Bye bye 2013

As we leave 2013 behind us the appeal for the Douglas Valley turbine has not yet been decided and Armstrong’s have suffered yet another fire at the Horwich recycling plant

Over the other-side the Birches farm appeal has yet to be considered, with both the applicant and Bolton council objecting to the way the appeal has been handled. The Bury MP – David Nuttall has written to the secretary of state with concerns in the opposite direction – highlighting residents concerns and as a result the application has been called in, to be determined by the Secretary of State. For good measure the applicant has submitted a new application for an even larger turbine, proposing to dismantle the two already present.

Over at Slack lane the applicant has requested an application called in and determined by the Secretary of State- which seems rather strange as the required information to determine the application was clearly not present – unless the strategy was to prevent community involvement – which also seems strange  as the secretary of state has emphasised the important of this.

The focus on off shore wind farm was then dealt a massive blow as  billions of pounds of investment are shelved and two power houses reduce their plans for off shore wind farms due to “market conditions”  as  Ed Milliband proposes to freeze energy bills for 20 months – which seems to mean that market forces and exchange rates will be ignored or there needs to be a massive price increase to provide for the contingency.

Biofuelwatch have issued a new report on the devastation being caused by the UK policy on commercial biomass  -Biomass – The chain of destruction

UK companies have now announced plans to burn 82 million tonnes of biomass (mainly wood ) in power stations each year – more than 8 times the UK’s annual wood production. – the UK already relies on 80% net wood imports. the land grab in Brazil for eucalyptus plantings  is resulting in the loss of forest eco systems.

Meanwhile 2Oc have signed a 20 year deal with Thames water – worth over £200M  and construction has started on the  CHP plant at Beckton

One thing is clear – the lights in the UK will go out in the next few years and the country is desperate for more generation capacity.  It is important that renewable energy, championed by the government, is not confused with sustainable energy. It is important that the implications of  loss of forest and land for  crops and food in order to grow fuel crops is considered.   It is equally important that there is an open debate about how we fuel the future – as the UK closes it coal plants -or converts them to forest destroying biomass plants it is estimated coal will not make a contribution to UK energy supply by 2030 –  This year it is estimated china burned 4 billion tonnes (that is 4,000,000,000 tonnes – )of coal   – realising about 70% of China’s power production. In the USA the figure is 35%.

- and then we import their products due to cheaper  production costs – what price our Planet ?

Happy New Year




Denton farm – biomass

BHEAG are generally against biomass energy for several reasons. Biomass energy is often not sustainable – swathes of rain forest being chopped down for palm oil plantations – or even to supply the wood itself – for burning. Many people however burn biomass – in the form of wood in their own home. As Bolton is a smoke control borough this can only be done  in stoves, complying to BS  standards and this is usually supplemented by another energy source.

The Denton Farm application is different to all the previous applications in Blackrod and Horwich in that it is not designed to produce electricity ie it is not a power plant. It is more like the domestic wood burning stove – only larger – in that the main purpose is to use heat – which should be extremely efficient. Other applications have had no use for the majority of the heat and thus would need to disperse the energy into the environment – possibly even requiring cooling towers, creating significant inefficiency.

The plant is significantly smaller also requires significantly fewer deliveries each week and these will not travel along a public footpath.

Raw materials unlike other applications which have specified vegetable oils or virgin and recycled wood, will use wood pellets. BHEAG have requested that only pellets conforming to EN14961-2 class A1 are used. – the use of chemically treated or recycled wood would result in  B classification






Food not Fuel – United Nations call for immediate suspension

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.

Food or Fuel – is the answer blowing in the wind ?

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
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.

Biofool madness.

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

Blind as a Bat – Daft as a Brush

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 ?

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.

Turbines Move – and so do the Planning Pages

The latest information on the Douglas Valley Golf Course Turbines, can be found


Markland Farm Biomass Plant, Development commences

Having stated ” we have had no other option but to shelve this project for the time being, around the 17 October 2011,

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,

Donald Trump pledges ‘any legal means’ fight against windfarm

 ” turbines will ‘compromise’ golf”

see aslo

Closer to home,

( 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.  

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

Wind Turbine Syndrome

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

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.

Group Objection to Wind Turbines at Douglas Valley Golf Course

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 Turbine legislation – receives second reading

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:

A copy of the second reading can be found here:

Small and groups of small turbines


London, 22nd October: Protest against biofuels fuelling climate meltdown



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

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

Green Wash and Blue NG

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:

World’s Most Inefficient CHP plant – to be built in Blackrod ?

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 ?