REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 204

Revolt news 10/01/2006

(Updated from a year ago:) Here's wishing for an improved world in 2006, especially for those suffering involuntary and uncompensated impositions for private profit masquerading as public good.

One hot issue in that context is the possible extension of compulsory powers to wind farm developers (item 6 below). Directly affected landowners would be compensated, to some extent, but neighbours wouldn't.

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1. An update from Susan Hopkinson on the Luichart wind farm proposal (news203.3) is at APPENDIX A.

2. Hundreds of letters are written against wind farms, some technically well informed. One in The Scotsman 31.12.05 from Anthony Trewavas FRS, a prominent scientist from Edinburgh University, is worth noting for putting the point in simple terms. It is at APPENDIX B.

3. Another year-end letter, from Professor Philip Stott in The Times 29.12.05, is at APPENDIX C, putting the year of natural disasters in its historical perspective.

4. As undergrounding is newsworthy in respect of the Beauly - Denny line, it is worth noting the apparently deliberate misinformation propagated so effectively by NG (despite repeated contradiction by Revolt) at the Yorkshire line inquiries. That is the "sterilised swathe" myth, which has passed (news174) to the Background Paper of the EC of Dec 03: "environmental concerns over a 15-30 metre swathe of sterilised land through the countryside". It is false! The Yorkshire land is farmed as normal over the 400 kV cables at Newby - Nunthorpe.

5. At last! Prominent recognition that global human population should be a consideration in discussion of sustainability. From BBC news 6.1.06, Population size 'green priority': Solving the Earth's environmental problems means looking at global population, says the UK's Antarctic chief. Professor Chris Rapley was writing in the first of a new series of environmental opinion pieces on the BBC News website entitled The Green Room. The article can be seen at
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4584572.stm 
For more on world population see the UN site at
 http://www.un.org/esa/esa/population/unpop.htm 

6. Renewable energy (wind farm) company CRE Energy Ltd, a subsidiary of Scottish Power, wrote to Ofgem 23 Dec to seek broad compulsory powers. Ofgem set out its preliminary view in a letter of 4 Jan and seeks responses. An outline and my response are at APPENDIX D.

7. Stirling Council writes 5 Jan to say its Environment Committee is requesting, in common with colleagues at Highland and Perth & Kinross Councils, an extra three months to prepare its response to the proposed Beauly - Denny line. Meanwhile it asks the full Council to reserve its position. The Council's final submission will come at either its Special meeting on 9 Feb or its scheduled meeting on 23 March.

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APPENDIX A Loch Luichart wind farm scheme (report from Sue Hopkinson).

Highland council PLANNING DEPARTMENT confirmed today that the Loch Luichart Scheme would be classed as a Primary possible development area under the putative Highland, Renewable energy Strategy. As the developers' environmental summary claims it accords with the developing HC Renewable Energy Strategy.

Primary is the second category of site, after Preferred. It has to meet three criteria + abundant wind resources + relatively low planning constraint ie not a designated area + and lie within 15km of the existing grid network

If the Renewable Energy Strategy is confirmed , proposed developments which meet the criteria will be very hard to oppose.

If the strategy makes it possible for a major industrial scale windfarm on a site such as Lochluichart to be built, with no guarantees from the developers that they would not put in for an expansion in the near future and with the 15 turbine Corriemoillie proposal poised to apply for consent. the strategy is deeply flawed. Lochluichart is a test case in our area. Its visual impact on an area of outstanding natural beauty is self evident. Its impact on the natural heritage will be profound. It will have the effect of taming the wild landscapes of Wester Ross, visible as it will be from Ben Wyvis, Beinn Dearg, the Fannich and Torridon Hills.

The developers description of the site shows that they hold such considerations in contempt, referring to " degraded habitat, " "working landscape" an area between the " the semi-urban hinterland of Inverness and Wester Ross".

The developers have been unable to confirm the nature of the transmission upgrade that will be required to carry the power from Luichart to Beauly .

As at this pm the Highland council Planners did not know that the company had verbally by phone confirmed that they were about to put the plans into Contin Post Office, would therefore need to readvertise and that the new deadline is Jan. 28th 2006. T hey recommended that holding objections be lodged with both the Highland council and the Scottish Executive immediately...to be followed up with more detailed representations.

Please sound the alarm and spread the word round all the networks. Information is circulating, but not the urgency of the need for action. As always we are talking about truly tall turbines 125m high. Right across the path of the pylon line opposed by HBP!

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APPENDIX B Letter from Anthony Trewavas FRS 31.12.05
 http://tinyurl.com/cs9vb 

E.ON is the German utility that would like to build a wind farm near Penicuik.

To see the full folly of government policy of encouraging wind energy, one need look no further than E.ON's 2005 report on the difficulties in trying to accommodate 50 per cent of wind-generated electricity in Germany.

E.ON has expended large amounts of money to improve forecasting but large errors wasting over 50 per cent of wind-generated power are common.

Like Germany, any attempt to achieve government targets in the UK will require total reconstruction of the grid. The current wind farm proposals known to Transco will require 4 billion in grid rebuild set in a background of current annual wholesale electricity value of 10.5bn.

If wind farms were compelled to pay for grid reconstruction and the necessary hot spinning reserve to keep the lights on (ie the true economic cost) there would be no wind farms.

Money spent to ameliorate the unreliability of wind will not be available to spend on reliable renewables such as tidal power or Combined Heat and Power.

Throwing large amounts of money at unreliable sources of energy when others with much greater reliable potential are simply starved of investment is poor economics and appalling practice and will not be followed by any other country governed with good sense. Wind farm policy is simply gesture politics at its worst.

Anthony Trewavas FRS, Institute of Molecular Plant Science, Kings Buildings, University of Edinburgh

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APPENDIX C End of the world isn't nigh by Philip Stott
 http://tinyurl.com/bm32l 

Thunderer, The Times, December 29, 2005

FROM APOCALYPTIC media to the Queen's Christmas message, 2005 is seen as the annus horribilis of anni horribiles.

So what would they have made of 1816? Drastic climate change afflicted Europe after the eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia the previous year (92,000 people died). Frosts persisted until June, reappearing in August, storms unleashed abnormally heavy rainfall causing severe flooding - 200,000 people died. War had just ended. There was famine, with food riots and violence. High levels of ash produced glowering sunsets, affecting the palettes of painters such as Turner. Rain kept Mary Shelley, John Polidori and their friends indoors, resulting in Frankenstein and The Vampyre. All was doom. ?Was this the ending of the world??

No more so, of course, than in 2005. The sin of ?presentism? - the conviction that everything in our time is worse than at any preceding period - is the curse of the age.

The year 2005 does not enter the top league of disaster years, even if we include the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The 20th century alone witnessed ten years in which those killed by natural disasters numbered millions. Moreover, individual events in 2005 do not compare with past horrors. How does Hurricane Katrina, bad though it was, match the terrible 1970 Bhola cyclone in East Pakistan that killed 500,000 people? How does the Himalayan earthquake equate with the 1976 Tangshan earth quake that destroyed 242,000 more, or the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake that resulted in a death toll of 830,000?

We indulge, to use Michael Crichton's telling phrase, a ?state of fear? whipped up by political activists. We need to regain our sense of history and not be swayed by those who exploit today?s disasters for their own agendas. Not to do so is an insult to those who have died in the multifarious calamities of the past; it also denies our remarkable capacity to adapt.

Many of us live longer, safer lives than ever before. But we must help those still afflicted by this ever restless Earth to achieve similar levels of progress. We cannot do this if we let Despair and Conspiracy - the twin offspring of presentism - take root. We must dismiss the nightmare demons that kill our will.

Philip Stott is Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London

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APPENDIX D Ofgem consultation on compulsory powers for CRE Energy Ltd.

Ofgem intends to review its position on compulsory powers for generators. At present other priorities prevent this being completed quickly. Meanwhile Ofgem's initial view is in favour of directing that CRE should have the compulsory powers for five years, principally (it seems) to bring them into line with established generators.

Compulsory powers can be available through generators' licences, after the regulator has so directed. Transmission company National Grid has used compulsory powers for purchase (e.g. for sealing end compounds) and for wayleaves (e.g. for overhead lines). Such powers are conferred respectively by Schedule 3 and Schedule 4 of the Electricity Act 1989, which also provides for an objecting landowner to have a formal hearing before a case is decided.

Compulsory powers (with safeguards) may be understandable for public utility core networks, and perhaps also for brown-field sites for major power stations. But applying them to force wind farm sites on objecting landowners (and communities) looks altogether more sinister. And of course it grossly distorts the negotiation process.

Wind farm sites, and specific turbine sites within a wind farm, are matters of widespread choice throughout the UK. This is very different from a restricted choice of brown-field site for a power station near to a major conurbation. One essential difference between a wind farm developer and conventional and/or nuclear generators is that the former has a multiplicity of choice of potential sites. The use of compulsory powers envisages limited choice for an essential public utility.

It would seem perverse to provide a wind farm developer with compulsory powers to force a wind farm, or an extension of a wind farm or even associated works such as access roads, upon an unwilling landowner, when other sites and routes could be available. Otherwise the powers could be used to over-ride local considerations in order to select precisely the sites preferred for operational and commercial purposes.

Ofgem's letter says "... there is no objective justification for CRE to be denied similar powers as compared with other companies ...". This is a new situation. Ofgem should not feel bound by a sense of consistency simply to pass on to wind farm developers the same powers enjoyed by established generators. A distinction should be made between situations (including wind farms in general) where there is a multiplicity of choice, and those where the choice is more limited. I submit that there is objective justification for distinguishing between types of generators.

Ofgem should therefore not direct that the compulsory powers should be given effect in the electricity generation licence of CRE, but instead should, in the course of its review, recognise and make a distinction between types of generators with regard to choice of sites. In any event relevant bodies such as the CLA and NFU should be specifically consulted.

Responses by 5 p.m. on Friday 17 Feb may be sent to: Ben Woodside, Wholesale Markets, Office of Gas and Electricity Markets 9 Millbank, London SW1P 3GE Electronic responses may be sent to Ben Woodside <wholesale.markets@ofgem.gov.uk> Please mark your response 'CRE SLCs 14 & 15 application'. Please feel free to contact Ben Woodside on 020 7901 7471.

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-- Mike O'Carroll

 

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