Unfortunately it takes a crisis.
The UN has called for a an immediate ban on USA ethanol production to allow more crops to be used for food or feed.
Prices of corn, wheat and soya bean have surged 30 to 50% in the last few weeks due to problems with the crop, caused by drought. America exports half the worlds corn , staple food for many nations – including Mexico.
The news is full of stories about the drought in the USA, and how it is affecting the corn crop – with nearly 50% of the crop now in poor condition.
It may be equally amazing that despite this figure, 40% of the crop is still planned to make bio fuel – that is enough to feed 412 million people for a year Oilprice.com
There are an estimated 1 billion people starving in the world.
How important is corn ? Reuters reports Mexico has just purchased over 1.5 million tonnes of USA corn. mexico is the second largest importer of USA corn after Japan. In Mexico , corn is a food staple used to make tortillas., prices of which have risen 18% since January. In 2008 surging tortilla prices resulted in riots.
We have often written about the madness of using oil seed or destroying our woodlands and carbon sinks in the pursuit of biofuel – especially in the UK where we have the additional issue of needing to import the vast volumes of wood /biofuel required.
Solar power is great, for small domestic use, but needs vast quantities of land to produce significant power. However plans to turn track of desert in Africa into huge solar receptors are expected to provide 15% of Europe’s power supply by 2050 BBC
In the UK our renewable energy focus is left with wind or hydro. One of the main issues with hydro is it tends to change ecosystems, both inland and coastal. Wind therefore is a favoured option – particularly in the UK where 2/3 of Europe’s wind blows over our shore.
Should wind turbines be out at sea – possibly – do we know the effect the noise and sound waves will have on our marine environment – so vital for the survival of our species – probably not.
There is a strong argument for land based turbines, particularly on the West Coast of the UK – one of the big issues is the population densities and the effect on home life.
An open debate is needed in the UK (and around the world) – no energy source is ideal – all have downsides. The big problem at the moment is that there are big winners and many losers – the man with the turbine makes a few million, where the nearby home owners see their property values plummet -and many people reporting health issues. Is one big turbine on Scout Moor better that twenty smaller turbines dotted around our countryside?
In the mean time perhaps the best thing you can do is reduce your own carbon footprint – many energy companies now offer free insulation (roof and cavity wall) upgrades. Lights can be changed to low energy fittings. Don’t use the drier. Turn your radiators down – with the money you save it will go towards paying the renewable energy subsidies or the extra for your corn
Ask most people what they think of renewable energy and generally they will respond positively.
Most people however also confuse the terminology with environmentally friendly or sustainable energy which can be something quite different.
The looming shortage of electricty generation, together with a UK commitment to produce 25% of energy from renenewable energy sources by 2025 has helped drive up domestic energy prices as the government subsidises and incentivises private renewable energy production.
What most people want is sensitive exploitation of renewable energy sources which are sustainable.
The use of biofuels causes problems in many areas of the world. Land clearance has caused many issues in the developing world. One clearance fire resulted in more CO2 emissions than the UK would produce in a single year. People lose their homes, their land their lives.
Food crops are replaced with energy crops and prices anre driven higher, leaving people to starve. Its a global economy, driven by supply and demand – where the rich win and the poor die.
Swaithes of rainforests are being deforested to grow palm oil – for burning. Increasing global CO2 production.
Are biofiels and renewable energy a good thing ? http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/
Hydro electric power accounts for nearly 20% of China’s power production. Recently Chinese officials staged a sudden about-face, acknowledging for the first time that the massive Three Georges hydroelectric dam, the world’s largest, sandwiched between breathtaking cliffs on the Yangtze River in central China, may be triggering landslides, altering entire ecosystems and causing other serious environmental problems—and, by extension, endangering the millions who live in its shadow. Three Georges Dam Is hydro electric a good thing ?
Last year, the world’s largest wood fueled biomass plant was approved – in the UK. If built it will use an estimated 60 million tonnes of wood a year – six times the UKs average wood production. The sad thing is that the wood that will be burned does not have to be replaced with new trees. Guess we will be importing even more wood and adding more to world CO2 levels. !The biggest threat to the Mountain Gorillas in the Congo – is the clearance of forest for charcoal production – a renewable energy source. Is renewable energy a good thing ?
Not all renewable energy projects are bad – to the contrary, but nor are they all good. The plan to use solar power, harnessed in the dessert, to supply 15% of Europes power by 2050 . That seems a much better idea than covering arable farmland with solar panels in the UK Desert power.
Admirably the UK leads the way with off shore wind farms but falls behind the curve in small scale domestic renewable energy projects – although these are now starting to have a benefit in the UK.
The UK government is encouraging small scale energy production, solar PV, wind power etc. Bolton’s core startegy encourages the use of CHP (Combined heat and Power) which can be over 90%efficient.
The largest biomass CHP for district heating plant is in Japan – 2MWe.
In Blackrod a plant twice this size has been approved at the Douglas Valley Golf Course, for district heating. It is estimated the plant will burn approximately 5% of the total wooded are in the North West of England each year – and produce enough electric for 11,000 houses and enough heat energy to heat the whole of Blackrod. Unfortunately the plant will only actually heat six houses, and it is likely the rest of the thermal energy will be wasted – possibly making it one of the least efficient CHP plants in the world – estimated at below 20% – wasting valuable energy resources.
The same site has also applied for two industrial wind turbines – despite guidance to the contrary unfortunately the proposed turbine tips will be within 50m of hedgerows and linear field structures. (In fact they are within a few meters). Why is this important ?
Some of Europe’s most endangered species – bats – use these linear structures as highways – they will virtually never fly accross an open field. Turbine blades have been responsible for many bat kills -it is unlawful to deliberately kill a bat – and contributory negligence by ignoring the guidelines is unlikely to provide a defence .
For those who would wish renewable energy at any cost – be careful what you wish for – dont be daft – think – sensitive exploitation of renewable energy sources which are sustainable.
Blind as Bat – Daft as a Brush
Energy efficiency is probably the best way we, as individuals can reduce the demand for energy and help achieve the 25% target. Many domestic energy suppliers now provide free roof insulation and free cavity wall insulation. If you havent yet gone down this route – or at least had a free consultation you to may be commiting an environmental crime. Please help Save the Planet – without costing the Earth.
The latest information on the Douglas Valley Golf Course Turbines, can be found
Having stated “ we have had no other option but to shelve this project for the time being, around the 17 October 2011, http://www.planning.bolton.gov.uk/Documents/110598_23.pdf
Within a month the development has commenced – although the information was not available until after the due decision date for the turbines, in which the above statement was made,
” turbines will ‘compromise’ golf”
see aslo http://www.golfclubmanagement.net/2011/09/wind-turbines-they-dont-have-to-be-big-but-they-are-clever/
Closer to home,
(http://www.planning.bolton.gov.uk/Documents/111580_6.pdf) may misrepresent the appearance of the 2 turbines. The location from where the photograph was taken is 149m ASL (above sea level) and the left turbine tip height is 157m ASL (the ground level appears to be 112m ASL). The extract below of the montage highlights Roscoe Lowe (Red box) which is 160m ASL. Therefore the top of the rotor will be in line with this feature.
- Meanwhile the 45m high, 700m squared sweep (x2) of the turbine blades was represented by a yellow balloon flying on a 30m length (in slight wind). Unsurprisingly this cannot be seen on two of the submitted photographs (even though one is in close proximity) – how strange. http://www.planning.bolton.gov.uk/Documents/110598_56.pdf
If anyone does spot the balloon perhaps they can let us know (or is that the whole purpose – the agent wants residents to believe nobody is actually going to see the turbines ?) How very bizarre – almost unbelievable
- Then I suppose the high energy use of the golf course, the reason for the biomass plant and two turbines, which will produce 36 GWh of electric per year, enough electric for almost 11,000 houses (each using 3,300Kwh) is also unbelievable
A link to the most recent (draft) report can be found here
There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby
residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence
takes the form of thousands of adverse event reports. There is also a small amount of
systematically-gathered data. The adverse event reports provide compelling evidence of the
seriousness of the problems and of causation in this case because of their volume, the ease of
observing exposure and outcome incidence, and case-crossover data. Proponents of turbines
have sought to deny these problems by making a collection of contradictory claims including that
the evidence does not “count”, the outcomes are not “real” diseases, the outcomes are the victims’
own fault, and that acoustical models cannot explain why there are health problems so the
problems must not exist. These claims appeared to have swayed many non-expert observers,
though they are easily debunked. Moreover, though the failure of models to explain the
observed problems does not deny the problems, it does mean that we do not know what, other
than kilometers of distance, could sufficiently mitigate the effects. There has been no policy
analysis that justifies imposing these effects on local residents. The attempts to deny the
evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement, and represent either gross
incompetence or intentional bias.
A recent Canadian court case concluded “
This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans.The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”
A summary of new evidence can be found here
A big thank you from Blackrod residents to the army of helpers who delivered nearly two thousand leaflets, concerning the Douglas Valley Turbine development today – in wind and hail.
Reluctantly the group has decided to object to the application for two turbines at Douglas Valley Golf Course.
The reasons can be found here Objection to Douglas Valley Turbines
Wind Turbines – minimum distances from residential premises-bill This is the bill which has now had it’s “Second Reading” in the House of Lords and sets a minimum setback distance of 2km for a turbine of 120m. This is at a very early stage, which is reflected in the brief content of the bill itself. None-the-less, this clearly demonstrates that there is genuine and real concern about the effects of wind turbines sited too close to populated areas. The presentation of this bill forces the question:
The legislation proposes, if the height of the wind turbine generator is— (measured from the ground to the end of the blade tip at its highest point.)
(a) greater than 25m, but does not exceed 50m, the minimum distance requirement is 1000m;
(b) greater than 50m, but does not exceed 100m, the minimum distance requirement is 1500m;
(c) greater than 100m, but does not exceed 150m, the minimum distance requirement is 2000m;
A similar bill Onshore Wind Turbines (Proximity of Habitation) Bill 2010-11 is winding its way through the House of Commons, with the next reading expected JAnuary 2012
Why – simply put healths concerns and masses of law suits in various countries. It appears it is not just the audible noise and visual impacts that effects people but also infrasound (frequency less than 20 Hz).
Many countries have already acted on concerns and introduced appropriate legislation – similar to that proposed in the rest of the UK.
In Scotland, Scottish planning guidance contains an advisory, rather than mandatory, limit of two kilometres, although the Scottish border Council has a presumption against any turbine within 2 KM of a residential property. In Wales there is a “typical seperation distance” of 500m – although Carmarthanshire County Council will not permit wind farms within 1500m of a residential dwelling. ( The 500m separation distance is intended to assist local planning authorities refine the boundaries of the Strategic Search Areas and not as a minimum separation distance for individual wind turbines. )
Proposed Scottish legislation goes further, in suggesting that two blade turbines be limited to industrial sitings, due to the faster sweep ( a 30m turbine (45m including blades), would have an area sweep of c 700m2)
Aberdeenshire Council Local Plan Infrastructure Policy states
“In order to protect residential amenity, wind energy developments should generally be not less than 400m from dwellings. The actual desirable separation distance will be dependent on a range of factors including topography, safety issues, noise, shadow flicker, shadow throw and the size of the turbines.
A separation distance of at least 10 rotor diameters between the wind turbines and nearby dwellings is required, in accordance with good practice identified in PAN 45 to minimise shadow flicker.”
Similarly Torridge district Council, in Devon, has made an extensive study and limits developments to within 600m, The full policy (with a summary page 6/7 ) can be found CHttpHandler
It is important to look at the Bill’s effects. The figure is that if there was an exclusion around dwellings of two kilometres, 0.5 per cent of the UK landmass would be able to take wind turbines. Effectively, we would end that industry completely
The revised Draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3), which is currently before Parliament, says,
“appropriate distances should be maintained between wind turbines and residential properties to protect residential amenity”.
In the circumstances it would seem rather prudent to introduce more “targeted” planning guidance and we will be seeking to encourage a half way house -
A Presumption against development within 1 KM of a residential house
B minimum distance of 500m from a residential house
A copy of the bill can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldbills/017/11017.1-i.html
A copy of the second reading can be found here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2011-06-10a.488.4&s=%22global+warming+policy+foundation%22
Small and groups of small turbines http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A516125.pdf
THE CURRENT DOUGLAS VALLEY GOLF COURSE APPLICATION, FOR TWO 45 m TURBINES, APPROXIMATELY 350m from BLACKROD VILLAGE CAN BE FOUND HERE
Protest against biofuels fuelling climate meltdown
Where: DECC – Department of Energy & Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW. Nearest tube stations, Embankment & Charing Cross.
When: Saturday 22nd October, 12.00 noon
Who is the protest for? – for anyone concerned about environment and social justice.
Why: The protest coincides with a DECC public consultation on Renewable Obligation Certificates – ROCs, which are subsidies for ‘renewable electricity’. Yet instead of rewarding only true renewable energy, such as sustainable wind and solar power, a large and growing share of ROCs goes to biomass (wood) and biofuel power stations. Those are paid for by all of us, through a surcharge on our fuel bills. At a time when health, education, social welfare and environmental programmes are being cut drastically, the government is planning to reward biomass and biofuel power stations with £3 billion a year!
Biomass and biofuel production causes deforestation and adversely affects the climate, food sovereignty and human rights. Nearly all of the biomass and biofuels burned in UK power stations will be imported from countries including Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana or Kenya. Burning biomass and biofuel causes air pollution causing health problems for those who live nearby. This protest will show DECC that people don’t want to subsidise bioenergy.
Corporations like Drax, one of Europe’s biggest climate change contributors, are lobbying DECC to increase their profits from burning the biosphere. If UK citizens who pay for ROCs tell DECC yes to true renewable power from wind, wave, tidal, solar & geothermal and no to bioenergy we can stop this destructive industry overnight.
Supported by Campaign Against Climate Change
Let’s cut-back on bioenergy instead of cutting libraries or rainforests.
Let’s have people power instead of plant power!
Bring a friend, your banners and placards to the Department of Environment & Climate Change on the 22nd.
Please click here
Many of BHEAG’s campaigns are centred around projects which have been made to look environmentally friendly – but the devil is in the detail (or usually the lack of it)
Many readers will be familiar with the name Blue NG – a company formed several years ago, which has still failed to build a single plant or produce a single unit of electricity.
The story is here: http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=4053
As the world comes to grips with a looming energy shortage. Bolton looks ready to score a massive own goal.
Small scale CHP (Combined heat and power) should generally be encouraged, as they can be over 90% efficient. However a 4MWe plant may become the most inefficient CHP plant in the world, with an estimated effciency below 20% – and its in the greenbelt !
The development, which has already received planning permission, is seeking to extend the time for implementation 86393/11
The original application was lacking in specific details, however campaigners estimated it would produce enough heat to supply the whole of Blackrod. Unfortunately only six houses will be supplied and the remainder of the heat is likely to be wasted.
Many Blackrod councillors were under the impression only Virgin wood could be used. This would require approximately 80% of the wooded areas in the North West to be felled and burnt within the next ten years, if this were to be the source – so it should be a surprise that non virgin / waste wood will be used.
It is unclear, how the estimated 100 tonnes + per day of wood will be delivered. In the original application the officer stated 4-5 fixed wheel vehicles per day, yet the application implies that most the deliveries will be from small scale operators eg 2 tonnes per load – which could be 100 vehicle movements per day. Ensuring these loads are not contaminated appears an almost impossible task
So how big is 4MWe ? It is 4,000,000 watts every hour . That is enough to light approximately 400,000 low energy light bulbs or to run 4,000 KW heaters – 24 hours a day. Approximately twice this amount of usable energy could be wasted -that is enough energy to power a small town – like Blackrod – in totality
That sounds quite big - and very wasteful !
The core stragey states that bolton Council will ” Work towards minimising energy requirements, improving energy efficiency, lessening the reliance on fossil fuel-based energy and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. “
If the devlopment is allowed to proceed in the current form – the statement is pointless
Just to add insult to injury the plant will use “renewable” enrgy sources, however any trees chopped down to supply the plant do not need to be replaced. Is that sustainable ?
The consultation period for commenting on a new biomass plant has officially ended. The full application can be found here.
The 4MWe plant at Markland Farm (Douglas Valley golf Course area), was approved three years ago. The applicant has requested to extend the time limit restriction for the development to commence. The application was considered at Blackrod Town Council, last week. Local councillors appeared frustrated at being denied the opportunity to debate the application in full. Perhaps without precedence, a request from a member of the public to speak on the application was denied by Councillor Pat Barrow
The member of the public who wished to speak on the application has asked us to publish a letter with his concerns which is below.
“Planning application 86393/11
Dear Ms. Williams,
I read with interest the GMP comments posted on the web site, as the suggestions do seem to ensure that the proposed development will stand out in this green belt location.
I went back to the original application to see what had been proposed but I could not find any detailed information. In fact the following comment in the agent’s letter of the 16/10/2008 was all I could find, “modern agricultural green units designed and constructed by Wearings”. It does not seem correct that this proposal should be considered without some indication of what it will look like, as the lack of this detail does not allow comments to be made on this aspect of the proposal.
The lack of information regarding the building appearance needs be addressed as I am sure that Wearings make many buildings – not all of them being suitable in this green belt location.
Whilst looking through the original application I found it very hard to identify what has actually been agreed. Due to the late, and significant, change to the development the D&A statement, Supporting statement, and EIA screening do not actually cover the development as agreed. Therefore the applicant should create an up to date and comprehensive suite of documentation covering this new application.
This consolidation of the proposal information would also be of great use to anyone looking at the proposal as currently it is very difficult to decide what data is relevant or not due to the fragmented nature of the information supporting the previous application. Currently analysing the proposal is somewhat akin to a paper chase.
When looking through the information I was unable to identify how the development is to be connected to the national grid. If you are aware of this detail I would be grateful if you could point me towards it if it has not been provided could you ask the applicant for the details.
While I was reviewing the original application I was reminded that there was very little information regarding the technical aspects of the gasification equipment (A sales type brochure being the only information provided). Without this information it is impossible to fully assess the proposal and its environmental impacts.
A confirmation from the manufactures of the amounts of fuel required by the facility is required, as the agent in their letter of the 16/10/2008 states that in the region of 61 tonnes a day will be used by the plant. This is at odds with a statement by the equipment manufacturer that a 1Mw facility will consume 1 T/hr (at 15% moisture content). This equates to 96 T/day for a 4 Mw facility. The wood used by this facility will have a much higher moisture content than 15% (up to a content of 50%). So using a figure of 30% would mean that the facility would use 109T/day. (Appendix 1).
Confirmation by the manufacturer of the typical traffic movements that would be caused by the proposal should be given. Appendix 1 shows the bulk density of wood chips to be 0.2 T/m3 the bulk density chopped log wood is 50% greater i.e. 0.3 T/m3. This would suggest that the daily fuel deliveries would be 31 20T tipper lorries (62 vehicle movements). This assumes that 20T tippers are used and every one is full. There is nothing to say that smaller vehicles or partial loads could not be used thereby dramatically increasing the traffic movements.
The visual appearance of the exhaust gasses should also be explained as the facility generates somewhere in the region of 8 Mw of thermal energy, much of it being emitted to atmosphere. An indication of its appearance would seem to be a reasonable request given its green belt location.
The typical emissions from the stack should be identified by the equipment manufacturer. The agent in their letter of the 16/10/2008 makes a number of statements regarding the emissions. Confirmation of these facts by the equipment manufacturer would seem to be appropriate as they will be responsible / accountable for compliance to them.
There are links between gasification of treated wood and harmful emissions (Appendix 2) and the agent in their letter simply asserts that treated wood will not be burnt without explaining how this will be achieved. Therefore the possible emissions and mitigation strategies are relevant and should be included in this application.
It has also been stated that the proposed equipment can not use treated wood, once again this should be confirmed by the manufacturer as they seem to state that it can use treated wood (Appendix 3).
The provision of this information is vital to allow a proper understanding of the environmental implications of this proposal.”
The appendices can be found at Appendices
The Forestry Commission – along with England’s forests – is under threat. Caroline Lucas
Though they are essential for our physical and spiritual wellbeing – locking away carbon, sustaining thousands of species, including our own, and providing pleasure and recreation – trees are under attack from all sides.
We have known for years of the depredations of logging companies in the developing world, and governments have wrung their hands and pledged action. Yet tropical and temperate rainforests worldwide are still being despoiled for development or to provide cheap meat, oils and timber, or even to make room for supposedly “environmental” biofuels.
Nor is it only the natural environment that suffers; local people have been ruthlessly pushed out of the way, losing their livelihoods, having their way of life trashed. Those who resist often face intimidation or even murder. In Britain, we have tended to view this as an international problem.
Though we have much less forest cover than most of the rest of Europe, a large proportion of we do have has generally been in the hands of fairly responsible landowners, conservation charities or ourselves – or rather, held on our behalf by the government through the Forestry Commission.
But this too is under threat, with the coalition government now consulting on “options” for selling off most or all of the public forest estate. Some woods, they claim, will be protected by giving them to charities, while the more profitable commercial forests are sold to private companies. But the coalition can’t say how charities would continue to fund the care of these woods, or the cost of providing facilities for visitors and access for leisure once the cross-subsidy from the more profitable forests is removed. Nor should the coalition be trusted: they have already gone back on pledges to ensure that the Forestry Commission’s ongoing restoration of ancient woodlands that have been planted with conifers – probably the most important environmental restoration project in the UK – will be continued.
It’s also a local problem. Trees in streets and gardens have always been under threat from developers and from excessive fears about insurance and safety, but now councils such as Islington are using the excuse of cuts to slash tree protection. Even small changes in policy can have a major impact – for example, ensuring that trees that have to be removed are replanted with the same species, so that majestic limes or plane trees are not replaced with small, ornamental or non-native varieties.
All these attacks are not co-ordinated – but they are cross-party. The Forestry Commission sell-off is being pushed by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Islington is run by Labour. And successive Labour and Tory governments have failed to act to stop the illegal trade in timber.
Forestry is an example of what is wrong with our politics. The vast majority of people want to see forests here and abroad protected. But instead of action, they get rhetoric, spin and broken promises. Governments have pledged to try and tackle illegal logging, but have left a massive loophole, whereby trading in illegally harvested timber is not itself illegal. It’s like saying that it’s illegal to import heroin if you’re caught at the borders, but not once you are inside the UK.
This is the loophole that my private members bill on illegal logging – which is due to have its second reading in parliament on Friday – would seek to plug. The bill, which has cross-party support, would make it far harder to sell timber from endangered species or from illegal logging. Those taking part in this trade could be caught not only at customs, as now, but when trying to sell to companies within the UK.
In one way, my bill shouldn’t be necessary. The coalition pledged last year to introduce just such a measure, but then went back on their promise – presumably because of lobbying from timber or construction firms, or because of their growing obsession with “deregulation”. Indeed, the commitment to build on existing EU legislation to ensure that those throughout the supply chain are held to account on illegal timber was the first of the coalition’s so-called “green” pledges to collapse. My hope is that they will take this opportunity to think again, and not try to block the bill from becoming law by
This isn’t the only test this week for parliament in reflecting the public will. I went to the debate this Wednesday on the Forestry Commission sell-off, where ministers have once again tried to dress up asset-stripping under the cover of the “big society”. The truth is, our forests are for sale because of a toxic combination of anti-state dogma and the need to raise cash fast, any way they can.
But if politics as usual is failing, people power can still work. The Save our Forests petition run by 38 Degrees has now gathered over 440,000 supporters. People are joining the Woodland Trust in unprecedented numbers. This is the kind of reaction that MPs respect. So if you are as angry about what they are doing to the trees here and abroad as I am – then sign the petition, join the campaign and if even this doesn’t work, be ready for the call to mass outside parliament.
After all, when the wood came to Dunsinane, it was the end of Macbeth. If David Cameron doesn’t listen to the people, he could soon be just as unpopular.