Revolt news164 of 27.6.04
1. Guardian article suggests government officials hiding true environmental pollution (Appendix 1).
2. The House of Lords debate 15.6.04 on windfarms (Appendix 2) had the government spokesman Lord Sainsbury making a gross mathematical error while claiming a simple mathematical argument. He said "A little mathematics applied to that will tell us that if it provides 20 per cent of the generating capacity it will deal with 20 per cent of the generating capacity problem". Not so! As often is the case the mathematics depends on definitions. The generating capacity problem is about the capacity available at any time. Wind power is not available at any time, only when the wind is blowing, and therefore contributes zero to the generating capacity problem. No wonder Lord Sainsbury finds that the State of the Nation 2004 report produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers is "out of line" with the government, or should that be the other way round, a matter of spin perhaps?
3. Snips from news@all-energy of June 04 are at Appendix 3. Former energy minister Brian Wilson says "the real debate could be between imports and indigenous". About time! Now he needs to translate that to apply to regions and regional balance of generation and demand.
4. A human rights claim to the European Court regarding a windfarm, and a further claim to the English High Court, reported in the Western Morning News, may interest people whose homes are affected by developments. (Appendix 4, forwarded by Country Guardian)
5. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution <www.rcep.org.uk> has published a report into biomass as a renewable energy source. See also news163.2 and its Appendix 2, which gives a third party article, and Appendix 3 of this news (snips from news@all-energy). The RCEP produced the influential report "Energy: the Changing Climate" in 2000 from which the government took its long term target of 60% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050. The new biomass report says the UK is underdeveloped in this technology and calls for government steps largely at the level of market controls and incentives. A key point is that biomass is reliable and continuous, unlike wind, and can provide efficient heat as well as electricity. To take just one paragraph from the report's conclusions: "5.15 Biomass energy should be considered positively in all new-build and retrofit projects. The assumption should be in favour of biomass energy in all projects; construction companies and councils should have to justify any decision not to adopt this option."
6. There is increasing objection to the Beauly - Denny 400 kV line in the Scottish Western Highlands. A local action group is called Highlands Before Pylons. Revolt is putting enquirers in touch with each other. We now hear that the undersea cable option has been rejected because of cost. Brian Wilson when he was Energy Minister made great play, in public announcements, of proposing an undersea cable from the Hebrides through the Irish Sea to North Wales or Merseyside. If this has now been rejected, the question should be asked whether it was a cynical and dishonest ploy to promote wind farms in the Hebrides irresponsibly. Such positive promotional statements as he made, together with such an early rejction, just do not fit together and should be challenged.
APPENDIX 1 Article from the Guardian Thursday May 27, 2004
Paul Brown - Environment correspondent
> > http://politics.guardian.co.uk/green/story/0,9061,1225738,00.html > > Official figures showing sharp increases in gases responsible for > climate change from air and freight transport were removed from the > Office of National Statistics (ONS) report on the environment last > week after pressure from the Department for Transport. > > In a week when Tony Blair was insisting the issue of climate change > was "very, very critical" and Margaret Beckett, the environment > secretary, claimed the UK was a world leader in reducing emissions, > official statistics would have shown an 85% increase in pollutants > from the airline industry and 59% for freight transport since 1990. > > Instead, the announcement was withdrawn and another substituted which > did not mention transport emissions at all. > > ONS officials were said to have been "livid" at the transport > department's intervention. A footnote on all ONS releases says: > "National Statistics are produced ... free from any political > interference." > > The original unpublished release has been passed to the Guardian. > Headlined "Rise in greenhouse gas emissions from transport", it says > that while overall emissions dropped 10% between 1990 and 2002, the > increase from the transport sector as a whole was 50%. > > The largest increase of 85% was from air transport, and even this > figure would have risen to over 100% but for the slump in air travel > as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the report said. > The road freight industry has also increased emissions by 59%, > according to the statistics. > > Both sets of figures reveal the government's most vulnerable areas on > climate change policy. It is being heavily criticised by environment > groups for its proposed building of new runways, expansion of regional > airports and failure to shift sufficient freight onto the railways. > > The draft of the report containing the transport emissions figures > were sent for comment to the Department for Environment, Food and > Rural Affairs and the transport department. Senior officials at the > environment department described the rapidly rising emissions "as > somewhat sensitive" and prepared a briefing paper for ministers to > field expected hostile questions by journalists. Officials at the > Department for Transport actively attempted to stop publication of the > release. > > Perry Francis, the statistician who compiled the figures at the ONS, > said yesterday that transport department officials objected to the > form in which the figures were presented. "I was told the Department > for Transport did not think it was appropriate to publish them, they > spoke to me several times, and in the end I withdraw the report and > substituted another which did not mention transport at all." > > Mr Francis added: "I would not say I was subject to improper pressure. > I just decided I would withdraw it." > > His new report published last Friday received no press coverage. > However, he has placed the statistics on the ONS website "for the > record." > > Yesterday the Department for Transport denied its intervention had > been made for political reasons, and stressed there was no ministerial > involvement. A spokesman said there had been differences between the > way the department compiled its statistics, and the ONS methods. > However, there was no suggestion that the ONS figures were inaccurate. > > Mr Blair, writing in this month's edition of the Parliamentary > Monitor, said: "Climate change is probably, in the long term, the > single most important issue we face as a global community - the issue > is now very, very, critical indeed." > > Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, made a statement on May > 18, two days before the proposed ONS report was withdrawn, that an > attack by the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, on the UK's > climate change record was "absurd", adding: "Tony Blair is renowned > and respected across the world for his leadership on international > climate change."
APPENDIX 2 House of Lords debate 15.6.04
15 Jun 2004 : Column 617
House of Lords Tuesday, 15 June 2004.
The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.
Prayers?Read by the Lord Bishop of Sheffield.
Baroness Falkner of Margravine
Kishwer Falkner, having been created Baroness Falkner of Margravine, of Barons Court in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, for life?Was, in her robes, introduced between the Lord Wallace of Saltaire and the Lord Dholakia, and made the solemn affirmation.
Ruth Beatrice Henig, CBE, having been created Baroness Henig, of Lancaster in the County of Lancashire, for life?Was, in her robes, introduced between the Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton and the Lord Goldsmith.
Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:
What their response is to the paper from the David Hume Institute entitled Tilting at Windmills: the economics of wind power.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My Lords, the Tilting at Windmills report questions whether wind energy justifies its role in the Government's strategy. While the Government agree with a few of its points, the report makes many inaccurate statements; for example, that renewables are the Government's key policy for reaching their target for carbon reduction and that further investment in UK energy is ruled out; and the exaggerated claim that wholesale electricity prices will rise by 40 to 60 per cent over the next five years as a result of reductions in carbon emissions. It is not the Government who are tilting at windmills but the author of the report.
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that response. Among other things with which he may agree in Professor Simpson's report, does he agree with his conclusion, which states:
"Because of the cost of providing additional stand-by generating capacity, it is unlikely that wind power will ever account for more than 20% of electricity generation through the National Grid. That being the case, its development can make no substantial contribution to a reduction in carbon emissions from power generation"?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I thought that that was one of the more useless statements. A little
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mathematics applied to that will tell us that if it provides 20 per cent of the generating capacity it will deal with 20 per cent of the generating capacity problem. That is a reasonable amount and worth doing.
Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, bearing in mind the high cost of this subsidised form of energy and the environmental desecration to many of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles, will the Minister respond positively to the recommendation of the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, given to Sub-Committee D on 10 March that more money should be found for research and that tidal and wave energy power could be a more significant renewable source of energy than wind power because wind power is intermittent and the moon rather reliable?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the situation is not, as the author of this report implies, that we are choosing wind power. Wind power has been chosen by the industry because it thinks that it is the cheapest method of achieving the renewables obligation. That is why it has chosen wind. So, it is not in the Government's gift.
As regards the comments of the Chief Scientific Adviser, that is a question of timescale. What he says may be true in the long term and it may be right that more money should be spent on research. That matter will be considered as part of the spending review, but as of now it is clear from the industry's response that the most economic way to do this is through wind power.
Viscount Tenby: My Lords, has the Minister read the report, as I am sure he must have done, that Denmark, which for long has been at the forefront of wind farm technology, has decided that the game is no longer worth the candle?perhaps a slightly unfortunate metaphor in the circumstances? Have her Majesty's Government any plans to enter into discussion with our friends in Denmark to see how we might benefit from their experience before too much of our beautiful landscape becomes visually impaired? I declare an interest as a Welshman.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I do not know whether I can quote exact figures, but I think that the figure in Demark is in the order of 20 to 30 per cent of power from wind. That is a very substantial density for that small country. That is why Denmark is now saying that it will change direction and not significantly increase wind farming. I doubt whether that has much implication for the UK, where at this stage wind farms account for 2 or 3 per cent at the most.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, has my noble friend had the opportunity to read The State of the Nation 2004 report produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers and what it says about the energy situation? It points out very clearly that with the reduction in electricity generated by coal and nuclear power, by the year 2010
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the mix will be such that we have precious little time to make up the energy gap from renewables. Is he happy with that state of affairs, or is he going to rubbish that report in the same way as he rubbished the one referred to by my noble friend Lord Williams?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I did not rubbish the report, I merely pointed out?
Noble Lords: Oh!
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as the author of the report suggested that the Government's policy was not as ideal as he would like it to be, I simply pointed out that he had made a few mistakes in his report. As far as concerns the report of the Institution of Civil Engineers, one has to compare its figures with those set out in the energy White Paper. Noble Lords will see that they are considerably out of line with what we think is the most likely projection.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I shall deal with one or two items from the report. Does the Minister agree that nuclear power causes no greenhouse gases, but that at the same time, as a base-load generator, it contributes well to the security of supply? Does he further agree and accept that even considering decommissioning costs, a matter which is in the report the noble Lord just mentioned, nuclear power costs less overall than wind power and is very much more secure because it does not depend on the weather and the amount of wind at any one particular time?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, of course nuclear does not produce any greenhouse gases, but it has other environmental impacts. I find it strange that in the report there is a whole page which deals with the problems of birds flying into wind turbines while the environmental impact of nuclear power is dealt with in one line. We have to be serious about this: there are serious environmental issues associated with nuclear waste. We have to be able to deal with those before we go any further.
Nuclear costs were a matter of great debate. It is not at all clear what the cost will be for the next generation of nuclear power stations, not least because at this stage few have been built.
Lord Ezra: My Lords?
Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords?
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I think we should hear from the Liberal Democrat Benches.
Lord Ezra: My Lords, although I gather that the Government disagree with most of what is contained in the report, what are their views on the contention that between now and 2010 emissions could increase, due
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largely to increased usage of energy in the transport, domestic and power station sectors? Do they have any additional policies to deal with that situation?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, obviously, one reason we disagree with the report is that it assumes that there is no government policy regarding energy efficiency. As the noble Lord knows, because he has asked questions about it, there is a considerable policy programme on improving energy efficiency. I am afraid I do not have the figures on how that relates to the increased emissions that will result from increasing economic activity, but I shall write to the noble Lord and let him have what figures we have.
Lord Monro of Langholm: My Lords?
Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I think we should move to the next Question.
APPENDIX 3 Snips from news@all-energy June 04.
1.10.What the real argument should be about
"Instead of arguing about the relevant merits of different energy sources, the real debate could be between imports and indigenous" - the view of former Energy Minister, Brian Wilson MP http://news.scotsman.com /columnists.cfm?id=658262004 Mr Wilson was the after dinner speaker at the All-Energy Opportunities 2004 Dinner, his speech will be on the website at www.all-energy.co.uk shortly
3.3.ScottishPower's £400m plan
ScottishPower announced a £400m plan to upgrade high-voltage transmission lines as part of the Government's initiative to rewire the UK for renewable energy www.scottishpower.com/pages/news_article?documen t=267ff3_fcb7c36813_-7fdc0a026462
3.6.Upgrade route nearly there
Scottish and Southern Energy is just days away from finalising its route for a £200 million power line upgrade. http://icstirlingshire.icnetwork. co.uk/news/localnews/stirlingnews/stirlingnews/tm_objectid=14323282&meth od=full&siteid=92391&headline=new-route-planned-in-power-line- controversy-name_page.html
7.5.The RCEP biomass report
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution published a special report - 'Biomass as a Renewable Energy Source', which urges a range of actions to boost biomass www.rcep.org.uk/bioreport.htm. "I am disappointed that energy from biomass has not developed as quickly in the UK as elsewhere in Europe" - Tom Blundell the RCEP's chair www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/government_failing_on_biom_1105200 4.html
APPENDIX 4 Human Rights case
Western Morning News
HUMAN RIGHTS CLAIM AGAINST TURBINE PLANS 11:00 - 24 June 2004 The fight against a recently-approved windfarm has been taken to Europe after residents living near the proposed site claimed their human rights had been affected.
A court in Strasbourg will decide whether a couple living near the land designated for three 266ft turbines in North Devon should be paid compensation.
The claim is being made against the landowners of the site at Higher Darracott, near Torrington, the Secretary of State who approved the plans at appeal in May and Torridge District Council.
It has been lodged by Pat and Arthur Paulton, who live just 500 metres from the site and argued against the proposal at a public inquiry. The couple, who run a car breaker's yard at Huntshaw, are believed to be basing their claim on Article One of the Human Rights Act, which protects property rights.
Legal experts say the European court could take "years" to make a decision, but if successful it could open the way for campaigners elsewhere to take similar action - and possibly deter energy companies from building windfarms.
A spokesman for Torridge District Council said yesterday: "The Paultons have made a claim to the European Court of Human Rights against the landowners, the Secretary of State, and Torridge District Council. At this time the details are not fully known and for legal reasons we cannot release any more information."
The spokesman added that because Torridge District Council turned down the original application for the windfarm, it was not threatened with a financial claim, and was in fact "an also ran".
Mr and Mrs Paulton yesterday refused to comment on the claim. But speaking to the WMN in May, after the proposals were approved, the couple warned they "would be looking at the human rights question".
Legal experts say the Paulton's claim could be based on the "inevitability" of a negative impact on their lifestyle when the turbines are built, or the belief that the decision to approve the plans was itself a violation of human rights.
The landowners, Sara and Perry George, yesterday said they were unaware of the claim, as did the firm wanting to build the turbines, West Coast Energy. A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott's department which handled the planning application appeal, said for legal reasons it too was unable to comment.
Mr George said: "I have not heard anything or received any letters. As far as I'm aware it is full steam ahead."
Article One, Protocol One of the European Convention of Human Rights protects "the peaceful enjoyment of a person's possessions". The size of the compensation claim is not known and the court does not have the power to overturn the planning decision.
Several other sites have been targeted for similar wind turbines up to 360ft high. There are plans for 18 turbines at Week St Mary in North Cornwall, 20 at Fullabrook Down in North Devon, three at Bradworthy, which have been approved on appeal, and two at Cucklington, South Somerset, which were rejected and may go to appeal.
The Western Morning News is giving readers the opportunity to voice their opposition to the erection of giant wind turbines in Devon and Cornwall. This newspaper has been campaigning for local people's views to be given more weight when applications for these turbines are considered.
During recent months, the WMN has profiled a number of people living near wind turbines, many of whom claim the structures have been detrimental to human health.
People living in areas earmarked for wind turbine development are increasingly concerned that Government pressure to generate electricity from renewable resources is overshadowing genuine concerns about its impact.
Add your voice to the growing call for a drastic rethink and we will deliver your petitions direct to the Energy Minister, Stephen Timms. http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=143632&command=displ ayContent&sourceNode=142719&contentPK=10423058 < http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=143632&command=d isplayContent&sourceNode=142719&contentPK=10423058 >
Western Morning News
HIGH COURT BATTLE TO BLOCK WINDFARM PLAN 11:00 - 25 June 2004 Opponents of a controversial windfarm plan have launched a High Court bid to derail the development.
London-based solicitor Susan Ring has applied to try and quash plans for three 266ft turbines at Higher Darracott, near Torrington, North Devon. Ms Ring is acting for Pat and Arthur Paulton, who live 500 metres from the site designated for the windfarm.
Ms Ring, who works for the legal firm Richard Buxton, said: "If the Government builds roads it compensates people who fall within the development area, so why should people who live near turbines not be treated the same?
"My clients simply feel that if landowners want to let their land be used for wind turbines they should be built near their homes, not other people's."
The windfarm proposals were given approval by a Government-appointed planning inspector after appeal in May.
But the Paultons' legal advisers have now filed an application under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, claiming the value of their home will be directly affected.
The grounds for the action are that "the planning inspector erred in law, in failing to determine the impact of the development on the value of the claimant's property".
The legal action invokes Article One, Protocol One of the European Convention of Human Rights, which is incorporated into UK law under the auspices of the Human Rights Act.
Ms Ring said the aim of the action was to have the plans thrown out, but she also believes it is a "test case" which could force the Government to introduce a compensation scheme for people who live near windfarms. She said: "Why should my clients bear the brunt of something done in the public's interest without compensation?
"We are talking about the development of public infrastructure but there is no compensation scheme in place at all."
Ms Ring added that the landowners had been notified, as had Environment Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who approved the plans at appeal in May, and Torridge District Council, the local planning authority.
Mr and Mrs Paulton, who run a car breaker's yard at Huntshaw, refused to comment on the High Court action yesterday, saying only that the whole situation has been a "stressful time".
The landowners, Sara and Perry George, said they were unaware of the legal move, as did the firm bidding to build the turbines, West Coast Energy. Both said that as far as they were concerned, it was "full steam ahead".
Several sites as well as Higher Darracott have been targeted for turbines, some as high as 360ft. These include plans for 18 turbines at Week St Mary in North Cornwall, 20 at Fullabrook Down in North Devon, three at Bradworthy, which have been approved on appeal, and two at Cucklington, South Somerset.
A public inquiry in March heard that if windfarm plans for Higher Darracott were blocked then "nowhere" else in the Westcountry would be suitable.
Planning inspector David Cullingford upheld the appeal, saying he did not find that the scheme would "seriously impair" the landscape.
An outcome from the new legal move is expected within six months. "They will fight this all the way," Ms Ring said.
-- Mike O'Carroll