Oi Pickles!… Hands off

The latest edition of Planning Resource has just dropped through the door and the cover story reads

Fifty onshore wind turbines derailed by Pickles interventions in 2014.

For those unaware of the turmoil in the planning system at the moment it goes something like this… once upon a time Mr Cameron was very much in favour of wind turbines and even tried to put one on his house.

Then he got into Government and found his shire MPs have a major dislike for wind turbines which rather de-railed his Greenest Government Ever mantra. Worse still, they were proving quite popular with the planning inspectorate who appeared to be overturning too many local council refusals. In 2014 Cameron was reported to have been heard to have thought about thinking on declaring a War on Wind – although you won’t actually find a quote from him anywhere.

Faced with not being able to tear up existing subsidies for onhore wind he did the next best thing and got his mate Mr Pickles to start interfering with planning application and appeals via a process called Recovery. Where any planning application decision has been refused and the applicant has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, the decision of the inspector is normally final provided the loosing side doesn’t choose to fight it out in the High Court. Recovery allows Mr Pickles to over-rule the decisions of the inspectors.

Planning inspectors are highly skilled practitioners of local and national policy who visit the site, consider all the angles and make a reasoned judgement. Mr Pickles is a politician. Wonder knows more about planning?

The motivation is clear – to destroy investor confidence in UK on-shore wind. By turning the lottery of planning into a loaded card game where he has a sleeve full of aces.

Yana Bosseva, planning advisor to Renewable UK (the UK renewables industry group) said Pickles actions were sending a “shockwave through the industry” and with 80% of appeals being recovered it “wasn’t leaving much to planning professionals“.

Others in the industry have described Mr Pickles antics as “perverse“, “murky” and “dangerous“.

The truth is that the planning system for wind energy is now totally politicised. Planning policy barely enters into it. Now you could read this as wind turbine developers having a whinge and a whine about lack of success.. but consider this – Sooner or later a raft of planning applications for fracking will hit the appeal system.

We’ve seen how fond the Tories are of fracking and so it seems self evident that Mr Pickles will use his new super-planning-powers to ensure these developments go ahead.

Like many environmentalists and others in the renewables industry we are therefore hoping for a change in Government later this year.

DG005 is go!

Touch and go because of the terrible weather, but our latest wind turbine by the M4 at Dyrham & Hinton is now operational.

A massive “Well Done!” to all the dedicated and hard working teams that battled the weather and the clock to bring this one home just in time.

dg005

Rogershill Farm investment offer SOLD OUT!

UPDATE (03-12-2014) – NOW 100% SOLD OUT

This offer is now fully sold out.

Exciting news!!

We’ve teamed up with one of the UKs leading renewable energy crowd funders, Abundance Generation to offer a direct investment opportunity on our Rogershill Farm wind turbine.

The offer is NOW LIVE and interested parties can view the offer document and invest on the Abundance web site. The minimum investment is just £5 with generous rates of return.

Why have we done this?

Before applying for planning permission we held a public meeting in Bere Regis where we made two promises about community benefits:

  • To donate a fixed percentage of gross annual income to the parish for the lifetime of the wind turbine. This we are already delivering on and have donated over £10,000 so far.
  • To offer a direct investment opportunity so that nearby residents can benefit financially as well.

We have distributed leaflets and posters in Bere Regis and the surrounding villages so that as many people in the local community as possible will have the opportunity to participate.

Who are Abundance Generation?

Abundance are an award winning crowd funder specialising in renewable energy projects. Started in 2011 they are fully regulated by the UK FCA and offer debenture based investments starting at just £5.

INVEST NOW 

After the Feed in Tariff?

Recently OFGEM announced a surprise 10% cut in the FITS subsidy for onshore wind turbines bringing the prevailing rate for “mid size” turbines down from 14.82p to 13.34p per kilowatt-hour. Add this to the “perverse” (as some commentators have described it) interference of Eric Pickles in the appeal system and the Tory mantra “wind bad, gas good, fracked gas better” and it would appear like death by a thousand cuts. There will almost certainly wind turbine applications that after years of delay getting though planning may be popping out with full permission only find the banks will no longer lend or the project is just no longer financially viable.

Is this the end for mid-scale wind in the UK?

An ever reducing subsidy will tend to push the larger developers and manufacturers towards the areas with the highest wind speeds and the least hostile planning regimes. For everyone else the options would appear much more limited, however this is where distgen’s in-house experience with the full project lifecycle including the use of refurbished wind turbines comes into its own.

Over the past few years we’ve been quietly getting on with developing our own sites with Vestas V39 and V52 500kW wind turbines – fully OFGEM FITS accredited and commissioned at typically half the cost of a brand new machine. Not only that but we’ve been paving the way for innovative community rewards and external crowd-sourced investment funding.

Our conclusion

If you own some land and are interested in a wind turbine do not be put off! It’s still possible to offset your CO2 emissions, take control of your energy costs, give something back to the local community and do something good for the planet.

Why not give us a call today to see if we can help develop your interest into reality?

24

24, not the TV series about tough-guy Jack Bauer battling against all odds to save the world from terrorists… but close – the one day UN climate summit in New York being held today.

The stakes could not be higher, according to UN president Ban Ki-moon:

“Climate change is a defining issue of our age, of our present. Our response will define our future. To ride this storm we need all hands on deck. That is why we are here today. We need a clear vision. The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable. We have never faced such a challenge, nor such an opportunity…”

In his address to the summit, head of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri warned:

“Acting on climate change is not a choice between the economy and the environment. The path to change is clear. It leads to a global agreement next year in Paris. To those who have grown cynical about the process, I would remind you of the words of the great poet Wallace Stevens: after the final no, comes a yes. All we need is political will. But political will is a renewable resource.”

This summit is just to set the agenda for the next major round of climate talks in Paris next year. Where previous climate talks have largely done just that and only that, the next round must deliver. Earlier this week 40,000 people protested in central London alone, around the world it was millions while earlier this year the Conservative party vowed to end subsidies for the most cost effective source of renewable energy available  – wind. Going even further David Cameron (of the ‘greenest Government ever‘ – remember that?) said he wanted to “eradicate” existing wind farms and ensure no new ones are built. While at the same time his own Department for Energy and Climate Change issued this statement:

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of large-scale renewable electricity and forms an important part of our energy mix – our ambition is to develop up to 13GW by 2020, which would power 7 million homes.”

When Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the world leaders at today’s summit he could very well have been talking straight to the climate-change-deniers in Cameron’s party:

“As an actor I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems.I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.”

With a General Election looming next year the question is – which party will actually face up to the biggest challenge facing mankind today?

UK to miss 2025 CO2 target

The latest report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) on UK progress towards legally binding CO2 reduction targets has said that despite Mr Cameron claiming the UK was “on track” we are, in fact.. not.

Current policies will fall short of the 31% reduction (from 2013 to 2025) predicted by the Government by up to 10%.

Simon Bullock, senior climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“The wettest winter on record should be a wake-up call that the impacts of climate change are already battering Britain, and without tougher action they will only get worse.”

Recent months have seen the Conservative party declare war against on-shore wind turbines while planning reforms to make fracking easier have been rushed through Parliament. At the same time DCLG, under the “guidance” of Eric Pickles, has been accused of “perverting” the planning system in an attempt to de-rail wind farm planning appeals and destroy investor confidence in such renewable projects.

Climate and Energy

Back in June this year Lord Stern (the world’s most authoritative climate economist) warned that the financial damage resulting from Climate Change will be much greater than predicted by current forecasts which have assumed increases in global temperatures will be limited to 3 degC.

In recent months the worldwide consensus has moved to a discussion about not IF the world will hit 3C, but by how much this will be exceeded. Newly published reports include temperature rises up to 6 degC above pre-industrial levels which result in “catastrophic outcomes”.

“It is extremely important to understand the severe limitations of standard economic models, such as those cited in the IPCC report, which have made assumptions that simply do not reflect current knowledge about climate change and its … impacts on the economy. 

Models that assume catastrophic damages are not possible fail to take account of the magnitude of the issues and the implications of the science.” – Lord Stern

Additional research also predicts that severe financial impacts are likely to appear well before the actual physical effects cited above. By way of an example the state of California is now its third full year of drought and agriculture within the Central Valley, which produces almost 50% of US grown fruit and vegetables, is struggling to adapt. Economists predict the knock-on costs to every US household in increased food bills will top $500 annually.

Meanwhile the Independent newspaper reports this week that Britain continues to see an increasing risk of widespread electricity blackouts unless more is done to develop smarter solutions to save excess renewable energy at the point of generation.

Action for renewables petition

Please support Action for Renewables in their campaign for more (not less) renewables in the UK!!
Mr Cameron are you listening?

Fed up of importing energy?

In 2013 our net energy import dependency (the amount we import minus what we export) was at its highest level since 1975 at nearly 50%. That means we’re having to import our fuel from places like Russia. North sea oil and gas is running out, so we’ll be more dependent on imported fuel unless we develop our domestic energy sources like wind power.

Wind power already provides enough power for over 6 million homes per year, and is responsible for 34500 jobs. We urge the Prime Minister to back developing more clean UK energy sources like wind so we’re not at the whim of other countries to keep the lights on.

Sign the petition for more homegrown energy

Thank you.

Action for Renewables

US study – house prices unaffected

Another little publicised report from Berkley National Labs in the US (August 2013) that examined 50,000 house sales in nine states and included more than 1,000 within a 1 mile radius concluded…. no effect.

A set of robustness models adds confidence to our results. Regardless of model specification, we find no statistical evidence that home values near turbines were affected in the post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods

Previous research on potentially analogous disamenities (e.g., high-voltage transmission lines, roads) suggests that the property-value effect of wind turbines is likely to be small, on average, if it is present at all, potentially helping to explain why no evidence of an effect was found in the present research.

 

 

Wanstrow villagers visit DG004

Today we were pleased to welcome a group of keen ramblers from Wanstrow who chose our Landmark Farm turbine as the destination for their annual May bank holiday walk. Distgen staff were on had to answer questions and after were invited back to the village for refreshments during which we canvassed the opinions of those present to see how their reaction to the wind turbine matches any pre-conceived ideas (or even fears) they had.

Wind windspeeds of 10m/s the wind turbine was running at full power and all present agreed it was quieter than had been expected. Some said that initially there had been concerns in the village about how the turbine would look but again, post construction, the feeling was the turbine was not as large or visible as had been expected.

All agreed the turbine is a positive asset for the village and look forward to the first community reward payments which are desperately needed to fund various local projects and good causes.