REVOLT News 143

06/05/2003

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 REVOLT News 143

1. Devon gets grant for a continuous 23MW bio-mass power station, the largest of its kind in Europe. See Appendix 1 for details.

2. Rosalind Craven had a Hearing on 30 April at the Appeal Court in London to decide whether to grant leave to appeal against the decision of Leeds High Court which in December found in favour of NG to grant them entry to her land. While the decision of the High Court judge in December may not have been very surprising, the manner and detail of the proceedings and the decision to award 50% costs against Mrs Craven raise some concerns. More fundamentally, Rosalind hoped to show that the wayleave proceedings and the Electricity Act to which they relate are not compatible with the Human Rights Act. However, I hear that the Hearing ruled against her, and the judge gave his determination at the Hearing directly, saying that she had gone about it the wrong way and the right process would have been judicial review back in 1998. At that time Revolt joined NYCC and Hambleton DC in applying for judicial review, but later withdrew on barrister's advice that we would be likely to lose. So leave to appeal has been refused. I have been unable to contact Rosalind for the inside story. The fundamental issue she raises, of constitutional rights versus parliamentary sovereignty, is topical in connection with the new anti-terrorist laws and is the subject of Clive Anderson's Unreliable Evidence on Radio 4 this week.

3. Teesside power company fined .... This time it's nPower essentially for misselling. See report from Northern Echo website at APPENDIX 2 below.

4. David Mercer, NG project manager, comments on my description of the sequence of connection steps (news142.6) as follows. "As I explained, the sequence of connection is complicated and my only observation on your sequence is that for both steps (a) and (b) we only have one circuit in service at any one time through the Vale of York. This is so the necessary diversions and connections can be made on each de- energised circuit in turn."

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APPENDIX 1 - Devon bio-mass power station - from Western Morning News

11.5M 'GREEN' POWER PLANT GRANT WELCOMED AURA SABADUS 09:00 - 04 April 2003

A new "green" power plant - the largest of its kind in Europe - is set to provide energy for nearly 50,000 Westcountry homes and businesses. The 76 million project planned for Winkleigh, North Devon, will create hundreds of jobs in the region's farming, forestry and construction industries as well as for companies involved in renewable energy.

Yesterday the Government announced a grant package of over 18 million to help build five similar plants in England - of which 11.5 million has been allocated to the Devon scheme. The plant, to be built on a the five-hectare site of a disused RAF airfield, will be fuelled by energy crops or forestry residues which otherwise would go to landfill sites.

Thanks to the project, 400 jobs and livelihoods will be created or protected in the farming industry in Devon and Cornwall, and it will bring a 7 million a year boost to the local economy.

Matthew Spenser, chief executive of Regen South West - part of the South West Regional Development Agency - said: "This is the most ambitious project in the country, the biggest anyone ever attempted. "Devon is the second largest county in the UK and it has never had any power plant to provide energy locally. It has always depended on importing electricity from other parts of Britain. "It's absolutely outstanding news that the first power plant to be built in the county is renewable. It's certainly a blessing."

Roger Barton, managing director of Peninsula Power Ltd, said the project would develop a continuous 23MW biomass energy, saving about 280,000 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide a year. "The project is the largest of its kind undertaken to date in Europe and will deploy proven advanced gasification and turbine technology," he said. "It will use energy crops grown in the region, local forestry residues and clean wood waste that would otherwise go to landfill."

Mr Barton said the project had been welcomed by Westcountry farmers who, within five days of the project being announced, had expressed their support. "We believe that growing alternative crops will provide better incomes for farmers than rearing sheep or beef, for example," he added.

The region's National Farmers' Union also backed the project, claiming it would provide a boost to the region. Michael Ellingham, technical adviser for the NFU, said: "Currently, agriculture is in such a poor financial position that every innovative idea which will generate additional incomes is most welcome. "Obviously biomass can't be grown everywhere. There are sensitive areas such as Dartmoor where they can't be grown. But on the whole we are very keen on such projects."

Although the company has not applied for planning permission yet, bosses at Peninsula Power hope the project will not be opposed by local councils or residents.

Roy Cooper, chairman of the Winkleigh Civic Society, said: "The news has not spread out yet, but I hope the scheme will be welcomed by people in Winkleigh. It will certainly be a good thing for this area if it's done well and has a minimal impact on people's lives. It will create jobs. "When the project was first mentioned by the parish council some residents went to Ely in Cambridgeshire to view a similar plant. The response was phenomenally good."

The project also has the backing of North Devon District Council and the first phase - worth 37 million - is expected to be completed by 2005, when the energy will be fed into the grid.

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APPENDIX 2 - report from Northern Echo web site

First published on Tuesday 08 April 2003: 

Energy firm fined

An energy giant is facing a hefty fine after it misled 35,000 customers into signing up to a price freeze promotion that actually increased their bills. Teesside magistrates court yesterday heard how energy customers across the North-East were tempted by an npower offer that invited them to 'freeze your energy prices, act now to avoid price increases.' But after thousands signed up, they discovered that their bills had all increased by five per cent. In mitigation, the company told the court they warned customers by phone that they would first have an increase in their tariff before having their prices fixed. Keith Wilson, representing Middlesbrough Council's trading standards department, said: "Their promotion said customer's domestic tariffs would be frozen until the end of the year. "In fact this was far from the truth and customers were to be placed on a tariff that was more than they had previously paid. "The company tell us its sales staff were told to inform people their bills would rise, but customers say this was not the case. "The company received 53 complaints about this. Its promotion was clearly misleading." Npower representatives pleaded guilty to a charge of false advertising arising from its promotion which lasted from January to December 2002. Kevin Miles, npower northern Ltd residential director, delivered a mitigating speech to the court. He said: "I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to those customers. This was not a deliberate attempt to mislead." He explained that North-East customers had been confused because the company had recently bought out Northern Electric, but wanted to include it's customers in its national price freezing promotion. But because the former company charged less, their tariffs had to brought up to the level of all npower customers. Magistrates ruled their sentencing powers - a maximum 5,000 fine - were insufficient and sent the case to crown court for sentencing at a later date. Following yesterday's hearing, npower released the following statement: "We accept that we made a mistake by not adding into our printed materials all the information that was explained on the telephone to customers wishing to sign up, but all our marketing was carried out in good faith. "We have reinforced the checks and balances in our campaign procedures to help ensure this doesn't happen again. "Meanwhile customers who took up this offer have still benefited from the certainty that the price freeze gave them for the whole of next year."

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Mike O'Carroll

 

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