NB The DECC responses are all couched in terms of “we”. Who are “we”? Who has consulted with the citizens of the UK to determine what ‘we need’ or what ‘we want’?
DECC: We need to move from finite, high-carbon fossil fuels to clean, secure energy.
Response: The resources may be finite, but there are sufficient known reserves to last for several hundred years. Long before that time all future energy needs will be met by nuclear fusion or other means. Use of fossil fuels in modern power stations is a very clean method of generating electricity. Why is no mention made of nuclear fuels, which are also clean? Nuclear and fossil fuels provide a secure form of energy, so to intimate that they are not secure is misleading.
DECC: The UK faces an unprecedented energy challenge – we must replace around a fifth of our existing electricity generation over the next decade – and as such we need to call on all the tools at our disposal to keep the lights on.
Response: The unprecedented challenge is the result of unprecedentedly bad Government policy decisions made over the last 20 years. We do not need to call on all the tools at our disposal; we need to select just from the best available. Replacement of existing despatchable power stations with modern despatchable coal, gas and nuclear power stations will ensure that the lights are kept on.
DECC: This means having a balanced energy policy, comprising a mix of nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture, and a major roll out of renewables.
Response: There is no such thing as “carbon capture”; fossil fuels contain carbon, the burning of which is providing the energy needed to generate electricity via a steam turbine and generator. If DECC mean “carbon dioxide capture”, then DECC should use precise language. It is noted that there is no technology capable of capturing carbon dioxide and storing it; such a technology is never likely to be developed – there are too many risks associated with the technology and the costs would be prohibitive. If DECC thinks otherwise, they should provide the evidence and costings.
Response: Why do we need a major roll out of renewables? The cost of electricity generated from renewable sources is prohibitively expensive and there are no guaranteed reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. DECC provide no evidence to demonstrate that the renewable technologies actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions, taking into account the carbon footprint of the technology and the full impact of operation of the technology on the emissions of conventional power stations acting as back-up to balance supply with demand and thereby maintain grid stability.
DECC: As well as onshore wind, we want to see large expansions in both offshore wind and sustainable bio energy.
Response: Why do we want onshore wind, since the electricity produced is at least twice as expensive as conventionally generated electricity? Why do we want a large expansion of offshore wind since it is about three times as expensive as conventionally generated electricity? Who exactly is it who wants to pay such high prices for electricity?
DECC: Onshore wind is one of the more cost-effective and established renewable technologies so it makes sense to use it.
Response: Onshore wind is not one of the more cost-effective renewable technologies as examination of the generation tariffs under the Feed-in-Tariff scheme shows:
500kW facilities, tariffs applicable from April 1st 2014 (Ofgem):
Anaerobic digestion: 11.52p/kWh
Solar PV 6.61p/kWh
Onshore wind is not one of the more established renewable technologies. Hydroelectricity is by far the most widely used form of renewable electricity generation and by far the most established.
DECC: Studies indicate that the UK has one of the best wind resources in Europe.
Response: The fact that the UK may have one of the best wind resources in Europe has no relevance. Nobody has ever discovered the sources of statements about the UK wind resource.
DECC: and of course the wind itself is a free and unlimited source of fuel, so it protects consumers against the volatile but generally increasing cost of fossil fuels.
Response: The fact that the wind is free and unlimited is irrelevant. What is relevant is the cost of the electricity produced from the wind and, as is obvious from the subsidies required, electricity produced from the wind is expensive and unaffordable. Fossil fuel prices may be somewhat volatile, but there is no evidence to suggest that they will increase in the future. Anything else is pure speculation. There has been little increase in the cost of coal this century and with the increase in world-wide shale gas exploration and development, gas prices have also been little changed. There is no evidence of any mismatch between supply and demand which will cause prices to rise markedly.
DECC: It’s also reliable, with the likelihood of low wind speeds affecting 50% of the country occurring less than 100 hours per year.
Response: Wind power is not reliable. To be reliable it would have to be capable of starting on demand and operating in a controlled manner for as long as required, with low likelihood of failure. On all counts wind power is unreliable, due to the fact that the fuel (moving air) cannot be stored or controlled. The fact that the wind speed cannot be predicted accurately and that the energy in the wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed just adds to the unreliability of wind power.
The likelihood of low wind speeds affecting 50% of the country is an irrelevant factor; it is the likelihood of low wind speeds affecting the whole country that is important. Low wind speeds resulting in no electricity, or an insignificant amount of electricity, generated by the country’s total wind fleet occurs on a regular basis. In particular it occurs during intense periods of cold weather in winter when demand for electricity is highest. That is why this country will always need conventional power stations whose total capacity exceeds predicted maximum demand with a safety margin. The ability of wind power to provide electricity when demand is at its highest, is zero.
DECC: The chance of turbines shutting down due to very high wind speeds is very low.
Response: The recent storms showed that a large percentage of the wind fleet shut down due to high wind speeds. An independent observer would think that wind turbines would be designed to operate in high wind speeds, since that is the only time when a sensible amount of energy can be usefully extracted from the wind. But of course wind turbines aren’t designed to operate in high wind conditions.
DECC: It is the Governments’ views that the evidence of the impact on property prices of the presence of a wind farm is mixed. Any development may have a negative impact on the value of adjacent property (although we have yet to see compelling evidence that there is a general fall in property prices around onshore wind farms that is caused by the presence of the wind farms). But in itself, that does not mean that a planning authority was wrong to allow it, or that the developer should be required to compensate the owners of such property.
Studies by the Berkeley National Laboratory (2009) and the UK Centre for Sustainable Energy (2011) found no conclusive evidence that house prices have been affected by wind farm development.
The US Government funded a study by the Berkeley National Laboratory in 2009 and 2013 to look at the impact of wind turbines on property prices. A link to that research can be found here: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2013/08/27/no-evidence-of-residential-property-value-impacts-near-u-s-wind-turbines-a-new-berkeley-lab-study-finds/.
The study found no conclusive evidence that wind turbines have an overall negative impact on property values, although there could be a link in some individual cases, it concluded:
“Specifically, neither the view of the wind facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities is found to have any consistent, measurable, and statistically significant effect on home sales prices.”
Although there have been claims of significant property value impacts near operating wind turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local communities, strong evidence to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the major U.S. studies conducted thus so far.
The UK Centre for Sustainable Energy (2011) found no conclusive evidence that house prices have been affected by wind farm development. A link to that evidence can be found at http://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/file/common_concerns_about_wind_power.pdf.
This report by the Centre for Sustainable Energy in May 2011, reviewed studies from around the world and concluded that these show that there is no devaluation in property prices nearby once a wind farm is operating. It suggested that fears are driven largely by the “anticipation stigma” found to exist during the planning and construction of wind farms, often bearing little relation to the actual community opinion or local property markets.
Any development may have a negative impact on the value of adjacent property (although we have yet to see compelling evidence that there is a general fall in property prices around onshore wind farms that is caused by the presence of the wind farms). But in itself, that does not mean that a planning authority was wrong to allow it, or that the developer should be required to compensate the owners of such property.
As a matter of planning law, impacts on property values are only to be taken into account in so far as they may provide evidence of the potential loss of amenity involved in a proposed development, which is a material consideration in relation to a decision to grant or refuse planning permission. In the case of wind farms, what needs to be assessed therefore are the potential landscape / visual and noise impacts.
The operation of the development control system means that, up to a point, a person who has purchased a property has to accept some disruption and inconvenience, or even loss, which may be caused by the lawful activities of another. The planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against those of another, although the protection of individual interests is an important aspect of the public interest as a whole and private interests may coincide with public interests in some cases. Lawful development may take place which does give rise to some loss of amenity. The basic issue is whether a proposal would unacceptably affect amenities and the existing use of land and buildings which ought to be protected in the public interest. Where such matters are material considerations, they must be taken into account at an inquiry and weighed against the merits of the proposed development.
Response: The Government has its ‘views’ on the effect on property prices adjacent to wind farms (and presumably individual wind turbines), but is clearly out of touch with reality and for a reason which is not explained, is referencing old data from the USA, which has no relevance to the situation in the UK, and a biased report from a pro-wind organisation. Evidence from on the ground in a rural area where wind turbines and wind farms have become prevalent shows that there is a significant impact on house prices. To any normal person this is self-evident. People who purchase properties in a rural area do so to get away from noisy industrial developments. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/10543073/Wind-farms-can-wipe-one-third-off-house-prices-MP-claims.html.
We still await a Defra report on the effect of wind turbines on house prices; this report appears to be being blocked by DECC. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/10260729/Secret-wind-farm-report-into-house-price-blight.html.