Cynics Soapbox

Random thoughts...

We Need a Register

*How many wind farms are there in the UK? How many are being planned? * Simple questions which surely deserve simple answers? Today it’s not possible to answer these questions. Ofgem have some information on the stations that claim subsidies. DECC have information on planning applications for renewables. Renewable UK have a statistics page listing some stations with very limited information. In order to allow the debate around renewable energy to be informed it’s necessary to be able to...

It's just a number.

“Scottish wind farms paid £1 million to shut down one day” 1 “Record Breaking Day for Wind” 2 The above headlines have both been published recently. They both quote impressive facts and figures – or do they? Emotions tend to run high when discussing green issues and even more so when discussing renewable energy. It’s an important debate but one that I feel is regularly trivialised by the sort of reporting evidenced by the above headlines. I have some sympathy...

Balancing Mechanism Data

In order to keep the UK National Grid working correctly a delicate balancing act must be performed. The various units generating energy must be matched with the likely demand in order to keep the system within strict limits of frequency and voltage. When the system drifts beyond those limits bad things happen, inevitably depriving people of the energy they need. Underpinning this process is a complex set of rules and procedures, detailed on the National grid website here. Given the...

Ofgem Certificates

When looking at the certificates issued by Ofgem all seems simple and straightforward. Each station has certificates issued based on output and various factorings. Simple. Except it isn’t. certificates can be revoked (no explanation is provided so it’s unclear why), expired or retired. Some are eventually redeemed. along the way things are just as unclear. As an example, look at the Glyndebourne Wind turbine REGO issuance (http://www.variablepitch.co.uk/station/392/REGO/). In January 2012 there...

Decision Makers

The following is a list of the members of the Perth & Kinross Development Management Committee which will decide on the application for a monitoring mast on Wednesday this week. Tom Gray (SNP) tomgray@pkc.gov.uk Bob Band (SNP) bobband@pkc.gov.uk Henry Anderson (SNP) handerson@pkc.gov.uk Michael Barnacle (IND) mbarnacle@pkc.gov.uk Ian Campbell (CON) icampbell@pkc.gov.uk Ann Gaunt (LIB) agaunt@pkc.gov.uk Joe Giacopazzi (SNP) jgiacopazzi@pkc.gov.uk Callum...

Round 2 - Development Management Committee

The council have considered the application for a meteorological monitoring mast and as expected it has been referred to the Development Management Committee. This group of 13 councillors will now decide on whether to approve the application. Sadly the Development Quality Manager has recommended that it be approved, though this is based purely on the application and makes no allowance for the prospect of 4 120m turbines being built on the site. What a strange world we live in where...

The First Casualty

“In war, truth is the first casualty.” Aeschylus Greek tragic dramatist (525 BC – 456 BC) You don’t have to spend long looking at information about wind farm developments before the truth of the above statement becomes apparent. Whichever side of the argument people are on they make claims and counter claims that are difficult to verify. In such an atmosphere the smallest fact is repeated often enough that it attains religious status, resisting any attempt to validate it. Sadly...

Playing the System

The proposal to erect a meteorological mast on the site of the proposed Newmiln “Wind Park” was met with 243 comments, 242 of them objections. The level of public opposition would have resulted in the proposal being referred to the Development Management Committee. The response was for Ecotricity to withdraw their application and resubmit for a higher mast! Suddenly the 242 objections were neatly sidestepped and the outpouring of public objection to the proposal rendered mute. Yes, Ecotricity know the...

Time for Round 2

When Ecotricity withdrew their application for a monitoring mast there was a sigh of relief. This was soon followed by the news of a second application for an even higher monitoring mast! That application has now been made and following some early confusion around payment it’s available on the Perth & Kinross council planning website for comments. The initial application was met with 256 comments, an amazing response that would have led to the proposal having to be referred...

Round One Results

It appears that the enormous number of objections (over 240 against with only one in favour) to the proposal to erect a monitoring mast at Newmiln caused Ecotricity to revert to plan B. They have withdrawn their proposal and will (apparently) be resubmitting for an even higher mast rather than risk a defeat at the hands of the planners. While this is good news it doesn’t mean that the proposal is dead, merely paused. UPDATE: apparently the speed of...

Reality Check

Yesterday I used Write To Them to send emails to my local MP (Gordon Banks) and MSP (Roseanna Cunningham). I’ve now had responses from both, albeit only a standard “I will reply” email from Gordon Banks. The reply from Roseanna Cunningham looks like a standard response and includes the following paragraph *I have made contact with the company proposing this site, who informed me they are consulting with Scottish Natural Heritage, Archaeology Scotland, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, the...

And so it begins...

Ecotricity have fired the starting pistol on their attempt to construct 4 wind turbines 700m from our house by submitting an application for an 80m high wind monitoring mast. Does this not strike anyone else as a rather odd example of cart & horse? Surely they should knnow how windy a site is before they announce plans to build enormous wind turbines? Or maybe they’re hoping that “if you build it, the wind will come” (to paraphrase Field of...