REVOLT News

23/12/2003

Text Version 

 REVOLT News 156

Hearty season's greetings to you all! This is the last issue before 2004.

1. More on the bogalanche (see news155.3). My impression from the aerial video understated the effect. Here's what Martin Collins, who supplied the video, says: "It is estimated that 450,000 cubic metres of bog moved. The overall length of the slide at that stage was about 2.5 kilometres. At the point where the two machines are parked is about 15 metres wide. Approximately 100 metres of the lower "floating" road was sweep away down hill. The widest point is said to be roughly 300 metres. As heavy rain fell on 29/11/03 and 30/11/03 a large volume of bog and trees were washed down a local river called "Abhainn Da Lilioch" which travel in a westerly direction for 10 kilometres before reaching a Lough Cutra, a lake which is the source of drinking water for the town of Gort."

2. QC's advice passed on from Country Guardian: multiple objection letters all the same or nearly the same are not worthwhile. They are likely to be treated as one objection only. See Appendix 1.

3. Have you ever enjoyed the magic of the Scottish Highlands, especially the wondrous adventure of "the road to the isles" leading through a dramatic glen to a mysterious promised land? Well, it may soon be too late. It looks like becoming an industrial site. There would be pylons of course, but even they would be dwarfed by the windfarm planned as a real Loch Ness Monster. I thought Ray Berry's article (Appendix 2) was so moving I had to include it with this news. After all, protection of the countryside is central to Revolt's purpose.

4. Some specific points for response to the important planning consultation for PPS22 are at Appendix 3.

5. More about risk of blackouts and unreliability of wind power - from House of Lords debate, see Appendix 4. You may have seen many press pieces on this issue; I haven't appended them because this issue is long enough! Oh go on then, just the BBC item at Appendix 7. You can see it and link to others from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_news/england/london/3329817.stm 

6. Snips from news@all-energy 31 (Dec 03) are at Appendix 5.

7. Now here's an interesting idea. My former colleague Tom Thomas, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, describes the idea circulating among nuclear engineers that the small-scale nuclear power units used in nuclear submarines could be mass-produced for distributed electricity generation. See Appendix 6. Possible locations might be at electricity distribution substations. Revolt has no position on nuclear energy, but any government serious about tackling the greenhouse gas problem, knowing the limits of renewable (and especially of intermittent wind) generation, surely should at least examine this idea? Has there been a feasibility study, and if not why not?

8. Ofgem has issued its Second Consultation on the Electricity Distribution Price Control Review with a response date of 10.2.04. For details see the Distribution Price Control section at www.ofgem.gov.uk.

********************************************************************

APPENDIX 1 QC's advice.

IMPORTANT Advice from an eminent QC on the writing of letters of objection or making submissions to official departments. He has long experience of representing objectors at Public Inquiries re wind power stations. AK -------------------------------------

1. A pro-forma letter opens objectors to the accusation that they are simply generating formulaic objections; at planning committees up and down the country, they will then be dismissed at the urging of the Alison Hills of this world as ?mere propaganda? or organised lobbying, which for some reason is often discounted by planning officers. If they get 200 letters the same, or substantially the same, they often class them as one objection. This does no good to your cause, and is often picked up by opponents as evidence of a giant nuclear-backed conspiracy!

2. Use of a style letter encourages laziness. Ultimately, if you write in to object to a planning application of any kind, you have to realise that you are taking part in a democratic process, and you have to be prepared to justify what you say, if necessary by standing up at a hearing and expressing yourself. This is not too easy for many people, and thus written objections are given high status. The planning officer must consider them properly in reporting to members. For them to have value, they have to be thought out and considered on an individual basis. An objector should at the least be aware of the policies underlying the proposal, and be able to discuss whether or not they are breached.

I'm against pro-forma letters for these reason.?

***************************************************************

APPENDIX 2. Loch Ness Monsters

Here is an article by Ray Berry which goes straight to the heart. Those who threaten to destroy such beauty with their mechanical monsters must have hearts of stone. It leaves one speechless.

AK ------------------------------------------------

The Inverness Courier

Friday December 5th 2003

The Menace of the New Loch Ness Monsters

By Ray Berry

Today is a beautiful day. The deep blue sky glows above the gold of the autumn birches. Silence, except for the rustle of a gentle breeze in the aspen trees. You can see for miles, and as you wander closer to the river Moriston, the occasional splash of a leaping trout, or was it a salmon?

Glenmoriston, the road to the isles just by Loch Ness is considered by many the most beautiful of the Scottish glens. Tourists from all over the world return here because of the glen's unique aura of peace. I know because I speak to them frequently. Glenmoriston is a special place in the hearts of all who have experienced it. From America to Australia, from the Netherlands to Namibia this place, Glenmoriston , they tell me, holds the spirit of Scotland.

In the early 1930's, the traveller H. V. Morton wrote: "Fifteen miles of beauty lie between hills. They are called Glenmoriston. There is dark Loch Cluanie, there are scraggy deer forests, then the glen seems suddenly to peal with laughter as the road dives into thick birch woods alive with rabbits. ..what a perfect glen this is."

Finally over spectacular waterfalls the river Moriston tumbles into Loch Ness. Glenmoriston starts on the banks of Loch Ness and runs parallel to the Great Glen, Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal for the first nine miles or so before it peels off westward towards the Five Sisters of Kintail - some of the most popular of the Munroes - and on to the mystical Eilan Donan Castle and the road to Skye.

The 400 metres high hill between Glenmoriston and Loch Ness is a treat to climb. It isn't difficult as the ancient drover's road crosses it here, but from the top you can see across Loch Ness, Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston. The rush of energy, of spirit that you feel at the splendour of that view, perhaps the best in the highlands of Scotland, sustains and renews you. We are of the earth and the earth has little to show more incredible than this.

For thousands of years the wild birds, the eagles who hover here have been a part of this landscape. A landscape that people cross the world to see and feel for themselves.

But that is today. And that was so for the millions of yesterdays that created this beauty. Tomorrow it will be gone. It is proposed that this very place be industrialised with more than twenty 380 foot high, 110 metre structures made of concrete and steel. Roads will be torn through the heather and the bedrock broken and filled with concrete as huge vehicles bring these, the new Loch Ness monsters to destroy this landscape perhaps for ever.

If the local or national government of the area received planning requests to build twenty or more buildings bigger than the London Park Lane Hilton here, they would have laughed. Structures that dwarf Big Ben and Nelson's Column - it must be a joke.

But no, it is no joke. It is real and is about to be submitted for planning permission. These monsters are wind turbines. Thus in their blind dogmatic scramble for the profits of renewable energy the people behind this wanton destruction of one of Britain's, even Europes' finest landscapes can think only of the profits involved.

It must be the profits. After all, it can't be the electricity. These turbines are notorious for being intermittent and unsuitable for grid energy production. And anyway, Glenmoriston alone already produces approximately 5 percent of Scotland's energy needs in the underground hydro power stations already there. Good energy, renewable energy achieved with no visible damage to the environment and not even seen by the passing tourists. If it isn't the profits that are motivating them then the only explanation left is vandalism, and surely our politicians are not vandals..

Windpower has developed from an idea to an obsession. Scotland is already more than self sufficient in energy without any huge windfarms. In fact it exports power to England. So why is it that there are applications for more than a hundred of these monster windfarms across Scotland, three of them around Loch Ness?

Loch Ness has very little industry and is sustained largely by tourism. Loch Ness is probably the most famous lake in the world and more than four million people visit the area every year. It isn't to find the Loch Ness monster, although everyone casts an eye over the sullen beauty of the loch from time to time. No, it is to gasp at the extraordinary scenery and participate in the breathtaking landscape. To walk, to climb or just to wander through a place that nature has built out of gargantuan proportions and of incredible beauty.

To destroy this landscape, part of the world's heritage, is a crime. It is a crime that is about to be committed for short term greed and political expediency. If you have a voice, now is the time to raise it.

*************************************************************

APPENDIX 3 PLANNING AND RENEWABLE ENERGY - THE THREAT FROM PPS22

By Dr John Etherington (extract)

The draft PPS 22 is a complex document and must be read in some detail if a sensible response is to be written.

Here I have copied and commented on a few sections, which seem particularly threatening. I deal with ?protected? landscapes first, because that is the order in PPS22. However the implications outside designated areas are equally damaging, and worthy of objection. I do not subscribe to the view that the designated areas provide a sufficiency of wild land even if they remain fully protected.

In the following notes, the parentheses indicate the page number (web- download .pdf), paragraph number, or section heading and section number.

QUOTE: "In rural areas, renewable energy projects have the potential to play an increasingly important role in the diversification of rural economies" (5 para. 1).

COMMENT: How many times must we say that the track record for jobs is abysmal?! In Wales we have a tourist industry which directly employed 23,600 people in 2002 but despite having almost 40% of the UK?s wind turbines and over 60 MW (installed) of hydro-generation, renewable energy generation provides only 275 jobs (Ref. 4)

QUOTE: "The Government may intervene in the plan making process where it considers that the constraints being proposed by local authorities are too great or have been poorly justified" (5 National Planning Policies Key Principles 3).

COMMENT: This may remove long-standing powers from local authorities, which have been an essential part of the democratic planning process and enormously valuable when well-administrated.

QUOTE: It is proposed that regional targets should be set and that: - "Targets should be reviewed on a regular basis and revised upwards (if they are met) &&& The fact that a target has been reached should not be used as a reason for refusing planning permission for further renewable energy projects." And: - "The potential to generate substantial amounts of renewable energy from offshore projects should not be used to set lower targets for onshore projects" (6 Regional Targets 3.).

COMMENT: At face value this would permit almost unlimited development ceiling for wind, or other renewable energy.

QUOTE: In sites of international importance for nature conservation (Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, and RAMSAR Sites) planning permission should only be granted for renewable energy developments once an assessment has shown that the integrity of the site will not be adversely affected. Many renewable energy developments are likely to have some adverse effects on the integrity of such sites. In these circumstances, planning permission should only be granted where there is no alternative solution and there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature" (6 Local Considerations 8.).

COMMENT: Even the most stringently protected sites will not be protected if PPS22 is accepted. Who decides on the "integrity of the site" and judges "overriding public interest, including &&.. economic."

QUOTE: "In sites with national designations (such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Heritage Coasts) planning permission for renewable energy projects should only be granted where it can be demonstrated that the objectives of designation of the area will not be compromised by the development, and any significant adverse effects on the qualities for which the area has been designated are clearly outweighed by the environmental, social and economic benefits" (7 National Designations 9.).

And:

"Small-scale developments should be permitted within areas such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coasts provided that there is no serious environmental detriment to the area concerned." (7 National Designations 10.).

COMMENT: Again, even the most stringently protected sites will not be protected if PPS22 is accepted.

QUOTE: "Regional planning bodies and local planning authorities should not create "buffer zones" around international or nationally designated areas and apply policies to these zones that prevent the development of renewable energy projects. Nor should local landscape and local nature conservation designations be used in themselves to refuse planning permission for renewable energy developments" (7 Buffer Zones and Local Designations 12.).

COMMENT: A ring of steel may be erected around the National Parks and other designated areas. Smaller designated areas might as well not exist because surrounding wind developments will engulf them, such is the spirit of this legislation.

QUOTE: "Authorities should not set arbitrary limits in development plans on the numbers of turbines that will be acceptable in particular locations" (8 Other Considerations 17.).

COMMENT: If the local wind ?farm? is outdated the operator will press for bigger turbines and may well suggest twice as many of the new ones! (No one cares anyway - it?s an industrialised landscape!).

ACTION

Read the PPS22 draft and respond personally and in detail to as many points as you can. Don't make the mistake of preparing multi-signature documents.

I also suggest bringing your objection to the attention of your MP (MSP, AM) - in particular those aspects which will remove power from the constituency.

Submissions and/or queries by 30 January 2004 to Alison Morris, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Planning Policies Division A, Zone 4/H4, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU (Tel 020 7944 3935; Fax 020 7944 3949). Or by email to: pps22consultation@odpm.gsi.gov.uk

REFERENCES

1. PPS22 Draft may be downloaded from http://www.odpm.gov.uk  - click Planning on Homepage, then click Consultation. If accepted, PPS22 will replace Planning Policy Guidance note 22 (PPG22) which can also be viewed on the odpm web-site

2. Scotland and Wales. Scotland already has the equivalent of PPS22 in NPPG6 - National Planning Policy Guideline 6 - it was revised in 2000 and has been doing damage ever since. It is at www.scotland.gov.uk/about/Planning/nppg_6_renewable_pdf.pdf . Wales is finalising a revised version of Technical Advice Note 8 (TAN 8). This was intended to be issued in late 2003 but has been delayed (possibly to wait for PPS22 and then to pick up some of its content, like an infection!) It will now appear in spring 2004 at the very earliest as a consultation draft, as PPS22 is now. It will supersede it

3. J. R. Etherington (2003), "What is worse than a jackboot or a wind turbine? Both, of course" www.wind-farm.org  (now succeeded by this article). This was written before PPS22 appeared, but outlined the intentions of PPS22 as set-out in a BWEA ?preview?. I was concerned that so few people read this article and that no one posted comments. Where is our "eternal vigilance"? This is of overwhelming importance. Forget about whinging that wind turbines don?t make much electricity!

4. Clive Betts in Western Mail 7 March 2002 p. 2. Also, my article "Wind blows away tourism" (this web-site) draws attention to the huge discrepancy between future income from wind-electricity as compared with tourism. A relatively tiny, but "concentrated" industry is being allowed to jeopardise the viability of the largest source of rural income, which is uniformly spread through much of the Welsh community. A political and economic stupidity.

*************************************************************

APPENDIX 4 Report from House of Lords debate

The following item appeared in the Eskdale & Liddesdale Advertiser 18.12.03

LORD Monro of Langholm has warned that the UK could suffer major blackouts similar to those experienced in the USA a few months ago if the Government tries to replace nuclear power with windfarms. In a debate in the House of Lords on the Energy Bill, Lord Monro told them of his own experiences during the power crises in the USA in the autumn. He said: "The first spread from Canada to New York and blacked out the whole area and shortly afterwards in Maryland a hurricane, which I thought was no more than a good gale, put the electricity supply out of action for eight days. "My relatives and I sat in the dark, without air-conditioning, light or refrigeration for eight days while they tried to sort out the electricity supply problem. If that can happen in a hitech country such as the USA, particularly on the eastern seaboard, what on earth could happen here? "We do not seem to be planning for what could happen in the years ahead." Lord Monro praised the workforce at the Chapelcross nuclear power station near Annan and asked whether the government anticipated any further development on the site. He asked: 'Are they throwing away the chance to have a nuclear plant in place by 2020, which we will need desperately, and, at the same time, retaining the excellent 450 workers who have done so much over such a long time? "The Government's white Paper and their presumed energy policy was a disappointment, with most of the policies sitting on fences that were crumbling underneath them. Inevitably, in 20 years' time when nuclear production is almost finished, we shall be short of power." Paradox Lord Monro criticised the 'march of the turbines', saying: "We really must consider whether we are going to put up with all these windfarms and, at the same time, do away with nuclear power." It was a paradox that the environment minister was trying to improve the environment and the beauty of the countryside, while those responsible for energy were set to dot windfarms all over the countryside "Wind power is inherently unreliable - we are talking about 30 per cent efficiency I have been to Denmark and seen the windfarms and I am horrified. I have been to Wales where they are worse. In England they are disastrous. Now we are ruining Scotland with pylons here, there and everywhere. "It is particularly infuriating when all this is saving not one item of the fossil fuel that we will need in 2020 to provide electricity for this country" He complained that windfarms were being developed everywhere in Scotland, from the Dornock Firth to his own home of Langholm, and the government seemed to be overturning every decision by a council to refuse an application.

********************************************************

APPENDIX 5 Snips from news@all-energy issue 31 of Dec03.

1.1.U.K. Energy Bill

Background notes www.dti.gov.uk/energy/leg_and_reg/acts/backgroundnote.pdf 

Regulatory Impact Assessment www.dti.gov.uk/energy/leg_and_reg/acts/ria.pdf 

Energy regulator Ofgem welcomed the Energy Bill setting out the legal framework for a single electricity market across Great Britain www.ofgem.gov.uk/temp/ofgem/cache/cmsattach/5194_r11703_28nov.pdf 

2.GRID/TRANSMISSION

2.1.Good news for small generators

There is good news for small generators who have so far been unable to earn ROCs. Provision is being made to remedy this. An amended order is to be laid before Parliament early in January with a view to enabling changes to come into force on 1 April (announced in biomass release) www.gnn.gov.uk/gnn/national.nsf/TI/992DB0FAA5C3911080256E0100016049?opendocument  The Renewable Power Association gave a qualified welcome to the planned changes. www.r-p-a.org.uk  release not yet on website

2.4.New from Ofgem - BETTA

The Balancing and Settlement Code under BETTA - Ofgem/DTI Conclusions and second consultation on the legal text of a GB BSC - Volumes 1 and 2 from Ofgem. www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem/work/index.jsp?section=/areasofwork/betta00  - other newly published documents can be found at www.ofgem.gov.uk 

3.WIND - UK NEWS

3.1.World's biggest renewable energy expansion

Plans for the world's largest offshore windfarms have moved a step closer with the announcement of 15 new sites around the UK coastline. The windfarms - which are expected to be producing electricity by the end of the decade - will provide between 5.4 and 7.2 GW of generating capacity. "This is the biggest expansion of renewable energy anywhere in the world, and demonstrates that we are serious about moving towards a cleaner, greener future," Energy Minister Stephen Timms.  www.gnn.gov.uk/gnn/national.nsf/TI/4D5162370097C6A380256E0000015FBC?opendocument 

3.2.Christmas present from The Crown Estate

The Crown Estate has announced the names of those developers who have successfully bid for new offshore windfarm sites. The sites are located in the Thames Estuary, the Greater Wash and off the North West coast of England. "We have been delighted by the overwhelming number and very high quality of bids we received, which demonstrate the industry's confidence in the future of offshore windfarms," Frank Parrish, Head of the Marine Estate at The Crown Estate www.crownestate.co.uk/cgi- bin/pr_index.cgi?anno=6 

 Where are they? See the map www.crownestate.co.uk/estates/marine/windfarms/includes/windfarmsites.pdf 

Who won what? See the list www.crownestate.co.uk/cgi-bin/estates/marine/windfarms/interest.cgi?.State=6  and further information is available on most developers' websites

3.9.Mini-turbine brings 'green power for all'

Windsave, a small Scottish company, has launched Britain's first wind power system designed to be fitted on almost any roof or wall to supplement electricity from the grid. The idea is backed by ex-energy minister, Brian Wilson, a paid consultant for Windsave www.guardian.co.uk/renewable/Story/0,2763,1091895,00.html  and www.windsave.com 

4.8.Plenty of capacity for wind on the national grid

Airtricity has strongly rejected the ESB's conclusion in relation to limiting the amount of wind that can be connected to the national grid. The amount of wind energy currently feeding into the national grid is less than 2 per cent and there is no danger to the security of supply to the grid due to current or planned wind energy.

http://www.airtricity.net/download/1/Statement%20from%20Airtricity%20for%20newsdesks.doc 

7.HYDROGEN

7.1.International hydrogen economy collaboration

US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham joined with ministers representing 14 nations (including the UK) and the European Commission to establish the International Partnership for a Hydrogen Economy 

www.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm/news_id=6552 

*********************************************************

APPENDIX 6 Distributed nuclear generation. (note from Professor Tom Thomas)

Just to amuse you on the subject of energy policy: engineering friends of mine at the Berkeley labs of the old CEGB had a solution which has never to my knowledge appeared in print, because no-one dared put their professional name to it. 

They reasoned that the trouble with nuclear power was that nuclear power stations became huge one-off civil engineering projects, with all the associated problems of massive environmental footprints, long construction times and high design overheads, all leading to cost overruns. All this would be solved if each little town had its very own mini nuclear power station. 

The design would be the tried, tested, safe and reliable Westinghouse power unit used in nuclear submarines and small enough to assemble on a production line. 

The economies of mass production would drive down the unit cost. The environmental problems and transmission losses of the National Grid would disappear as electricity would no longer need to be distributed on a large scale. If a town like, say, Darlington, needed more electricity, the council would simply fax an order. The next day two guys would come round and lay down a concrete float in a vacant corner of an industrial estate. The day after a low loader would bring the power unit as a complete module and a crane would drop it in place (that's how the Navy does it!). A couple more guys would hook it up to the mains and Darlington would have another 100MW online. When the unit needed maintenance or replacement the process would be reversed. Beats the hell out of wind farms?

[When I asked Tom if I could put his note in this news he replied as below.]

Circulate it by all means, I'm glad you found it interesting. Use my name if you like, as long as it's clear that I am not trying to take credit for the idea.

The Westinghouse S5W reactor which powered many of the early American nuclear submarine delivered about 11MW. Remember, even a medium-size car engine can deliver something like 0.1MW, which is one of many reasons why proposals for widespread use of electric cars are a fantasy (how many extra power stations would we need?).

*********************************************************************

Appendix 7 from BBC on-line.

Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 12:11 GMT Experts warn of blackout danger

Experts in the power industry are warning there could be an increased risk of blackouts over the Christmas holidays. Urgent maintenance on the UK's power network has not been completed, internal documents from the National Grid Transco show. The documents - a series of e-mails - have been shown to the BBC. National Grid Transco said repairs were ongoing and would be completed in the next few days. 

In the e-mails, staff describe a backlog of urgent work dating from September, as well as a series of equipment and system failures. "I don't want to spend my entire Christmas standby trying desperately to keep poorly maintained air systems together," one e-mail reads. 

Blackout risk Another describes a potential cascade air system failure and says the system is close to breaking point. The e-mails follow a blackout which hit London in August, resulting in Tube passengers being led through darkened tunnels to safety and traffic gridlock as lights failed. In an earlier investigation by BBC Radio 4's Today programme, engineers blamed this on a known oil leak resulting from poor maintenance. 

After seeing the e-mails, former National Grid manager David Kirkland told the BBC it appeared potentially lethal equipment was in a state of disrepair, increasing the risk of blackouts over the Christmas holidays. Mr Kirkland, once responsible for maintenance for a quarter of the UK, said the e-mails related to dangerous high pressure. He said the work should be done as a priority, both in terms of health and safety and because it was operationally essential. 

Repairs ongoing National Grid Transco said that if a compressor, as mentioned in the e- mails, had failed, it was designed to do so in a safe manner. The company said at no time was the security of the system jeopardised. It said concerns about overdue maintenance were reported in September and faults reported in December. Normal action was taken to rectify the faults and work started at the beginning of this week was expected to be completed in the next few days. Previous failures National Grid Transco has consistently denied that there is a maintenance problem. The company described August's blackout in London as "an isolated and unusual incident" which it said had been caused by a fuse. 

The Today programme also found that the company had failed to complete statutory checks on equipment. Since privatisation in 1990 the National Grid has been reorganised three times, resulting in the loss of half of the original 7,000 staff.

 

Text Version