Welcome to Mabrake!

Mabrake – Protecting the environment in the Milton Abbot, BRadstone And KElly area of West Devon.

To read our latest information continue down this page and for older posts go to the “Archives” on the right hand side. Of course you may “leave a comment” by clicking on the button under the article in question.

To view a more detailed report on the reasons for setting up Mabrake and what it stands for please press the “About” button above.

To receive automatic email updates please enter your email address in the “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom of the right hand side of this page. You will then receive an acknowledgement from WordPress (The host site of Mabrake). You must then complete the request to join by following the instructions in that email and click on the highlighted link.

Finally if you would like to become a member of Mabrake please forward your name and address to mabrake1@btinternet.com


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ON-Shore Wind turbines – Conservatives renege on promises!

The Conservative Government have announced that they will make it easier for landowners and investors to obtain planning permission for On-Shore Wind Turbines. This reverses previous promises to stop the installation of these environmentally destructive, unreliable and highly subsidized sources of energy.

Today (12th December at 10.40am), one of the coldest days of the year the total output of all the Wind Turbines (on-shore and off-shore) is only 1.2GW when the electricity demand is 44GW. Gas and Nuclear is providing 70% of the requirement whilst wind is only providing 3% (source gridwatch.co.uk).

The reason for this is clear, on uniformly cold and hot days there is little atmospheric pressure change and so no wind. This is why wind turbines cannot provide a reliable power source.

The Government and the lobby groups will try to persuade us that this change of policy will bring down electricity costs. ‘It will not since the wholesale price is linked to the price of gas’ (Dr Bratby, CPRE).

There is also a proposal to give an ‘incentive’ to residents who permit new turbines in their area by proving cheaper electricity to them. But will this ‘incentive’ compensate them for the well documented reduction in their property values that will result?

If we are to have a reliable electricity supply we must have power stations that can provide power on demand when required. This can be done and at low CO2 emissions for example by gas fired stations with Carbon Capture.

Under the pressure from lobby groups the government has once again taken the wrong decision as this and previous administrations have done, which is why our electricity supply is close to breakdown and likely to be unable to meet the growing demand.

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Net – Zero –  An ambition but with no plan!

The ambition to reach a net-zero level of CO2 emissions for the UK is a reasonable one but setting a date of 2050 for this to be definitely achieved is foolish when there is no plan on how to deliver it.

In this memo we set out some ideas on how to create a credible plan and possible policies for  the new government to consider which would contribute to achieving the net-zero ambition.

Developing a credible plan

Whilst this was a useful set of initiatives it did not constitute a detailed plan showing what would be achieved in each year leading up to 2050. Without such a plan together with the timetable for  investment decisions and achieving engineering goals  then there is no clear way to track progress and to insure that decisions are made in time to meet the plans objectives.

  • Some of the key decisions  that have been made by the government are:
    • All new housing will have electric boilers from 2030
    • The UK’s electricity system will decarbonize by 2035
    • All new cars and vans to be zero emissions by 2050 (the majority by 2040)
  • What is not clear is what is the demand requirement for electricity if these policies are implemented and how is going to be achieved?
  • Driving consumers to use more electricity without being certain we have the capacity to deliver is putting ‘the cart before the horse’.
  • We need a detailed chronological plan which delivers the required decarbonized electricity and then when that has been achieved we can implement the policies currently targeted for 2030-2050

Policies to underpin a plan

  1. Of the typical 40GW of electricity generated by the grid today an average 40% to 50% is derived from fossil fuels (largely gas). Fossil fuels are going to be an essential fuel source for electricity output certainly up to 2050 since along with nuclear they provide the reliable and controllable base load which renewables such as wind and solar power do not. To continue to use fossil fuels and decarbonize them then we must invest in carbon capture, use and storage. A recent Royal Academy of Engineering webcast outlined how this can be done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZWvtPJ0DGY&t=991s

Policy: incentivize and compel the electricity suppliers to install carbon capture now with clear goals by year of decarbonized fossil fuel output.

2.Change National Building Regulations. One of the best ways of reducing electricity requirements form the grid is by generating the electricity in the buildings that use them. Building regulations should be changed to ensure that all future residential and commercial buildings incorporate solar power electricity generation and if possible battery storage. House builders will complain that this will put up the cost of buildings, the government should commission independent studies to show how this policy could be implemented in a cost effective and design efficient manner

Policy: change building regulations so that all new residential and commercial buildings incorporate solar power

Policy: commission a design study to show how this can be done in a cost effective and design sensitive way.

3.Incentivise current property owners to invest in solar power and battery storage. There are vast acreages of particularly existing commercial roof space which could be used to generate solar power electricity. The current export tariffs set by the electricity generators range 1p to 5p per kwhr. This compares to an average cost to the consumer of 23p per kwhr.

Policy: incentivize property owners to install solar power and export to the grid by setting a minimum price to be paid by the energy suppliers

Policy: encourage more investment in the solar supplier industry with UK manufacture of more of the equipment: solar cells, inverters, batteries etc. Particularly the currently enriched fossil fuel companies such as BP, Shell etc

4. Encourage investment in future energy generating technologies. There are many technologies being investigated as carbon free sources of electricity such as:

Blue and Green Hydrogen

Nuclear Fusion

SMR Nuclear Fission

Tidal Power

Some of these have still to be proven others (such as Tidal) are proven but require investment.

Policy: review with commercial financial and technical sources how these technologies can be developed in a timely manner.

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MACKPlan – Successful Referendum

We were delighted to see that the Milton Abbot/ Chillaton/Kelly (and surrounding districts) Neighbouhood Plan successfully passed the referendum stage on the 23rd June.

235 residents voted in favour of the neighbourhood plan being used to help decide planning applications and 23 residents voted against it; a turnout of 31%.  The threshold for the MACK Plan to come into force was in excess of 50% of the vote so the 90.7% achieved is a strong endorsement of the plan. 

As well as having a significant impact on any future Planning Applications in the area the Plan also incorporates a number of Policies and proposed Community Actions which when implemented will provide a further level of environmental protection.

The Plan now moves to an implementation stage under the responsibility of Milton Abbot Grouped Parish council. MAGPC are in the process of establishing an Implementation Team under the leadership of James Hitchcock. We know that James would be delighted to receive any offers of help to assist in the implementation of the Plan. Please contact us at gv@stoneventures.co.uk and we can put you in contact with James if you wish to help.

MABRAKE will continue its support during the Implementation Stage as we have done throughout the 8 years it took to complete the MACKPlan.

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MABRAKE – Our Committee Needs You!

We are seeking new committee members to continue the good work in protecting our environment in West Devon and beyond. Our current committee has 4 members and one associate member, but several of us are getting rather ancient and we have a concern that without new members then Mabrake may not be able to continue.

The commitment is not large, we meet every 8 weeks near Milton Abbot and we ask members to assist in any active campaigns and also bring possible new ones to our attention.

We have existed since 2008 and these are just some of the campaigns that we have undertaken and some that are still in progress:

  • Successful opposition to the siting of large Wind Turbines above Milton Abbot and above Tinhay.
  • Promoting an extension to the Tamar Valley AONB to cover an area up to Dartmoor – still in progress
  • Reviewing and commenting on new planning applications – in particular Class Q and others in the open countryside.
  • Raising concerns about the decommissioning of redundant Wind Farms – currently Cold Northcott Wind Farm outside Launceston where we have raised Freedom Of Information requests.
  • Raising with Borough Councils unauthorized developments which have no Planning Permission
  • Commenting on Government Policy on New Planning Proposals and Net Zero Plans – offering suggestions on how CO2 reductions can be made in an environmentally manner.
  • Commenting on draft local and neighbourhood plans

If you have a concern about preserving  the beautiful countryside and villages that we live in and a wider interest in environmental matters then please come and join us.

Make contact at gv@stoneventures.co.uk

Gary Vanstone

Chairman MABRAKE

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Wind Turbine Decommissioning – Cornwall CC Freedom Of Information Request

In a previous post (August 2020) we informed you about the shameful state of the Wind Farm at Laneast in Cornwall which has not been operating for at least 4 years and is a decaying environmental eyesore. We did eventually receive a response from Cornwall County Council to say they were aware of the situation and that the owner of the site had in 2019 received planning permission to upgrade the site. Well nothing has been done!

Following this we asked Cornwall County Council to respond the following Freedom Of Information request:

What is the number of Wind Turbine installations in Cornwall that have a legal commitment to removing the Turbines on end of life and what is the number that have no legal commitment

We received the following response:

Unfortunately the Council does not hold information relating to your request in a way that is retrievable. We have no mechanism for retrieving this information other than going through each application manually. This would obviously be very time consuming and would therefore take us over the time allowances for EIR/FOI requests.

This is clearly an unsatisfactory and worrying response since it means that Cornwall County Council when granting Planning Permission for Wind Turbine installations had no standard policy on decommissioning the Turbines at End of Life!

If this is the case we can expect many more environmental disasters in the making similar to Laneast!

We have now requested under the FOI act that Cornwall County Council undertake an Internal Review of their response our original FOI request. The response from this Internal Review is overdue by 2 weeks!

Wind Turbines should not be allowed to decay at End Of Life. Apart from the environmental eyesore they contain valuable materials, such as rare earths, and should be recycyled.

We will not let this matter rest!

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