opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development
REVOLT Newsletter 207
Revolt news 16/04/2006
1. Problems of grid connection are slowing the UK rush for wind power (APPENDIX A). NG have the risk of developing the grid only to find the wind farms don't materialise as proposed, leaving wasted assets. They therefore require wind farm developers to lodge payment up front for grid development. Wind farms need grid connection agreements before they can get planning permission. So the heavily subsidised and politicised rush for wind power is realising some of the inherent problems of its practical implications and infrastructure needs.
2. MP Mark Lazarowicz's Bill is progressing before parliament (APPENDIX B). The Bill would require annual audits of measures to cut climate change and would encourage non-wind measures such as microgeneration.
3. Snips from news@all-energy issue 62 of March 2006 are at APPENDIX C.
4. DTI issue a statement on microgeneration 31 March, as usual much promoted in advance, yet BBC news suggests it has a low-key reception. Comment from FT is at APPENDIX D.
5. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks has set out arrangements for grid connection to offshore wind farms. A DTI press release is at APPENDIX E.
6. Local planning policies are radically changing in a new framework (news194.9, 198.10, 201.1 etc.). Regional authorities are imposing national policy to over-ride local authorities, especially on wind farms. The draft Yorkshire and Humber Plan closed for consultation on 13 April www.yhassembly.gov.uk . My short response to the YH Plan objected to irrational wind power targets. APPENDIX F outlines the latest stage in Hambleton DC, where I also responded.
7. Defra's review of performance on climate change came out in March, showing the UK is not achieving the carbon emission reductions intended. Separately DTI is conducting an Energy Review (news205.8), thought by many to prepare for a policy change in favour of nuclear power. The DTI review closed for consultation until 14 April, though I hear late responses may be accepted up to Wednesday or Thursday; see www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review/ . I made a personal response, raising questions about population growth (should there be targets?!) as well as repeating the call for re-classification of wind generation as non-renewable (news184).
8. A rally near Stirling objecting to the Beauly-Denny line is reported at APPENDIX G. Meanwhile a meeting held by Highland Council suggests the Council will object to the line with reference to four locations: Beauly, Kiltarlity, Dalwhinnie and Laggan (APPENDIX H).
9. BBC on-line Science/Nature news at Easter leads with three reports of sustainability gloom for the UK (APPENDIX I gives headlines and links): more gas power stations needed to prevent blackouts, "eating the planet" and global warming disaster likely. Happy Easter!
APPENDIX A 'Enough is enough': wind farm builder threatens to quit UK
By Tim Webb Published: 19 March 2006
One of the UK's largest wind farm developers has threatened to pull out of the country as a storm blows up over the Government's plans for renewable energy.
A logjam in the planning process for developers means that many wind farms will not be operational for a decade. Unless financing rules are changed, Wind Energy is warning that many will never even get built, which could force the Government to miss its targets on renewable energy.
The timing of the protest is embarrassing for the Government, which next month will close consultation on its energy review on nuclear power. Its previous review - only three years ago - was supposed to back renewable energy such as wind power.
Wind Energy wants to build 800MW of onshore wind farms in Scotland, enough to power a city the size of Edinburgh.
National Grid has told the company, and developers of around 100 other wind farms in Scotland, totalling around 6,000MW, that they will not be connected to the grid before 2016.
But despite the huge timelag, developers still have to table deposits upfront to cover the cost of the upgrades to the grid - even if planning permission for their site is not granted and the wind farm does not go ahead.
Under the planning regime, developers have to apply for connection to the grid before they can gain planning permission. Around half the planning applications for onshore wind farms in the UK fail.
Even if a developer secures planning approval and does not lose its deposit for connection, it is not home and dry. Should a nearby wind farm plan fall through, the other developers sharing the planned upgrade to the grid have to shoulder the failed developer's liabilities.
Mike Davies, managing director of Wind Energy, said developers should be able to delay payment until a decision on planning permission is made.
He added that developers had earned a temporary reprieve, until September, before they have to start paying millions of pounds in connection fees to National Grid.
"We are relying on the Government to sort this out in the next six months. Unless things change, we would have to say 'enough is enough - we are pulling out'. We will move to other countries where these projects are easier to develop instead. Trying to get through the regulatory and planning system in the UK is like running in treacle. It needs some movement from the top urgently."
The Government has set a target to generate a 10th of the UK's electricity, or around 7,000MW, from renewable sources by 2010 rising to a fifth by 2020.
APPENDIX B MP's green Bill step closer to becoming law
Evening News, 18 Mar 06
EDINBURGH MP Mark Lazarowicz's Westminster Bill to try to reduce global warming has taken a giant step towards becoming UK law.
Despite Tory opposition, it got its second reading, Committee Stage and Report Stage on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday.
This means the proposed legislation is now likely to be passed by MPs and proceed to the House of Lords where it is also likely to be well received and approved.
The Bill would force the Government to conduct annual audits of moves to cut climate change and make it take steps to encourage the microgeneration of electricity, cutting emissions of greenhouse gases.
It also includes other measures to promote sustainable energy and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause global warming.
The Bill will now go forward to its third reading.
APPENDIX C Snips from news@all-energy issue 62 March 2006
3.1.Minister welcomes ENA publication
Speaking at the Energy Networks Association's Well Connected 3 event Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks welcomed the first annual report into the state of gas and electricity networks, saying: "The networks are vital". ENA launched 'The state of our networks' - the full text is published with the Annual Review of the ENA at: http://tinyurl.com/z9uc5 . The document will be continually updated and revisions will be posted on the website at www.energynetworks.org/news.asp .
3.2.Decentralised energy - a way forward
Remote power stations squander energy, but local decentralised plants would capture losses and are a real alternative to going nuclear. http://tinyurl.com/ko59g
3.3.Well Connected for the Future?
ENA is calling for the Government to introduce new review structures to ensure the security of Britain's power supply for the rest of the century. http://tinyurl.com/zcll2 . The association published its response to the Government's Energy Review which recognises the emphasis of the review will inevitably be on the "upstream" end of the energy supply chain, but stresses that the means of delivery must be given serious consideration if the Government is to deliver a coherent energy policy. http://tinyurl.com/hrdrm
4.5.New-look wind turbine
With most wind turbines the blades rotate about a horizontal axis... rival designers claim electricity can be generated even more cheaply, by turbines that rotate about a vertical axis. http://tinyurl.com/kqtzd .
4.7.Highlands looking at re-write
Council chiefs conceded that the huge protest and "new information" about onshore Highland windfarms had prompted a potentially significant rewrite of their planning guidelines. www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk .
7.1.Vital step for Lazarowicz Bill
Micropower industry groups and environmental NGOs warmly welcomed the next stage of the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill, which finally passed its Report Stage in the House of Commons, now goes forward for its Third Reading. http://tinyurl.com/ek6bn
13.2.New CHP sector announced
The Combined Heat and Power Association welcomed the Government's announcement that it intends to create a separate sector for high efficiency CHP schemes under the next phase (2008 - 2012) of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. http://tinyurl.com/kuhu9
APPENDIX D MICROPOWER SECTOR EXPECTS REVIEW FILLIP By Fiona Harvey FINANCIAL TIMES - 27.3.06 (extracts)
The flourishing microgeneration sector expects a boost this week when ministers lay out their strategy for cutting greenhouse gases. Microgeneration companies make mini wind turbines, solar panels and boilers that generate electricity as well as heat. Higher energy prices and environmental consciousness among consumers have spurred household demand.
Mini wind turbines, which can be fixed to house roofs, are also becoming more popular, says David Gordon, chief executive of Windsave, a company that makes the machines. He had a backlog of 20,000 orders, and a database of another 40,000 people who had expressed an interest in the products which cost £1,500 and generate slightly more than 1 megawatt of energy a year, saving about a third on electricity bills. The government gives a £500 grant to purchasers.
The government is to announce measures to make it easier to gain planning permission for mini turbines and solar panels.
David Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, an industry body, said 'You used to have to get planning permission for satellite dishes, and that was changed. We think micro renewables should be the same'.
Another important element of the government's policy will be to make it easier for householders to claim the renewable obligation certificates that large scale suppliers of renewable energy obtain to offset their costs. These fetch about £50 per megawatt, but at present it is difficult for households to sell them.
The government will also emphasise the role of combined heat and power technology, large and small scale. Large scale means power plans that divert the waste heat they generate to local buildings. At the domestic scale, it means boilers that produce electricity as they heat water.
The government plans to make it easier for households to export electricity from their mini renewables back to the grid. This was essential for the industry to prosper, said Philip Smith, finance director of Disenco, a company with a prototype combined heat and power boiler. Disenco's boiler produces 3 megawatts of power, enough for all household electricity needs, allowing people to sell the excess back to utilities.
APPENDIX E WICKS UNVEILS CONNECTION REGIME FOR OFFSHORE WINDFARMS Department of Trade and Industry Thursday 30 March 2006 10:48
The drive to increase Britain's offshore wind energy was given a significant boost today as details were announced of how their connection to the electricity network onshore would be funded and operated.
Following a joint consultation with Ofgem, the Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, has extended the existing principles of onshore electricity transmission to offshore.
Commenting on the new regime, Malcolm Wicks said:
"This is an important step for Britain's offshore wind energy industry as the measures I am announcing will increase its viability by spreading grid connection costs over a number of years.
"My decision also gives developers vital certainty and ensures consistency with the onshore arrangements.
"We are aiming for 10% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2010 and windfarm projects such as those planned for the Greater Wash, off the North West coast and in the Thames Estuary can potentially make a significant contribution to that target.
"These projects alone have the potential to produce between 5.4 and 7.2 Gigawatts (GW), which is enough electricity for more than one in six UK households.
"This regulatory framework can also benefit the future development of wave and tidal marine technologies."
Whilst the majority of the costs of building the offshore connections will ultimately be met by wind developers, they will be staggered over several years and will be funded by a regulated rate of return - still to be determined - which is likely to be lower than the market rate.
Ofgem will ensure that the investments in the connections are economic and efficient. This is the system that applies to the connection of onshore generation assets.
Extending the onshore-regulated price control approach to offshore electricity transmission has a number of clear advantages for offshore wind farm developers and the efficient operation of the transmission system as a whole:
* it will ensure consistency with the regulatory arrangements onshore;
* it will provide a financial benefit to offshore developers by spreading the costs they face to connect to the onshore electricity system through annual transmission charges recovered over a number of years and means that the responsibility for developing the offshore transmission network will be shared by the System Operator and the Transmission Asset Owners;
* this approach will help to deliver the Government's renewable energy targets;
* the regulated price control approach will also have additional environmental benefits, as it will help to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development of the offshore network, which will reduce unnecessary duplication of transmission assets; and,
* this was the option that was favoured by the majority of respondents to the consultation exercise - including all the offshore developers that responded.
A fuller consideration of the issues behind the decision can be found in the 'Government Response to the Consultation', which is published today alongside an updated Regulatory Impact Assessment.
Notes to editors
* Copies of the documents "Government Response to the Regulation of Offshore Electricity Transmission Consultation," an updated Regulatory Impact Assessment and copies of the responses to the consultation are available on the DTI website http://www.dti.gov.uk/renewables . Hard copies of the Government Response and the Regulatory Impact Assessment can be ordered from the DTI Publications Orderline on 0845 015 0010 or by email from email@example.com
APPENDIX F Hambleton DC Core Strategy consultation.
The Local Development Framework (LDF) at Hambleton in North Yorkshire follows national guidelines and no doubt reflects what is happening across England and Wales in the wake of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. There is a multiple document structure and a multiple consultation process. The Core Strategy sets out the over-riding Core Policies for the LDF, which are extended in more detailed Development Policies. They all must conform with the Regional Spatial Strategy which is where government policy is imposed.
Last year Hambleton consulted over Issues and Options and again over Preferred Options, leading up to submitting a Core Strategy document to Secretary of State. The same process for Development Policies is staggered some months behind the Core Strategy. The submitted Core Strategy was open for public consultation up to 31 March 2006, but the scope of this consultation is dominated by questions of conformity. To make a representation you have to show the document is "unsound" against one or more of nine tests, most of which just concern procedures, conformity with national and regional policies and internal consistency in the complex framework.
I made a short representation, essentially to say the response to my submission (30.8.05) at an earlier stage was inadequate. The "soundness" tests (as printed on the response form) I cited were:
 The strategies/policies fail to represent the most appropriate (sic) in all the circumstances, having considered the relevant alternatives, and they are not founded on a robust and credible evidence base.
 The plan is not reasonably flexible to enable it to deal with changing circumstances.
The tests are taken from national statement PPS12, so may be used in other localities. In this case, I challenge the Regional Spatial Strategy, as the allocation of excessive wind farm targets to Hambleton is not founded on a robust and credible evidence base, and neither is the presumption that wind farms will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
APPENDIX G from BBC news Scotland: Pylon battlefield protest staged Saturday, 1 April 2006, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
A Scottish clan has held a protest against plans to build pylons and a power line at a historic battlefield. The line will cross Sheriffmuir, near Stirling, where the Clan MacRae was virtually wiped out in a battle during the Jacobite rebellion. The remains of the fallen are still at the site of the battle, fought by Royalist and government forces in 1715. Scottish and Southern Energy promised to make a fully informed decision on the route of the 137-mile line. The transmission line is planned to run from Beauly near Inverness to Denny near Falkirk. The Clan MacRae Society held a protest on Saturday at Sheriffmuir to echo calls for a public inquiry into the proposals.
Digging the battlefield Society member Fraser McRae fears many of the dead which still lie on the battlefield could be disturbed if plans to build a major power line cut through the site. "The pylons will require foundations and that will mean digging huge holes right across the battlefield," said Mr McRae, 61, of Montrose. "Many of the men who died here still lie here after almost 300 years and we don't think it's acceptable that they should be disturbed at this time for this reason."
'Robust' application The battle of Sheriffmuir, fought on 13 November 1715, is seen as a key event of the rebellion. The Jacobite forces, led by the Earl of Mar, and the government army, under the Duke of Argyll, fought each other to a standstill. The MacRaes, fighting on the Royalist left flank were virtually wiped out. In a statement, Scottish and Southern Energy said: "We continue to believe we have submitted a robust application and SSE will make a fully informed decision about the route of the proposed overhead transmission line and its potential impact on the landscape and archaeology related to this area of historical interest."
APPENDIX H Plan for giant pylons rejected (The Times April 13, 2006)
By Shirley English COMMUNITIES the length of Scotland were celebrating a significant victory yesterday after plans to erect giant pylons through 137 miles of spectacular Highland scenery were rejected unanimously by councillors.
The decision by Highland Council to object to the application by Scottish and Southern Energy to upgrade the Beauly to Denny electricity powerline means that the £330 million proposal has now been turned down by all four of the local authorities affected.
Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Perth and Kinross councils have all lodged objections with the Scottish Executive to the plans that would see 600 electricity pylons, each up to 213ft (65m) high (about three times the present height) forming a grey, metal spine down the centre of Scotland. They could be placed at intervals of as little as 275m (300 yards).
Campaigners against the powerline voiced cautious optimism yesterday that ministers would be forced to place the issue before a full public inquiry, causing delays of at least another year; but they said that the battle to stop the overhead line would continue, with lobbying switching focus from councillors to MPs and MSPs.
APPENDIX I BBC on-line environmental news on Easter Sunday.
* Britain 'needs more gas power' * The UK will need new gas power stations to prevent the risk of widespread blackouts, MPs warn. Full story: http://tinyurl.com/etp9t
* Britain now 'eating the planet' * On 16 April, the UK stops relying on its own natural resources and begins living off imports, research claims. Full story: http://tinyurl.com/zfeol
* Stark warning over climate change * The world is likely to suffer a disastrous temperature rise of more than 3C, the UK's chief scientist warns. Full story: http://tinyurl.com/qb5oq
-- Mike O'Carroll
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