REVOLT News 

15/08/2004

Text Version 

1. Rape seed biomass generation to start in Yorkshire (Appendix 1, ex Independent)

2. Energy Act becomes law (Appendix 2). The main new measures are the BETTA wholesale (grid) trading arrangements and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

3. A letter to the Times (Appendix 3) from the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering cautions against government wind power policy, and calls for an annual report on progress towards the UK's target of 20 per cent by 2020, including the full costs of both the standby generation and distribution system upgrades that will be needed to ensure security of supply.

4. Tories support local planning control over windfarms (Appendix 4).

5. Parliamentary committee calls for planning control of mobile phone masts (Appendix 5).

6. Complainants over the Derrybrien peat slide (the "bogalanche"), a slide of some half a million tons devastating a large area, caused by wind farm works in County Galway, see news163.9 etc., have received a positive response from the European Commission, who find Ireland in default of the Environmental Impact Directive and control of the development. Appendix 6 gives an extract from the Commission's formal letter. Ireland's official response is awaited. Martin Collins reports that The latest on the overall situation is that Hibernian Wind Power Ltd announced on 28th June last that they were returning to work on the windfarm site. The main activity taking place at the moment is clearfelling the 650 acres of trees which are growing on the site.

7. There have been many news articles this month on wind power, as famous names, distinguished scientists and professional bodies, and the Conservatives, have come out broadly against. At the same time the DTI has awarded Porter Novelli, an international public relations company, a 2 million contract to promote wind power via a website and through workshops and conferences, and there have already been accusations of BBC bias in its programmes on global warming. So the media will be full of it. I don't repeat it here, as Revolt's aims do not address wind power specifically, though they call for a rational energy distribution policy, which has implications against excessive and remote wind power. For fuller details and references on wind see <www.countryguardian.net>.

8. The need for more pylons to support wind power development has been acknowledged by the industry side (The Sunday Times August 01, 2004 "Wind farms will need new pylons"). It was already signalled by estimates from Ofgem and others of a need for 2 billion pounds' worth of grid reinforcement for wind power. Nowhere is this clearer than in Scotland with the proposed Beauly - Denny 400kV line. Denny in Stirlingshire is a long way south of Beauly near Inverness, and the line is said to run to Ullapool on the far north west coast, making it some 200 miles of giant pylons through much of Scotland's grandest scenery. This rather dwarfs the 50-mile Yorkshire line which excited so much opposition.

9. From the Times 1.8.04: "Meanwhile, the government has been warned that thousands of electricity pylons will be needed in some of Britain's remotest and most unspoilt areas if wind farms and tidal energy are to become a significant source of power. New pylons will be concentrated in the Highlands and the Welsh mountains plus clusters around the Wash in Lincolnshire, the Thames estuary and Liverpool bay, with others stretching across the country to connect the new power sources to the national grid. Dozens of offshore energy projects have been approved by the government but most of the pylons will be needed for the many onshore wind farms that have been approved. ... The warning comes from the Energy Networks Association (ENA), a trade body representing the electricity distribution industry. It believes the government's renewable energy policy will fail unless more attention is focused on how power from wind farms and other sources is carried to cities."

10. The excellent US-based EMF magazine Microwave News ceased publication this year but has sent subscribers "EMF Papers" with research abstracts etc. The web service continues and is highly recommended. They say "So, bookmark www.microwavenews.com and visit us often for the latest news on EMFs". Developments are too numerous to repeat here.

11. The UK-based international scientific conference on Children with Leukaemia is ready to run in London in the first week of September. Prof Denis Henshaw is a key organiser and will open the event on Monday 6 September, introducing Dr Ian Gibson, Chair of the UK Science and Technology Select Committee, and the keynote speaker Sir William Stewart, Chair of the Health Protection Agency. Many other distinguished international experts will be there, with non-ionising EMF featuring prominently. Some ground-breaking results are expected. My minor contribution, "Searching for causes: focusing epidemiology", shows mathematically how whole-population studies, which fail to consider relevant or susceptible subgroups of the population, can fail to reveal significant causes. That could be happening with EMF studies and in other topical health concerns.

12. Fears of global warming, reflected in the Kyoto Protocol (KP), are driving UK energy policy, with its heavy emphasis on wind farms, although scientific and technical reservations are beginning to re-open the door to nuclear energy. The UK approach to international research and assessment has been questioned in alarming reports of the behaviour of chief scientific adviser Sir David King at a Moscow conference this summer (see next item). Appendix 7 gives a UK delegate's account.

13. The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Scientific Council accepts the estimation of the climate warming in the XX century (0,6 0,2 of the global averaged air surface temperature for the last 100 years) given in the last IPCC report (2001), but, like many others, argues that human activity and greenhouse gases may only contribute a small fraction of the effect, whereas the cost of combating it is prohibitive and even full implementation of the KP would have an insignificant effect. Global CO2 concentration is presently around 370 ppm (parts per million by volume), as accepted by the IPCC, KP, UK and RAS, which reflects an unusual large rise in the twentieth century. Although the effect of that CO2 on global warming is seriously disputed, the rise in CO2 is probably related to human activity (at least in part) and is a matter of concern in my view. However, the RAS argue that the KP measures would only have an effect of about 1 to 1.5 ppm over 10 years, whereas the increase will be about 20 ppm over the same period.

14. The new planning guidance PPS22 on renewable energy has appeared and will be published next week by ODPM <www.opdm.gov.uk>. I have just glanced at it - much as expected, a charter for wind farms and pylons with targets in every region and reduced scope for objection.

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APPENDIX 1 Rape seed biomass generation (from The Independent 24.7.04)

Power plant: oilseed rape grown for electricity by Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor 24 July 2004

Wind power, wave power, solar power ... and now, oilseed rape power. Britain's first electricity generating station powered by the yellow crop is to be built on a Yorkshire farm.

It will mark a significant step forward in the development of electricity from biomass, or plant material.

The man behind it, Clifford Spencer, has led the way in Britain in the production of non-food crops: next year his company will grow 70,000 acres of plants for use in industry rather than food.

A third-generation farmer, Mr Spencer, 51, sees this as the future of British agriculture, if it is to get back to growing things that markets really want, rather than things that Brussels subsidies encourage.

His oilseed rape power station is a natural extension of his non-food crop business, which over the past decade has profitably grown thousands of acres of several plants not usually associated with the British countryside.

These include: crambe, a type of cabbage used in the production of lubricants; borage, used in cosmetics; and non-narcotic hemp, used for oils and fibres.

For his biomass power scheme he has gone into partnership with the giant Anglo-Swiss agribusiness Syngenta, which is providing a specially developed high-yielding rape variety which will be grown by Mr Spencer and more than 100 local farmers under contract.

Between them they will grow 1,400 tons of rape and send the seeds to a plant about to be built on Mr Spencer's Springdale farm near Driffield, which will burn the rape oil. By this time next year they hope to have an electricity output of 1 megawatt, enough to power 1,000 homes. Mr Spencer will run his farm on it and the surplus will be sold on to the national grid.

"Agriculture needs to get back to being market-led, and producing for real markets," said Mr Spencer, who began to diversify from traditional crops in the 1990s when he feared commodity prices might fall - as indeed they did.

His new generating station is significant also as a potentially important contribution to the fight against climate change.

Biomass is a renewable energy technology like wind, wave and solar, able to provide electricity without adding to the growing load of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which is causing global warming.

Biomass is carbon neutral because, although it emits CO2 when it is burnt, the plants providing the fuel absorb a similar amount of CO2 while they are growing. Advantages over the other renewables include the fact that it is not intermittent in production (the wind drops; the sun goes in).

But it has not been widely used so far because it can be expensive and the economics are uncertain.

If Mr Spencer's plant succeeds, it will give biomass a shot in the arm.

(c) 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

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APPENDIX 2 Energy Act becomes law.

International Oil Daily

July 23, 2004

UK Energy Bill Becomes Law

The UK government said its energy bill became law on Thursday.

The new law provides the framework for the development of offshore wind and wave energy so that the UK can meet its 10% renewable energy target by 2010; the implementation of British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements to create a single wholesale electricity market from the previously separate ones in England/Wales and Scotland; and the establishment of a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (IOD Feb.25'03,p1).

UK Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "The Energy Act delivers on our commitments to fully exploit our renewable energy potential; deal safely and securely with our nuclear legacy while maintaining the highest environmental stan dards; and supporting competitive markets. It maintains our priorities of security of supply and best value for the taxpayer." Copyright 2004 Energy Intelligence Group, Inc.

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APPENDIX 3 Letter from the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering

The Independent [letter] July 19, 2004

WIND ENERGY

Sir: The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is right to criticise the Government's energy policy (Business; report, 15 July). The Government's faith in wind power is unrealistic and ignores serious concerns about security of energy supply.

Although a recent Royal Academy of Engineering report showed that electricity from off-shore wind farms could be significantly more expensive than that from conventional energy sources, high cost is only one of the factors militating against th e Government's targets for renewables being met. Constructing and installing wind turbines at the rate required will be a significant engineering challenge in itself.

The Government should give the public an annual report on progress towards the UK's target of 20 per cent by 2020, including the full costs of both the standby generation and distribution system upgrades that will be needed to ensure security of supply.

PHILIP GREENISH

Chief Executive Royal Academy of Engineering London SW1

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APPENDIX 4 Tories support local planning control over windfarms.

The Times July 27, 2004, Tuesday Local opinion on wind farms must count, say Tories by Valerie Elliott

LOCAL people would be given a greater say in the siting of wind farms by a Conservative government.

Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, said yesterday that he would change planning rules to ensure that local opinions could not be overruled or ignored.

He was particularly concerned that the Government appeared so determined to press ahead with wind farm development to meet targets on renewable energy it had not even reacted to the concerns raised over a proposed wind farm on Romney Marsh, in his own Kent constituency of Folkestone and Hythe.

"Labour is determined to press ahead regardless. Its approach is creating conflict, not consensus," he said.

David Bellamy, the naturalist, backed the Tories' plan to rethink energy policy and to promote alternative techno-logies rather than focus on wind farms.

He insisted that wind farms were not environmentally friendly. "They destroy landscapes, they chop up birds, they chop up bats. Great chunks of concrete are put down into the floor," he said.

Tim Yeo, the Conservatives' environment spokesman, said that ministers had bet everything on land-based wind farms.

"We do not believe that onshore wind should be the only show in town," he said.

"We will look at all types of renewable energy in order to find the best long term solution for Britain. As an island nation, why are we not doing more to harness power from wave and tide?"

He added: "Could we not use our deep-sea expertise to take a lead in offshore wind? Should we not do more to help farmers to develop green energy from forestry and agriculture?"

The Conservatives now intend to work on a "more balanced" policy and to announce plans this year on how to make Britain more energy-efficient. The party is particularly opposed to a proposal from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to review Planning Policy Statement 22, which is designed to override local concerns about siting of wind farms.

Mr Yeo said: "Instead of making people feel enthusiastic about renewable energy, they are turning thousands against it. Labour ministers are not seeking to persuade -they are seeking to dictate."

Stephen Timms, the Energy Minister, defended government energy policy. He said: "Wind energy is here and now. It is the most proven green source of electricity generation and can supply a rising proportion of our electricity needs."

He accepted that wind farms, like any development, provoked local concerns about the environment, but he emphasised that the planning system was robust and allowed local people and other interest groups to give their views before decisions were taken on national energy needs and local impacts.

Mr Timms also said that the Government was investigating the use of wave and tidal energy technologies, but for the moment wind farms were the only commercial ventures.

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APPENDIX 5 Parliamentary committee calls for planning control of mobile phone masts. Report taken from Microwave News July 04 <www.microwavenews.com>

In a new report, Mobile Phone Masts, the All Party Parliamentary Mobile Group in the U.K. is recommending that every cell phone tower should be required to go through the normal planning process and that any blanket exemptions be revoked. The panel noted that this was one of the recommendations of the Stewart committee in its own report, Mobile Phones and Health, issued in the spring of 2000. "[Our] report is highly critical of the current planning system and concludes that the voluntary code of practice by the mobile telecommunications industry is inconsistent and leads to public skepticism over planning decisions," said Phil Willis MP, the chair of the committee. He added that the panel's 19 recommendations represent a "huge challenge" for the government industry, and local authorities.

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APPENDIX 6 EC formal response on Derrybrien peat slide.

(extract from EC letter of 13.7.04)

I would like to inform you that the Commission has recently sent Ireland an additional Letter of Formal Notice (first written warning), expressing concerns relating to your complaint as well as to other matters. More specifically, the Commission has pointed out that the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) undertaken for the windfarm development at Derrybrien appear to have been manifestly deficient in failing to provide any or any adequate information on the geophysical risks associated with the project. The developer's information appears seriously lacking in this regard, and no environmental authority made up for its deficiency.

According to the case-law of the Court of Justice, the competent authorities of a Member State are required to take, within the sphere of their competence, all the general or particular measures necessary to ensure that projects are examined in order to determine whether they are likely to have significant effects on the environment and, if so, to ensure that they are subject to an impact assessment (see, to this effect, Case C-72/95 Kraaijeveld and Others [1996] ECR I-5403, paragraph 61, and WWF and Others, [1999] ECR I-5613, point 70).

In its decision of 7 January 2004 in Case C-201/02, the Court further underlined this interpretation, stating that "Such particular measures include, subject to the limits laid down by the principle of procedural autonomy of the Member States, the revocation or suspension of a consent already granted, in order to carry out an assessment of the environmental effects of the project in question as provided for by Directive 85/337 (point 65). The Member State is likewise required to make good any harm caused by the failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment (point 66)."

In failing to ensure that all aspects of the wind-farm development, including related developments such as the deforestation project and recent proposed modifications, were and will be fully and correctly subject to the requirements of Articles 2 to 10 of the Directive, it appears that Ireland is in breach of its obligations under the Directive.

The Irish authorities now have the opportunity to respond to the Commission's Letter of Formal Notice and you will be kept informed of further developments.

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APPENDIX 7 UK delegate's account of official UK interference at Moscow conference

An e-mail report by a participant, British scientist Piers Corbyn, passed on by email via Country Guardian.

The Russian Academy of Sciences organized an International Seminar on Climate Change in Moscow 5-8 July 2004 to give a balanced view -- and to counter claims by the 'Global Warmers' in particular by a British Team led by Sir David King (the UK Govt's Chief Scientific Adviser) and Sir John Houghton (former Director General of the UK Met Office).

The Russian Academy of Sciences had already taken the position that 'There is no scientific basis for the Kyoto protocol'. [See below]

The event gave the British team a great opportunity to argue their case but they completely failed to do so. Sir John was unable to answer questions and referred them all to understudies who did not give satisfactory answers. Sir David also failed to answer questions and indeed walked out at the start of the second day (after talking at great length beyond his original time) while 'answering' -- saying that he had 'no more time and had to see a minister'.

It appears the British Government Team, after failing to prevent the international science team - of which I was part - from speaking, resorted to spoiling tactics because they were unable to answer questions. They subsequently tried to portray the event as somehow 'taken over' by others/Russian officials and 'unlike anything they have ever seen'. It was indeed unlike any scientific event I have ever seen but for no reason other than the inappropriate behaviour of the British Government's Official Team.

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Mike O'Carroll

 

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