Eric-Pickles-credit-reNewsOnshore wind player Broadview Energy has warned future development of turbines in England is now “untenable” in the face of opposition from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The London-based company said the Tory minister’s interventions in the planning regime, most recently to dismiss Broadview’s five-turbine Spring Farm Ridge site in Northamptonshire, have sent shockwaves through the industry.

Broadview managing director Jeffrey Corrigan said UK consumers will end up paying more for electricity as a result of Pickles’ actions.

“The scale of the interventions, the delays to the planning process and the substantial number of refusals makes future development of onshore wind in England untenable,” he said.

“Spring Farm Ridge and many of the other onshore wind projects refused by Eric Pickles could have provided renewable energy to the UK at a competitive price.

“If the UK is to meet its renewable energy and carbon reduction targets, this electricity will have to be provided by more expensive offshore wind or nuclear generation, saddling consumers with significant extra costs.”

The Broadview boss added that the overwhelming trend of decisions against wind farms, often against expert advice from the Panning Inspectorate, are contrary to coalition government policy.

“It is clear this and other interventions are not planning decisions, rather they are energy policy decisions that are contrary to the commitments to have the ‘greenest government ever’ and to keep the cost of energy to consumers in check,” he said.

Source – ReNews


consensus-infographic-finalA new survey reveals important misconceptions on energy and climate change among the UK public. The ComRes poll was commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a new non-profit initiative with a high-level Advisory Board including MPs, Peers and leading academics, aiming to support informed debate on energy and climate issues in the UK.

It shows that only one in nine (11 percent) of people are aware of the strength of the scientific consensus on man-made climate change, a finding that the ECIU said carries ‘uncomfortable echoes’ of the MMR controversy of 15 years ago.

Nearly half of the UK population (47 percent) think either that most climate scientists reject the idea that human activities such as fossil fuel burning are the main driver of climate change (11 percent), or that scientists are evenly split on the issue (35 percent). Several recent studies show that more than 90% of climate scientists agree that the main cause of climate change is human activity.

Another major misunderstanding relates to the British public’s preferences for different forms of energy. Only one in twenty (5 percent) of Britons know that renewables such as solar and wind are supported by a significant majority (about 80 percent) of the UK population. Two-thirds (63 percent) estimate support at under 50 percent.

Richard Black, director of the ECIU, said: “This survey shows that there’s a huge gap between reality and perception on some key climate and energy issues. These are important findings given that the UK has crucial decisions to make on our response to climate change and our energy system in the next few years. 

“As a nation we can only make sensible choices if we’re properly informed, so it’s vital that people are aware of what the evidence is and that it’s communicated clearly.

“The breakdown between the views of scientists and the public on climate change is a particular concern. This feels reminiscent of the situation around MMR where most Britons thought the medical profession was split on the safety of the vaccine whereas doctors were virtually unanimous that it was safe.”

In 1998 a scientific paper suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, leading to claims that the vaccine was unsafe.

Four years later a study by Cardiff University researchers showed that most Britons thought the medical profession was split on the issue, because ‘both sides of the debate’ had received roughly equal prominence in media coverage. The paper was subsequently retracted.

Katharine Peacock, managing director of ComRes (a polling and research consultancy) said: “The perceived lack of consensus among climate scientists is striking – particularly as scientists are one of the most trusted groups in society. As outliers of opinion are often memorable and debate among some groups remains, it is for the scientific community to communicate a strong evidence-based message to the media and through them the public.”

Other findings from the ECIU/ComRes survey include:

  • half of the population (50 percent) say the winter floods strengthened their belief that the climate is changing, and a quarter (27 percent) say the floods also strengthened their belief in human activity as the main cause;
  • one in seven (14 percent) think ‘green energy’ policies have increased their energy bills a great deal. Thirty-seven percent think they have increased bills somewhat, and 34 percent think they have made no difference. Analysis by DECC concludes that environmental and social levies add about eight percent to the average household bill for gas and electricity, but that the net result of these measures overall is to reduce the average bill by 5 percent [8], largely because they save energy;
  • about half (46 percent) of the population think shale gas exploitation would make no difference to energy bills. Twenty-seven percent think it will reduce bills, and 16 percent foresee an increase.

The survey also showed that by some distance, the public view the BBC as the most important news organisation for information on energy and climate issues, with 62 percent saying it is one of their top three most used news sources on these topics. ITV and Sky are the second and third most used sources (at 27 percent and 15 percent respectively); the Daily Mail is the most used newspaper, at 14 percent.

climatemodel-nasa-751x500ComRes also asked people to name the three news organisations they most trust on energy and climate issues. Studies show that people generally trust the sources that they use, and this was generally reflected here. However, more people trust the Financial Times, Independent and Channel 4 News than use them. But usage ratings were higher than trust ratings for the BBC, the Daily Mail and The Sun.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has been set up to support informed debate and evidence-based communication in the fields of energy and climate change. A central part of its work will be to provide clear, accessible, up-to-date and expert-reviewed briefings on key topics.

Its Advisory Board reflects the breadth of society’s interest in energy and climate issues. It includes climate scientists, energy policy experts and economists, as well as a range of other stakeholders including MPs and Peers. [9]

ECIU Advisory Board member Lord Howard of Lympne said: “I’ve had an interest in climate change since my term as Environment Secretary in the 1990s, and I’ve also followed progress in low-carbon technologies such as nuclear power with great interest. I decided to lend ECIU my advice because I think it can have a beneficial role in improving communication in the very important areas of energy and climate change.”

ECIU Advisory Board member Lord Puttnam of Queensgate said: “I was fortunate enough to be involved in passage of the Climate Change Act in 2008 – it passed virtually without demur and with support from all parties. Since then, the evidence that climate change presents significant risks to the UK has only strengthened, a fact that’s not always reflected in the wider public conversation. People need every scrap of possible help to inform themselves of the growing body of evidence, because only then will we be in a position to make sensible social and political decisions.”

ECIU Advisory Board member Dr Emily Shuckburgh said: “The scientific evidence that man-made climate change is real and presents significant risks is incredibly robust. But that doesn¹t always come across to the public, as the ECIU survey shows. In my view it¹s vital that we bridge that gap, so that people are able to separate fact from fiction, enabling society as a whole to make informed decisions about our future.”

ECIU Advisory Board member Marylyn Haines Evans said: “The Women’s Institutes have always taken an active interest in issues that affect women both in the UK and all over the world, and few issues are more challenging than climate change. But that’s what it is – a challenge – and we need to deal with it in the same way that women have always dealt with challenges. I’m looking forward to working with ECIU and getting people more involved in finding practical solutions to the problems before us.”

ComRes interviewed 2,021 GB adults online between 1st August and 3rd August 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data table can be found at www.comres.co.uk. The survey is available here.

Contrary to what George Monbiot suggests (“Nuclear scare stories are a gift to the truly lethal coal industry <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/16/nuclear-sca\re-stories-coal-industry> ”, 16 December 2013) the alternative to nuclear power is renewables (including conservation of energy), not coal.

There are now many reports showing how to decarbonise the world’s economies without nuclear power, or coal (see bit.ly/1fiYcs8 <http://bit.ly/1fiYcs8&gt; ).

There is very good evidence for a superabundance of renewable sources of power, far more than we are ever likely to need (see bit.ly/18SZjha <http://bit.ly/18SZjha&gt; ). And renewables are quick to build.

Stripping out all overt and hidden subsidies, most renewables are, almost certainly, cheaper than nuclear power or coal-fired power (see bit.ly/1bbS6F <http://bit.ly/1bbS6FM&gt; ), and they are getting cheaper.

George Monbiot should direct his fire at the very large subsidies enjoyed by nuclear power and coal, especially gross under-charging for the environmental costs of burning coal.


Dr Gerry Wolff PhD CEng
Coordinator, Energy Fair
http://www.energyfair.org.uk <http://www.energyfair.org.uk&gt; ,
18 Penlon, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, LL59 5LR, UK.

thChris Heaton-Harris MP is ‘clearly in a spin’ over windfarms after he was filmed covertly by Greenpeace.

In his latest anti-environment faux pas, he claims to have been hassling the RSPB ‘because they’ve been crap’ [on wind farm policy].

Commenting on the MP’s outburst, Martin Harper, the RSPB Conservation Director, said: “Chris Heaton-Harris is clearly in a spin over windfarms. If only he’d done some ‘half-decent research’ before he started calling us names, he might not have got it so wrong. We’re very clear that climate change is the greatest environmental challenge humanity is facing and wind turbines, in the right place, have a role to help combat this global threat.

“He accuses us of being ‘timid’ on the issue, but we’re very strong. We’re examining around 250 windfarm applications a year to ensure they don’t harm birds and wildlife, and after research and investigation we’re sustaining objections on wildlife grounds to around six per cent: unfortunately, wind farms are still being built in inappropriate places and, through better planning, I’d like to be in a position where we don’t have to object to any.

“Although Mr Heaton-Harris admits he has ‘no idea’ of the research of the wildlife impacts of wind turbines, the electorate have a generally good understanding of environmental issues.”

Dr Mike Clarke, the RSPB’s chief executive, wrote to Mr Heaton-Harris MP in March 2012 explaining the RSPB’s policies on wind energy, and the threat of climate change.

Source – http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/climatechange/archive/2012/11/15/tory-mp-in-a-spin-over-wind-turbine-comments.aspx#.UKUdcxMWXR0.facebook