Energy Bill

Written evidence submitted by Lyndsey Ward (EB 07)

I campaign in Scotland for the protection of communities, individuals, the environment, wildlife and vital tourism industry.

All of which have been threatened by reckless and ruthless onshore wind deployment.

I have campaigned against several inappropriately sited onshore wind developments.

My submission relates entirely to the wind industry and from a Scottish perspective.

I support the early ending of onshore wind support and ask that Clause 66 be reinstated in full.

My reasons are below:

1. As a resident of Scotland we are not protected by the community veto given to citizens in England and Wales. As planning is fully devolved the Scottish Government (SG) has chosen not to afford us the luxury of having a voice on matters, like onshore wind farms close to where we live, preferring to speak out only for the wind industry and those with vested interests.

For years campaigners have pleaded with the SG to listen to them but to no avail.

Communities have been blighted by massive turbines too close to their homes and the pittance they are offered as ‘compensation’ does nothing to make such developments acceptable to them.

The early ending of onshore wind support has afforded some protection but wind developers are still submitting applications with at least one admitting projects in Scotland and Wales are ‘on ice’ to see what support is going to be offered in the future.

They have shelved further projects in England because of community empowerment.

2. With the Energy Minister, Amber Rudd, stating we have enough onshore wind already approved to reach targets there is absolutely no need to continue with any financial support to the industry.

3. With the Energy Minister, Amber Rudd, stating that the money allocated for onshore subsidy has been spent, to continue with financial support will burden consumers even more. It would be fundamentally wrong to force energy bill payers, including the most vulnerable in our society, to continue to pay money to an industry that has seen great wealth bestowed on it and the complicit landowners by the past subsidy system, some of whom, reportedly, receive £35k - £50k pa per turbine on their land.

The Scottish Government’s excessive wind farm deployment has greatly contributed to the available subsidy money being used up prematurely and must shoulder the blame, in part, for any early closure of financial support.

4. Onshore wind is now a mature technology and should not be reliant on payments made by the consumer any more.

5. Recent weather conditions across the UK have shown metered onshore wind producing less than 0.1% of our energy needs. In Scotland we frequently have such high pressure over the country when it is freezing cold. There is no wind, demand is extremely high and reliable generation has to be there to keep our lights and the heating on! Any available money should now be directed at technologies that are not weather dependent and are always there when we need them.

Even if we had a million turbines when the wind doesn’t blow there is no wind energy.

6. We have seen, in Scotland, a slight shifting of how wind developments are being presented. There are new names given to proposals and offers of investment, all designed to make the development appear to be community based. Nothing could be further from the truth and is seen as a deliberate ploy to try and gain some subsidy concession for ‘community’ schemes when in truth they are not. If communities were balloted to see if they wanted to host wind factories the Scottish Government knows (based on the hundreds and thousands of objections to most projects) the wind farm would be rejected. This is why we are relying on the early end of the subsidies to stop unwanted developments and ask the UK Energy Minister to be aware of such attempts to appear to be ‘community’ projects if community wind support is being considered.

7. Planning fees in Scotland are a fraction of those in England.

eg: Fees for a 17 turbine development in England costs around £250k – in Scotland £22k.

This is yet another reason developers are flocking to Scotland. The fees do not cover the costs of the inevitable appeals and public inquiries as developers refuse to listen to local opinion and take whatever steps they have to, to try and secure approval. This means huge financial burdens on local authorities and services. The SG refuses to increase planning fees to a more realistic level and has frozen local council tax for several years.

The ending of onshore wind support is the only way Scotland’s communities, environment and local services can be protected.

8. In Scotland the constraint payments made to wind operators to not generate have been eye-watering. This is a further burden on consumers. Not content with despoiling the very thing tourists visit our country for with turbines we are now seeing massive swathes of Scotland destroyed for huge pylon lines and substations to service them. The ending of support would mean the unapproved massive grid enlargement projects can be re-examined to see if the proposals are necessary before irreparable harm is done.

9. Further wind support in Scotland will result in further constraint payments.

Payments that are made above the price the wind operators would get for generating electricity. Why is this so?

10. The re-instatement of Clause 66 will put an end to the speculation that Scotland will somehow be treated differently and onshore support will remain. Scotland does not have the population to fund further wind farm folly and its contribution to England’s energy demand does not make it worth asking UK wide consumers to pay for it.

January 2016

 

Prepared 25th January 2016