Archive for August, 2014

Onshore wind much more popular among public than nuclear or shale gas says DECC survey

August 25, 2014

nothanksOnshore wind much more popular among public than nuclear or shale gas says DECC survey

The latest ‘tracker’ polls issued by DECC show that support for onshore wind among the public is 67 per cent, with just 11 per cent opposed. Solar power is the most popular renewable fuel (82 per cent support) with offshore wind a bit ahead of onshore wind in popularity. By contrast support and opposition for shale gas is tied at 24 per cent and nuclear power is supported by 36 per cent compared to 24 per cent opposed.

Once again this demonstrates just how out of step the Conservatives are with public opinion. The Conservatives, fond of fulminating against onshore wind and solar, want to cut off all funding for onshore wind after 2020. Eric Pickles delights in cancelling planning consents for wind and solar farms even when the planners have agreed to them.

Of course the Tories feel they are on the run pursued by UKIP who claim to oppose the alleged green frippery liked by the ‘political classes’. The opinion surveys suggest things are the other way around. Right wing political classes are ignoring the voice of the people and subverting it in favour of what one columnist (in today’s Financial Times) calls ‘sour censorious provincialism’.

Hopefully the Conservatives will reap the rewards of their dash to the right at the polls next May, and lose political office. As the Conservatives tilt ever more towards the right, the future of civilisation as we know it is dependent on this outcome!


By Dave Toke

Green energy co-ops blocked by government regulator

August 15, 2014

solar_powerThe future of community-owned green energy projects that ministers say are crucial to break the dominance of the ‘big six’ is being put at risk by the Financial Conduct Authority, according to co-operatives and the Labour party.

Thousands of towns and villages have clubbed together around the UK in recent years to set up energy co-ops to generate clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels.

Ed Davey, the energy secretary, last year visited a community solar scheme on a tower block in south London and has said he “want[s] to see nothing short of a community energy revolution”, while the former climate minister, Greg Barker, said such projects were needed to “break the grip of the dominant big energy companies”.

But in the past six weeks the FCA, which registers new co-ops, has blocked several new energy co-op applications on the grounds that they would not have enough member participation, despite having authorised previous ones set up along the same lines.

Tom Greatrex, shadow energy minister, wrote a letter on Friday to Martin Wheatley, the FCA’s chief executive, warning that the shift in the FCA’s attitude put the future of co-operative energy in the UK at risk.

“David Cameron’s government talk a good game on community energy – but the reality is that future energy co-ops are being put at risk by a change of approach by the FCA. This sudden change threatens a model that combines the twin goods of decarbonisation and community involvement in energy,” said Greatrex.

“The FCA must urgently reconsider their approach – and Ed Davey needs to wake up and get a grip to prevent lasting damage to the prospects of more community energy projects in the UK,” he added.

Mike Smyth, chairman of Energy4All, which helps community groups set up energy co-ops, said that six weeks ago “completely out of the blue” the FCA stopped registering new energy co-ops, and had blocked six to eight applications that he was aware of.

“It has put a complete block on the development of this area of mutual activity, without any adequate explanation and showing a huge misunderstanding of what’s going on. The energy sector is completely appropriate for mutual involvement – there is huge amount of mistrust in energy companies – and they’ve [the FCA] put all that on hold.

“The government’s policy is that all new renewable energy generation from next year should be partially or more owned by a community energy organisation. And the FCA is actively undermining this policy by removing the most appropriate business for that. It makes things more difficult, stifles innovation, and precludes participation by people in the energy sector.”

At the heart of the issue is the question of whether energy co-operative members participate actively enough in the co-op. To register a co-op, FCA rules require a mutual to show participation which it lists as “buying from or selling to the society”, “using the services or amenities provided by it” and “supplying services to carry out its business”.

But unlike a co-op shop, which can sell direct to its members, energy co-ops are too small to apply for licenses that would mean they could sell electricity from a wind turbine directly to members – instead, they usually sell to the national grid via a broker, and divide the profits between members.

In the letter to Wheatley, signed by Greatrex, Mark Lazarowicz MP and Claudia Beamish MSP, it says: “We understand that there has been some ambiguity about the meaning of the word “participation” in ascertaining whether a project is a bona fide co-operative. Participation is clearly more than just a narrow question about whether the product of the co-operative is traded solely with members.

“There may be other forms of participation that the FCA has not considered. So long as this question remains open, we do not believe that the FCA can reasonably move to block future cooperative energy projects.”

Communities can apply for a separate mutual model, known as Community Benefit Societies, but Smyth said such societies were “less flexible” and “less appropriate”.

An FCA spokeswoman did not confirm whether there had been a shift in the authority’s stance towards energy co-ops, but said: “One of the conditions for registration is that the applicant must be a bona fide co-operative society where members participate in its business. When applicants cannot demonstrate this to the FCA, in accordance with the [Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies] act, we cannot register them.”

Source – The Guardian

Greens Polling at Highest Numbers Since 1989

August 10, 2014

*Greens steadily building on May 22 electoral successes
*Best ever performance in the Independent’s ‘poll of polls’
*Young Green membership surges in 2014

Ahead of the 2015 General Election, the Green Party is polling on 6.6% and neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats, the Coalition partners.

The Greens posted their best ever showing in the latest ‘poll of polls’ compiled by John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, for the Independent (1).

“Support for the Greens is steadily growing as the party benefits from the splintering of traditional political loyalties”, commented the national newspaper, which acknowledged that the Greens, “with only a fraction of the media attention paid to Ukip, have continued to build on their strong showing in May’s elections (2).”

Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:

“The fact that the Green Party are consistently polling at some of our best numbers since 1989 goes to show that our message of the need to reshape our politics and economy to work for the common good is really hitting home.

“It is our policies such as a wealth tax on the top 1%, making the minimum wage a Living Wage, renationalising our railways and having a publicly owned and run NHS that are both encouraging people to join as members and vote Green in growing numbers.

“Despite comparatively limited media attention, more and more people are recognising that only the Greens offer the real change that British politics and British society so desperately needs. They are rightly fed up with the three old, tired, business-as-usual parties.

“The Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Ukip receive much larger donations – which allows them to comfortably out-spend us on political advertising – but Greens up and down the country are working tirelessly to share Green values and policies with the people they do and will represent. It is these efforts that have us polling neck and neck with the Lib Dems, the Coalition partners.

“Our support amongst young people is surging; membership of the Young Greens has grown by 70% since March this year alone, with overall membership up 28% this year, and poll after poll puts Green party support among young people at over 15%, more than the Liberal Democrats and Ukip combined.”(3)

Further links/references:




Human Rights Tour Comes to Northampton

August 10, 2014

Human Rights TourUniversal human rights. Written down 1948. Relevant forever? Come and join the conversation…

You are invited to the 4th year of the British Institute of Human Rights'(BIHR) hugely successful Human Rights Tour.

The idea is simple, go across the UK holding free to attend pop-up events in local communities, raising awareness about human rights, how they are relevant in everyday life & having a space for debate & discussion.

For this year’s tour BIHR are holding twelve events across the length and breadth of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They have been invited to lots of towns and cities they have never visited before, and some old favourites. Their fantastic group of local partner organisations will help ensure the events are rooted in local concerns as well as the national debates. The tour comes to Northampton on 21st October and is being hosted by the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council (NREC) for information on where and when follow this link:

The Human Rights Tour is for you whether you are an interested individual, a voluntary sector worker or a public servant; come along and join the conversation. The content for the pop-up event is a mix of presentations, discussions and interactive sessions, with some creative elements too! Between 10am – 4pm BIHR will cover:

Where do human rights come from? Our human rights history in 60 minutes!
Human rights law for non-lawyers: Introduction to the Human Rights Act
Making human rights work in your work: Applying human rights in real life situations
The human rights conversation: Human rights in the media, in politics and in your community

The events provide an excellent forum for learning about human rights, and networking with organisations and representatives in your community. BIHR and NREC hope to see you there.

Debunking The Myths Surrounding Environmental Economics

August 10, 2014

Matt Bevington, who is a member of the Green Party, writes to dispel myths about the cost of renewable energy.

Support Wind Applications in Northants

EmissionsPut simply, renewable energies are at least as cheap as their fossil fuel alternatives. Here’s why:

First, some surprising facts that correct myths we’ve all heard about renewable energies: Global fossil fuel subsidies are five times higher than renewable subsidies. Britain’s coal-fired power stations only run at 34 per cent efficiency. And studies have shown that solar technologies can produce ten jobs per unit compared with one in conventional energy.
Climate-sceptic rhetoric leaves aside this pertinent evidence preferring confirmation bias as a basis for policy instead.

The cost of electricity is measured in cents ($) per kilowatt hour (kWh). This is calculated using a system called the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) which accounts for factors such as capital costs, fuel costs, and maintenance, to create comparable figures.

The LCOE includes an assumed utilization rate that allows for intermittent renewable supplies. Critics say that the LCOE doesn’t account for additional…

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