1. The off-shore wind farm proposed at Redcar is running into troubled waters (Appendix 1). Like any single wind farm, it is small in its generation capacity compared with conventional power stations. For example the Redcar wind farm with 30 turbines would have a maximum capacity up to 60 MW, of which only about a third would on average be delivered, whereas the nearby gas-fired "Enron" Teesside Power Station has 1840 MW capacity. That wind farm alone would not have much impact on the transmission grid, but the accumulation of many windfarms further north would.
2. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) has issued a report calling for the UK to concentrate more on biofuels and CHP in its renewables strategy. (Appendix 2)
3. Betjeman's poem, "Bestride your hills in pylons / O age without a soul", reports Angela Kelly of Country Guardian, has been posted on www.wind-farm.org. This is very timely as 20th May is the twentieth anniversary of the former Poet Laureate's death when members of the John Betjeman Society will be gathering in the South West to celebrate the Poet's life.
4. From teletext 21.5.04: Richard Spring MP (Con.) opened the second reading debate on the Town & Country Planning (Telecommunications Masts) Bill, by calling for tighter controls because of health fears. He dismissed suggestions that concerns were an "outbreak of mass hysteria".
5. In a further reply (news162.5) to Anne McIntosh (Shadow Minister for Transport and the Environment), the Minister for Energy Stephen Timms says the bulk of grid development in England and Wales (resulting from wind power) will use existing towers. He did not give the number of new pylons, saying that will only be known when final engineering designs are complete, just prior to the applications. Surely he could estimate on the basis of new line-kilometres needed?
6. The cost of grid development (about which Minister Stephen Timms is being shy, above, about the number of new pylons) was estimated last year by Ofgem as 2 billion pounds (with a later estimate of half a billion: news161.4), raised to 2.1 billion in a reply from Stephen Timms (news162.5) and to 3 billion in a report from DTI (news162.3). Already we hear of major new pylon routes in Scotland (news160.7). Whichever estimate you believe, the billions of pounds' worth of grid development will surely mean many new pylons throughout the UK. Can we not have a broad plan setting out the overall scheme and an estimated number?
7. Professor Ross Adey, leading researcher and authority on EMFs and public health, died 20.5.04. As chairman of the NRCP (the US parallel to the NRPB) working group, he produced a radical report in the 1990s which NCRP still refuses to release, though its conclusions and recommendations were leaked and call for a 0.2 microTesla exposure limit for new developments. See Appendix 3 and <www.microwavenews.com>.
8. New research (Ritz et al, Nature vol. 429, 13.5.04) <www.nature.com> on robins suggests that varying magnetic fields affect the orientation of birds through a chemical effect rather than direct magnetic detection. This appears to demonstrate a mechanism whereby artificial EMFs, apart from affecting migrating birds, may be capable of previously unconsidered biological effects through chemical change. The impact of this is yet again to challenge the established denial of plausible mechanisms. A report from the University of California, Irvine, web site is at Appendix 4. <http://www.today.uci.edu/news/release_detail.asp?key=1151>
9. Remember the bogalanche? (news156.1, 158.6 etc.) After the half a million ton peat slide caused by wind farm works in County Galway, the project was reported by news@all-energy (item 5.3 of issue 37, see revolt news162 Appendix 3) as going ahead again, but Martin Collins sends an update (Appendix 5) suggesting a sticky legal wicket.
APPENDIX 1. Article from THE NORTHERN ECHO 11.5.04 Windfarm opponents are backed
CAMPAIGNERS opposing plans to build a windfarm off the North-East coast have received support from MPs and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
EDF Energy wants to build a windfarm half a mile off Coatham Sands, Redcar, east Cleveland, with 30 turbines capable of generating enough energy to power 72,000 homes. Opponents to the proposal, which is being considered by planning officers at the Department of Trade and Industry, are being backed by four MPs. The TUC has also lent its support for the campaign and is calling for the Department of Trade and Industry to reject the proposal. Regional secretary Kevin Rowan said: "The proposal to develop the Northern Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Redcar will create more environmental problems than it will solve. There is clear evidence that the majority of the local population oppose this proposal, fearing the damage it will do to tourism, the environment and local industries."
As the consultation process on the development continues, MP Ashok Kumar, for Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland, Stockton South MP Dari Taylor, and Stockton North MP Frank Cook, have joined Redcar MP Vera Baird to call for a rethink over the plans.
APPENDIX 2. RCEP report
www.edie.net <http://www.edie.net> 14.05.2004
UK should make more use of biomass to meet emissions reductions targets
A report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) has said the Government should make better use of biomass as a CHP fuel to meet its Kyoto targets. Farm and forestry waste, as well as 'energy crops' should be grown to provide heat and power, the report says.
Biomass is largely carbon neutral, the report says, as the plants grown for fuel absorb CO2 as they grow. It could also transform the face of the countryside as the report recommends planting as much as seven million, of the 17 million hectares of agricultural land available in the UK, with biomass crops such as willow and poplar. Biomass can also make use of farm waste products such as straw.
The Royal Commission claims that biomass has a natural advantage over most other forms of renewable energy in that it can be stored and used on demand. It is also inherently flexible, says the report, and can be used in small, localised scales for producing heat, or in much larger base-load power generation capacity whilst also producing heat, in CHP plants.
The report criticises Government policy for focusing capital grants schemes for biomass initiatives on high-tech approaches to electricity generation with a view to export development, rather than on reliable, proven technology.
"We think the UK should focus on low-tech solutions with technology that is known to work, as they do in Europe," Rhian Enright, Policy Analyst at the RCEP told edie. "Concentrating funds only on new technology and demonstration plants restricts the sector and only leads to failures."
Ms Enright highlighted the example of the Project ARBRE (Arable Biomass Renewable Energy) plant in Yorkshire. This used brand new technology and focused on producing only electricity rather than combined heat and power, and was crucially too far from potential users to be effective.
She told edie that biomass CHP plants would be better on smaller, local scales, for housing projects and public buildings such as hospitals, and could easily serve as an integral part of John Prescott's "sustainable communities" programme. In this way they could meet local needs using local materials, benefiting both suppliers and users.
The RCEP report calls for biomass fired CHP in all new-build development; a new renewable heat obligation that would encourage the use of renewable energy to generate heat as well as electricity; and the formation of a new government/industry biomass forum.
Speaking at the launch of the RCEP report, Commission Chair Tom Blundell, said: "The use of biomass has benefits not only for climate change but also offers new opportunities for UK agriculture and forestry and increases the security of the UK's energy supply. Government policies so far have failed to integrate the supply chain and support viable technologies. I am disappointed that energy from biomass has not developed as quickly in the UK as elsewhere in Europe."
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner, Bryony Worthington said: "This Government is failing to promote the use of renewable biomass, has watered down plans to put carbon dioxide pollution caps on industry, is allowing road traffic to rise, and rubber stamped plans for a massive expansion in air travel. Little wonder that carbon dioxide levels grew last year. Its time the Government took this issue seriously and introduced effective measures across the board before it is too late."
By David Hopkins
(c) Faversham House Group Ltd 2004. edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.
APPENDIX 3 Ross Adey died 20 May 2004.
W. Ross Adey died on May 20th at the age of 82 after a long battle against a series of bronchial infections. Adey, a medical doctor, was a towering figure in the EMF community, who was equally at ease talking about the most recent papers in the biological and medical literature or dissecting the arcane engineering details of an experimental setup. He is perhaps best known for discovering, with Suzanne Bawin, the first non-thermal effect of electromagnetic radiation during the 1970s: They showed how ELF- modulated RF signals can lead to the release of calcium ions from cells. While at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, he worked with the Department of Defense on Project Pandora, the super- secret program that sought a way to use electromagnetic radiation for mind control. In the late 1970s, Adey set up a new lab at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, CA, where he carried out studies on the role of power frequency EMFs in the promotion of cancer and later, on the potential cancer risks following exposure to cell phone radiation. As the chair of a committee of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) investigating ELF health effects, Adey made waves by recommending strong action to curb public exposures. He endorsed a 2 mG exposure standard for 50/60 Hz EMFs (see MWN, J/A95). This was too radical for the NCRP leadership and today, close to ten years later, the council continues to refuse to release his report. Adey prompted another stir when his studies of long- term exposure to cell phone radiation pointed to what appeared to be a protective effect -that is, exposed mice developed fewer tumors (see MWN, M/J96, J/A96 and S/O99). Motorola, which paid for Adey's experiments, repudiated this finding and soon afterwards stopped supporting his lab. It closed down a short time later. In an interview with Fortune magazine in October 2000, Adey urged that research continue: "There is a big task ahead to define what the lowest level of safe exposure could be," he said, predicting that, "Wherever we go we will be immersed in a sea of low-level pulsed microwave signals." A memorial service will be held in a few weeks in the Los Angeles area.
APPENDIX 4 EMFs and chemistry of migrating birds (University of California, Irvine)
Chemical reaction in birds provides sense of direction during migratory flights
Study could help identify mechanism of magnetoreception in animals and humans
Irvine, Calif. , May 12, 2004 Migrating birds stay on track because of chemical reactions in their bodies that are influenced by the Earth's magnetic field, a UC Irvine- led team of researchers has found. The birds are sensitive even to rapidly fluctuating artificial magnetic fields. These fields had no effect on magnetic materials such as magnetite, indicating that the birds do not rely on simple chunks of magnetic material in their beaks or brains to determine direction, as experts had previously suggested. The results are reported in the May 13 issue of Nature. The study is the first to reveal the mechanism underlying magnetoreception - the ability to detect fluctuations in magnetic fields - in migratory birds.
In the study, Thorsten Ritz, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and colleagues exposed 12 European robins to artificial, oscillating magnetic fields and monitored the orientation chosen by these birds. The stimuli were specially designed to allow for responses that could differ depending on whether birds used small magnetic particles on their bodies or a magnetically sensitive photochemical reaction to detect the magnetic field. "We found that the birds faced in the usual direction for their migration when the artificial field was parallel to the Earth's natural magnetic field, but were confused when the artificial field was applied in a different direction," said Ritz, the lead author of the paper. "Since the artificial field's oscillations were too rapid to influence magnetic materials like magnetite, it suggests that the most likely mechanism for magnetic orientation in these birds involves tiny changes to magnetically sensitive chemical reactions, possibly occurring in the eyes of the birds - we are not sure." In the experiments, the robins could walk and flutter in their cages but could not fly. The birds oriented well in the Earth's magnetic field alone, but were disoriented in the presence of a broad-band (0.1-10 megahertz) and 7 megahertz oscillating field, aligned at a 24 or 48 degree angle to the Earth's magnetic field. When the same 7 megahertz oscillating field was aligned parallel to the Earth's magnetic field, the robins showed normal migratory orientation again. "Unlike our senses involving vision, hearing, smell and touch, we do not know what receptors underlie magnetoreception," Ritz said. "Migratory birds have long been known to possess a magnetic compass that helps them find the correct direction during their migratory flights. It has remained unknown, however, how birds can detect the direction of the Earth's magnetic field. "Now, our study points to what we need to look for a molecular substrate for certain chemical reactions. That is, we can rule out magnetic materials in birds' beaks and elsewhere as being possible candidates. Magnetite in the beaks, however, may play a role in detecting the strength but not the direction of the Earth's magnetic field." The experiments on the birds were conducted in a six-week period in 2003 in Frankfurt, Germany, in the laboratory of Wolfgang and Roswitha Wiltschko, co-authors of the paper, who developed the behavioral experimental setup used in the study for testing magnetic orientation in birds. During migratory unrest, the birds could move in their cages. Each cage was funnel-shaped, lined with coated paper and measured approximately 1.5 feet in diameter. When the birds moved in the cages, they left scratch marks that were counted subsequently by the researchers and analyzed. To produce artificial oscillating fields, the researchers fed high- frequency currents from a signal generator into a coil that surrounded four test cages. The coil, with a diameter of approximately two meters, could be moved to change the alignment of the oscillating field. Each bird was tested once a day during dusk for a period of approximately 75 minutes. Besides the Wiltschkos of J. W. Goethe-Universitšt, Germany, Ritz was joined in the study by John B. Phillips of Virginia Tech and Peter Thalau of J. W. Goethe-Universitšt.
The research was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Fetzer Institute. About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with approximately 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.
APPENDIX 5 Bogalanche update from Martin Collins 25.5.04
The latest on our situation is that the original owners of the windfarm site Coillte (the state forestry company) indicated that they intended to start work "clearfelling" or deforesting 650 acres of trees which covers the 850 acre site. We informed Coillte and Hibernian Wind Power that no work was to proceed on the site until such a time as we had an opportunity to view and independently assess the work plans which were based on the recommendations from the reports. Also if we were forced to get a Court injunction to stop the work we would do so. Recently it has come to our attention that in Ireland any area of deforestation over 70 hectares (172 acres) requires a mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment according to the EIA Directive 97/11/EC. As far as we can ascertain no such assessment was produced. A Felling Licence is also required. This was applied for and received by Coillte from the Forest Service.
We have handed over the case to our Solicitor and he is communicating with all the relevant parties on our behalf. So at this stage it looks as if the Courts will decide the final outcome. The Shannon Regional Fisheries Board recently confirmed that due to substantial damage to the Fishery they "have issued legal proceedings against Hibernian Wind Power Ltd and others".
-- Mike O'Carroll