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News from Nigel Adams and Progress in Parliament

6 March 2011 - Nigel Adams says "Don't take any notice of Ed Milliband"

I remember the now Labour leader Ed Miliband saying that "It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area..” and I remarked at a public meeting shortly afterwards that it was precisely this sort of comment that would stir even more local people into action against inappropriate onshore windfarms.

Since Mr Miliband’s insulting comments two years ago, more and more onshore windfarm applications and scoping for possible windfarms have come forward and the Selby District has got more than it’s fair share especially as the existing applications are proposed very close to populated villages within the area.

But it is worth looking at the case against wind: Often when it is coldest, and we need electricity most, there is no wind to generate power, a good example of this at 17.30 on the 7th of December last year, when the 4th highest United Kingdom load of 60,050 megawatts of electricity was recorded, the total UK wind fleet of approximately 5,200 MW was producing about 300 MW (i.e. it had a load factor of 5.8%).

Despite the fact that the average UK wind farm only operated at 20 to 25% of its capacity in 2010, wind power generators are paid whether the electricity they are making is needed or not. If there is too much electricity available, wind generators have to be subsidised to turn themselves off. Scottish Power for example, was paid £13,000 to turn off two of its wind farms for an hour last summer.

There is also a financial case against onshore wind farms which can require twice the subsidy of other renewable energy sources to be viable, such as co-firing non-energy crop biomass. Offshore wind is one of the most expensive renewable sources of energy available and receives up to four times the financial support of some other renewables.

So what’s in it for a community if a windfarm is built in the area? Not much in my opinion. Despite promises of generous financial support for local communities, the standard deal is for a wind farm to pay community projects £1000 per installed megawatt. A typical 2.3 megawatt wind turbine will make its owner £500,000, (half of which is taxpayer subsidised) and therefore they would pay out £2300 per annum to community projects, about 0.5%.

I agree with the Renewable Energy Foundation which says the wind farm industry is taking our money with one hand and expecting us to be grateful for the small change offered with the other. It could be argued that if a windfarm gets the go ahead, communities should be receive more generous, direct compensation to affected neighbours, and reduced council tax to reflect lost amenity.

I am pleased that the new Government has announced a variety of changes to onshore-wind power policy. For instance, you would have thought that windfarms would be built where the wind blows strongest but this has not always been the case in the past. So the Government is bringing forward a full review of the funding mechanism, to ensure that subsidies will not make it attractive to put windfarms in unsuitable locations.

Whilst appropriately sited windfarms have a contribution to make both to our energy security and to our low carbon goals as part of a mix of renewable sources, they should not be imposed on unwilling communities outside of a full and proper democratic process. I also hope that those residents opposed to the many windfarm developments in and around the Selby District take little notice of Mr Miliband’s comments and people should feel perfectly free to object to these plans without feeling that their actions are “socially unacceptable”.

Nigel Adams March 2011

Background information

Nigel Adams when he was our parliamentary candidate was very active in raising the issues concerning the proliferation of proposed wind farms in the Selby Area. Since he was elected he has continued to be supportive of our campaign and has been one of a Group of MP's working hard to get the issues of wind farms debated in Parliament. The key issues are

1. The degree to which we all subsidise the wind farms by a hidden subsidy that we all pay via our electricity bills.

2. The poor performance of wind farms, especially when they are sited in areas with low average wind speeds - like we have around Selby.  Reported average load factors for wind farms across the whole of the UK including Scotland where there is much more wind is only 21.9% as reported elsewhere.

3. The problems ( noise, health issues, loss of property value ) that they can create for people when they are built too close to their homes - nearer than 2km.

4. The poor fit with the economy around Selby where we have the opportunity to build on our skills in power generation through use of bio-mass and other fuels as well as carbon capture - which can produce far more power than the proposed turbines, at lower net cost and with genuine long term local jobs.

5. The failure of wind turbines to reduce CO2 emissions. In 2010 an extra 14% of onshore wind farm capacity was added but CO2 emissions went up - according to Government statistics. So we pay extra for our electricity so that wind farms can be profitable but they fail completely in their objective of reducing CO2 emissions.

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