Locals to get wind farm veto

Daily Telegraph 6th June 2013

By Robert Winnett, Political Editor

LOCAL communities will be given the power to block wind farms under planning rules to be unveiled today.
Senior Conservatives claim the move will effectively end the spread of the controversial turbines which have been blamed for blighting picturesque landscapes.
Ministers will announce that residents will have to be consulted over new wind farms with applications barred if there is significant opposition.
Councils are currently prevented from even considering applications for larger turbines.
However, under the plans, energy firms will be able to offer “incentives” – such as discounts on electricity bills – to persuade communities to agree to new wind farms.
When planning applications are submitted, officials will have to take into account topography and the impact on “views” and historic sites. Inspectors will also have to assess the “cumulative impact of wind turbines” amid fears that some areas are being overwhelmed by applications.
Currently, councils can be forced to accept new wind farms as national planning guidance states that renewable energy schemes should usually be permitted.
A senior Conservative source said: “The Prime Minister strongly feels that this is a real local issue and if people don’t want to have wind farms they don’t have to have them. This is a bombproof set of safeguards to protect the wishes of local people.”
Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, will today announce that legal planning guidance is to be altered and he will write to all councils and the Planning Inspectorate demanding that they use the new principles in current decisions.
Last night, Mr Pickles said: “We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity.”
Despite senior Conservatives heralding the end of new onshore wind farms, the Liberal Democrats – including the Energy Secretary – believe that the new system of incentives could actually lead to an increase in turbines.
The Energy Department says that a community agreeing to a modest wind farm could see their power bills fall by an average of £400 per household.
Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said: “We remain committed to the deployment of appropriately sited onshore wind, as a key part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix and committed to an evidence-based approach to supporting low carbon power.
“This is an important sector that is driving economic growth, supporting thousands of new jobs and providing a significant share of our electricity and I’m determined that local communities should share in these benefits.”

Land of sweeping horizons becomes a hostage to turbines

By Patrick Sawer
Copyright Sunday Telegraph 4th Nov 2012

IT is a landscape of open vistas stretching for miles beneath leaden skies, its fields and wetlands dotted with isolated villages.
But a swathe of Lincolnshire’s countryside is under threat from dozens of massive wind turbines set to be erected across the county, campaigners claim.
Applications to build another 112 turbines are in the pipeline, on top of the 84 already built and 41 more which have been given planning permission.
In the district of East Lindsey alone there are already 41 turbines in operation, with another 50 at the planning stage – including one application to erect eight turbines, each one 377ft high and taller than St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Newton Marsh wind farm would be built by the energy company ASC Renewables within only one and a half miles of the village of Tetney.
Melvin Grosvenor, of the Marsh Wind Farm Action Group, said: “We are facing an invasion of turbines which will industrialise the rural landscape of Lincolnshire. The impact on a flat county such as ours will be particularly dramatic as these monstrous structures are visible for miles, in some cases up to 30 miles away.
“We have become hostage to planning inspectors and ridiculously flawed government policies which are promoting flawed technology.”
Campaigners fear that last week’s promise by John Hayes, the Conservative energy minister, of a moratorium on future wind farm applications comes too late to prevent the ravaging of Lincolnshire’s landscape. Almost 4,000 turbines are scheduled to be built across Britain over the next few years, to add to the 3,800 already in operation. Mr Hayes said that only a minority of these were likely to be given the go-ahead.
Campaigners point out that although around half of applications for new wind farms are refused by local councils, energy companies often win on appeal to the planning inspectorate.
Industry figures published last week show approvals for onshore wind farms have risen to record levels, despite opposition from critics who claim they are inefficient and blight some of the nation’s best-loved views.
Renewable UK found that the overall capacity approved at the planning stage increased by nearly 50 per cent, with 110 schemes agreed, providing up to 1.7 gigawatts of new capacity. In comparison, 1.1GW of capacity was approved in 2010/11.
Hundreds of residents gathered at Tetney village hall last Saturday to voice their opposition to the proposed Newton Marsh wind farm.
Sir Peter Tapsell, father of the House of Commons and MP for Louth and Horncastle, told the meeting: “I am absolutely against it on every possible ground. They ruin our breathtakingly beautiful countryside. The people who are for these wind farms call themselves environmentalists, but nothing damages our environment more than a line of these ghastly turbines.”
Brian Lovesay, 75, a retired farmer who lives close to the Newton Marsh wind farm site, said: “The turbines will be clearly visible for miles around here, and what’s more you’ll be able to hear them humming at night. They are an eyesore. I’ve travelled around the country quite a lot and they have become a plague, spreading everywhere.”
Objections have also been raised by Bourne Leisure, the owner of nearby Thorpe caravan holiday park, which claims that the turbines will cost the local economy thousands in lost tourism because holiday makers will be put off by the sight of the giant turbines, less than 1,000 yards from its facilities.
The turbines are to be built next to two 344ft high turbines which have already been approved and are due to be erected within weeks on land owned by Anglian Water.
There are also plans for three 370ft high turbines to be sighted a few miles away, along the Louth Canal, in North Thoresby, with seven others in the immediate area in the advanced stages of planning.
ASC Renewables claimed the Newton Marsh wind farm, and others like it throughout the county, would have “no significant impact” on the surrounding area.
Mike Denny, the firm’s operations director, said: “We have carefully considered the location of the wind farm by placing it next to an existing scheme. We have done two years’ worth of ecological and environmental studies and through that we have established there will be no significant effects other than some visual impact.”
ASC said the noise generated by its turbines would be “significantly below” the maximum set by national planning guidelines of five decibels above the prevailing background level, or 35-40 decibels in particularly quiet areas, and that the wind farm would generate £6 million to £8 million for the local economy. It said the proposed wind farm would generate enough electricity to power up to 11,770 homes.
“Onshore wind farms are not the entire answer but fossil fuels are not infinite and we have to move away and evolve from that,” said Mr Denny, adding that the firm would pay about £50,000 a year towards local community projects if the project was approved.
Wind farms are heavily subsidised by the Government to encourage the switch to renewable energy production as a way of fighting climate change.
The cost is added to household electricity bills, and although the subsidy is to be cut by 10 per cent from next year, it will still mean £38 of the average household bill will go towards renewables in 2013/14, rising to £53 in 2016/17.
Several large landowners in Lincolnshire, as well as other counties, have benefited from renting their land to wind farm companies, including the father of David Cameron’s wife Samantha. Sir Reginald Sheffield earns an estimated £350,000 a year from the eight turbines sited on his 3,000-acre Normanby Hall estate, near Scunthorpe.

Time to use our money for our benefit

The government continues to spout empty words of anguish about the increasing levels of fuel poverty. They should therefore stop picking OUR pockets, through our energy bills, to fund the wind turbine industry and instead use that money to improve the energy efficiency of homes. Not only would it reduce many household energy bills, it would also reduce the overall level of energy consumption for the country – something that wind turbines are clearly not doing.

Renewable energy policies give me that sinking feeling

Two articles in today’s Telegraph demonstrate the ludicrous situation our politicians have gotten us in to on renewable energy. The first, gives an insight in to the damage the Chinese are doing to the north of their country, in pursuit of the coal to needed to power their ever increasing chain of coal fired power stations. However, it’s not the fact that the Chinese are causing areas of their landscape to cave in to vast underground mines that caught my attention, but the scale of their appetite for coal, compared to the rest of the world. Quoting from the article by Malcolm Moore:

‘To keep its glittering skylines alight, China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined. But voracious mining has hollowed out vast tracts of the north of the country, leaving three million people living on ground that could collapse at any moment.’

The second article is entitled, Wind turbines ‘will treble under Coalition planning reforms’, by Louise Gray and contains the statement that demonstrates perfectly how the government is getting things so wrong. ‘A separate analysis by the Department of Energy and Climate Change says the reforms are essential to “deliver the infrastructure we need to reduce our carbon emissions”.

It’s that last statement that demonstrates to me, that it is the liberal fanatics who are in the driving seat when it comes to renewable energy in this country, not the pragmatists who understand how pointless the pursuit of carbon reduction is, when the Chinese so obviously don’t give a damn about their massive and ever increasing contribution to this global problem.

For me, a third article, written by Geoffrey Lean, actually strikes the right note and is much more likely to gain wider public support than continuing to bang on about reducing the UK’s measly 2% contribution to the global carbon emissions figure. This country is currently pursuing the ambitious goal of a low carbon economy, something we need to do reduce our continued reliance on fossil fuels.

I don’t agree with the emphasis we are currently seeing government place on the construction and installation of wind turbines. It would be far more beneficial to this country, if we could encourage as many residential and commercial properties as possible to install some form of renewable energy generation. Installing solar panels, air and ground source heat pumps, or maybe even anaerobic digesters, is far more likely to be both possible and productive than a wind turbine is every likely to be.

The sooner we stop the obsession with wind turbines and start using some of the ridiculous amounts of money given in subsidy to the operators across a wider audience, the sooner more of us will be making our own contribution to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and yes, our carbon emissions (a bit!).

Wind farm wasters

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8700082/UK-Windpower-targets-are-unfeasible.html.

Yet another expert report telling us that our money is being thrown away on a renewable energy policy that sees wind turbines as the only answer. Six wind turbines were recently turned off for only one night, at a cost of £900k to the taxpayers, because the National Grid could not take their output. Yet the government intends to continue to pour money in to this highly expensive and inefficient industry. When will the government start to listen to something other than their own eco-propaganda?

An expert’s view of the wind farm issue

New laws could boost onshore wind farm approvals, say experts

Borrowed from http://www.planningresource.co.uk article by Susanna Gillman Monday, 09 May 2011 (hope they don’t mind!)

New planning legislation could be used to boost the approval of onshore wind farms under a recommendation from the Government’s climate change committee.

The committee has told the Government that further approvals will be required to deliver the onshore wind ambition in its renewable energy strategy.

The Government has set a target of 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020.

But approval rates for onshore wind projects have historically been low, with less than 50 per cent of schemes getting the go ahead and the planning period taking around two years.

In its renewable energy review, the Committee on Climate Change said even with a push for more community-led wind farm projects, there is a “significant risk that onshore wind and transmission investments will not gain local public support, given high levels of resistance from some groups”.

It concludes that achieving higher rates of approval will need central government decisions, “possibly under new planning legislation that explicitly sets this out”.

The committee, which was requested to advise on the scope to increase ambition for green energy, said renewables should make a 30-45 per cent contribution by 2030. More than 6GW could come from onshore wind through the 2020s, it suggests.

Onshore wind is also likely to be one of the cheapest low-carbon options, according to the committee. Offshore wind schemes are still expensive and should not be increased unless there is clear evidence of cost reduction, it warned.

Nuclear power is currently the most cost-effective of the low carbon technologies, and should form part of the mix assuming safety concerns can be addressed, it added.

Nick Medic, spokesman for Renewable UK, trade body for the wind and marine renewables industries, said rather than creating more legislation a better approach would be to make a case for the economic benefits of onshore wind to local communities.

A DECC spokesman said energy secretary Charles Hendry has stressed the need for greater local ownership so communities can see the benefits of wind farms as part of the future energy mix.

Wind turbines – a stick and carrot approach

Review highlights major role for renewables in meeting UK climate targets The Committee on Climate Change said today (9th May) in a 166 page report, that renewable energy should make a major contribution to decarbonising theUK economy over the next decades.

The executive summary, only 30 pages, has some worrying comments for those wish to resist the march of the wind turbine across the British landscape.  However, it does also suggest that those communities that do accept (suffer) them, should be able to benefit financially. 

Page 28

The planning framework for onshore wind and transmission

Planning approval rates for onshore wind projects have historically been low (e.g. less than 50%), and the period for approval long (e.g. almost two years). This reflects an implicit social preference for investment in more expensive renewable technologies, given concerns (held by some but not all people) about the visual impact of onshore wind developments.

However, further approvals will be required in order to deliver the onshore wind ambition in the Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy.

Additional approvals beyond this level offer scope for reducing the cost of meeting the 2020 renewable energy target and the cost of power sector decarbonisation through the 2020s (e.g. our analysis suggests scope to add over 6 GW of onshore wind capacity through the 2020s).

In addition, planning approval will be required for transmission investments to support increased renewable generation and sector decarbonisation. International experience suggests that approaches which achieve community buy-in to onshore wind projects through sharing financial benefits have helped support high levels of investment; it is appropriate that such approaches will be tested in theUK.

However, even with such approaches, there is a significant risk that onshore wind and transmission investments will not gain local public support, given high levels of resistance from some groups.

Achieving higher rates of approval for onshore wind projects and for required investments in the transmission network is therefore likely to require central government decisions in line with national priorities as defined by carbon budgets, possibly under new planning legislation that explicitly sets this out.

If you would like to read the whole thing for yourself, here is the link http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/Renewables%20Review/Executive%20summary.pdf