit for Scotland in a planning context.
He added it was too early to give a start date for work on the windfarm.
Caution over wind farms
With reference to your report, "Scotland Split over wind turbine plans" (2 February), I have no doubt Scotland will need an appropriate mixture of renewable energy systems, including wind farms, to meet future requirements and to achieve the Kyoto Agreement targets. But I am concerned that the Scottish Executive would even consider the creation of 256 wind farms with more than 6,000 turbines and towers.
During a recent conversation with an informed European contact, I was advised there is growing concern in the European Union that the Executive feels it has the right to destroy the last natural wilderness in Europe when we, in Scotland, would almost certainly object to the German government clearing the entire Black Forest for industrial purposes.
There are mixes of power (wind, wave, biomass, fuel cell) which need to be looked at to achieve our contribution to Kyoto targets. Would it not be sensible to stop for a moment and examine the commercial viability of the existing 15 wind farms for two years prior to establishing more wind farms?
Why this haste to extract money from the taxpayer because the grants are there? If 256 wind farms would be of economic benefit to this country then surely the knowledge that the existing 15 wind farms are viable should be sought before investing millions of pounds in further wind farms.
Robert Marshall & Associates
Shearer Street, Glasgow
One look at the map of wind farms in Scotland (2 February) destroys any belief in the ability of the environmental agencies to safeguard Scottish landscapes. The desecration of our countryside by wind turbines is inexcusable.
The Scottish Executive and parliament have it in their power to review, urgently, the policy over renewables and in doing so redeem their somewhat tarnished reputation. To continue pretending that wind energy will solve all our energy problems and at the same time reduce CO2 emissions is a fantasy, driven, largely, by greed and profit under a "green" umbrella.
With North Sea gas supplies due to run out in a few years time and the rapidly rising cost of electricity, it is imperative that an alternative source of energy be obtained. Wind energy will not meet this need. The only form of energy which does not contribute to global warming is nuclear energy. Sooner or later we must revert to it.
A viable technique exists, and should be developed, whereby the disposal of nuclear waste could be effectively exercised by a form of burial at a level far deeper than anything yet contemplated. This process of returning nuclear matter whence it originally came has much to commend it and it is in this direction that we must look for our future energy needs.
ANDREW C McWILLIAM
Boreland Road, Kirkcudbright
ENERGY FIRM SCALES BACK DONSIDE PROPOSAL
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09:00 - 04 February 2005
Renewable energy firm has scaled back plans for a windfarm in Donside after earlier proposals provoked a backlash from the local community.
Perth-based npower Renewables has submitted plans for an 11-turbine windfarm at Hill of Snowy Slack. The development for the site between Lumsden and Mossat would cost £18million but is smaller than the 20-turbine plan which angered residents two years ago.
At the time, opposition voiced at a public meeting in Lumsden Village Hall had warned the turbines would have a "massive" detrimental impact on the landscape.
The project, which would have seen work start this spring, was put on hold. The firm went back to the drawing board and came up with the new scheme for 11 328ft-high turbines, which would produce an output of 22 megawatts and be linked into the National Grid.
An npower spokesman said: "The project would produce enough power for around 12,000 homes and would be fed into the local distribution network, providing a significant energy boost to the area."
He said the proposed site, which is almost 1,950ft high, was an ideal location for such a windpower development.
He said the site was remote and, given the reduced scale of turbines planned, should be environmentally acceptable.
If it gains local authority planning approval, he said it was hoped to have the windfarm in place in around a year.
Donside Community Council chairman Ian Law said the latest scheme was on the same site, although significantly smaller in scale and in a fold of the hills.
Wind farm – time for the talking to start
A MAJOR consultation period was launched yesterday into plans to build a wind farm at North Charlton.
npower renewables unveiled the outline proposals for three sites in Northumberland and said Middlemoor, at North Charlton, was a “significant development” in the drive to meet renewable energy targets. Dr Martin Marais, head of onshore development, said the site could potentially be the largest of the three, with up to 25 turbines and a generating capacity of 50 to 75 megawatts. The aim is to produce 600 megawatts in wind power by 2010. The other sites are near Berwick and Hexham. Dr Marais said: “It is the start of a long, thorough process of consultation, talking and communication. We are keen to work with local communities to develop these wind farm sites. “We do anticipate some opposition. It’s inevitable. But we are hoping that through close, open and honest dialogue, the genuine concerns of people will be overcome.” Due to the size of the wind farm, the application will be determined by the Department of Trade and Industry, not the local council.
04 February 2005
Wind farm protesters gatherPROTESTERS concerned about wind farms being put up in mid Cheshire are hosting a meeting in the area today, Friday.
Cheshire's branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) is worried that Government targets are to be met at the expense of the countryside.
The talk, which takes place in the Middlewich Town Council Chamber, Victoria Building, Lewin Street, at 2.15pm, is to be given by Geoff Baker, who is campaigning against a proposed wind farm in Vale Royal.
The application is for a group of 100m high turbines on the Cheshire Plain, close to the villages of Eaton and Tarporley and the CPRE is supporting the residents, who are opposed to the plan.
Richard Bass, chairman of the CPRE, said: "We all know that renewable clean energy is the way forward but should that way be lined by structures the height of Big Ben's clock tower scattered across the Cheshire countryside?
"The campaign is very much in favour of environmentally-friendly sources of energy but we are becoming concerned that the government's targets for this are to be met at the expense of our countryside."
Richard Ellison, head of planning and building control at Vale Royal Borough Council, said there were two sites on which the borough council could get applications on, at Dutton and near to Tarporley.
He said: "We haven't had any applications yet.
"We have information that there may be applications coming in a month or so, but I cannot confirm that."
Numbers are limited for the CPRE meeting.
For more information, ring Debbie Janney on 01606 835046.
WAG MINISTER HAS FAILED TO RESPOND
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14:00 - 04 February 2005
Over the last six or seven months, these columns have been the venue for a most lively, virile, democratic and open debate about the National Assembly for Wales Government's (Wag) wind farm proposals for Wales. The Wag Minister for Energy Andrew Davies, whose flagship policy wind farms are, has seen fit to write in with his views on this debate in a letter to another South Wales newspaper. Mr Davies is the AM for Swansea West, yet he has not seen fit to write such a letter to his and our local newspaper, the South Wales Evening Post. Why not, Mr Davies?
Mr Davies says this desecration of Wales is subjective. Come on Mr Davies, would you put a wind farm in Rhossili Bay or on the beautiful hillsides that surround it?
Eaton Crescent, Uplands, Swansea
Tourist board boss hits out at Whinash plansChairman of Cumbria Tourist Board Eric Robson
By Messenger News Desk <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Building a controversial windfarm on the edge of the Lake District National Park risks damaging Cumbria's billion-pounds-a-year tourism industry, says the chairman of the county's tourism board.
Cumbria Tourist Board chairman Eric Robson said plans to build 27 turbines, each standing taller than St Paul's Cathedral, on the fells at Whinash, near Tebay, would scar the award-winning landscape that acts as a gateway for tourists travelling to the Lake District and Cumbria.
Mr Robson spoke out against the controversial application after CTB agreed to formally object to the plans by the Renewable Development Company and West Coast Energy and give evidence against the development at a public inquiry in April.
But project manager Steve Molloy, of West Coast Energy, said they would challenge CTB's fears and suggest that, as seen across the country, windfarms can actually boost tourism.
If allowed, the £55 million Whinash Windfarm would be the largest on shore windfarm in the country, spanning 7km along the M6 and West Coast Main Line on "unprotected" land between the designated national parks of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
"This industrial site would be the first thing visitors to Cumbria, travelling along the M6 or West Coast Main Line, would see," said Radio Four presenter Mr Robson.
"The Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales are world-class, cherished landscapes which are loved by all and we want to protect them.
"But from both of those landscapes, the view would be dominated by the constant movement of turbine blades, and represent one of the biggest industrial developments in Britain."
Mr Robson who stressed that the CTB supported renewable energy in principle also expressed fears that land outside the national parks could become open season for renewable energy companies if the Whinash Windfarm went ahead.
The CTB enters the fray at the same time of the Countryside Agency lodged its formal objection to the windfarm, saying it had a "statutory responsibility" to protect outstanding landscapes.
The Lake District was named last month as one of the top 50 destinations in the world by National Geographic magazine, adding to its success at topping a YouGov Poll as the place with "most inspiring scenery" in the country.
However, Mr Molloy told The Messenger that WCE would oppose claims the project would damage tourism, arguing that there had been no evidence to back this up in the case of any of the 90 windfarms built in the country since 1990.
A second pre inquiry hearing, where more objectors came forward, was held at the Shap Wells Hotel, in Shap, on Monday.
10:51am Wednesday 2nd February 2005
Windfarm inquiry delaysBy The Westmorland Gazette <mailto:email@example.com>
The much anticipated public inquiry into plans to build the biggest windfarm in England near Tebay could be put back until the autumn after objecting councils said they needed more time to scour highly technical environmental documents.
A "consortium" of Cumbria County Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council, the Lake District National Park Authority and Yorkshire Dales National Park requested a one-month or autumn adjournment into West Coast Energy's highly controversial plans to build 27 turbines, each standing taller than St Paul's Cathedral, on the fells at Whinash.
They argued that more time was needed to sift through the technical document they are set to receive from renewable energy company WCE on February 14 and formalise a response before all proofs of evidence are handed over to the planning inspector on March 18.
The request was made at a second pre-inquiry meeting held at Shap Wells Hotel on Monday in preparation for the full public inquiry earmarked for April 19.
"A month is just not long enough for us to absorb the information and then formalise a response and argument in time for the proof of evidence deadline," said CCC spokesman Justin Hawkins.
"We have asked for this adjournment in good faith because this document contains really serious technical information."
Steve Molloy, WCE's project manager for the £55 million project, said the company had been busy consulting environmental groups and discussing their concerns over the development in preparation for publishing the document.
Bit he appeared confident that the adjournment would be refused by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who will consider the request and are expected to make a decision at the end of next week.
"There have been similar inquiries into windfarms in Kent and Cheshire where councils have asked for an adjournment for the same reasons and have been refused it," he said.
Mr Molloy also confirmed that the inquiry would cost WCE in the region of £500,000.
Speaking after the meeting, No To Whinash Windfarm and FELLS spokesman, Kyle Blue, said the groups were confident of victory.
His comments come a week after Cumbria Tourist Board chairman Eric Robson said the windfarm risked damaging Cumbria's billion-pounds-a-year tourism industry.
Mr Robson said the site of the windfarm next to the M6 and West Coast Main Line would scar the awarding-winning landscape and deter visitors.
But WCE hit back by saying there was no evidence to suggest any of the 90 windfarms built in the country since 1990 had damaged tourism, and that in some cases the farms had become attractions in their own right.
9:15am Friday 4th February 2005
http://icperthshire.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/perthnews/perthnews/tm_objectid=15152495&method=full&siteid=88886&headline=edinburgh-wind-mast-test-case-name_page.htmlEdinburgh wind mast test case
Feb 4 2005
A KINROSS-SHIRE company is keeping the politicians guessing over plans to create a windfarm which would dominate the view from windows at the Scottish Parliament.
Milnathort-based Carlton Hill Energy have applied for permission to erect a 50-metre high test mast at Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh.
The idea is to test whether one of the country’s best known landmarks would be suitable for a windfarm.
Despite widespread conjecture that the move is designed to fuel the windfarm debate, company spokesman David Kennedy played questions from sceptical reporters with a straight bat.
He said: “We hope to assess the potential and take it forward from there.”
He warned that turbines could be as high as 120 metres if the project went ahead.
Salisbury Crags is a Scottish Natural Heritage site of Special Scientific Interest and Historic Scotland is opposing the project because of the impact it would have on the royal park and Holyrood Palace.
------------http://icwestlothian.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/lothiannews/lothiannews/tm_objectid=15152786&method=full&siteid=92284&headline=wind-farm-firm-plan-exhibition-name_page.htmlWIND FARM FIRM PLAN EXHIBITION
Feb 4 2005
By Ewen McNamee
A LOCAL firm hopes its renewable energy plans will be a breath of fresh air to West Lothian.
PM Renewables from Polbeth are aiming to be a leading independent player in the green energy market, and have lodged ambitious plans to build their first wind farm in the south west of the county.
Tormywheel Wind Farm will be situated around 3km south of Fauldhouse, to the east of the Gladsmuir Hills, and will have 15 wind turbines that will generate electricity for up to 20,000 homes, equivalent to supplying more than 12 per cent of the total population of West Lothian.
PM Renewables company director Simon Morton explained: “We are planning a number of wind power projects throughout Scotland.
“However, we are delighted at the prospect that our first project might go ahead in West Lothian.
“Tormywheel has taken two years of design work involving a multi-disciplinary team of experts assessing all of the environmental elements of a project of this type.”
Fellow PM director Darrin Rooney added: “We believe that in Tormywheel we have found the best site for a wind farm in West Lothian.
“There are excellent wind conditions, land configuration, electrical connection options and accessibility, and we have a real opportunity to make a positive environmental contribution.”
He also explained that the company are also keen to involve the local community and get people to take an interest in the project.
To this end, the company are holding a public exhibition on the scheme at the Salvation Army Hall in Fauldhouse’s Blackfaulds Place on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 8 and 9, from 3pm to 8pm.
“We have plans to extend and upgrade footpaths in and around the wind farm,” continued Darrin Rooney.
“We also plan to provide parking facilities and information points so that people can learn about the project and the history of the area”.
PM Renewables added they will also improve the existing degraded landscape, wildlife habitats on the site and initiate a moorland management plan with the landowners.
The Scottish Executive and the UK Government are supporting the development of renewable energy projects as a key weapon in the fight against global warming and climate change.
It is estimated that Tormywheel project would reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide by 2.6 million tonnes during its 25-year operational life.
Fauldhouse Councillor Neil Findlay expressed concern about the number of wind farms planned for around the town, and urged the people of Fauldhouse to make their views known.
“Whilst I do not wish to comment on this application until I have seen the full details, I do have serious concern about the proliferation of wind farm applications in the Fauldhouse area,” explained Neil Findlay.
“Currently there are four companies seeking to develop wind farms close to Fauldhouse.
“Whilst it is right that we accept our responsibility in providing for our energy needs, it is unfair to expect one area to absorb four wind farms when other areas have none.
“I would urge all local people to visit the exhibition on the 8th and 9th of February and make their views known.
“Whether they are in favour of this development or not it is vital that the local voice is heard.”
FEAR OF MASS WIPE-OUT OF WILDLIFE BY WINDFARMS
09:00 - 03 February 2005
Highland Council was last night accused of threatening mass extermination of wildlife by granting permission for windfarms without properly considering the implications for the environment.
A leading green lobby group blamed a formula for risk assessment governed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which, it claimed, was gravely inaccurate.
SNH has defended its methods for establishing the extent of a windfarm's risk to local wildlife, including birds, based on collisions with turbines and other obstacles and any loss of natural habitat due to the construction.
And the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds also defended its decision not to object to a 40-turbine development at Farr, near Inverness.
Critics have claimed the development - which is currently under construction - could be harmful to local raptors, but the RSPB insisted it would monitor any effects on local wildlife.
An RSPB spokesman said: "We and SNH are going to be involved as members of a bird monitoring group at Farr.
"Red kites are up there, which are a bird of prey. They don't breed there, but they're in the area.
"There are also dunlin and golden plovers, which are upland birds. Wec will monitor how the windfarm impacts on them, whether there are any injuries or strikes occurring."
The controversial issue of the illegal killing of wild birds of prey has also been raised in parts of the Highlands.
Speaking a week after a Tomatin gamekeeper was fined £1,500 for attempting to trap rare birds of prey, Bob Graham of the Protect Rural Scotland party described the case as "small beer" compared with the actions of councillors.
He went on: "Highland Council has condoned countless bird killers - in the shape of giant turbine blades. It's against the law to kill endangered species, so to erect machinery that you know is likely to kill birds has to be dealt with in a similar fashion.
"It is hypocrisy to say it's acceptable to kill birds under the banner of renewable energy. You could almost sympathise with the gamekeeper on the Farr Estate who's doing it to sustain his livelihood because these birds are threatening his future."
But Highland Council planning chairman Sandy Park, a regular hillwalker and lover of the outdoors, insisted his committee did its homework.
"A couple of us visited large windfarms in East Germany last year and 'bird strike' was minimal, as far as their reckoning was concerned," he said.
""Every application that comes in, the RSPB and all the different bodies certainly submit their concerns if they have any."
To the anger of many environmentalists, the RSPB has forged close business links with one renewables firm - Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) - by actively encouraging its members to switch to the company's electricity. However, an RSPB spokesman admitted last night there was no guarantee switching to a "greener company" would result in cheaper bills.
Mr Graham added: "I am deeply concerned that the RSPB is actively recruiting customers for power companies.
"They are a statutory consultee in the process of windfarm applications and not, in my opinion, supporting their own traditions which are to protect wildlife. This is a serious conflict of interest."
Hot air over wind farm plans
02 Feb 2005 16:19
VILLAGERS angry at plans to site a three-turbine wind farm in west Huntingdonshire have pledged to picket an exhibition organised by the developers, Powergen.
The village of Catworth last month voted overwhelmingly against the £6 million proposal for the windmills on Catworth Hill. Opponents Catworth Hill Action Group are planning their peaceful protest for the village hall next Monday.
A spokesman for EON.UK, Powergen's parent company, would not condemn the protest plans. "People are entitled to their opinions," she said.
"We have carried out an extensive consultation, but Catworth Parish Council asked for more information. This second exhibition is a great opportunity for anyone to air any questions and find out more about the plan.
"We think it's a great project, and we want to work with the community."
But CHAG says the vote, which was 120 against and 32 for, means it is no longer a community project. Chairman John McCreath said: "We are disappointed that Powergen wants to ignore the voice of the village and is reneging on commitments that the scheme would not go ahead without the full support of the community.
"We anticipate that a good number of villagers will turn up to quiz Powergen executives on the need for another exhibition when the decision has already been taken" he added.
"Powergen's decision is all rather a waste of time, but we will picket the village hall all day so that we can also express our views to any undecided attenders from outside the village.
-------------Objectors blow cold on wind energy
THE way renewable energy developments in Oldham are controlled came under the spotlight at a public inquiry into revisions to the borough’s land-use plans.
Objectors including United Utilities, which wants to build seven 350ft wind turbines on Denshaw Moor, and campaigners against the proposals, gave their criticisms of proposed changes in the Revised Unitary Development Plan (RUDP) at a discussion yesterday.
The revisions proposed by planners include alterations to plans covering green belt and protected land, and rules about buffer zones protecting other developments or roads.
Objectors raised concerns about the protection provided for the unique character and nature of rural landscape, the natural environment, and archaeological importance of areas affected.
And they criticised the prevalence of wind energy, as opposed to other forms of renewable energy, in the borough’s plans for meeting renewable energy targets.
Parish councillor Ken Hulme said: “The major companies have skewed the debate about renewables because of their vested interest in expanding and selling electricity.”
He added that offshore wind farms would be more effective in helping the region to meet its renewable energy targets because the wind was more constant than onshore sites such as Denshaw Moor.
But Mike Hopkins, representing United Utilities, said: “Turbines are able to operate at lower wind speeds than previously. Technology is advancing all the time, and this is recognised in Government policy.”
There was also criticism from Saddleworth Parish Council of the lack of emphasis on public consultation on plans and applications, and of the sources of guidance on renewable energy used to produce the UDP.
Councillor Hulme said: “The document has been produced with organisations who are entirely partisan.”
Alan Roughley, of Saddleworth Moors Action Group, said previous administrations of Oldham Council had worked too closely with developers.
But principal planning officer Sarah Barker, said such consultation was necessary to ensure technological aspects of the subject were correct.
Some objectors felt national guidance on renewable energy planning issues did not go into enough local detail.
And there were calls for environmental testing to be included as a requirement in the plan to prove viability.
Government inspector Richard Mordey will deliver his recommendations after the inquiry, which is expected to continue until late March.
Renewable energy bill gains support
Feb 3 2005
By The Huddersfield Daily Examiner
HUDDERSFIELD MP Barry Sheerman has offered his support for a move to help fight climate change.
He is backing a bill due to be debated in the Commons tomorrow aimed at boosting the use of renewable energy.
Power suppliers would be required to produce some heating fuel from sources such as willow, straw, solar power and ground heat.
Mr Sheerman's support for the bill was welcomed by Friends of the Earth.
Spokeswoman Kate Elliott said: "A third of the UK's energy is used for heat, but the Government's energy policy has overlooked the potential savings in carbon dioxide emissions from the heat sector."
Calder Valley Labour MP Chris McCafferty is also among 16 Yorkshire MPs listed as supporters.
Wind farm vision for West Pier
An energy expert wants to convert the West Pier into a wind farm in a bid to turn Brighton and Hove into one of the greenest cities in the world.
David Lockie, 25, from Brighton, thinks the crumbling iron structure could be rebuilt to harness wind and other sustainable power sources.
His other proposals include running hydrogen-powered buses in the city centre.
David said: "Brighton and Hove is lucky because it has not only got the natural resources to make a real go of sustainable energy but it has the mindset as well.
"People here are aware of the potential of greener energy sources.
"I know if you mention the idea of wind turbines on the pier you will have people shouting blue murder but there are other options as well."
David works for a company which sets up links between businesses working with hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
He said: "People object to the idea of big wind farms and say it is just not viable but it can work on a much smaller scale.
"You could have a wind turbine on your house, solar panels and a hydrogen fuel cell and that would provide much of your energy needs.
"It's this radical idea of decentralising. Rather than getting all your power from one big station, one national resource, you have your own power supply.
"Businesses can benefit as well."
Hydrogen, an alternative fuel for cars, heating and electricity, can be cleaner than oil or natural gas and can be easily stored.
A car running on a hydrogen-powered fuel cell produces only water vapour as a waste product.
David said: "Hydrogen-fuelled buses are another concept that could benefit Brighton. They could run up and down Kings Road.
"People will tell you that these power sources are too expensive and not financially viable but there is an island off Norway that now runs on hydrogen and wind energy only.
"In Scotland they are looking at a scheme whereby some farmers can run their farms off energy produced by their organic waste. That's something that could really work in Sussex.
"The technology is out there and Brighton could be in the front line of these new developments."
Friday January 28, 2005
Wind farms likely to face a buffeting
Feb 3 2005
By Dave Black, The Journal
Plans for three new wind farms in Northumberland - which would generate enough electricity to power more than 70,000 homes a year - were unveiled yesterday as the region's green energy drive gathered pace.
Electricity giant npower renewables is launching a major consultation exercise on proposals to erect up to 45 turbines at the three sites in Alnwick, Berwick and Tynedale.
Local people will be given the chance to have their say on the plans, part of a strategic programme to generate 10pc of the region's energy needs from renewable sources by 2010, before planning applications are submitted later this year.
Npower wants to erect up to 25 turbines at Middlemoor, close to the A1 at North Charlton, north of Alnwick, and create a 50 megawatt wind farm capable of powering about 40,000 homes a year. It also unveiled plans for up to 12 turbines at Toft Hill, between Berwick and Wooler, and up to eight at Kiln Pit Hill near Slaley in Tynedale.
The 45 giant turbines would each be up to 80m high with a blade length of 40m, meaning they would tower a total of 120m above the ground from base to blade tip.
The size of the proposed wind farm at Middlemoor means a final decision would have to be taken by the Department of Trade and Industry, while the other two could be determined by local authorities.
Yesterday npower bosses admitted they expect some opposition to the giant structures, but said they hope to overcome this through dialogue and discussion with local people.
The three windswept sites have been chosen because it is felt they are far enough away from local communities and will have minimal impact on the local landscapes.
Yesterday independent planning consultant Adrian Smith said the three sites were part of a wider, strategic wind farm development programme aimed at helping the North-East achieve its target of generating 10pc of its energy from renewable sources by 2010 and 20pc by 2020.
Npower renewables' head of onshore development Dr Martin Marais said: "In the coming weeks we will share our plans and gather feedback so that we can be responsive to local needs."
Last night Berwick MP Alan Beith said: "I have had a number of meetings with constituents who are genuinely concerned about plans for wind farm development in Northumberland and I am getting more information for them and advising them on how to present their case.
"There is real concern about the number and size of wind turbines being proposed."
Last night Dr Nic Best, of Morpeth, regional policy officer with the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "We are relatively satisfied that npower has identified three sites in Northumberland where wind turbines would have minimum impact on the landscape and environment."
Wind farm site opponents vow to step up fightCouncil fears over environmental impact
OBJECTORS fighting plans for two wind turbines in countryside near York yesterday pledged to carry on with their protest after the company behind the scheme was given permission to erect a test mast.
Brian DooksSelby District Council has given E.ON UK, which runs Powergen, and wants to erect two 111m (364ft) turbines, temporary consent for the 52m (170ft) anemometer mast to measure wind speeds at Escrick Park for up to two years.
But the agreement is not being seen by objectors as opening the door for the wind turbines when they are discussed in March – particularly as York Council has now added its voice to the objectors.
The Council to Protect Rural England's York branch chairman, Dr Guy Woolley, said his organisation was not against wind farms, but Escrick Park was not the right place.
"In 1975 when the Selby Coalfield was developed, their equipment was restricted to a height of 29m (95ft). How can you go from 29m to 111m – the height of the wind turbines – without batting an eye?"
Dr Woolley said the tip of the rotor blades on the turbines proposed by E.ON would be only one metre lower than the cooling towers on coal-fired power stations which dominate the area.
The company says its community power project, involving two wind turbines, would generate enough energy to satisfy the needs of 2,300 homes and contribute £5,100 annually to a local community trust.
Local objectors say the scheme will blight the landscape and cause unacceptable noise levels. They have been joined by English Nature which has fears over wildfowl wintering at Wheldrake Ings and nightjars which nest on Skipwith Common.
Approval for the anemometer mast was welcomed by E.ON UK's community power manager, Chantal Thomas.
She said: "What the mast will allow us to do is gather detailed data on windspeeds and direction at different times of the year."
The wind monitoring mast will be put up later this year.
Because the site at Escrick Park is only two miles from the York city boundary, it has been consulted by Selby District Council, which is due to make a decision on the wind turbines in March.
York's eastern area planning committee has been recommended to oppose the wind farm partly because of concerns about the effect on wildlife, particularly at Wheldrake Ings.
Its area team leader, Roger Armistead, said: "It is recommended that York Council expresses its support for the principle of the proposed wind farm, but opposes this development because the size and location of the turbines will harm the setting and historic character of York, which the green belt allocation is designed to protect."
E.ON UK has organised a second public exhibition at Skipwith Village Hall on February 10, between 12 and 8pm.04 February 2005-------400 jobs lost after wind farm delayed
A CONTROVERSIAL plan to site 300ft wind turbines on a Scottish hillside was finally given the go-ahead yesterday after a public inquiry - but the approval came too late to save 400 jobs.
The inquiry was ordered after Moray Council rejected plans for a 21-turbine wind farm, close to the summit of the 1,100ft Hill of Towie, at Drummuir, near Keith, saying it would dominate the landscape and spoil the skyline.
But yesterday, Trevor Croft, the Scottish Executive Reporter who chaired last September’s inquiry, overruled the council and said the development, by Renewables Energy Systems (RES), could go ahead.
However, the Hertfordshire firm, one of the largest wind- energy companies in the world, said the delay had led to the collapse of a groundbreaking deal to manufacture the main components of a wind farm in Britain for the first time.
Ray Hunter, the company’s Scottish development manager, said: "Sadly, it will be difficult for RES to realise anything like the level of benefits for the UK that we had intended.
"Since Moray Council’s refusal of planning, the main contractor has pulled out of the UK market, the blade manufacturer, NOI Scotland, has stopped production and the tower fabricator, Cambrian Engineering, has gone into liquidation. In all, some 400 jobs have been lost."
In his ruling, Mr Croft said: "I do not find the overall impact on residential amenity sufficient to overcome the support for the scheme in government policy and guidance which states that renewable energy developments should be accommodated throughout Scotland, and that it is important for society at large to accept them as a feature of many areas of Scotland for the foreseeable future."
Mr Hunter said: "We are very pleased with the Reporter’s decision. We also believe Moray Council’s refusal raised important issues about where wind turbines should be located.
"If Scotland is to meet its ambitious renewable targets, we need to develop more onshore wind farms. Offshore alternatives, such as wind, wave and tidal power are not yet viable, in a Scottish context.
"At Drummuir, the wind farm would be integrated into a worked and working rural environment. If such locations are deemed unacceptable, it will mean future wind farms will all have to be in remote landscapes.
"[A further] issue is the relevance of economic benefit for Scotland in a planning context. We had put together a groundbreaking deal to produce the turbines, blades and towers in the UK. Moray Council officers and members rejected the relevance of this economic benefit in determining the application."
Eddie Coutts, the convener of Moray Council, said: "The council refused this application believing that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to Drummuir. It stands by that decision.
"Clearly, in this case, national policy has ridden roughshod over the wishes of Moray and the community of Drummuir."------04/02/05
ESB in talks bid to resolve cable disputeEddie Cassidy
ESB Networks has invited a wind farm developer to talks with landowners opposed to high voltage overhead cables being erected on their farms.
The talks have been proposed by the ESB in an effort to break a two-year impasse over the construction of a 38kV line in the Bantry area.
To date, the wind farm developer and the landowners have not been involved in direct talks.
A Bantry action group, under chairman Joe Burke, has emphasised landowners are not opposed to the wind farm.
Their primary concern is the potential health risks associated with high voltage overhead lines. Local farmers have said they are prepared to allow the cable to be laid underground.
Mr Burke said yesterday that the local campaign was gathering momentum with national farm bodies, the ICSA and the ICSMA prepared to offer support. Hill-walking groups are also backing the landowners.
“As landowners, we are taking a stand for every farmer in the country,” Mr Burke said.
“Our property is private and it’s about time that someone called a halt to big commercial concerns using the ESB as an ally to railroad their way through private land.”
Mr Burke said his group would be prepared to enter into talks with the developer and the ESB.
Last month, An Bord Pleanála turned down an appeal from the action group in relation to the ESB Networks’ application to construct a cable to the proposed Glanta Commons wind farm at Dromourneen, to link up with an 110kV station in Ballylickey.
West Cork TD Denis O’Donovan said yesterday that negotiation, and not confrontation, was the way forward.
“I have been assured by the ESB that they are prepared to enter talks with all parties to bring an end to the dispute. ESB Networks have been given the go-ahead by both the county council and Bord Pleanála to construct the cable but they are anxious to alleviate farmers’ concerns,” he said.
Mr O’Donovan said landowners could go to the courts and seek a judicial review but the cost would be astronomical.
“The best way forward for all concerned is to get around the table and talk, there’s nothing to lose through consultation.”
The Fianna Fáil TD, who is a member of the joint Oireachtas committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources said senior ESB officials were anxious to reduce any adverse effect on farmers of constructing overhead lines.
“At this stage, no one in ESB is in a position to give a commitment on local demands for underground cables to be laid but I believe the impact of overhead cables can be minimised,” he added.------------UK renewables: whistling into the windErnst & Young has cited the UK as the world's most attractive wind power market.
2 Feb 2005, 17:41 GMT - The main UK electricity suppliers do not have the plans in place to match either the potential of the UK renewables market or its regulations under the Renewables Obligation. Electricity suppliers need to dramatically scale up their plans if this market opportunity is not to be taken by someone else.
Ernst & Young's latest report on the renewables sector cites the UK as the most attractive market in the world. The low installed base of wind power in the UK and the Renewables Obligation (RO) are the main pillars of support for this assessment, giving the UK an index of 70 out of 100.
The UK has massive untapped potential in the wind power sector and there are several reasons why this has yet to be realized. Issues around market design have caused problems and obtaining planning consent has never been easy, for example. However, huge increases in the wholesale cost of gray energy seen throughout 2004 mean that the economics of wind power have never looked so good.
Perhaps the single biggest reason that wind power's potential remains unfulfilled is the genuine disinterest shown towards it from the major UK electricity companies. The RO requires UK electricity suppliers to buy a certain proportion of their electricity portfolios from renewable sources. This proportion increases each year and will rise from 5.5% in 2005/6 to 10.4% in 2010/11. Companies that don't manage to source this much renewable power in their portfolios will have to buy Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs), and those that exceed it will be able to sell them.
The main UK electricity suppliers as a group are not even close to hitting RO targets from their own sources and their current plans for capacity development show them falling further behind. In 2005/6 only one company, Scottish & Southern Energy, will be in a long position for ROCs, and all the others will be short. Datamonitor calculates that as a group the six largest electricity suppliers in the UK will be 11,652GWh short in 2005/6, exposing them to a maximum ROC liability of GBP376 million. If the suppliers proceed with only their current plans this would rise to 20,969GWh and GBP678 million, respectively.
While some of this renewable power will be sourced from independent renewable energy operators, the current plans of the main suppliers in the UK are not in keeping with the economic realities of the situation and clearly do not match the potential of the market. The opportunity exists to fill the gap and the major players need to develop plans to do so before someone else does it first.------------Leading Tory puts wind up fellow MSPs
A TOP Tory today suggested that wind turbines should be erected on the new £431 million Scottish Parliament building.
Conservative enterprise and lifelong learning spokesman Murdo Fraser also lodged a tongue-in-cheek motion at Holyrood calling for fellow MSPs to "welcome" a proposal for a wind farm to be built on the nearby Salisbury Crags.
The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, who has previously fought wind farms in Perthshire, claimed the Labour-dominated Executive was using rural areas as a dumping ground for the technology.
"I doubt that this proposal for Salisbury Crags is intended to be taken entirely seriously, but it does raise some interesting issues," he said. "There is no doubt that it makes sense to generate power as close as possible to where it is consumed."
Mr Fraser added: "I can think of no finer site for a wind turbine than the roof of the Holyrood building; one of the ugliest buildings in Edinburgh. Far better there than on an unspoilt Perthshire hill."
Scottish Renewables, which represents dozens of wind farm companies, claimed this week the Crags scheme was a hoax.
The group said David Kennedy, the man behind the development, was a leading figure in the anti-wind farm campaign. But Mr Kennedy has insisted the planning application for the Crags was legitimate.
Rise of a £1m giant
04 Feb 2005 12:43
LIKE a gigantic jigsaw taking shape, workmen put the finishing touches to a £1million wind turbine set to tower over March for years to come.
By today the turbine, with 42-metre blades, and standing some 67 metres tall, will be nearing completion on its Longhill Road site near Whitemoor Prison.
Geoff Taylor, of Snowmountain Investments, one of the three companies involved in bringing the turbine project to fruition, watched its gradual ascendancy on Wednesday.
He remarked: “They may take the place of the brickyard chimneys in the Fens.”
Long forgotten is the controversy surrounding the early stages of this massive construction, that was first conceived some four years ago.
Today the new turbine, built in Germany, is ready to provide two megawatts of power at full strength, which will be put straight into the National Grid via the electricity supply directly beneath the structure.
Hundreds of visitors are expected this weekend once the turbine is fully in position – the first in Fenland and the first of more than 25 turbines due to be built locally in the next few years.
With Shell announcing record UK profits, Mark Tran considers the calls for redistribution of company wealth
Thursday February 3, 2005
The news that Shell last year made a profit of $17.5bn (£9.3bn) - the biggest ever by a UK company - has led to renewed calls for a windfall tax.
Oil companies have made money hand over fist thanks to high demand from China and continuing political uncertainty in the Middle East. Although the price of oil has retreated from last year's peaks of more than $50 a barrel, threats of production cuts by the producers' cartel, Opec, have continued to keep it high.
ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, this week reported profits of $25bn and Shell made a bumper profit despite its reserves scandal, the worst crisis in its history. Some people inevitably have called such mind-boggling numbers obscene.
Tony Woodley, the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "Such levels of excess are, quite frankly, obscene. With our pensions in crisis, these profits are 9.3 billion extra reasons for a windfall tax."
Mr Woodley is not alone in kicking up a fuss. Martin O'Neill, the chairman of the powerful parliamentary trade and industry select committee, has also mooted the idea of a fresh tax, calling Shell's profits "beyond the dreams of avarice".
Whenever firms report what are seen as excessive profits, the call for windfall profits is made. When HSBC made a record £7.7bn, similar noises were heard. In the case of banking, the reasons for huge profits lie largely in the fact that the sector is dominated by a handful of players. In essence, more competition is needed.
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As far as oil is concerned, a windfall tax on the oil giants must look very tempting to the Treasury; it would be a quick way to get its hands on an extra few billion at a time when the public finances are coming under pressure.
This not the first time the oil giants have come under fire. There was a similar outcry in 2001 and there are precedents for a windfall tax under Labour. In 1997, the government raised £4.8bn from a windfall tax on privatised utilities.
Gordon Brown, the chancellor, used the money to fund the "welfare to work" programme. Of course, the utilities did not like being hit by the taxes, but there were no legal challenges and investors took the move in their stride as the share price of those utilities did not take a hit.
A windfall tax on the oil giants would be more complicated. The utilities operated pretty much in the UK, whereas companies such as Shell and BP operate worldwide. As Mr O'Neill himself admitted, it would be questionable to tax Shell and BP - which reports next week - for activities outside the UK and the government would have trouble making that stick if there was a legal challenge.
Moreover, a windfall tax in the UK could spark similar moves in other countries, opening a Pandora's box of tax assaults. Mr Brown would hardly want to precipitate a chain of events that undermined some of Britain's most important companies.
Nevertheless, there are sound arguments for a windfall tax, especially if the revenues are used in highly specific ways, as was the case with the utility windfall. An oil windfall tax that went towards renewable energy would be an obvious option.
On present trends, Britain is unlikely to hit the government goal of meeting 10% of the country's energy needs from renewable energy by 2010. Some argue that money raised from an oil windfall tax could be used to boost investment in wind and solar power and so move Britain closer to that target.
"Oil and gas dependency is taking us into a new kind of national security crisis, breeding as it does both terrorism and climatic threat to our economies and ecosystems. I am in favour of windfall taxes that could be used to accelerate all the many means we have at our disposal of breaking this dependency," said Jeremy Leggett, the chief executive of solarcentury, a UK solar energy company.
The issue of outsize oil profits could be looked at in another way. The environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) argues that such large profits are only possible because Shell and other oil companies shift the burden of pollution and climate change that is an inevitable consequence of their business on to the rest of society.
Take the problem of gas flaring - the burning off of gas that comes up with the oil. According to FoE, gas flaring in Nigeria produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined and is a major source of pollutants.
"If Shell had to pay for the damage being caused by global warming, these figures would not look so good. Shell should seek future profitability in clean and sustainable energy - not the fossil fuels that now endanger our planet," said FoE.
· Mark Tran is business editor of Guardian Unlimited.