Davids strike Goliaths in the battle of wind at all costs

A small, perhaps inevitably rural, Scottish Community Council – here in Argyll – has landed a significant strike against the Scottish UK and EU governments under the Aarhus Convention.

Loch Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council, a member of Communities Against Turbines [CATS], has had a complaint accepted as valid for consideration by the Aarhus Compliance team of the United Nations Economic Council for Europe [UNECE].

The Aarhus Convention

The Aarhus Convention is more properly the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters – but, like the famous Maastricht Treaty, it is better know by the its name of place of origin.

However, if you look at the issues with which the Aarhus Convention is concerned, they set the nature of the complaint now to be heard:

  • access to information;
  • public participation on decision making;
  • access to justice in environmental matters.

The Aarhus Convention came into force at the end of October 2001. By 2009 it had been signed by 40 countries mainly in Europea and Central Asia and by the EU and ratified by 41 coun tries and by the EC. THe Ec has since been applying its principles in its legislation.

Kofi Annan, UN General Secretary from 1996-2006 has described the Aarhus Convention as ‘the most ambitious venture in the area of environmental democracy so far undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations’.

A strength of this convention is its unique mechanism for monitoring compliance by those who are parties to it. A review of compliance can be instigated in one of four ways:

  1. a party to the convention makes a submission concerning its own compliance;
  2. a party to the convention makes a submission concerning another party’s compliance;
  3. the Convention Secretariat refers a party to the Committee;
  4. a member of the public makes a communication concerning the compliance of a party.

The Loch Avich and Kilchrenan communication

It is, of course, this last mechanism that has been used by Loch Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council kin this matter.

Broadly speaking, the Aarhus Convention requires governments to make available the scientific justifications for programmes which are said to affect the environment in which we all live. Again broadly, the Scottish and UK Governments have not done this.

The position put forward on behalf of the Loch Aweside community council, now accepted for consideration and ruling (Ref ACCC/C/2012/68) is focused on a flawed consultation process at the heart of the Scottish Government’s renewables programme.

The purpose of the position put to UNECE is to demonstrate that the justification for the Scottish Government’s renewables programme – namely the emissions savings attributed to wind energy – are false in that both the EU and the UK have systematically made claims which are neither transparent nor valid.

The consequence of this has been that planning approvals and consents under the Electricity Act have been fatally undermined, since they have proceeded on an entirely false prospectus supporting wind farm development across the UK and the European Union.

The communication lodged and now accepted seeks to demonstrate and prove that the CO2 and harmful pollution savings figures used to justify the whole programme are false; and that the manner in which the EU is bringing through its Directives (for example by country-by-country Renewable Energy Strategies), is unlawful.

Secondly, it seeks to show that proper compliance with planning procedures at the local level is being by-passed as these projects are being taken through the consenting system.

Matters of serious concern are:

A key change of policy at Forestry Commission Scotland

Following recent policy changes at Forestry Commission Scotland, developers now have exclusive investigative rights of search for the entire FCS estates.

This has exposed the actual level of developer and FCS intentions for hosting renewable energy projects.

Here is a public authority, with vast tracts of land held in National trust, engaged in multiple developments of a commercial nature in the field of energy – all of which as individual projects fall under Annex II of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, for which this same public authority is the competent authority for purpose of development consent.

There may well be legal grounds for considering this as a plan or programme, for which the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive should apply.

In addition, before consents are given to individual projects, the whole plan / programme of development of the FCS estate in this new area should have been subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment.

This is particularly the case as it is obvious that this plan / programme for development of the forestry estates is associated with significant environmental effects.

The gagging of Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage can no longer object to proposals unless they impact upon areas of National Interest.

This is another retrograde step. It cannot fail to impede the ability of SNH to carry out its remit to the same extent as previously witnessed.

Particularly within this new FCS area of activity, the removal of SNH’s ability to object could be of major public concern.

The related and successful Irish communication to UNECE

An earlier and associated communication lodged from Ireland in 2010 to the UNECE Compliance team has already [Ref ACCC/C/2010/54] seen it find public participation arrangements related to the Nation Renewable Energy Action Plan [NREAP] to be deficient.

The UNECE’s Compliance team’s draft findings on the participation arrangements related to the Nation Renewable Energy Action Plan are here: C-54_EU_Draft_Findings29Apr12.

The consequence is that the EU will have to go back and bring in the rquired measures, so that the public is provided with the necessary information and the opportunity to participate in decision-making when all options are open and effective public participation can take place.

This is a very different scenario to the familiar one where this happens, to a degree, after programmes and targets are presented in a final form to the public.

Further issues of particular importance for Scotland relate to the current public interest in subsidy payments and to what environmental damage is actually funded by such subsidies.

The UNECE Final Ruling on this Irish communication is now public

In respect of  Ref. ACCC/C/2010/54, which demonstrated how the National Renewable Energy Action Plan programme by-passed proper assessment and democratic accountability, the UNECE ruling is now finalised.

It finds the EU in breach of the Convention.

Furthermore,in the 27 EU Member States the renewable programme must now undergo proper assessment to provide the necessary information to the public

This then must be followed by proper public participation, in which the public’s input has to be taken account in the finalised decision.

At the European Parliament, a question relating to this was put down by Roger Helmer (EFD) for a written anser by the Commission:

‘Subject: Aarhus Convention

’1. Is the Commission aware of the recent draft findings of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) concerning violations of the Aarhus Convention with regard to the determination of EU renewable energy policies?

’2. Since the Aarhus Convention has been incorporated into EC law, does the Commission agree that EC law is now being breached?

’3. Will the Commission now call on the Member States to suspend their renewable energy programmes until the situation is rectified?’

The answer from the Commission was:

‘Answer given by M. Potočnik on behalf of the Commission`;

‘The Commission is aware of the draft findings of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) concerning compliance by the European Union with provisions of the Convention in connection with the renewable energy programme in Ireland (Ref. ACCC/C/2010/54)

‘These findings are still provisional; they do not constitute the final findings of the ACCC, let alone have the Parties to the Aarhus Convention endorsed them. The Commission has provided the ACCC with comments and further information which might lead the ACCC to reassess the case(1). It is therefore premature to indicate any consequences of the draft findings.’

The Commission’s comments on the draft findings of the ACCC are available here.

On the latest communication accepted by UNECE’s Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, we understand that this is likely to make serious progress.

The lesson

The lesson here is the one Goliath learned to his cost – the stopping power of the well aimed sling from the little man.

This has already been demonstrated in Argyll by the Kintyre Offshore Wind Action Group, KOWAG.

Their expertise, research and determined opposition succeeded in seeing off the government’s and developer’s attempt to muscle through a proposal for an ‘offshore’ wind farm that began just off a Kintyre beach and was bang in the middle of a major shipping and leisure sailing route.

Here is a little Loch Aweside community council refusing to be rolled over and successfully invoking the authority of an international Convention which governs the nature and provision of public access to information, participation in decision taking and access to justice in environmental matters.

An indication of UNECE’s direction of travel can be seen in the fact that it has posted this on its website – a republication of a Scotman article on the impact of the successful Irish communication to its Compliance team, reported above.

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17 Responses to Davids strike Goliaths in the battle of wind at all costs

  1. all:Condensed version of my earlier post…thank god for an edit facility.
    This was obviously just around the corner, there is obviously something wrong otherwise the above post would not have ever come about…the below information simply adds to the fact that the SG is now way out of line in regards to democratic process,. To the initial bullet point list at the top of this page can now be added that the SGnow they intend to start a campaign of indoctrination of impressionable children.
    the SG will no doubt be facing another UN or EU court shortly…please read on, this is outragous.
    I am completely blown out of the water and shocked at the: new government guidelines issued by the SNP :http://www.project-gpwind.eu/
    I sat up to the wee small hours looking through the doc, each page turn was shocking…and then the penny dropped, I had intended to write an article on the following but so much is happening in the SG’s now desparate rush to secure a “nationalistic lever” ie: Commercial Wind power in the face of an obvious voter backlash and with wind having reached saturation point…
    I defer to the Telegraph, who have (like For Argyll)idone an outstanding job with this:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/9490886/SNP-proposes-wind-farm-propaganda-for-the-classroom.html
    I read increased desperation from SG..!
    until recently SG has had an armchair ride on renewables and wind in particular..CATS/NTA /Others are making an increasing impact. The SG is now blatantly‘doctrinaire and dictatorial on policy,
    The SG would serve the people of Scotland better by improving basic education ..didnt the Arnold Clark report on apprentices show that something like out 1800 out of 2300 of applicants were totally unemployable…. in the widest sense of the word ..
    The bubble has burst the SNP’s cards are on the table for all to see…are they supid ? this is not streamlining of the system…its steam rolling.
    Commercial WIND POWER in Scotland IS now proven to driven by nationlistic but unfortunately fully undemocratic policies, dictatorial politics and complete arrogance. This is funded and supported by the multi-national companies that the SG, Golem like cap in hand are forced to share a bed with.
    This is such a great shame and given the issuing of the new guidances things will never be the same again…if this had been handled properly in an un bias fashion, and at a pace that is not attached to political agendas pertaining to independance… Scotland could have been proud of it’s renewable track record and plans for the future.
    Donald Dewar will be turning in his grave….you are as you promised, trying to turn us into the Saudi Arabia of renewables, complete with commercial/political wind power MADRISA schools.
    This is why (SR I’m afraid this answers earlier suspicions ref:community bribes been undemocratic)
    Iberdrola Scottish Power Renewables can arrogantly saunter into Tiree High and offer 10,000 pound for the RESET to train our kids. They were part designers (as quoted along with SSE et al) of the new guidelines and have set the agenda for the Scottish people.
    The SNP will infect the classrooms with pro-wind farm propaganda in order that they achieve their green energy targets. ..and to this end the reason they are selling out to foreign multi nationals…good by England hello and welcome Spain et al the new landlords of Scotland…will Scotland ever learn ?

    I have no problem with teaching kids about energy conservation…about preventing waste…because in this case, there are no choices to be made that could be percieved or manipulated to political ends.

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  2. newsroom: “The communication lodged and now accepted seeks to demonstrate and prove that the CO2 and harmful pollution savings figures used to justify the whole programme are false”

    Having read the submission, it is clear that it demonstrates or proves nothing of the kind. All it contains in respect of CO2 emissions are a few assertions backed by ‘man in the pub told me’ type justifications.

    Perhaps tellingly, UNECE’s response, which asks for clarification on a number of the allegations, makes no direct mention of the CO2 issue but is concerned primarily with whether the UK government and local authority carried out the proper public consultations on the principle of wind power targets and the Carraig Gheal project respectively, and what evidence there is of them deliberately withholding information from the public. Time will tell what their conclusions are in that respect, but pound to a penny they will not be interested in the CO2 question.

    Indeed the ‘debate’ on whether wind power reduces CO2 emissions is a bit like the ‘debate’ on whether man-made climate change might be a problem – it exists only in the minds (and on the websites) of those few who desperately wish it to be wrong, for whatever reasons.

    Everyone knows that energy is used and CO2 produced in the construction of wind towers just like for any other type of generation plant, but that this is repaid many times over during their lifespan. Everyone also knows that in operation, wind turbines do not burn fossil fuels and therefore produce no CO2, other than the tiny amounts associated with operation and maintenance. Finally, while it is true that increasing amounts of intermittent generation in a predominantly fossil-fired power system may cause slight reductions in generation efficiency elsewhere in the system, these effects are minimal with the levels of such generation implied by UK targets, and there is plenty scope to reduce them further in the longer term future, with improved network design, storage and demand management.

    I for one would like to see much more in the way of a planned approach to meeting the renewables targets which have been set, and proper consultation and debate at both national and local level, but initiatives such as this which are built on flimsy and discredited pretexts about the value of the technology itself are a waste of everyone’s time.

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    • What you say gels with the general perception that UNECE is concerned not with substance but with procedure.

      What we are seeing in the Loch Avich community council strategy is one of the consequences of very poor governmental consultation material, equally poor process and a refusal to listen and respect until they are sandbagged by a KOWAG or an NTA.

      I have sat in on a series of consultation meetings, for example, on marine protection areas where the material on which the consultation was based was pedestrian, often inaccurate and incomplete; and where the staff conducting the workshops prioritised the need to tick the feedback boxes, resorting blatantly to baldly leading questions to get the desired ticks.

      This avoidance of reasoned analysis and discussion leaves those denied a genuine voice in a position where they must take whatever tools are available to defend their position.

      These are the rules – and often the tools – chosen by those who determine the game and the result.

      The problems with Conventions and UN organisations are threefold – a preoccupation with the bureaucratic; a general lack of urgency; and, on account of both of these characteristics, a tendency to be dismissed by signatories whose procedures they are intended to govern.

      However, since they do exist, they do have a rubric and they have been signed up to, there will always be a point – usually long after Elvis has left the building – when those who have adopted them and then abused them are indeed called to account.

      Personally, I would sign up to every syllable of your last paragraph, if it can be accepted that governmental cases are, more often than not, every bit as given to special pleading and every bit as insecurely evidenced and feebly argued as can be said of some counter cases. But the government case is resourced to be good.

      We cannot forgive the case we prefer for its inability while condemning those we do not for the same weaknesses.

      We need a substantially raised game here, with hard and interrogated evidence and rational argument – given the seriousness of the issues on both sides of this debate.

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  3. Tim McIntyre – “Everyone knows that energy is used and CO2 produced in the construction of wind towers just like for any other generation plant, but that this is repaid many times over during their lifespan.”

    Can you produce the figures to justify this assertion? I have been asking for credible calculations on this point since wind turbines were first proposed, with no response so far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Ref Comment :”Scottish Natural Heritage can no longer object to proposals unless they impact upon areas of National Interest.” I this referes to areas already established as protected. Thus we await the establishment as recommended by the JNCC of SPA and MPA status within the waters of Tiree. Under international/EU law such areas fall under protection even without accreditation. Case of fact is quantification of an MPA is again in progress with the basking shark survey.

    The search area has simply been extended to cover the entire area from Mull to Skye…one would hope that the SG defers to the environment rather than the wind energy companies…The west coast of Scotland, though windy, is no place for major inshore wind power stations or for that manner any other form of major industrialisation…
    If permissions to construct the Argyll aka Tiree Inshore Array are granted this is akin to granting permissions to remove the Cullins for road stone.

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    • I didn’t realise that SNH can’t object to proposals unless they impact upon areas of National Interest and so I hope that cooncilors on the planning group are aware that the absence of an objection in SNH reports (that are not “national interest”) shouldn’t therefore be interpreted as a “green light”.

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      • SNH have been told they cannot object by the Scottish government Jake. However, do not lose hope :) The Skerryvore reef area may yet become an area of national and international importance (re: Basking Sharks/Great Northern Diver) if id does not, we already have the case ready for the International courts…and will expose the both the Scottish Governments and Scottish Power Renewables (Iberdrola)hipocracy and methodology of meeting wee Alex’s green dream.

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  5. I completely support Karl, s views here.

    Amazing how you can have a protected area around Barra but Tiree surrounding sea area is for sale along with a cash back guarantee underwritten by Scottish government and uk tax payer.
    Bit like a bond issued by a Spanish government surely the way forward to solve the euro crisis would be for the Greek government to build windfarms in Scottish onshore water and sell so called offhsore bonds for this.

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    • Also Barra fishermen don’t want an MPA (different type of fishing)whereas Tiree’s creel fishermen have no problem with an MPA…they were the first to state the area is a spawning ground where the trawlers can’t trawl! and should be protected…they also don’t expect compensation if its an MPA!

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  6. Agreed but it is obvious of paramount importance that if any protection status is given to area around Tiree the current fishing lobster crab creel status stays the same

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    • Already ascertained this from SNH and JNCC…low impact targeted fishing…carried out over large area….with a low amount of boats, is sustainable given that all crab/lobster are subject to a measurement.

      Fishermen on Tiree know the same.

      Karl

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  7. From THINK SCOTLAND:

    “SIXTY-THREE individual policy initiatives are employed by the UK and Scottish Governments to address the energy and climate change agenda. Mother Green and her hysteria machine successfully convinced policymakers that the unbridled deployment of renewable technologies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Only wind power could be rolled-out fast enough to even attempt to meet emissions reduction targets, so there are now 322 operational wind farms in the UK with another 44 under construction, 276 consented and 320 in the planning process. Over HALF of these wind farms are strewn across Scotland.

    Groupthink – the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, resulting typically in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making – unquestionably drove the rush for wind and blinded by planet-saving romanticism, the environmental lobby became the mouthpiece of the wind industry. It conjures memories of Lenin, who branded Western socialists as ‘useful idiots’ when their blind ideology aided the realpolitik aims of the Soviet Union. Even politicians were duped. Opposing wind farms was ‘socially unacceptable’ according to former Climate Change Minister, now Labour Leader, Ed Miliband. Thus, the majority kept silent as green scaremongering prophesised impending doom unless we gave way to thousands of turbines.

    Nevertheless, as turbines multiply, objectors are less frequently discounted as out-of-touch aesthetes, sentimentalists and nimbyists. Leading Scottish scientists have lambasted turbines built in forested areas and on deep peatland, which stores 55kg of carbon per cubic metre – three times as much as tropical rainforest. Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, IBERDROLA’s (Scottish Power Renewables)Whitelee Wind Farm, was not only built on the deep peatland of Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow, but the Forestry Commission revealed that over 1,500 acres of forest were felled to facilitate the project. The irreparable damage caused to natural carbon sinks means that more CO2 was released into the atmosphere than would ever be saved by turbines.

    Despite the huge outlay on turbines, DEFRA reported that the UK’s carbon footprint in 2009 was actually 20% greater than in 1990 and the Global Warming Policy Foundation found that a temperature rise would be postponed by a mere 66 hours by 2100 despite costing £120 billion per year in wind power investment. This damning evidence has caused many observers to predict the imminent end of the commercial wind farm scam.

    Wind energy has not, however, been completely consigned to the Gerald Ratner book of botched businesses. Developers are now industrialising our fragile marine environment with bigger, more expensive turbines that will supposedly harvest this ‘free’ resource more efficiently whilst appeasing (nor in the case of the ARGYLL ARRAY) interfering nimbyists and luddites. In reality, bigger turbines only mean’s bigger environmental impacts.

    Offshore wind is often overlooked, if not completely forgotten by anti-wind campaigners. Just 1,371 offshore turbines are grid connected in Europe, spread across fifty-three wind farms in ten countries, producing just 0.4% of the EU’s total annual electricity consumption. Scottish waters are yet to house any major offshore wind farms but the development of offshore wind in Scotland is set to expand rapidly as the Government strives to meet renewable energy commitments…(Argyll Array is not needed to meet renewable energy commitments and will not be online by the deadline set by the EU or indeed Alex Salmond)

    At a European Wind Energy Association conference in Amsterdam last November, the Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing announced that 15 areas of Scottish waters have been identified for development of offshore wind farms. Nowhere is safe. North Berwick, the Firth of Forth, the Moray Firth, Orkney and Shetland, the Western Isles, the stunningly beautiful inner Hebrides (TIREE) and Ayrshire coastlines will all be transformed into vast electricity factories. Apart from the visual impacts, the financial implications for Scottish households and the destruction of many local fishing industries, the plans have worrying and consequences for the marine environment…the oceans are dying world wide and the Scottish government intends to add to the speed of this destruction.

    The term ‘blue carbon’ is relatively unheard-of but its environmental importance is unrivalled. Blue carbon stores are the peatlands of the sea – natural carbon sinks that absorb and store millions of tonnes of carbon.

    Every day, 22 million metric tonnes of CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. An estimated 55% of all carbon in the atmosphere which becomes sequestered in natural systems is cycled into our seas. Blue carbon ecosystems, which include seagrass meadows, kelp forests, saltmarshes,mangrove swamps, cold water corals store up to 70% of the carbon permanently stored in the marine realm and Scottish waters are home to over 20% of all seagrass meadows in north-west Europe…and a haven for endangered species elsewhere. (ARGYLL ARRAY AREA)

    Despite their importance, around 2-7% of global blue carbon sinks are lost annually. The rate of loss can be four times that of rainforests. Building massive turbines near such resources will only exacerbate the damage and release huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The pro-wind lobby will maintain that most UK seagrass meadows grow in depths of 0-5 metres and therefore they won’t be affected by offshore turbines. But shallow water wind farms already exist in the UK – Gunfleet Sands, Kentish Flats and Scroby Sands wind farms all have turbines in depths ranging from 0-11m – in fact seagrass and kelp can grow in depths of 20 metres +. In any case, the issue is that turbines can impact these ecosystems even if they are not built directly on top of them…The cumulative impact of surrounding our shores with industrial sized wind power stations on migrating birds, marine mammals, basking sharks and other endangered species is not been taken into consideration. The Scottish Government wishes to subject Scotlands wild life to death by a thousand cuts. The old methodology of ” Case by Case” planning has to be stopped…and a strategic assessment of the damage they (politicians/international power giants) have already done and plan to to must be established.

    When excavating the seabed for the foundations necessary for turbines to stay upright in stormy seas, huge amounts of sediment will be introduced into the water column. Larger sediment will be deposited close to the turbines, smothering all life and creating a ‘dead-spot’ around the development. Finer sediment will be easily transported by unpredictable waves and currents and deposited elsewhere, often in shallow inshore waters.
    Ill-informed environmentalists claim that new, safe habitats will be created for marine species. But arguing that installing turbines in a stable ecosystem will increase the populations of living organisms is scandalous misinformation, akin to arguing that installing large industrial turbines in the middle of a pristine forest will somehow increase populations of birds and badgers!

    Renewable energy developers are again manipulating green groupthink to industrialise our coastlines with turbines. But the accelerated transformation of our seascapes into vast, rusting electricity factories is a philosophy of fools. Arguing that the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action may sound convincing at first, but protecting our natural carbon stores – peatlands, forests and blue carbon sinks – is priceless.

    Even in the unlikely event that climate change targets are achieved with wind power (the EU’s not Alex Salmonds), it will be a Pyrrhic victory. The Government gambled with onshore wind energy and we lost. They should not attempt to pick winners. We must find what is right for Scotland and until then, a greener future must be built on the strong foundations of energy conservation and energy efficiency.

    Oscar Wilde famously said that ‘experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing’. Scotland has experienced the unrelenting imposition of wind power and it most certainly did not come for nothing. But renewable energy companies are the only ones who learnt from the onshore wind experiment. They learnt that vast sums of money can be acquired if the lucrative subsidy regimes are harvested before the anti-wind intelligencia is mobilised. They also recognised that the sound carries twice as far when someone else blows your horn and they are happy to sit by whilst misguided environmentalists and ignorant politicians fight their corner.

    Green groupthink must never conquer common-sense. Where is the value in destroying some of our most important and fragile ecosystems in order to build wind turbines that will struggle to last 20 years? The lesson for everyone is that the green lobby does not have the monopoly on environmental protection. You do not need a Greenpeace membership card to care for the environment. No single person owns the environment. Each and every one of us has a duty to protect it because we do not inherit the land, or seas, from our ancestors; we merely borrow them from our children.

    Ben Acheson is a Parliamentary Assistant to Struan Stevenson MEP at the European Parliament in Brussels.

    (Karl; SUPERB)

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  8. Pat Swords deserves praise, far more than I can offer.

    Here is a post by Pat Swords in the bishophill blog “Hearing rules against UK renewables programme”. She has won the consultation issue and had accepted that there is a case regarding CO2 emissions.

    The ruling on the failure of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) to comply with Article 7 of the Convention was directed at both the UK and the EU.

    There are some complex and emerging legal issues here, but essentially one can have strategies, planning policies, etc, which are somewhat instruments of soft law. However, a plan with defined objectives to be delivered in terms of infrastructure is a different matter, in particular as the NREAP was adopted through the provisions of Article 4 of Directive 2009/28/EC on renewable energy without the necessary provisions for public participation being implemented by the EU and other Member States, such as the UK.

    One could certainly point out that planning consent of any further developments to implement the content of the NREAP would be legally invalid, until such time as the NREAP is fully compliant with the requirements defined under National and Community law and International Treaty Arrangements with regard to environmental democracy and public participation.

    In reality the planners will continue to seek to ignore this and plough on regardless, a failing of the planning process I will highlight in a later post. This would leave one with having to seek an injunction to stop the further continuation of the plan, e.g. planning consents, funding arrangements, until the necessary provisions of public participation are complied with for the adoption of the NREAP. These include not only Article 7 of the Convention, but also the more specific Community Law provision of Strategic Environmental Assessment. Currently I’m embroiled in this in the Irish High Court with regard to the Irish NREAP.

    However, I would recommend that readers do actually have a look at the UK NREAP.

    http://tinyurl.com/luaarzk

    On pages 152 and 153, is the expected installed capacity of renewable generation, which by 2020 reaches 34,150 MW of installed onshore wind energy and 44,120 MW of offshore wind energy. As regards the rest of the document, the NREAP decided what was to be built to achieve the 15% target and then in its own words provided the financial and administrative model to deliver it.

    In times to come (if not now), people will wonder what the hell the people who came up with this were smoking. At no stage was it worked out where all of this stuff (some 30,000 wind turbines) was to be built, what were the impacts on the environment, such as landscape, human beings, biodiversity, etc. What were the protection measures. What exactly were the objectives in terms of real CO2 savings given the horrendous inefficiencies on the grid? What were the alternatives to achieve those objectives and what was the likely evolution of the environment without implementation of the plan? All of these are key aspects of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process before such a plan can be adopted.

    In fact these issued were never assessed prior to the adoption of the NREAP, as the clear philosophy was that the plan would be adopted first, there being no time to do otherwise, and these environmental assessment would be completed at a later phase. However, the Convention is quite clear, in that environmental considerations have to be incorporated into decision-making and as such public authorities have to be in possession of accurate, comprehensive and up-to date environmental information. Furthermore, public participation is mandatory under Article 7 of the Convention for such plans and programmes related to the environment and also has to take place when all options are open. In this process the public has to be provided with the necessary information to enable them to participate effectively in the decision-making, as to what is to be built around them.

    Not only was this necessary information for the public not available, but the legally required public participation step on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan was by-passed. As a result a deluge of planning policies and planning consents resulted to deliver the targeted infrastructure in the plan, without the plan itself ever being subjected to the legally required environmental assessment and public participation.

    Neither, for that matter, did the Renewable Energy Strategy which predated the NREAP even attempt to assess those impacts on landscape, population, etc. So was the UK public provided with the necessary information? The answer is No. Neither did the NREAP itself undergo a formal public participation step.

    Instead, it was all rushed through and set in motion, which, as can be seen in a multitude of cases, has lead to real problems, which will become increasingly apparent and inevitably result that people will have to turn to the Courts.

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  9. Thank you, Hans. I am grateful for the update and the comittment you have to the cause.

    I don’t suppose anyone even bothered to ask for scientific evidence as to whether this strategy would make any difference to global warming in the first place.

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