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Revolt Newsletter 110

17/01/2002


Revolt news 110

Unusually this revolt news110 of 17.1.02 is a collection of articles and info from Angela Kelly, President of the anti-windfarm group Country Guardian, with which Revolt has much common ground. 

Enron were the main backers for the Cefn Croes windfarm for which Brian Wilson, Minister of Energy, has indicated consent without a Public Inquiry in spite of huge opposition. See item 4 below.

Items below: 1. Article from Independent 12.1.02 on Enron 

2. Article from Independent 14.2.02 on Wakeham and Enron 

3. CPRW release on Camddwr wind farm proposal 

4. Country Guardian letter about Cefn Croes wind farm proposal 

5. Article from Financial Times 4.12.01: Energy regulator favours small generation and warns of transmission losses from large remote power stations (Another important voice reflecting the Institute for Public Policy Research and what Revolt has been saying for 10 years).


Article from Independent 12.1.02 on Enron 

The Independent 12 January 2002

By Ben Russell Political Correspondent

Enron is a company which has wooed figures in high places in Britain as well as across the Atlantic.

It gave thousands of pounds to the Labour Party in sponsorship after the 1997 general election. Lord Wakeham, the former Conservative energy secretary, now chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has had a seat on the company's board since 1994. The peer is a member of the company's audit committee, according to the company's annual report for 2000.

Enron paid out nearly £30,000 to Labour in sponsorship in 1997 and 1998. The company spent £15,000 to fund drinks at the annual party conference dinner in 1998. It also paid £7,500 for a table at the Labour Party gala dinner a year earlier. Enron Europe Limited gave the Labour Party more than £5,000 a year between 1997 and 2000, according to party accounts.

Links between the company and Labour led to controversy after the company's £1.4bn bid for Wessex Water was cleared by the then secretary of state for trade and industry, Peter Mandelson, without a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Mr Mandelson insisted at the time that his decision was in line with advice from the water regulator and the office of fair trading.

The episode was cited in a dossier prepared by Liz Davies, a left-wing member of Labour's national executive, in 1999. She warned against allowing commercial links which could be seen as creating a conflict of interest.

Enron also attracted Clare Spottiswoode, the former British gas industry regulator, who worked for the company's water arm, Azurix, as senior vice-president of regulatory affairs for a short time in 1998 and 1999. The appointment was cleared by the then Nolan Committee on standards in public life, which oversees job moves by former senior civil servants.

Enron, which employs 5,400 people in Britain, ran three gas-fired power stations on Teesside, and accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of all energy trading in the country. Some 150,000 homes and businesses use Enron electricity and gas.

The Conservatives said they had not received money from any branch of Enron.


Article from Independent 14.2.02 on Wakeham and Enron 

Independent 14 January 2002

Wakeham may face Senate questions on Enron

By Arifa Akbar

Lord Wakeham, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, may be called to give evidence to the United States Senate committees investigating the £55bn collapse of Enron, the American energy corporation.

Mr Wakeham, a former Tory Cabinet minister, was a non-executive director of the firm, which became one of the biggest bankruptcies in corporate history last year.

Enron was America's seventh largest company when it collapsed at the end of last November, after amassing £10bn debts and becoming shrouded in allegations of financial irregularities.

American sources revealed Enron executives cashed in £750m worth of shares between 1999 and 2001, leaving employees to lose their life savings in the wake of the collapse. Lord Wakeham, who has both share holdings and a reported £80,000 a year salary from the firm, had not sold any.

One of the most prolific sellers was Kenneth Lay, the Texas-based company chairman, who was a central contributor to George Bush's election campaign. He reportedly made $101m (£69m) from shares between 1999 and 2001.

There are other high-placed Enron executives now placed under suspicion who are supporters of the President.

Lord Wakeham was a member of Enron's audit and compliance committee, whose responsibility it was to see that proper procedures were put in place, including legal advice and auditing. The role of the accountants, Arthur Andersen, who carried out Enron's auditing, is very likely to be a central focus of congressional inquiries as they search for any hint of criminal activity.

Lawyers for Enron, which filed for bankruptcy on 2 December last year, have stated the share sales were entirely proper and the directors had not had special inside information. Lord Wakeham, who was with the director of the company for eight years has not made a public statement regarding his involvement in Enron and he has not yet been asked to appear at any Senate hearings.


CPRW News Release issued 27th December 2001

The Camddwr Wind Energy Project ­

A declaration of war on the Cambrian Mountains landscape

After the controversial decision by UK Energy Minister Brian Wilson to give consent for the 39-turbine Cefn Croes wind power station above Cwmystwyth there comes a further and potentially far more devastating blow to the landscape of the Cambrian Mountains.

The Camddwr Trust, a previously unheard of organisation and with as yet unknown credentials, is consulting interested parties on a proposal to build 165 wind turbines of up to 120m (almost 400ft) overall height in an area extending to 13 x 10km (8 x 6 miles) between Strata Florida and Llyn Brianne. The provisional layout shows that about one third of the turbine positions are located in Powys (Brecknock) and the remainder in Ceredigion.

Merfyn Williams, the Director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) greeted the news with horror and anger. ³This audacious proposal adds insult to the injury felt following the perverse decision to approve the Cefn Croes power station, and would leave the Elan Valley estate as the only major island of tranquillity south of Plynlimon. These even larger turbines would crown miles of ridgelines north and south of the famous Abergwesyn to Tregaron mountain road, and would turn the landscape, acknowledged as of National Park quality, into a succession of engineering machines of unprecedented scale in what would be one of the largest wind power stations in the world². ³The turbines would be nearly ten times the height of the trees in the conifer plantations, and would dominate the horizon behind the Claerwen reservoir. Those proposed for the open mountains would belittle the grandeur of the landscape above the Doethie and Camddwr valleys even to the extent of overpowering the remote Ty¹n-y-cornel Youth Hostel and the dramatic setting of Llyn Brianne. There is even a further project (by National Wind Power) waiting to fill in the remaining space around Nant y Maen².

³This is a cynical, shocking and stupendous proposal. It must now convince even those who thought that Cefn Croes might be a final sacrifice to save the rest of the Welsh uplands from desecration that this is a declaration of war on the Cambrian Mountains landscape and on the integrity of the heart of rural Wales².

Mr Williams added: ³The National Assembly must address the underlying questions of whether this is a justifiable use of our national forests, and how a second project, several times larger than Cefn Croes should be entertained in the Cambrian Mountains when other forms of renewable energy are now reaching maturity, including offshore wind, marine currents, and tidal lagoons, and the potential of solar energy has recently been acknowledged by the Energy Minister. This greedy and unjustified project ignores that context and must be examined in the light of all the issues it raises².

³CPRW calls upon the First Minister to signal immediately that the errors of Cefn Croes will not be repeated, and that this proposal must be thoroughly debated, first by the Assembly, and thereafter at a full and transparent Public Inquiry.² ENDS

27th December 2001

CONTACTS CPRW or its consultant: Geoffrey Sinclair (01834 891331 fax 891475 geoffrey.sinclair@virgin.net)

NOTES FOR EDITORS: Under s36 of the 1989 Electricity Act, proposals of this size fall to be determined by the Department of Trade & Industry with the two local planning authorities acting as consultees. An objection from either would trigger a Public Inquiry. Earlier this year, Ceredigion councillors failed to back the formal recommendation of their planning officer to object to the Cefn Croes proposal. It is not yet known whether either of the two County Councils will now object, but it is significant that Powys County Council did so as a neighbouring authority in the case of Cefn Croes.


Country Guardian letter about Cefn Croes wind farm proposal 

COUNTRY GUARDIAN Urgent Action.

28th December 2001

Dear Friends

Any power station with a capacity of 50 MW needs no local planning consent but can be authorised on the nod of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Unfortunately, a large wind ‘farm’ can come into this category, even though everyone knows that the theoretical capacity of 50 MW from wind turbines means a real average output of less than 30% of that.

The Energy Minister Brian Wilson has just indicated that the DTI will give the go-ahead to just such a wind ‘farm’ at Cefn Croes in Ceredigion, Mid Wales – 39 turbines each 300 feet high. He has refused a public inquiry despite huge local opposition.

Some of the finest wild landscape in Wales will be industrialised at a stroke, which is tragic in itself. But the implications go beyond Ceredigion and beyond Wales. If the DTI can rubber stamp huge wind ‘farms’ without any planning process or public inquiry, we can say good-bye to our coastal and upland landscape EVERYWHERE, because it is the DTI itself which promotes wind ‘farms’. Until now the vast majority of large wind projects have been rejected by local planning committees and planning inspectors have usually upheld the decision. If Cefn Croes goes through without inquiry, expect a "50MW" wind ‘farm’ on your coast or hill soon, without any possibility of opposition.

Please write now to Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry,1, Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET

 urging her to hold a public inquiry into the proposal to erect 39 wind turbines at Cefn Croes, Ceredigion, Wales, and registering your opposition to the grant of consent to any such project without the arguments being weighed in public and without local people having the opportunity to express their view. You need only write 5 lines but let her know that people care. If we don’t make the effort because the hassle is too great, we will get the landscape we deserve. I know from past experience that Country Guardian members do write and that is why the hopes of the wind industry have been largely frustrated. Please – pick up the pen again and get your friends to write too. This is a very important one.

Best wishes

Robert Woodward
(Vice Chairman)
Aubrey House
Riverside,
Twickenham,
Middlesex, TW1 3DS


Financial Times 4th December 2001

UK energy regulator warns on new generation plants

By Matthew Jones

Published: December 4 2001 18:22 | Last Updated: December 4 2001 18:55

Callum McCarthy, the UK energy regulator, warned on Tuesday that plans to construct dozens of wind farms and small scale hydro-electric schemes in remote parts of Scotland would be poor value for money.

Mr McCarthy told a cross-party committee of MPs that building new generation plants in the north would be "less effective than adding to generation elsewhere in Britain" because of the cost of transmitting power over long distances.

The statement appeared to question the government's support for renewable schemes in northern Britain.

Brian Wilson, energy minister, has been an enthusiastic proponent of green electricity north of the border and last month agreed to fund studies into a new 400 mile-long sub-sea power cable to link Scottish renewable projects to the national grid.

Mr McCarthy is planning to shake up the rules of access to the grid to provide better price signals for where investment in new power plants and the transmission network should be directed.

The move could see power producers in the north of Britain, away from centres of demand, charged up to 10 per cent of their revenues for transmission losses, while southern generators would receive positive payments.

Mr McCarthy said more should be done to encourage distributed micro-generation plants to be built, perhaps at the household level. This idea is expected to be supported by the government's energy review, which is expected to be published early next year.

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