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7 Feb 2005 round-up

14:00 - 05 February 2005
As Lyn Jenkins showed with devastating clarity (Have Your Say, January 24) in responding to Ron Loveland and an anonymous Assembly spokesman (Post, January 18), the Assembly's reasons for persisting with wind power are completely vacuous. He showed with plain fact and simple logic that every single point made by these two people was totally specious and ill-founded. The general public would know none of this, we would be at their mercy without the specialised expert knowledge of Mr Jenkins and the other conscientious folk who diligently expose the fallacies and deceptions of the wind power promoters through these pages. But Ron Loveland, as the Assembly's chief technology officer, and the mysterious Assembly spokesman, have no doubt known it all along. How could they possibly not, peddling such blatantly devious and unrepresentative surveys of so-called public opinion?

One needs no specialised knowledge, however, to see that the Assembly has no intention of listening to its constituents. Equally clear, and far more disturbing, is that the Assembly is not proceeding on the basis of fact, reason or sound science, and has no intention of heeding the warnings of those whose arguments are based on them - the professional scientists and energy engineers free of vested interests.

It is all too clear that the only ears the Assembly is open to on this issue are those of the wind farm developers and their PR front Friends of the Earth. It seriously makes one wonder. Friends of the Earth even direct you to the BWEA website for the true facts about wind power, which is like taking the tobacco industry's word for the true facts about smoking.

It would be laughable were it not such a tragedy.

The sober prediction, accepted by greens and Government alike, is that global warming could become irreversible within the next decade. The crucial factor is whether the US, the world's biggest polluter, can be persuaded to drastically cut its carbon emissions. If not, then nothing any other country does will be of any avail.

To date, President Bush refuses even to acknowledge the problem! If he can't be woken up very soon, then the most devastating calamity ever to visit the human race will begin to unfold.

Faced with this, doesn't the idea of wind farms in Wales look pathetically beside the point? A plaster for a bursting dam.

We really don't have time for any more tinkering, political games or stubborn pride.

In the words of Bob Dylan, let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

Since, however, the Assembly remains stubbornly deaf to reason and the reality of the situation, a full public inquiry concerning Tan 8 is an absolute necessity.

G Benson

Brooklands Terrace

Mount Pleasant, Swansea


09:00 - 04 February 2005

Farmers, householders and councillors are celebrating news that plans have been put on hold to build a cluster of 300ft-tall wind turbines in the countryside at Bramshall, near Uttoxeter, have been put on hold.

The news was also welcomed by Uttoxeter MP Janet Dean, who raised the issue at top level with Energy Minister for, Mike O'Brien. Gloucester-based Ecotricity, the firm behind the giant windfarm scheme, now says the site is no longer a priority because of substantial extra costs it would incur through a new planning policy ruling.

For East Staffordshire Borough Council and the Government Office for the West Midlands have decided any planning application the company might make would require it to carry out a full-scale assessment of the environmental impact the windfarm might have on the area around the proposed site at Spring Farm.

Ecotricity spokesman, Leslie Barton, said: "The extra regulatory burden of an EIA planning application, in terms of timescales for determination and costs incurred for presentation, unfortunately means the site can no longer be a priority for us at the present time. We have therefore decided to put on hold our current plans for the site and review our options in the future."

She was replying to concern expressed by Uttoxeter Town Council members that hundreds of householders, farmers and other landowners within a large radius of the site are were being exposed to months of extra worry due to the company's delays in holding public consultation exercises over its windfarm scheme.

A spokesman for the controlling Conservative group on Uttoxeter Town Council said people likely to be affected could now breathe a sigh of relief after months of worry due to the failure of Ecotricity to hold a promised public consultation exercise over the plans.

He said: "There is no doubt all the local authorities and residents in a wide area between Bramshall and Uttoxeter will be very happy indeed to see a proposal they were sure would needlessly blight our lovely countryside placed on ice. They claim it would only have produced a comparatively small amount of so-called clean electricity far out of proportion to the scale of the damage people feel it would have wrought on attractive countryside."

Janet Dean wrote to the Minister for Energy, expressing Uttoxeter Town Council's concern about the windfarm plan.

In reply, Mr O'Brien stressed the need for consultation.

A spokesman for a Bramshall action group which has successfully fought off two previous redevelopment plans for the same site, said: "There was an initial wave of public outrage when these proposals were first revealed by the company last August, but, since then, everyone has been left in complete and very worrying limbo. It is good that, at long last, Ecotricity has put everyone out of their misery about whether it intends to proceed with this scheme."

Town councillor David Brookes said that, as a member of the borough planning committee, he could not comment on any proposed development before it was discussed by the committee.

But he said he that at a recent national conference

there was "overpowering expert and public opposition to the concept of establishing inshore windfarms in areas of natural beauty."

Leslie Barton said the setback was regretted as the scheme would have provided enough 'clean' electricity to power more than 1,800 homes in the area.
Row over large onshore wind farm
Neil Yates campaigner
Neil Yates leads Bradwell-on-Sea protests against a wind farm
Opposition is growing to plans to build one of the largest onshore wind farms in the UK near a decommissioned nuclear power plant at Bradwell-on-Sea.

Villagers and campaigners have been picketing a public exhibition about the proposed wind farm which is in the early stages of planning.

Already some residents of the Essex village have formed their own protest group called Battle to fight it.

Their main concern is that it will ruin the local countryside.

Campaigner Neil Yates said: "We don't want it in our back yard as we don't want our properties devalued.

Vicky Portwain
Vicky Portwain of Npower wants to ally villagers' fears
"But it's a much bigger issue than that and we must all take the arguments on board.

"Everyone accepts we need renewable energy but if it's to be wind driven then the development should be offshore not onshore like this one."

Electricity supplier npower plans to build 26 turbines, each 25m high, to generate power for up to 29,000 homes.

Their spokeswoman Vicky Portwain said: "I can understand everyone's concerns about the visual aspects of the scheme. That's why we've put up the illustrations.

"But the turbines will be at a distance from individual houses, although it will affect the views of some residents and we plan to talk to them about that."

Villagers say they plan to continue their protests.




Villagers fight wind farm project

Wind turbines
Villagers vote against a wind farm development
Campaigners against the construction of a wind farm are to hold a peaceful picket outside a village hall where an exhibition of plans is being staged.

Electricity supply firm Powergen has put on the display at Catworth in Cambs despite local objections.

The firm wants to build a wind farm on Catworth Hill and the original proposal was presented as a "community project" with a promise of compensation. A poll showed 80% of villagers objected and Powergen were asked to withdraw.

The power company has pressed on with their campaign and said they hoped to secure the co-operation of a majority in the village once plans are known.

The Catworth Hill Action Group says the exhibition suggests Powergen is determined to go ahead.

Members plan to picket the village hall, adding that they expect villagers to question Powergen executives on the need for the display.


Wind farm would be `a blot on cityscape'

by Steve Carroll

PLANS to build two massive wind turbines on a site near Selby are being opposed by officers at City of York Council.

The authority says it opposes the development because the size and location of the turbines would "harm the setting and historic character of York".

Councillors attending a planning and transport meeting next week will also be asked to reject the scheme because officers consider there is inadequate evidence to show that birdlife in nearby nature reserves will be protected.

Escrick Park would be the home of 364 feet twin towers if councillors at Selby give energy giant E.ON's plans the go-ahead. The plans are being dealt with by Selby District Council, but York has been consulted because the site is close to its boundary. The authority can only give a view on the application.

English Nature, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Campaign To Protect Rural England and conservationist David Bellamy have also expressed concerns about the application.

A report written by City of York Council area team leader Roger Armistead, argues that the site, which is about two miles from the York boundary, would have "considerable visual and other impact on this part of the Vale of York".

He writes that the masts, which would be almost double the size of York Minster, would have "a substantial and harmful effect on the setting of York, and will harm the purpose of including all of that adjacent land, which is within York, within the York green belt".

He argues that, while the council should express its support for the principle of proposed wind farms, the authority should oppose the development because it could harm the city.

Meanwhile, E.ON, which has been granted permission to build a temporary mast on the proposed wind farm site by Selby District Council, is to hold a new public exhibition to give residents a chance to find out more about the proposed scheme.

The plans will be revealed at Skipwith village hall, on Thursday - the day York councillors consider their objections - from noon to 8pm.

E.ON says the turbines, if approved, would be able to generate enough power for about 2,300 homes. A trust would also be set up that could hand out more than 5,100 to local groups and organisations during the lifetime of the wind cluster. The temporary wind monitoring mast will be put up later this year.

No one at the Escrick Park estate, which owns the land where the two turbines would be sited, was available for comment.

Updated: 09:32 Saturday, February 05, 2005



09:00 - 05 February 2005
The board of Scottish Natural Heritage has been recommended to object to the giant 234-turbine windfarm planned for the north of Lewis.

In a report to go to the board on Tuesday, officials say that the development would cause damage to the internationally important peatland and habitat for rare bird species.

It also concludes that the damage to the landscape would outweigh any socio-economic benefits from the development and that similar benefits could be obtained from other renewable energy projects which would have less damaging consequences for the environment.

SNH has been advising developer Amec and its subsidiary Lewis Windpower Ltd on the windfarm, which will generate 702 megawatts. The organisation has been blamed by local objectors for forcing the development away from the middle of the moorland on to the edges and nearer houses.

Each of the turbines will be 140m high, with a concrete foundation 22m square and up to 2m deep, with a hard-standing alongside to support the weight of a crane.


Turbine 'is Just What the Doctor Ordered' ; 'Blot' Jibe  rejectedby Health Trust Chiefs
Source: Belfast Telegraph
Publication date: 2005-02-05

HEALTH chiefs have leapt to the defence of a new giant turbine at Antrim Area Hospital which has left locals in a spin.The hills above Antrim are renowned for their panoramic views of Lough Neagh, but that changed for some in recent days when a huge wind turbine was winched into place.It has already been branded a blot on the landscape by some people living in its long shadow, amid claims that the cranes moved in before locals were consulted on the plans.But United Hospitals Trust insisted last night that the long-winded application process was "completely above board".The trust also said that the turbine, which is thought to be the first of its kind at a hospital site in the UK, would prove to be just what the doctor ordered in the war against waiting lists.A spokesman confirmed that the environmental, not to mention financial, benefits of a wind turbine were first mooted back in early 2002. Outline Planning Permission was applied for in December of that year, though full permission was not granted until April 2004.The intervening 16 months saw a flurry of activity, as planning experts weighed up the potential benefits against the impact the huge tower could have on views of the unspoiled countryside."As part of the planning permission, the trust submitted an environmental statement which was the result of an assessment of all environmental impacts," explained the spokesman."The statement showed that there would be no adverse impacts on the surrounding environment."And while people living nearby may disagree, there is no doubt that the turbine will be a shot in the arm for the hospital's finances."The installation of the wind turbine has the potential to provide enough electricity to fully run Antrim Area Hospital at night - and two thirds of the power needed during the day," the spokesperson added."There are no plans at present to have more than one turbine at the hospital."The cost of the turbine was 500,000, of which the trust received 400,000 in grant aid. It is anticipated that the trust will save 90,000 each year, and these savings will go directly into patient care."

Publication date: 2005-02-05


Wind Farm Target Buffeted By Delays
Source: Independent on Sunday, The
Publication date: 2005-02-06

Tony Blair's plans to generate a 10th of Britain's electricity from "green" sources have been blown off course by significant delays in building offshore wind farms.

The Prime Minister's strategy to tackle climate change by switching to renewable energy is based heavily on plans to build vast wind farms of up to 300 turbines off the British coast by the end of the decade.

The Government had gambled that offshore schemes would generate up to four gigawatts of electricity, meeting about 40 per cent of the total renewables target for 2010. But fears are now mounting that this target could be missed by a wide margin.

Senior industry experts and officials in the Crown Estates, which awards offshore licences, admit the UK will miss its first key target to build 17 offshore wind farms by 2007 - by as much as 50 per cent.

The much more ambitious proposals to build the far larger 300- turbine schemes off the Wash in Humberside, the Thames estuary and Morecambe Bay in north-west England by 2010 are also facing significant problems, senior sources concede privately.

Initial estimates suggest the offshore wind farms built under Round 2 will generate only 2 to 3GW of electricity by 2010, compared to a maximum possible of 7.2GW.

Renewable energy campaigners and industry officials claim the biggest stumbling block is problems with the electricity regulator, Ofgem, over funding new grid connections.

Global steel prices have also doubled, increasing the costs of building the towers. And City investors are still far more cautious about funding these schemes than ministers and developers had hoped.

"With Round 1 it would be difficult to deny that it has proved a lot slower than we'd hoped," said Gordon Edge, head of offshore at the British Wind Energy Association, which represents 310 renewable and power firms.

Sorting out the problems with Ofwat was essential for the Round 2 schemes to succeed: "There needs to be some political heads knocked together to relieve this issue," said Mr Edge.

Stephen Tindale, head of the campaign group Greenpeace, which has close ties to Npower's offshore scheme in North Hoyle, off North Wales, said: "There seems to be no sense of co-ordination and no sense of urgency in the Government."

Ofgem and the Department for Trade and Industry insisted they were committed to meeting their 2010 target. Ofgem will release plans for a national strategy on new grid connections for renewables later this year, and has set aside pounds 1bn to improve the grid generally.

Mike O'Brien, the energy minister, said another pounds 1bn a year would come on stream by 2010. "No one has ever claimed the target isn't ambitious, but the political will is there to achieve it."

Publication date: 2005-02-06


 Beleaguered by a black and green onslaught

Your Letters February 07 2005

THE overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change resulting from the use of fossil fuels is real and is happening, with average global temper atures on the rise. So the government has committed itself to very optimistic renewable energy targets.
Spare a thought, then, for our small community in the Douglas Valley of South Lanarkshire, which is beleaguered by an onslaught from both black fossil fuel and green renewable energy. One of the endearing features of this area is its landscape and environment, yet it is systematically being destroyed. On our doorstep is the now exhausted Dalquhandy opencast coal mine, an abandoned black derelict moonscape. The local authority seems powerless and unwilling to enforce restoration compliance on Scottish Coal, who have three active opencast coal mines in the valley and three at the planning stage.
We are also home to the first windfarm in Scotland at Hagshaw Hill [pictured]. ScottishPower is applying for permission to extend it by another 20 turbines, twice the size of the existing ones. Scottish Coal is seeking another windfarm on the same hill-range. On the other side of the valley RDC plans a further range of turbines.
Everybody and their granny are looking for a windfarm on their land, with a flood of applications across the country. This drive towards wind energy is not because the landowners/ tenants have become eco-friendly, or care about the environment, but because of the income it brings in. Greed abounds, with an almighty scramble to grab a slice of the money-cake provided by the taxpayers.
Our elected councillor and MSP have continually ignored our cry for help and our MP, Jimmy Hood, has an annual retainer from Scottish Coal for "consultancy". The Scottish Executive has considerable scope over mitigation and adaptation, as it controls policy on environment and planning, yet its energy policy in situations such as ours is as clear as mud.
So you can understand our frustration and anger as the roads and grass verges become blacker through coal transport, our designated area of great landscape value is ripped apart, and the horizon is littered with wind turbines.
Kenny Sludden, Castleview, Colonels Entry, Douglas.