Graphic: Wind farms owner dramatically shelves new projects in East Anglia

09:41 27 November 2014

One of East Anglias leading onshore wind turbine developers has dramatically shelved any new projects - triggering doubts about the future of the controversial industry

One of East Anglias leading onshore wind turbine developers has dramatically shelved any new projects - triggering doubts about the future of the controversial industry

Archant 2012

Onshore wind farms in East Anglia will be put on hold as one of the UK’s biggest green companies blames the government for making it impossible to build.

Campaigners’ reaction

Campaigners against wind turbines have welcomed the news.

David Ramsbotham, 69, of Church Street, Plumstead, has been campaigning against wind turbines for years and welcomes Ecotricity’s news.

He fought against the offshore Sheringham Shoal site and his on the committee to stop the turbine at Bodham, near Holt.

He said: “This is good news to try and stop building wind turbines on land. It’s the old argument that they are inefficient.

“And they really split communities. You get people in the same villages who are for them and against them. It costs communities a lot to fight them too. People end up raising lots of money themselves, and that is a problem as well.

“This gives our cause some hope, but with Bodham, it’s a different company.”

And the chairman of SHOWT (Stop Hempnall’s Onshore Wind Turbine) Geoff Moulton, 66, said he was relieved by the announcement.

TCI Renewables want to build three controversial wind turbines in Hempnall.

Mr Moulton, of Rectory Road, Topcroft, said: “The government have seen wind turbines have been a poor investment – onshore wind farms just don’t work.

“So it’s really good news.”

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Ecotricity owner Dale Vince says a change of strategy means his 20-year-old company will no longer apply to build any new wind farms in England.

The Great Yarmouth-born entrepreneur says the government is interfering unfairly in the planning system and as a result his company is wasting millions of pounds on projects which are ultimately rejected.

UKIP’s popularity: The green effect

With UKIP’s surge in popularity comes the Conservative need to stop voters switching parties.

In 2010 prime minister David Cameron pledged to lead the greenest government ever.

But many environmental groups – and Dale Vince – claim green issues have been driven down the Westminster agenda ever since.

Part of that deprioritising could be down to the need to keep Conservative voters blue – and stop them turning purple and yellow.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has spoken about the “lunacy of wind farms” and the supposed lack of consultation with the local community.

He said: “Building wind farms isn’t effective, it doesn’t work from an environment perspective and it doesn’t work from an economic perspective.”

In a booklet circulated to UKIP campaigners, entitled Fighting Wind Farms, the party gives guidance on how to persuade voters of their view.

It says: “There are many reasons for objecting to wind farms.

“For those living close to them, they are a noise and visual nuisance which can cause distress and a danger to health.

“For many, wind farms are an ugly intrusion into Britain’s natural heritage, and a despoilation of our precious and ancient wildernesses.

“But not everybody shares the appreciation for unspoilt landscapes.

“To make a convincing argument against wind farms it must be explained to people that wind energy suffers from many technical and economic problems, which left unchallenged will cause greater hardship for

people throughout the country.”

“It’s a change of strategy which just shows that it’s become very difficult to get wind farms through planning in England because the goal posts keep moving – the government keep changing the target,” he said.

Ecotricity owns 60 turbines spread over 17 wind farms in the UK. There are three operating in Norfolk, one at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynnn has been approved and the Shipdham site is in the planning process.

Mr Vince criticised the communities secretary Eric Pickles’ approach to green energy, saying it is a political tactic to stop Conservative voters switching to Ukip.

“The rules are being changed every few months in terms of planning, environmental assessments and financial support,” he said.

Ecotricity’s vision for two 100m turbines between the mid Norfolk villages of Shipdham and Bradenham have been long-running and a subject of contention.

The plans were first put forward 13 years ago and since there have been four public inquiries into the scheme.

Mr Pickles turned down the plans in September following the advice of a planning inspector – but Ecotricity have chosen to appeal that decision which is on-going.

And although Mr Vince said the government’s reaction to wind farms is only temporary – he did concede he does not know how long that could mean.

“They [the government] are simply shutting it down. They are changing planning, cutting support, closing companies down,” Mr Vince said.

“David Cameron promised to run the greenest every government, but he is doing quite the opposite.”

Ecotricity currently has six projects in the planning in England and six ready to be built.

But communities minister Kris Hopkins hit back at Mr Vince’s comments. He said: “These comments from a wind farm developer are simply wrong. Inappropriately sited wind turbines can be a blight on the landscape, harming the local environment and damaging heritage for miles around. This government has intentionally and transparently changed official planning guidance and appeal rules to ensure that these issues are better taken into account. We make no apologies for listening to public concern and giving local communities a greater say.”

What do you think? Write to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE, including your full contact details.

31 comments

  • Barney, that is totally irrelevant when discussing wind energy as a contribution to our energy needs. I agree the waste issue is probably the main concern - I recognise that, but if we want a low carbon energy base, then nuclear has to be part of that, and has to form the backbone. Otherwise, we follow the misguided path of the Germans, and hoodwink the public into believing wind energy is sacrosanct and hugely important, when in truth, they are erecting a number of brown coal (the worst type) power stations as they know wind doesn't work and their grid is at great risk. Whether nuclear should be part of our energy base needs to be determined on the basis of pro's and con's. I have no problem with that - my personal view is that, on balance, nuclear has to form part of the equation, with gas much of the remainder. I would like to see more invetment in hydro, though that is clearly a limited possibility in the UK. Coal cannot form part of our energy base going forward becuase of the CCA requiring carbon capture (not yet a viable technology). Wind can't work without 100% back-up by conventional means; in the next 72 hours, the 8,000MW plus metered turbines are expected to offer 1,600MW then down to 1,000MW, then back up to 4,000MW, then reduce to under 1,600MW. After that, who knows?

    Report this comment

    Trevor S

    Tuesday, December 2, 2014

  • So Trevor. What are we going to do with nuclear waste and how much is it going to cost?

    Report this comment

    Barney

    Monday, December 1, 2014

  • Barney, I am not clear why you insist on toally missing the point. It is true to say that nuclear, coal, gas power stations have both planned and unplanned service schedules and breakdowns, but the national grid had always had sufficient back up to call upon 'on demand'. The previous government delayed and delayed decisions on new nuclear, introduced the disastrous CCA in 2008; this and EU requirements (Large Combustion Plant Directive) have left us exposed - which the current intellectually challenged Ed Davey has exacerbated by his infatuation with renewables. The remorseless march of the turbines is nothing short of recklessness by this administration.

    Report this comment

    Trevor S

    Sunday, November 30, 2014

  • So there is this idea that renewables are subsidised. This is true but when it comes to nuclear fracking tax breaks on the North Sea or whatever it's ..well hmmm we won't go into that. Right so what about the billions of tax payers money - that is out of general taxation by the way -" we have spent on decommissioning nuclear plants. What about the £160 million on grid re inforcement for Hinckley c - paid for by all the other generators. What about the break price of nearly £100 for 35 years - and that's after a 10 year construction period we just signed up to. Is the benefit of this subsidy going to to a British entreprenuer - no all you kippers out there it's an annual 10% return for our friends over the channel and communist China. But this is the one that gets me. So we have all this waste. 300000 tons of it apparently I don't really know to be honest. What are we going to do with it. Nobody knows. All the kippers and nimbys are opposing projects to store it on their patch. So if we don't know what we are going to do with it, how do we know how much this will cost? If you can't price it up, how can you put it in your project finance model?

    Report this comment

    Barney

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

  • Hmmm... There is this idea that nuclear and fossil fuel generation is not intermittent but this is actually not the case. There have been several serious fires at fossil fuel sites including Didcot this year and four reactors have been taken off line in August. This has amounted to some 7% of total UK capacity. These incidents are a lot more serious than the odd turbine going down here and there. Renewables are indeed intermittent, but this intermittent supply is also surprisingly predictable. Also demand is also intermittent. Every investor in power production wants his plants to run 8000 hours a year flat out to get the returns he needs. We don't use power like that though so there has always been slack in the supply and there always will be.

    Report this comment

    Barney

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

  • May be good news for England but very bad news for Scotland as that's where he plans to develop next (for some reason this article doesn't include that). He seems to think he will be welcomed in Scotland. Maybe by the govt. but not by the people. You have Pickles overturning planning decisions in your favour. We have Ewing doing it in the opposite direction. Scotland is overwhelmed with windfarms and they don't work any better here.

    Report this comment

    peke41

    Friday, November 28, 2014

  • Mr Shurmer: the peer-reviewed empirical evidence has been ventilated (pun intended) ad nauseam on the EDPletters page: you take a different view: that is your prerogative: we will simply have to agree to disagree... I have not succumbed to terminal OCD...

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Friday, November 28, 2014

  • Mr. Wallis - not trying to patronise you, but evidence based? A few facts and figures to support your research would be good. As a matter of interest, the current fleet measured at potential 8,403MW metered capacity is producing, at this moment, under 500MW. This is expected to rise in a few hours to 3,000Mw (though the initial forecast was 4,000MW), then reduce again. Enough said, I think, about the variability, unpredicatbility and uncontrollable nature of the wind.

    Report this comment

    Trevor S

    Friday, November 28, 2014

  • Trevor Shurmer: don't patronise me, it makes you look even sillier: I've done my research and come to my own conclusions thank you, and they don't coincide with yours. Evidence-based, not ideologically driven

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Friday, November 28, 2014

  • Says it all when an economic basket case like France has spare power to sell to us. But then again, they invested in reliable nuclear energy while we have been throwing good money after bad at unreliable wind energy. I must admit though that i was an advocate of it initially, then they built "Gulliver" in Lowestoft where i live . Since then i have been able to look at it every day and it is stationary on a vast majority of days. I saw the evidence and changed my mind, unfortunately the people in charge of tax payers money, saw the evidence, but have carried on wasting money.

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Friday, November 28, 2014

  • Oh dear, what a shambles ! As with most things in this country our energy policy is in disarray. Europe has serious long term workable plans with comprehensive future energy supply coverage through the new euro wide super grid. What we have is a complete mess the result of many years of .pointless deliberations, under investment and reliance on outdated infrastructure which is not fit for purpose. This will fail sooner rather than later and will certainly not be able to cope with the increased future demands which will be placed on the system. We experienced during the winter of last year what happens during bad weather. This could well become the norm all year round. Power cuts everywhere. This coupled with the fact that we are paying some of the highest energy and fuel prices of any developed country does not bode well for our citizens or businesses. As previously mentioned billions of pounds have been wasted in this country, the output figures quoted in these comments are accurate and worrying. We are on course for serious energy shortages. Wind energy developers are pulling out en masse, thousands of projected jobs may not materialise. A radical, workable and sustainable energy strategy and solution needs to be sorted pdq.

    Report this comment

    Grey Fox

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Martin Wallis, thanks for the comments, but I haven't written a letter. At least I have not wavered in my fundamental opposition to the current crop of renewables, and for the past 8 years I have continued to oppose the push by of the so-called 'green' movement which has always shown an infatuation with ideology and dogma and not the facts. Now that a realisation is dawning on some politicians that wind is not the panacea, and that the FiT and RO are causing immeasurable harm to those in fuel poverty (for absolutely no gain to our energy security), perhaps things may change and you, Mr. Wallis, will do a bit of research and come to a more considered conclusion.

    Report this comment

    Trevor S

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Well said NickL The real problem is that Greeniots actually believe that these things work. Nothing (particularly onshore) could be further from the truth. They all need to be fed a day long message of "Green energy = idiocy, every time!!!!"

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • It is sad that some individual campaigners have never realised the potential this might have had for their communities, if they could actually talk to each other about it, rather than rah rahing to the sound of political opportunism. To say that nuclear is reliable when we have Fukushimas pollution coming down on us with the rain, when sea currents kill the fish of the West coast of the US, is just paid for advertising for some cheap Chinese reactors. UKIP and the so called countryside Guardians are giving China a hand up into the EU, whilst saying that they want out, talk about being confused. maybe all the clever comparisons that are shown here, can include the cost of decommissioning and the safeguarding costs for the waste they produce for their children's children before they pipe up next.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Some bizarre comments from the Windies posting here. Wind turbines have nothing to do with keeping the lights on - do check their output during periods of heavy demand. During the winter of 201011, when we had weeks of sub-zero temperatures and very heavy demand, wind was producing very little. At winter peak load (demand) on 7 December, 2010, when we had the 4th highest ever load of 60,050MW, the entire metered UK wind fleet onshore and offshore, with 5,200 MW headline capacity, was producing 300 MW. The largest turbine park in the UK, the then 322 MW Whitelee scheme was producing only 5MW. It was the same across W. Europe. As National Grid stated: "Recent history has shown that wind power output at the time of the winter peak can be very low. The winter peak normally occurs when temperatures are low and this often results from anti-cyclonic conditions that also mean very little wind. High pressure normally extends over a large area and this could mean there would be very little wind generation in Western Europe." (National Grid, ‘Winter Outlook Report 200910’. ‘Generation Side Risks’, 167, p.54) Wind is seldom there when you really need it.

    Report this comment

    NickL

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Mr Watson I have read your post and am confused as to its point, please explain?

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • OMG stand by for gushing triumphalist letter in tomorrow's EDP from Mr Shurmer (Trevor S)

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • In reply to PC. Yes, for me, that is the way forwards, and why not? We already burn gas, surely better if its OUR gas, and OUR gas pollutes no more than anybody elses's (should such things float your boat!) we already use and (desperately need) Nuclear, so why not new nuclear, safer, simpler and finely easier to de-commision than old nuclear. I would say it was more environmentally sound than having huge Combined Cycle Gas Turbines sitting at idle, (no power output, but still spinning and burning gas) waiting for the idiocy of wind to fail, yet again, to deliver the power we need. Whichever way (as an engineer, as I am) you look at it, it is difficult not to say that Green energy = idiocy, every time!!

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Sorry, the forward shash disappeared - the feed in tariff and RO are different and relate to the size of a project - I didn't mean they are the same thing as such.

    Report this comment

    Trevor S

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • I have to say that the comments from Paul Cunningham are bizarre at best and certainly not technically accurate. Up to recent times, the grid had a suitable cushion based on fossil fuel production and nuclear. We currently have 4% maximum. It is fine to have a view based on a comparison of technologies of equal technical value, but when the blinkered few who still base their ideology around a technology that is intermittent, unreliable, unpredictable and uncontrollable, versus those that are reliable, predictable, controllable, and 'on demand' whenever they are needed, think the former is the way forward, then we still have a problem. The 'green' movement (whatever that might mean) continue to support a morally corrupt feed in tariff Renewables Obligation, designed to make the very rich Dale Vince even richer at the expense of those in fuel poverty - it belies all understanding.

    Report this comment

    Trevor S

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • New Nuclear paid for by shale gas is the way forward? And that is more environmentally sound?

    Report this comment

    Paul Cunningham

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • PC. It is partly because we have wind and solar that we are now in the poss power cut situation we are in. Had the £Billions now wasted on renewables been spent on proper generation then we'd have plenty spare capacity and no problems. Wind and solar cannot be part of the solution, as you say, no unreliable or predictable form of energy is of any use to a national grid which needs, above all else, reliable generators to feed it. The 100% backup required by renewables adds to cost and adds to pollution compared to the back-up generators being the prime source. New Nuclear paid for by shale gas is the only practical way forward, anything else is simply Greeniot toys!

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Ukippers seems to think we have another planet to go to once we have ruined this one.I wish they would let us know which one.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Wind should be part of the solution, not the whole solution; buying nuclear-generated electricity from France or gas from Russia are not long term solutions.

    Report this comment

    Paul Cunningham

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • This is great news for tax payers everywhere as well as those who love the countryside. If UKIP is finally making politicians take notice of what people want, good for them. As for Paul C, get real. At this very moment wind is generating just over 12% of its supposed capacity whereas French nuclear power is providing almost double that. The rest is being provided by our gas powered stations which have to sit idle when not needed, thereby increasing the cost of power to us all. Wind is not much of a solution is it?

    Report this comment

    andy

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • When this winter or next, we start having power cuts and reductions, I expect the nimbys on here will be the very first to complain. How exactly do people think electrical supplies will be maintained in future if wind turbines, solar farms and wave power are all opposed?

    Report this comment

    Paul Cunningham

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Best news in a long time! Just need Bodham binned now and this beautiful part of the country can be kept wind lunacy free!

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • So wereare windmills, power stations, electricity pylons, gas works, factories, mills, etc......for goodness sake get into the 21st cent and stop being such a nimby.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • "blight on the landscape" - couldn't disagree more, they are modern and part of the future for micro-generation of electricity. Would happily have one in view of my home.

    Report this comment

    Testing_times

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Dick, that is a silly comment. It is neither the faultof the generators nor the fault of the owners that these com eto be sited in areas that don't need them. Any contential country can demonstrate how wind genertion can benefit local industry and the overall power generation of the country in question it is only in the UK where the government wants them to be sited on land (maybe beautiful) that is owned by their wealthy friends even though the power losses to the grid maybe significant. BTW they are much cheaper to decommission than the nukes

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

  • Hurrah - best news for a long time. Lets hope it becomes a permanent decision - these monstrosities are a blight on the landscape.

    Report this comment

    Dick

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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