23. Feb, 2015

Wind blows power supply off course - and into crisis

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release 23 February 2015


How long will it be before the Scottish Government finally acknowledges that the blind dash for wind is pointless, it will be hugely expensive, and that degrading even more of the Borders – and Scotland’s - landscapes will be futile? Action groups from across the Borders believe that there is not only no need for any more wind in Scotland’s energy mix but the country’s lack of conventional supply will ensure long-term reliance on the UK and Europe for the safety of Scotland's electricity supply.

Over the last three years Scotland imported electricity from England and Europe on 162 days.

The news has prompted a call from the Borders Network of Conservation Groups (BNCG) to the influential Energy, Environment & Tourism Committee of the Scottish Government to conduct a top level inquiry into the impact of its renewable energy policy on the security, sufficiency, cost and efficacy of electricity supply in Scotland.

Experts believe that the expansion of Scotland’s renewables energy sector is accelerating so fast that, by 2020, it will be generating a huge surplus of heavily subsidised renewable electricity (RE) that it cannot use, sell or store. The cost implications of producing this surplus will run into billions of pounds.

John Williams, BNCG chairman, commented : ‘The time is right for a full-scale investigation following fears that Longannet power station, Scotland’s cheapest and most flexible source of power, could close early compounding the country’s rapidly developing energy crisis.

‘The Scottish Government’s 2020 target of ‘generating 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewables’ was exceeded last autumn – five years early. A paper published last week by Professor Jack Ponton of the Lauderdale Preservation Group highlights the consequences of this for Scotland’s energy supply in 2020.

NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release  23 June 2015

Relief for rural Borderers – and all electricity consumers - as expensive wind farm subsidy axed 

 

Last week’s announcement by the UK Government to bring the current generous subsidy system for wind turbines to a close in April 2016, 12 months earlier than originally planned, has been widely welcomed by rural dwellers across the Scottish Borders. 

John Williams, chairman of the Borders Network of Conservation Groups (BNCG), said: ‘To put this in context, there are now proposals to erect more than 160 plus huge new wind turbines along this side of the border between the A68 and the A7, centred on Wauchope. ‘

Even if just 100 of these wind turbines got the go ahead with subsidies, they would add an extra three quarters of a billion pounds (£750 million) of subsidies to electricity consumers’ bills – money that would go to wind farm operators and a few large landowners, rather than being better spent on investigating and developing innovative future energy sources and making our homes more energy efficient.

‘So we welcome the policy intent to slow the construction of wind turbines across the UK, and call upon the Scottish Government to recognise that local communities and electricity consumers have suffered enough at the hands of financial speculators, most of them from outside Scotland, who put up wind turbines to farm subsidies not to save the planet.’   

‘The subsidy that is being phased out earlier than expected is funded by levies added to household bills. The Scottish Borders has done its bit for renewables, already producing nearly eight times as much electricity from wind energy than is needed by all the homes in the Borders.  

BNCG vice chairman Jack Ponton added: ‘There are now enough turbines operating and consented in Scotland to exceed – by nearly 20% - the Scottish Government’s own target of producing ‘100% of electricity from renewables by 2020’, while output from operating and consented renewables projects across the UK now exceeds by 34% Britain’s electricity obligations under the Climate Change Act. 

‘There is clearly no point in the UK exceeding its commitments to build expensive renewable capacity which will have no measurable impact on global emissions and, due to its intermittent nature, make no contribution to security of supply. Enough is enough.’ 

Professor Ponton concluded: ‘This is a sensible move by the UK Government that will reduce consumers' bills and increase energy security as it will encourage investment in more reliable forms of generation.’

'It is hard to see how wind developers can claim that the removal of a consumer paid subsidy currently costing consumes nearly half a billion a year will somehow cost them more money.'

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said there will be a grace period for projects already with planning permission.

Ends

For more information, please contact:

John Williams (BNCG chairman) on 01875 835679 or 07768 327107

Professor Jack Ponton (BNCG vice chair) on 0131 557 0536 and 01896 849 557 or at jack@ecosse.org 

 

Notes for editors

The subsidy being phased out is the Renewable Obligation scheme, originally introduced to provide an incentive to companies to develop new renewable energy technologies. Smaller wind farms will continue to benefit from the premium they are paid for producing electricity through feed in tariffs.

 

The Borders Network of Conservation Groups (BNCG) exists to promote appreciation and protection of the unique and beautiful landscape and amenity of the Scottish Borders. BNCG is not politically aligned, and is a not-for-profit, fully constituted umbrella organisation of some twenty groups across the Borders which share a concern for landscape and amenity conservation. Visit the BNCG website at http://www.bordersnetwork.co.uk.

 

Although energy policy is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has used its control over the planning system to consent the construction of thousands of turbines across the countryside, ignoring Scotland’s most senior planning officials who have warned that the countryside risked becoming a ‘wind farm landscape’. The Scottish Government has even reprimanded council planners, Scottish Borders Council included, for setting aside too little land for wind farms. 

 

To date, there have been more than 6,000 objections from at least 3500 people in the BRS area to clusters or single wind turbines and smaller wind farm but this figure does not include objections to the massive 50 MW plus Section 36 wind farms (operating or proposed) which go straight to the Scottish Government for determination.

 

The Scottish Government’s target of ‘100% renewable electricity’ is predicted to need between 14GW and 16GW of installed capacity. By the end of October 2014, 7.1GW was operational and 8.684GW under construction or consented. By January 2015, a further 0.366GW was consented, bringing the total to 16.15GW – and there is at least another 4GW is in planning. The consent rate in 2013 was 51% (141 out of 275 proposals). Operational and consented capacity would be capable of generating about 43.6TWh/yr against a typical annual consumption of 36.6TWh, i.e. 119% of Scottish electricity demand. (Scottish Government, Energy Statistics, March 2015 and planning database.)

The transformation of Scotland's electricity generation between 2010 and 2020 is extraordinary but it presents the Scottish Government with a double-edged sword: although its 2020 RE target may have been comfortably exceeded five years early, unless a solution is rapidly devised, Scotland risks wasting most of its expensively produced green electricity. Not only is there no need for any more wind in Scotland’s energy mix but the country’s lack of conventional supply will ensure long-term reliance on the UK and Europe for the safety of Scotland's electricity supply.

Scotland has around 61% of the UK’s onshore wind fleet but England has some 90% of the offshore.  

 

NEWS RELEASE   For immediate release 27 April 2015

 

General Election: South of Scotland candidates pitch in on wind farm policy

 

With nearly 200 huge new wind turbines planned for just north of Carter Bar alone, and thousands of objections from local people to existing and proposed wind farms across the whole of the Scottish Borders, prospective parliamentary candidates have been asked about their experience and views on what has become a hugely controversial topic.

Last month (April), the Borders Network of Conservation Groups (BNCG) received responses from candidates in the two Borders constituencies - Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (BRS) and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (DCT) - to a questionnaire on various aspects of energy policy, with particular reference to wind turbines in the region.

The responses are summarised by party:

Conservative

Both John Lamont (BRS) and David Mundell (DCT) were clear that turbine deployment in the Borders should be curtailed. Mundell specifically said that he would oppose any more in his constituency. Both supported protection of local residents through the introduction of a minimum statutory setback distance between wind turbines and people’s homes, and a compensation scheme for those whose homes are blighted by wind turbines.

Labour

Despite the Labour party being strongly in favour of wind power, both Kenrick Lloyd Jones (BRS) and Archie Dryburgh (DCT) were less enthusiastic. Both agreed that there were

enough turbines in the Borders. Jones supported compensation for affected residents, and both candidates supported the introduction of a statutory minimum setback distance.

Liberal Democrat

Michael Moore, defending BRS, did not reply. He has previously been supportive of his party's position on renewables, and dismissive of wind turbine objectors' views. By contrast, Amanda Kubie (DCT) agreed that if the region was saturated (she appeared to be unaware of the statistics), deployment of more wind turbines across the region should be stopped. She was also supportive of the need for a compensation scheme and a statutory setback distance, and was clear that the final decisions on wind farm applications should lie with the local authority, not Holyrood.

SNP

Emma Harper (DCT) did not respond. Calum Kerr (BRS) echoed the straight party line, believing that turbines helped the local economy, that there should be more in the Borders, and that statutory setback was unnecessary. He also questioned the need for compensation for those local people whose homes have been devalued by wind turbines.

Others

Of the other candidates (Green, Independent and UKIP) only Pauline Stewart (Green BRS) responded. Her views were predictably essentially those of her party but she did feel that future Borders wind applications should be given stricter assessment, and agreed the need for a statutory setback distance. She opposed the provision of compensation for affected local residents on the assumption that this would come from the taxpayer.

Ends

For more information, please contact:
John Williams (BNCG chairman) on
01875 835679 or 07768 327107
Prof Jack Ponton (BNCG vice chair) on 0131 557 0536 and 01896 849 557 or at jack@ecosse.org

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The alternative contact previously noted here, Mark Rowley, ceased to be a member of BNCG from 3.11.16.

 

Notes for editors

  1. The Borders Network of Conservation Groups (BNCG) exists to promote appreciation and protection of the unique and beautiful landscape and amenity of the Scottish Borders. BNCG is not politically aligned, and is a not-for-profit, fully constituted umbrella organisation of some twenty groups across the Borders which share a concern for landscape and amenity conservation. Visit the BNCG website at http://www.bordersnetwork.co.uk.

  2. To date, there have been objections from at least 3500 people in the BRS area alone to clusters or single wind turbines and smaller wind farms but this figure does not include objections to the massive 50 MW plus Section 36 wind farms (operating or proposed) which go straight to the Scottish Government for determination.

  3. Current Scottish Government guidance suggests a 2 kilometre setback distance of turbines from ‘settlements’ (villages, towns and cities) but, as this is not a legal requirement, developers regularly site turbines much closer to individual dwellings and the small clusters of houses that are a feature of the Borders countryside. BNCG believes that this guidance has not been effective and that a statutory minimum obligation is needed.

  4. BNCG argues that, whatever economic benefit there is from wind farms, very little of it is fed into the local economy, and that tourism is especially adversely affected because of the attraction to the tourist of an unspoilt landscape (see report on the Economic Value of Landscape in the Scottish Borders at http://btckstorage.blob.core.windows.net/site1061/News/The%20Economic%20Val ue %20of%20Landscape%20in%20the%20Scottish%20Borders%20September %202012.pdf).

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‘We believe that the whole basis of a stable, well planned and diversified electricity supply is being deliberately abandoned without any regard for the consequences of frequent shortages and massive surpluses on electricity consumers and the tax payer.’
Ends

For more information, please call:
Prof Jack Ponton (BNCG vice chair) on 0131 557 0536 and 01896 849 557 or at jack@ecosse.org or
John Williams (BNCG chairman) on 01875 835679 or 07768 327107
Notes for editors


1 Gordon Hughes estimated that the UK’s 2020 renewable energy target will cost around £120bn -- and the same amount of electricity could be generated by gas-fired plants at a cost of £13bn. (Why is Wind Power so Expensive? G Hughes. GWPF Report 7). Across the UK, the total consumer bill for wind subsidies by 2030 is estimated to amount to a staggering £130 billion. A recent analysis of UK wind farms revealed that a dozen of the biggest landowners will between them receive almost £850 million in subsidies, a huge amount of funding that will be paid by ordinary families through hidden taxes on their household electricity bills.

2 Fuel poverty is a national and local priority. In the Scottish Borders, 21% of households live in fuel poverty and 14% live in extreme fuel poverty, compared with 20% in Scotland living in fuel poverty and 8% living in extreme fuel poverty. The rural nature of the area, the type of housing and the high proportion of elderly households, contributes to higher levels of fuel poverty then the Scottish average. From SBC fuel poverty annual update paper http://www.scotborders.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/5069/fuel_poverty_activity_annual_update_2012-13

3 In a 2013 report, the Department of the Environment and Climate Change (DECC) admitted that the current price of electricity to domestic consumers is 17% higher as the result of climate policies; By 2020, this will have risen to 33% higher, and 41% higher in 2030. If fossil fuel prices remain low, and many now think this is highly probable, DECC estimates that the price of electricity will be 44% higher due to climate policies in 2020, and 57% higher in 2030.*DECC - Estimated Impacts of Energy and Climate Change Policies on Prices and Bills (March 2013).