Renew On Line (UK) 57
Extracts from NATTA's journal
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
4. Wind developments
Coming to Blows on Wind
Police have been called in to investigate a spate of attacks on property on the Isle of Skye as disagreements over the proposed 27 turbine wind farm there have flared. According to the Independent (1/6/5), local opponents of the wind farm say they ‘have been subjected to a campaign of criminal damage and intimidation by fellow islanders who stand to make money from the project’. The debate over the project has been running for some while, but the Independent said ‘tension has turned to vandalism and threats, sparked by the local authority’s decision to review its original decision to grant planning permission for the £30m project’.
John Hodgson, chairman of Swag, the Skye Wind Farm Action Group, claimed that about a dozen of his conifer trees were cut down and left on his driveway and said that the acts of vandalism were the latest in a line of incidents, involving poison pen letters, intimidation and damage to property. Another member of the anti-wind group, who runs a bed and breakfast business, told the Independent that the sign to his property was sprayed with graffiti which said “Swag Scum”. A third had a sign for his caravan park damaged by an axe. There were also report of broken glass being spread over driveways and paths and even of bricks being thrown through windows.
Hodgson told the Independent that he blamed the intimidation on reports in the local media, which he claimed bordered on incitement to racial hatred as they branded opponents of the scheme as incomers and suggested they were holding back the prosperity of the “indigenous people”. The Independent noted that prominent opponents have included former television executive Sir Jeremy Isaacs and his wife, Gillian Widdicombe. The opponents say that the 330ft-high turbines would not only scar the skyline of the island and deter tourism but could pose a serious risk of peat slides and kill golden eagles. As we report later (p. 8) the vast majority of people in Scotland support wind power. But local opinions can become very polarised. See our Groups section for more on the pro- and anti-wind battles in Scotland- which, although sometimes bitter, thankfully do not seem to be leading to reprehensible actions like those reported above.
Scottish wind supported
Scotland should build more windfarms to tackle climate change, according to 73% of respondents in a poll by ICM for the BBC. Only 17% wanted more nuclear reactors. A similar level Scottish support for wind (76%) was found in an NOP World poll carried out for the pro-wind Embrace the Revolution campaign: see our Groups section. And in a survey for the World Wildlife Fund in Scotland in March, 85% of respondents wanted to see more cash pumped into renewable schemes, like wind farms. But as noted in Groups, some projects are attracting strong local opposition, and the Ramblers Association has launched a national advertising campaign calling for incentives to be switched from large scale land-based projects to smaller local schemes & offshore projects.
Offshore wind problems The development of offshore wind has been slowed due to problems with financing new schemes. The government has been trying to kickstart the programme with capital grants, which have allowed 3 projects to get going, but the grants are allocated on a competitive basis and there is evidently still £97m unclaimed from the first funding round.
However, as Wind Power Monthly (WPM) reported in April, Denmark has decided that building offshore wind farms is a government job, ‘akin to building roads’, and it is backing 2 new offshore plants. While banks expected 11-12% or even 15% returns, 6% is enough for governments. So, WPM noted ‘offshore wind generation in Denmark costs around Euro 60/MWh, compared with around Euro 110/MWh in Britain for the same capital outlay and wind regime. Indeed, Belgium is having to offer Euro 107/MWh to get its first offshore plant built. For consumers, paying through taxes, as in Denmark, may be the better deal, at least in the short term.’ WPM pointed out that the UK Treasury test discount rate was recently lowered from 6% to 3.5%, so, assuming a 60% government loan combined with a 40% equity contribution, a Public-Private Financing arrangement could ‘deliver 15% to the private sector & still produce electricity at just under Euro 100/MWh.’
Media reports say that Windsave, the Glasgow based micro wind turbine developer, is to be floated on the stock market early next year at a likely value of £50m. This flotation follows a 3 year joint venture with Centrica, which the company claims could lead to sales of up to 100,000- they say they already have 10,000 orders. The tie-up with the UK’s largest energy supplier through British Gas, will, they say, allow the system to be fitted for about £1,500, one third of which is likely to be subsidised through the DTI’s “Clear Skies” renewable programme. The turbines will also qualify for Renewable Obligation Certificates which should yield around a £60 p.a. income, on top of the £110 per year typically saved from annual power bills, with the resultant pay back time being around 5-6 years.
Mackie’s, a family-owned ice-cream maker, is to power its dairy entirely by wind after erecting a 45-metre turbine at a cost of £750,000. Mac Mackie, managing director, told the Telegraph: “We are now at the threshold of our maximum electricity supply from the national grid and have been quoted up to £600,000 to upgrade our local connection. Our further growth could now be constrained by our electricity supply.”
The company’s annual electricity bill is around £120,000 and it hopes to recover the £750,000 investment in the next 4-5 years. Mackie said: “The windmill will supply enough power for our whole business, including the ice-cream dairy. I believe that makes us the country’s first renewable energy ice-cream.” Mackie’s will sell any energy it has left over to Good Energy, the green power retailer.
St Paul’s Cathedral has pulled out of a wind farm project in Essex (see Renew 155) after protests from local residents. When approached by NPower Renewables last year, the dean of the cathedral initially favoured a plan to build 26 turbines on 1,000 acres it owns on the north Essex coast, But, according to the Independent (8/4/05) residents in the villages of Bradwell-on-Sea and Tillingham were opposed to the plan which they said would destroy the coastal marshes, threaten migrating wildfowl & waders and be noisy, so the Church leaders decided to back off. There was much talk of local tranquility- but what happens when climate change floods the area? And what if there are plans to replace the (closed) Bradwell nuclear plant?
|We are now offering to e-mail subscribers a PDF version of the complete Renew, instead of sending them the printed version, should they wish.|