This is a public meeting, so all are welcome to attend. However, unlike the Broxtowe meeting, there is no provision for interested parties to speak.
The University's planning application for the two turbines proposed for City land is scheduled to be considered by the Planning Committee on Wednesday 20th February. The meeting will take place at 2.30 pm, at Loxley House in Nottingham (next to Nottingham station). Map: http://goo.gl/maps/9obTA
This is a public meeting, so all are welcome to attend. However, unlike the Broxtowe meeting, there is no provision for interested parties to speak.
At this week's Development Control Committee, the university's application for one turbine in the Broxtowe area was unanimously refused. The recommendation of the Planning Officer's pre-meeting report was to refuse the application due to the fact that it would compromise the intended redevelopment of the Boots site. It was particularly pleasing that the Committee chose to strengthen the refusal, adding an amendment to the effect the turbine should also be
refused due to the harm it would cause to amenity.
I should stress that the university's other application to Nottingham City Council for a further two turbines is still current. More news on that to come, no doubt.
Meanwhile, the well-connected media chaps at university have gone on the attack, with this story finding its way onto the BBC website, seemingly without adequate editorial scrutiny:
You will note that (at the time of writing) the story refers to turbines as being 80m, when in fact they are 126.5m. The unnamed "university spokesman" also continues to make reference to "the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 7,000 tonnes a year". The university's own planning application put the figure at 6,203 tonnes, not an inconsiderable difference. Some of you will know that I have long argued that the figure would be less than half of that, having looked at data from similar turbines in areas of similar wind speed.
Finally, it has come to light that the university had recently proposed a "contribution to the local community" for each turbine. This is pretty standard practice for developments of this type, but something which the budget-conscious university had previously neglected to offer. The proposed contribution? £2,500 per year for each turbine. For Beeston, that would presumably be £62,500 over the 25-year lifespan of the installation on Broxtowe land.
Broxtowe Council Development Control Committee is to consider the University of Nottingham's application at a meeting on 10th October. The meeting is scheduled for 7.00pm in the Town Hall, Foster Avenue, Beeston: downloadable map and directions (pdf).
This meeting is open to the public, and so I would encourage anyone with an interest in the application to attend. However, you should be aware of the restrictions on public speaking at the meeting; in short, this is normally limited to just one person speaking for, and one person against the application, and only for 3 minutes at that. If you have made a written submission to the Council either objecting to, or supporting the application, you should already have received the leaflet "Public Speaking at the Development Control Committee" (pdf) advising you of the procedure. I do note that this information states that the one person rule "may be varied in exceptional circumstances" - it's difficult to imagine that this particular application wouldn't qualify as "exceptional", so I will ask what the Council's intentions are.
You will remember that the application submitted to Broxtowe is for one turbine - the other two are covered by a separate application made to Nottingham City Council. The word from the City planners is that there are still "outstanding issues" which are preventing the application from being considered at this time.
So a couple of weeks ago I told you that a group calling themselves Yes2wind were out and about in Beeston… and I also told you that they were not exactly what they appeared to be. Well, they’ve been back in Beeston, and over the river in Clifton. Here’s a picture:
Looks harmless enough, doesn’t he? Just an environmental campaigner selflessly giving up his weekend to try to convince people that wind power is the answer. We might not agree with him, but we should respect his opinion, nonetheless, right? Err… well actually he’s being paid to be there. By the University of Nottingham. Although that fact is probably rather less than clear to the people passing by. I don't see any big University of Nottingham logos there, do you?
The T-shirted chap in the picture works for Yes2wind Ltd, a public relations company which specialises in putting a positive spin on wind power infrastructure projects, and which has been contracted by the University of Nottingham to drum up support for their wind turbines. In order to do this, they set up stall in the street and offer to 'help' local residents write "individual, personalised" on-the-spot letters of support, whilst feeding them inaccurate information about the university’s project. Local residents have been told that they should support the project because the power generated will benefit the local community, and that their peace and quiet will be assured by a legal minimum distance between the turbines and their properties. Both of these statements are, of course, entirely untrue. One can only assume that despite being a company specialising in wind power, and having been paid good money by the University of Nottingham, Yes2wind are a little confused about the exact nature of the project and the regulations which apply to it.
So who exactly are Yes2wind? It is a registered company whose directors are Mr John Howard Everett and Mr Alexander Anthony Doyle. Rather dubiously, their website doesn’t provide a physical address, but a bit of searching reveals that their registered offices are at 24 Exchange Quay, Salford, Manchester, M5 3EQ.
Here’s another company: Pendragon Consultants Limited. Among their directors is one Mr Alexander Anthony Doyle… their offices? A very familiar sounding 24 The Office Village, Second Floor, Exchange Quay, Manchester, M5 3EQ. Pendragon are a large Public Relations company which specialises in greasing the wheels of “large infrastructure projects”. What kind of environmentally friendly projects might those be? Well, according to information on their website, “Power stations”, “High rise developments” and “Airport expansion”. One notable client of Pendragon is Drax Power. That’s right, Drax as in the UK’s largest coal-fired power station which in 2009 produced roughly 20,000,0000 tonnes of CO2, making it the biggest source of CO2 in the UK. Suddenly Yes2wind isn’t looking so green after all.
The leaflet being given out on the street by Yes2wind is careful to mention Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. But unsurprisingly, companies like Drax don’t tend to go down very well with organisations like Greenpeace and FoE, which may go some way to explaining the rather tortuous wording on Yes2wind’s leaflet, which talks about “our inspirational debt to these organisations”. Translation – we no longer have anything to do with them.
It’s also notable that the leaflet doesn’t once mention the turbines proposed by the University of Nottingham, less still make clear the financial link between them.
Meanwhile, Pendragon’s website offers its potential customers the dire warning that “Planning and politics are inextricably linked. If it appears that a community totally opposes a planned development, local councillors and politicians may well see it as their job to work to have the project rejected.” Ah, I see. And there was me thinking that the job of politicians was to represent the views of the public. It’s a good job that big PR companies like Pendragon are here to educate me about the true meaning of a democratic society.
Anyway, back to those letters which Yes2wind are so keen for you to write. According to their website, it is “an online system which allows community members to quickly and easily generate their own individual, personalised support letters. Selecting from a wide range of options, local people can produce letters reflecting their individual views and reasons for supporting a development. The facility to modify and amend ensures that the finished letter is truly individual to the writer. The system can be used from home via the website, at public exhibitions or out of doors during street campaigning.”
The software used to generate these letters is touted by a website www.expresssupport.com, which gives an address in Manchester which by now you will be familiar with. One can only hope that the results produced by the software are more impressive than their typo-strewn website, with its talk of “skateholders” [sic], a community “noteiceboard” [sic] and suchlike.
Actually, on reflection I’m not sure that the University of Nottingham is getting value for money out of yes2wind Ltd. So, University chaps (I know you’ll be reading this) - here’s an idea for you. Rather than paying yes2wind good money to come down to Beeston and Clifton and do the ‘environmentalist’ act, why don’t you cut out the middle man? Send a couple of representatives from your estates department down with a briefcase full of crisp twenty pound notes, and offer one to anyone who will write a letter to the council supporting your turbines. Why not? Surely it’s just another way of paying to generate support.
Oh, and as for that nice friendly man in the picture? Well, the pensioner who took the picture tells me that shortly afterwards, the yes2wind crew threatened to call the police if he didn’t go away. Charming!
I don't pretend that any of the above is new information - a cursory internet search will tell you that yes2wind have been rumbled many times before. But I thought you might be interested.
You will no doubt remember the controversy caused earlier this month when the university sought to 'demonstrate' the height of their proposed 126-metre-high turbines by flying a blimp... at 80 metres. On weekdays. Between 9.30 and 4.30, when everyone's out at work.
Well, it seems that the planners at Nottingham City Council were unconvinced, and pressed the university to do a bit better. The council wrote to the university, asking them to fly the blimp “at the full height of the proposed wind turbines, and over a weekend, so that more people will have an opportunity to see it”. The university's response? Well, believe it or not, they point blank refused, saying that flying a blimp at the full height of the turbines “could be misleading”, and that flying the blimp at 80 metres “practically demonstrated” the scale of the turbines. Download their letter here:
For months now, local residents have been requesting that the University fly blimps at the locations of the proposed turbines, allowing the public to better judge the height... and for months, the University have skirted round the issue, before finally confirming to me in writing that they had no intention of doing so.
But suddenly... a change of heart! I understand that this week (3rd - 7th October) the University will be flying a blimp close to the proposed location of Turbine 2 (the central of the three turbines).
So, has the University decided that it really is in everyone's best interests to demonstrate the true scale of the turbines? Err... no. They are planning to fly a blimp at a height of 80 metres (87 yards). However, the turbines will actually extend to a height of 126.5 metres (138 yards). In other words, the blimp wil be flying at the height of the hub of the turbine, rather than the height of the blades.
What could be the purpose of this? Some terribly cynical residents are already suggesting that the University's intention is to deliberately mislead the local population. For my part, I'll just say that I don't think this latest, rather bizarre, course of action by the University is in anyone's best interests.
Then again, perhaps I'm making a fuss over nothing. The blimp will only be up from Monday to Friday, between 9.30 and 4.30, so most people (myself included) probably won't see it anyway!
At the time of writing, neither of the two planning authorities had responded to a request for their comments on this matter.
The university has now submitted a planning application for their wind turbine project. As you may be aware, the proposed site straddles the boundary of Broxtowe and Nottingham City, which means that they have actually lodged two separate applications; the Broxtowe application is for one turbine, the City application is for two turbines.
Residents should therefore send their objections to BOTH councils.
Full documentation for the Broxtowe application can be found on the Broxtowe Borough Council website at this location:
The deadline for commenting on, objecting to, or indeed supporting, the application is 12th September. You can do this online via the "Comment on this application" link on their website, or by letter (contact details are also on their website). Additionally, some of you may already have received a letter from the council informing you of the application and inviting you to comment.
Full documentation for the Nottingham City planning application is on this page: http://plan4.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/WAM/pas/findCaseFile.do?appNumber=11%2F02419%2FPFUL3&action=Search
In order to comment on the application you can...
So, we had unconfirmed, then confirmed, reports that the university was to put in a planning application on July 20th:
"A formal planning application was submitted to Nottingham City Council and Broxtowe Borough Council on July 20th, 2011" (University of Nottingham website)
But then nothing appeared on either the Broxtowe or the City planning site. A number of you have emailed me to say that you have been in touch with the planners, and they are saying that there have been a couple of hiccups with the university's application. I don't want to speculate on the exact nature of these, or how long they might take to resolve, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
In other news, you may remember the blank document published by the university in response to my Freedom of Information request (see previous post). Well, the university would like to make it clear that "it has become apparent that the blank location report for Grove Farm was placed on the website in error rather than the full report". You can now read the reports for all four of the locations considered on the university website - see here. For your convenience though, here is the document relating to Grove Farm:
You might have noticed that the wind speed given in this document is 6 metres per second at a height of 45 metres above ground, a speed which the report describes as "moderate wind speed". Compare this with the report for Kings Meadow (not considered suitable for development), which lists a wind speed of 5.9 metres per second (just 0.1 lower), described as "low wind speed". This adds yet more weight to objections that the Grove Farm site would not be viable were it not be for the generous subsidies which the University will receive... funded by you and I from our ever-rising electricity bills.
While we're on the subject of documents provided by the university, you might also find this document, quietly released at some point recently, interesting reading...
...particularly the part where it notes under "Cons" for the Grove Farm site that there will be "Cumulative Noise from 3 turbines". This appears to be the first public admission from the university or its partners that there will be a noise issue resulting from this project. There it is, in black and white, straight from the horse's mouth.
If you're on our mailing list, you may remember that following the public meetings at Beeston and Clifton, I wrote to the University of Nottingham requesting certain information under the Freedom of Information Act. They have now responded to this request, naturally on the last day of the statuatory 20-working-day period in which they must reply.
Regarding the Carbon Trust Report
The university have released this document relating to the suitability of the Grove Farm Site:
No, your computer is not malfunctioning. The university have removed all relevant information from the document, claiming exemption under the Freedom of Information Act due to "commercial interests". The university have also released a similarly empty document pertaining to their Sutton Bonnington site, and published documents relating to two other sites, in which the information is complete but the verdict is that the sites are unsuitable for wind turbines.
From the above, I think it is reasonable to deduce that the Sutton Bonnington site is indeed considered viable for a wind farm development, but that the university have prioritised the Grove Farm site at this time. A further document released by the university appears to confirm this:
Regarding the issue of house prices
The university claim to have consulted a number of local estate agents in this matter. However, they have presented no evidence that they have done so, stating that it was all done verbally.
I have again written to the university requesting full disclosure. You can read my letter here:
Many local residents have contacted me to express concern about the possible effect of the turbine development on the local environment. Ironic, isn't it, that something billed as a "green" development should raise such concerns. Well, I must confess that I'm far from an expert in such matters, so one of the people I turned to was local ornithologist Robert Hoare. Robert has been observing birds in the local area since 1995, and since 2002 he has been meticulously cataloguing all sightings of birds in this area. He is thus something of an authority in birdlife here, and has recorded no fewer that 185 species in and around the area where the turbines would be located. You may like to visit his excellent website: http://cliftongrovebirds.co.uk/
"Wind Turbines placed at the proposed location opposite Clifton Grove would in my opinion cause disturbance to resident birds by noise and a high risk of bird strike to resident and migratory birds." R. Hoare
I contacted him to ask for his opinion on the proposed development; his verdict was unequivocal; click on the icon below to read his response.
Meanwhile the Spectator has published an illuminating article on the effect of Britain's "green" energy policy.
"this ruthless violation of the landscape is not even the most medieval aspect of the government’s energy policy. Its financing would embarrass even the Sheriff of Nottingham."