REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 194

Revolt news 4/08/2005

1. Following news192.3 and the announcement of the proposed route for the Beauly - Denny line, a Highland Councillor says the local authorities have no clout. A press report from

 http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk

  is at APPENDIX 1.

2. Snips from DEFRA magazine Energy (etc) Management July/Aug 05: (a) Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks suggests many UK households could eventually be self-sufficient in energy needs and "routinely make money by selling surplus electricity from home generators such as solar panels and micro-wind turbines". (Eventually!) (b) From July, decisions by Ofgem on modificatioons to gas and electricity industry codes can be appealed to the Competition Commission. (c) "In almost half of all new houses, the builders are skimping on installing the energy saving measures they have to provide. Effectively they are knowingly breaking the law." - Andrew Warren, Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy.

3. While the world waits for the decision on the proposed Whinash wind farm on the edge of the Lake District, an email to National Park Societies alerts them to a new "ominous" ministerial statement (Renewable Energy, 21 Jul 2005 : Column 164WS). There is concern that it might mean that National Parks will face unprecedented pressure to be surrounded by rings of wind turbines (and pylons). One of the extracts from the ministerial statement drawn to attention of the societies is " for UK renewables targets to be met, a significant amount of new renewable generation infrastructure will need to be built in every region of the UK, often in local areas that have not previously housed generation infrastructure".

4. More industrial news from Germany casts doubt on the effectiveness of UK wind power (APPENDIX 2). While German and UK wind and grid conditions differ, the principles are the same. The E.ON Netz Wind Report 2004 was a mine of useful performance data, aggregated over the length of Germany. Now new data from E.ON and from RWE are showing even worse performance. As a rule of thumb, for aggregate load factors aggregated over the length of the countries seem to relate roughly by: UK load factor (latest 26.6 %) = 2 x German load factor (12 to 16 %), although market penetration is much higher in Germany, so as UK penetration increases the aggregate load factor could go down.

5. The small wind farm on the Prime Minister's constituency doorstep, which was rejected by the planning authority after Tony Blair's agent objected, has been approved on appeal (APPENDIX 3).

6. Dermot Finnegan, the landowner at Sale, where a pylon on neighbouring land was moved, he feels illegally and under the complications of a temporary transport order, close to his boundary, writes in desperation (APPENDIX 4). He claims the newly positioned line oversails his land without a wayleave. His complaints derived from the process (or alleged lack of due process) through which the pylon and line were moved (news191.4, 182.7, 178.1, 177.4, etc.). His cri de couer "NGT have driven me to despair and are proving to have no regard whatsoever to our plight" resonates with feelings expressed in connection with the Yorkshire line and with landowners across the country who write to us. The appended message is his own, in connection with which neither Revolt nor I accept any liability. Dermot can be contacted on 01619 626039.

7. Ian Paterson of

 <http://www.stirlingbeforepylons.org>

 advises "The Rural Community Gateway is running a poll into wind power developments. To vote (anonymously) please visit:

 <http://www.ruralgateway.org.uk/poll>.

 Results will be passed to the Scottish Exec Rural Policy Team."

8. Those wind farm targets in the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Spatial Strategy and related Topic Papers, despite attempts to present them as "potentials" rather than targets and despite their lack of quantified rationale, are already being seized on by industry lawyers to try to force through a windfarm close to an AONB on appeal after rejection by Harrogate District Council (APPENDIX 5 and 6). The District Councils should be questioning the North Yorkshire wind power targets and asking to see details of how the quantified targets were calculated.

9. Planning policy developments in North Yorkshire may reflect what is happening nation-wide. They will set the framework for 15 years. The promotion of wind farms through not-very-visible targets is already reflected in the previous news item above. A brief outline of the planning framework, together with dates of consultation meetings in North Yorkshire later this month, is at APPENDIX 7.

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APPENDIX 1 Highland Councillor's comments.

EXECUTIVE WILL IGNORE PUBLIC ANGER OVER PYLONS - WARNING Date : 27.07.05 A Highland councillor warned yesterday that the Scottish Executive would ignore public anger over a power giant's plans to slice through the region with hundreds of 200ft-high electricity pylons.

Sheena Slimon, Badenoch West member in the Highland Council, praised the determination of residents and pressure groups concerned about the possible effects on the environment and tourism, but questioned the value of our democratic system.

Her comments followed confirmation of Scottish and Southern Energy's (SSE) preferred route for a multi-million pound transmission line upgrade between Beauly and Stirlingshire which takes in the Cairngorms National Park.

Mrs Slimon, a park authority board member, said: "I think democracy is all about putting up your objections strongly. My own feeling is that it's getting these objections across that will be the ultimate aim.

"If you can't persuade them to change their mind you're not going to have much clout with the Scottish Executive - and local authorities have no clout.

"This is an executive, remember, who held an inquiry about a motorway (the M74 extension, south of Glasgow) and disregarded the results because they didn't agree with them."

A spokesman for the executive said yesterday: "We are still waiting for a formal submission to come from SSE. When received, ministers will make a decision based on extensive consultation in due course."

The publicly-funded park authority, which has a 3.5million annual budget, has been widely criticised for saying little other than being disappointed that the proposals do not include undergrounding of cables.

Jamie Grant of the pressure group Cairngorms Revolt Against Pylons said that was pretty pathetic.

He went on: "Essentially, they're there to manage and properly protect what's supposed to be a national park. We're hoping they're going to take a principled stand against allowing pylons through the park."

Mr Grant said protest groups along the route were uniting against SSE's application, adding: "For residents who live within the park now, they have to jump through a whole new set of planning loops to change the colour of their roof or put an extension on their house.

"At the same time, there is a park authority seemingly willing to stand aside and allow an industrial development to disfigure the landscape for generations to come."

A park authority spokeswoman reiterated: "The executive will ask us, as a statutory consultee, to submit a response. I can't pre-empt what the planning committee will or will not ask for in that report."

Alasdair Findlay, who manages the Ralia Estate in Drumochter at the entrance to the Cairngorms park, said: "All you're going to notice for 15-miles into the park is a huge line of pylons which I don't think is a particularly welcoming sight for any visitor.

"There will be knock-on effects for tourism in the park and outwith the area."

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APPENDIX 2 German Results Cast Doubt on UK's Wind Farm Proposals Source: Independent on Sunday, The Publication date: 2005-07-31

The Government's target of generating a 10th of energy from renewable sources by 2010 is being undermined by German data that indicates wind power may be less efficient than had been hoped.

The statistics may cause friction between Whitehall and Alistair Buchanan, the energy regulator, who is concerned that by relying heavily on wind energy, UK may become too much of a hostage to capricious weather.

Germany has 16,000 mega-watts (MW) of wind power generating capacity installed, more than any other country in the world and more than 15 times the amount in the UK.

Statistics from two of the main energy groups in Germany, RWE and E.ON, indicate that the efficiency of the wind farms is much lower than that factored into UK plans.

RWE found that the load factor " the amount of energy produced per 1,000 MW installed " on its farms is around 16 per cent while at E.ON the figure is below 12 per cent.

On this basis the German national grid, the Deutsche Energie- Agentur, has said that it will only allow wind farms to count 6 per cent of their capacity when calculations are made about the amount of electricity generating capacity available for customers. Some of the energy is wasted because warm summer winds at night lead to power being produced when it is least needed. The German figures compare with the 30 per cent load factor targeted in the UK for wind farms.

RWE's UK subsidiary, npower, has said it is wrong to compare German and UK wind farms as like for like. This is because many German sites are onshore, have not been built in the best locations for subsidy and planning reasons, and the UK is far windier than Germany.

In England and Wales, npower's wind farms have achieved 27 per cent efficiency while in Scotland the levels so far have been in excess of 30 per cent, as Scotland is one of the windiest parts of Europe.

According to specialist investment bank Climate Change Capital, there will need to be pounds 6bn of investment in renewable energy to meet the UK's 10 per cent target.

Publication date: 2005-07-31

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APPENDIX 3 Wind turbine protestors lose fight

1 August 2005 Business Newsquest Media Group Newspapers English (c) Copyright 2005 Newsquest Digital Media.

CAMPAIGNERS in Prime Minister Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency have lost their fight against a wind farm they say could blight their lives.

Energy firm EDF has won its appeal against Durham City Council's refusal of permission to erect four 76-metre turbines between Town Kelloe and Trimdon Colliery.

Councillors rejected the scheme despite the recommendation of planning officers to grant approval.

That decision delighted the members of Trimdon Action Group Against Wind Farms, who were worried about possible subsidence, light flicker, noise, vibrations and the possible effects on people's health.

Mr Blair's agent John Burton wrote signalling support for the objectors.

Council officials said the turbines would not have a "significant visual impact".

Council leader Fraser Reynolds said: "We do recognise that many people did have concerns about noise and visual impact around this scheme. We will now try to make sure that residents are kept informed of the various stages involved in developing this site by EDF Energy.

"At the end of the day all local authorities in this region have signed up to the Regional Spatial Strategy and sustainable energy generation is part of our own LA 21 agenda. Any planning application for alternative energy will be judged on individual merits, as this particular plan was."

A spokesman for the North-East Assembly, which drew up the Regional Spatial Strategy, said although the site was not specifically earmarked for wind power, it was identified as an area of "least constraint" where small development may be appropriate.

EDF welcomed the decision, saying the wind farm could supply the annual requirements of up to 3,333 homes.

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APPENDIX 4 Message from Dermot Finnegan

NGT are behaving very badly They have determined my boundary by using the title deeds plans which clearly state the plans show general position of the boundary and not the exact line. They are refusing to accept the line of my boundary as agreed and determined by neighbours over the last 75years. We have proved if they accept our boundary line the wires cross our land admittedly only by a matter of inches but that is all we need We have no alternative but to exercise our shooting right over our land and shoot down the line and prove they are in trespass. NGT have driven me to despair and are proving to have no regard whatsoever to our plight.

***** *****

APPENDIX 5 Harrgote planners accused on windfarm

 <http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk

3 August 2005

'Beauty spot development should not be opposed' Brian Dooks PLANNERS opposing eight 300ft wind turbines on a site only 50ft from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty were accused yesterday of refusing to accept their obligation to contribute to Government targets for providing renewable energy. Npower Renewables' barrister David Hardy made the claim at the start of a public inquiry into Harrogate Council's refusal of permission for a wind farm on an 197-acre site at Knabs Ridge, 708ft above sea level, three miles west of Harrogate. The site is only the width of the A59 outside the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but Mr Hardy said that was no reason to oppose the project, which would generate 10.4 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 7,000 homes. A Government study of renewable energy targets for Yorkshire and the Humber had set 674MW as a target to achieve by 2010. North Yorkshire's target was 194MW by 2010 of which 80 per cent was expected to come from onshore wind. Mr Hardy said: "The current installed capacity of on-shore wind is 1.2MW at Chelker Reservoir. There is little short of five years left during which to bridge what is a yawning gap." He told the inquiry in the Harrogate Council chamber that the authority's response to the pressing requirement for renewable energy lacked any demonstrable sense of purpose. "This is a local planning authority which has belatedly recognised that it should be responding positively to the call from central government for generation but its elected members appear unable or unwilling to grant permission for development which would deliver it." Mr Hardy told the inquiry inspector, Graham Self, that the council was part of a study of renewable energy commissioned in April, but its planning officer Neville Watson, deputy team leader of the section dealing with major developments, had said it might find there were no suitable sites for wind farms in Harrogate District. "Even at this stage, Harrogate Council seems to countenance a scenario in which it might somehow exempt itself from on-shore wind targets on the basis that there are no obvious sites and transfer the responsibility of delivering to someone else. "Delivery of energy from renewable sources is a policy imperative and not an optional extra. The whole point about the targets is that each administrative area is expected to do its bit." Renewable generation was set to grow to 20 per cent of the total electricity figure within 15 years, he added. Npower's planning witness, David Stewart, said any windfarm would have an impact on its surrounding landscape but the area in this case was not important enough justify refusing a windfarm development. But Mr Watson said the council's landscape witness believed the windfarm would damage the landscape. "I am also of the opinion that the cumulative effect of this development in close proximity to the Menwith Hill military installation would further industrialise the area." The inquiry continues. Comment: Page 10. 03 August 2005

***** *****

APPENDIX 6 Editorial comment on Harrogate windfarm appeal.

http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk 

 3 August 2005

Renewing the wind debate Approach must be re-energised

OF THE many policy failings during Tony Blair's premiership, the lack of an energy strategy to meet the 21st century's environmental challenges remains one of the most glaring. The consequence has been a policy mish-mash which has become yet more muddled because of the Government's reluctance to embrace nuclear power, a decision further compounded by the flawed belief that wind turbines can still form a significant proportion of this country's future energy needs in spite of serious concerns about their inefficiency. As a result of this intransigence, some of Britain's most priceless countryside has either been inextricably ruined by wind farms, or remains under threat from such developments. The latest instance is at Knabs Ridge, near Harrogate, where a pu blic inquiry is now underway into plans to build eight massive turbines which will potentially scar the landscape for many miles around. The prospective developer, nPower Renewables, argues that there is no justification to stop its proposals. No doubt it will contend that the proposed site's proximity to the Menwith Hill spy base, hardly an architectural gem, adds to Knabs Ridge's suitability. Yet it is this short-sightedness which goes to the very heart of the wind-farm debate. For the proposed site is the width of the main A59 road away from the boundary of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which, through tourism, contributes millions of pounds annually to the fragile rural economy. This is a vast sum which must be taken into account when the Government planning inspector makes his final decision. For there can be no guarantee that areas like Nidderdale will continue attracting visitors if wind farms are allowed to encroach ever further on the spectacular scenery. The Government should halt further developments until it has set out a comprehensive energy strategy, and explained how best it can be achieved. At its heart must be a discussion about the value of schemes such as Knabs Ridge which will power just 7,000 homes in return for blighting part of Nidderdale. For there are many, particularly in these parts, perplexed that Ministers seem intent on ruining Yorkshire's countryside in search of alternative power sources when the region's coal industry has been left to wither.

***** *****

APPENDIX 7 Planning framework and wind farms

Planning policy developments in North Yorkshire may reflect what is happening nation-wide. They will set the framework for 15 years.

News186 alerted readers to wind farm targets in North Yorkshire County and Hambleton District. My response to an earlier stage of the Hambleton DC process is with news188.3. I attended a North Yorkshire renewable energy workshop on 14 July (news193) and a consultation meeting of Hambleton DC on its Core Strategy Preferred Options on 3 August yesterday.

Back in 2002 the then government department DTLR attempted to develop new legislation to short-cut planning processes (news118 of 2.4.02), with consultations on for example Major Infrastructure Projects. That was dropped. Instead, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 now requires a structural change in how planning policies are developed.

National policy is directed downwards through Planning Policy Statements (PPSs) which are slowly replacing the old PPGs. One of the first was PPS22 on Renewable Energy (news167.14) with its important companion guide (news178.8).

The policy is then driven through regional government offices and assemblies into regional plans, such as the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). In North Yorkshire we have a two-tier system, with County and District Councils; Hambleton is one of the largest Districts in England (about 40 miles by 10). Hambleton is developing its Local Development Framework (LDF), to which attach several documents. The RSS and LDF together replace the former RPGs, County Structure Plan and District Local Plan. The RSS and LDF and associated documents have planning policy status and therefore have a strong bearing on planning decisions and appeals.

The whole structure, as far as wind farms are concerned, presents a framework for cascading down national policy and targets, but in a way which may not be very visible at the grassroots consultations. For example, the windfarm targets within the Yorkshire and Humber RSS are sub-allocated to local areas and in this case concentrate on Hambleton without rational quantification. These imposed local targets are not highlighted in the local consultation, yet as targets they are already being used by the industry (news194.8).

LDF consultations are likely to be important throughout the country. Some effort may be needed to view targets hidden in regional papers and consultants' reports. It is possible at these formative stages for local authorities to challenge regional policies and targets, in their local implications, provided they have grounds to do so. For example, at yesterday's meeting Hambleton DC officers said they had challenged the housing targets implied for the District from regional target. I have suggested they also challenge the windfarm targets and ask for details of any quantified evidence underpinning the RSS targets set for Hambleton.

Local authorities may not usually have expertise on climate science, power engineering and energy economics. They therefore may not be able to counter the views cascaded down through the regions, nor the influence of the wind power industry. There were more wind power industry representatives than public interest representatives (and no ordinary members of the public) at the (invitation only) North Yorkshire workshop.

In response to my comments at yesterday's public meeting, Hambleton officers drew attention to their Report of Issues and Options Consultation, from which bullet points were taken into section 4.4 of the Preferred Options draft, including * high emphasis should be given to the encouragement of renewable energy; * however the provision of wind farms is generally opposed.

Officers also emphasised they must take a responsible approach to climate change. My point entirely! Regional authorities seem to follow UKCIP as their guide and at the North Yorkshire workshop the first document distributed for delegates was the SDC's "Wind Power - Your Questions Answered"; both of these sources seem to be zealous promoters of wind power, and perhaps of political visibility rather than scientific effectiveness, whereas a responsible approach should be balanced and proportionate. My comments to NYCC (news193) suggest better balanced reports, which should be brought to the attention of regional and local officers. Wind power can be an ineffective distraction from properly responsible cost-effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Having said that, I found the LDF, and the newly released Core Strategy Preferred Options, generally commendable. They have a wide scope and address many issues in an integrated way, with sustainability a common theme. They are accompanied by an independent Sustainability Appraisal (SA), a formal requirement deriving from the EU Directive 2001/42/EC on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). In this case the SA is by Land Use Consultants of Bristol, who are also conducting the North Yorkshire study.

Three main principles guide the Preferred Options: areas of restraint to the north and south as buffers against the Tees Valley and York conurbations; an area of opportunity covering the Northallerton, Bedale and Thirsk; and a hierarchy of settlements and service centres. Officers said that the "restraint" and "opportunity" were relative rather than absolute. The system of objectives and specific policies fill in the details.

The remaining public consultation meetings (7.00 - 9.00 p.m.) on Hambleton DC's Preferred Options are: * Tuesday 9 August at Bedale Hall; * Tuesday 16 August at Stokesley Town Hall; * Tuesday 23 August at Easingwold Galtres Centre; * Wednesday 24 August at Thirsk Town Hall.

The main documents can be found at

 http://www.hambleton.gov.uk

 although they do not reveal the wind farm targets. I was the only person at last night's meeting who raised the subject of wind farms, although some others were sympathetic. But as it is not "on the agenda" a response is not to be expected.

The deadline for responses is 31 August. They may be made to <planning.policy@hambleton.gov.uk>.

***** *****

-- Mike O'Carroll

 

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