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My use of the phrase ‘lining the pockets …

Comment posted Fife Council joins Aberdeenshire in asking for suspension of wind farm applications by Tim McIntyre.

My use of the phrase ‘lining the pockets of distant investors and absentee landowners’ was inteded to be a bit tongue-in-cheek – it is a common refrain of the anti-wind lobby. I do not have any objection in principle to large-scale wind power developments appropriately sited, as it is these which will make the biggest overall contribution to renewable energy targets.

My point was that the undoubtedly large and valuable wind resource of the area needs to be developed in a way which brings a reasonable level of economic benefit to the local inhabitants as well. Some of this will come from jobs created in building and servicing other people’s wind farms but local ownership and control of a proportion of the capacity would seem to be a vital element to encourage.

Subsidies always create inequalities and distortions but in a market-based electricity system are the only mechanism by which government policy can be implemented. There is a constant tension between the need to provide long-term stability in order to encourage investment, and the desire to constantly tweak the subsidies to reflect falling unit costs – witness what has happened in solar PV recently.

Tim McIntyre also commented

  • Malcolm: subsidies for renewable energy do not exist in order to provide an income for community projects. They are there to encourage investment in renewable energy capacity.

    If that means that communities with a strong wind or other natural energy resource are able to harness it to generate a modest income, that is a bonus – a side effect. It’s not ‘free’ income anyway – the community has to raise the capital to build the turbines – that is where the grant-funding/lottery agencies can have a role. Such grants are well-spent because they provide the means for a long-term income which can then be invested in other community projects or energy efficiency or conservation measures.

    Karl: I would be interested to know how Tilley was funded in the first place, and so I’m sure would Malcolm.

  • Malcolm – the combination of old power plants retiring and the legally-binding commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions means that renewable electricity generation is needed, and it so happens that onshore wind is currently the cheapest means of achieving this.

    Your animations are fun and the graphics impressive, and your figures have a ‘wowee’ factor much in the way of an attention-grabbing headline. However, unless you provide equivalent costs for your proposed alternative energy policy, and also give us an idea of what the actual cost to consumers is, as a proportion of overall energy bills, £400million or whatever is completely meaningless.

    Finally, given that the target you refer to is to generate as much renewable electrical energy annually as we consume overall as a nation, can you elaborate how you have translated this into a need to “…buy the bulk of our electricity from elsewhere.”?

  • I’m afraid it would have to be ‘save a few thousand kilowatts and stop a turbine’ which unfortunately isn’t so snappy…
  • It’s not all bad Malcolm – another windy day out on the farms!

    I’ve begun to notice a correlation between windy periods and you going all quiet on your ‘look at the pathetic output from wind turbines’ animations 🙂

    According to the Elexon NETA BM data, large-scale wind power accounted for 5% of UK electricity consumption over the past 24 hours. This only includes output from those wind farms with operational metering – estimated at around half of the total installed capacity, so it’s probably closer to 10%

  • Malcolm – likewise I would imagine that most people driving home past a wind farm stop giving it a second thought after a few days or weeks.

Recent comments by Tim McIntyre

  • Holyrood: the disappeared
    “The SNP’s Mike Mackenzie… was clearly not going to get back to Holyrood in an election where the constituency vote would be dominated by the SNP.”

    The constituency vote made no difference – Highland elected the same number of SNP constituency MSPs as in 2011, so the loss of two Highland list SNPs MSPs is solely down to a reduction in their regional vote, from 47.5% to 37.9%.

    The Tories’ astute move to wrap themselves in the union flag and thus, in effect, revert to their original identity as the Conservative & Unionist party has certainly paid them an impressive dividend electorally.

    It will be interesting to see whether the reverse is true – i.e. whether being hard-wired to the Tory brand will do Unionism itself any favours over the course of this parliament.

  • SNP shuts down local branch Twitter proving witch hunt against Carmichael
    Integrity – I believe some have suggested to Mr Carmichael that he should step down voluntarily, precisely so that the money raised so far can go to food banks instead of lawyers 🙂

    Anyway, taking up your point about political ‘blinkers’ – maybe so, but I hastily add that I’m not defending him against the legitimate anger of his constituents, who are really the only folk that have an interest in his future now that he is a lowly back bench opposition MP in one of the smaller parties, and not a minister of state.

    Those constituents – including no doubt a good number who voted for him having believed his claim that he knew nothing about a grubby smear campaign – have every right to feel pretty unhappy at what has transpired, and especially that it was kept carefully concealed until after they cast their votes. That is not a party political point in itself, and it is unfair and simplistic to characterise the legal campaign to force a by-election as such.

    Given the high cost (and no legal aid) of raising an action, and the even more eye-watering potential for the awarding of costs in the event of failure, crowd funding seems to me a fair & transparent way to raise the money needed. Doubtless the campaigners are benefitting quite a bit from politically-motivated donations, especially given that Carmichael was one of the more, er, bruising personalities in the ‘No Thanks’ campaign. However, at the end of the day it is the court that will decide, even if the politics helps raise the cash.

  • SNP shuts down local branch Twitter proving witch hunt against Carmichael
    The First Minister was not a candidate in the election, and therefore the ‘smear’ itself – the creation of the false memo plus leaking thereof – is unlikely to be of any great concern to the court.

    As I understand it, the case will turn on whether the court finds that Alistair Carmichael’s admitted lie – that he knew nothing of the memo until contacted by journalists – amounts to ‘corrupt and illegal’ practice under the Representation of the People Act.

    In other words, did Mr Carmichael try to cover up his own involvement in the smear in order to present himself to his constituents as an honourable and decent candidate for re-election, and thereby affect the outcome in Orkney & Shetland.

    I suspect that anyone hoping for a detailed investigation into the writing of the memo itself may be disappointed…

  • Forget tactical voting for unity. Forget the coming of the one-party state. Your party matters more?
    Newsroom – re: the “wholly constitutionally disadvantaged position of England”, Derek Bateman has a good piece on that subject;-

  • Forget tactical voting for unity. Forget the coming of the one-party state. Your party matters more?
    Integrity – I’m sure you are right that the convention is informal, and obviously the parties can talk to each other as they wish – as the Lib Dems did with Labour last time. However, I assume that in practice, David Cameron would try every option to form a government and would not resign until these had been exhausted (as Gordon Brown did last time, despite coming a distant second). Only then would the SNP’s offer to Labour come into play.

    John M – the SNP cannot ‘vote down’ a Tory government which has managed to assemble majority support – the key phrase in your quote being “if there is an anti-Tory majority”

    Newsroom, I think you are right that stability could be a problem, especially as the Tory press in the south will do everything possible to de-stabilise a SNP-supported minority Labour government. If they can portray it as illegitimate that Labour gets to govern while the Tories got a majority in England, they will do so, loudly and insistently, and regardless of the damage to the Union.

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