News

25 May 2014

Dungeness

A HIGH Court decision to refuse an appeal against Lydd Airport’s expansion plans will increase the risk of a nuclear incident say protestors. One of the country’s top judges rejected claims that expansion of an airport at Lydd could pose the threat of a nuclear disaster in the south east. Mr Justice Ousley dismissed a two pronged challenge at London’s High Court to plans to expand the Lydd operation.

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Posted: 25 May 2014

24 May 2014

Nuclear Safety

After the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which exposed the collusion and incompetence among the regulators and regulated, you’d expect that more transparent, accountable governance regimes for important issues such as nuclear safety could not be in question. Not so in the EU Council of Ministers which until a few months ago still refused to reveal which delegations were adopting what positions during negotiations on new framework laws. Not any more. Thanks to a key legal victory last year by Access Info Europe, the Council must not systematically withhold such important information.

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Posted: 24 May 2014

23 May 2014

Hinkley

EDF’s Managing Director of Nuclear New Build told a conference on nuclear energy in London on Tuesday that he expects the project will be compliant with EU regulations. Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson told the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum that he is “confident that the robust steps the company is taking will ensure Hinkley Point C is compatible with EU state aid rules” and also noted that “a number of other countries are also interested in the process we are going through. “

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Posted: 23 May 2014

22 May 2014

Radwaste

A proposed housing development could churn up radioactive waste from a nearby quarry, a campaigner has warned. Patrick Cooke, of Crich, says the site chosen for 113 new homes off Roes Lane, Crich, abuts Hilts Quarry, which was used for a number of years by Rolls Royce for dumping low–level nuclear waste. The 70–year–old said: “They are proposing to put 113 houses to the side of an ex nuclear tip.” Patrick, a former retained firefighter, was awarded in the Mercury’s New Year Honours in 2004 for his efforts as chairman of the Crich and District Environment Action Group to stop the firm filling the quarry with the nuclear waste.

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Posted: 22 May 2014

21 May 2014

Utilities

Good Energy: it’s not about technology anymore, it’s about people: Thriving eco energy firm founder Juliet Davenport on power through profit and growing prospects of challenging the Big Six. Throughout the discussion, whether we’re talking about the frustrations of politics – the fact that the more successful renewables become, the more politicised their use – or the impossibility of knowing just how much vested interests will work against you, Juliet Davenport maintains a brisk confidence, an expectant, infectious certainty that it’s all going to work out. “We don’t have to do it the same way as we’ve always done it. We can change the way we run our economy; we don’t have to run it the way we’re running it now. One of the biggest changes of a decentralised energy economy is that you wouldn’t have six big powers, you’d have lots of people, and we as a society need to get comfortable with that. My view is that it could happen very fast. It’s not about technology anymore. It’s about people.”

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Posted: 21 May 2014

20 May 2014

Government attacks renewables; bends over backwards for nuclear

Fresh from creating an energy efficiency shambles, supposedly because of concerns about rising energy bills, the Government has, over the last month, attacked and destabilised the two cheapest and most popular renewables.(1)

First, Energy Minister Michael Fallon announced an effective moratorium on onshore wind if the Tories win the General Election next year. He says we already have enough wind power in the pipeline to meet 2020 EU targets. The Conservative manifesto will pledge to scrap subsidies paid by bill-payers for onshore wind and change the planning system to allow local councils (in England and Wales) to block any which do not already have planning consent.(2) Fallon says any project not granted planning permission before the election would not get funds.(3)

Britain has an obligation under EU law to generate 15% of its energy – not just electricity – from renewables by 2020. To meet this target we need to have a renewable capacity of around 35GW. Of this around 11-13GW is expected to come from onshore wind. Onshore wind capacity is currently about 7.3 gigawatts (GW) — enough to power four million homes. Facilities already under construction or with planning permission will add another 5GW, so we should achieve the target.(4)

But what is Tory’s strategy for decarbonisation post-2020? To meet its climate targets the UK will need to build around another 10GW of onshore wind by 2030. Onshore wind is currently the cheapest renewable option, but the view seems to be that ending subsidies would release cash for more investment in other renewable sources: “This is a mature industry which has had 20 years of subsidy.” The government expects the cost of offshore wind to come down in the 2020s – but not enough to overtake onshore wind. Overall, investing in 10 GW of onshore wind in the 2020s rather than other less-developed clean technologies could save the economy two to three billion pounds, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) predicts. Or to put it another way – failing to invest in 10 GW of onshore wind could cost the country two to three billion pounds in the 2020s.(5)

The anti-wind Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) says there is already enough renewable energy capacity in the pipeline to meet the target of 35GW of capacity by 2020. Almost half (16GW) is operational now. Another 4GW is being built. Although most of the rest of the 15GW required is in the pipeline, at least 10% of consented onshore wind turbines and 20% offshore never get built. And REF seems to assume there is no need to build more renewables once the EU 2020 target has been met, but we will need 64GW by 2030 according to the CCC, and that is with fairly ambitious targets for nuclear and carbon capture and storage.(6)

The Government is also proposing to make drastic reforms to the solar subsidy regime which could kill off solar farm development At the same time the Government says it wants to improve the support regime for rooftop installations and community-owned projects.(7) A Government consultation document (8) proposes to halt Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidies for solar farms larger than 5MW in capacity from April 2015, in line with ministers’ plans to curb the development of new ground-mounted solar farms. DECC said it was concerned that large solar farms would exceed their available budget under the RO, as the industry is deploying at a much faster rate than previously expected. Solar farm projects will still be eligible for support through the new Contract for Difference (CfD) regime, and there would be a “grace period” for solar farms already in the pipeline.

Instead the Government wants to accelerate the development of large scale solar rooftops on supermarkets, offices, warehouses, and public building. But the proposed changes for large-scale rooftops simply promise a slower rate of future reductions to support levels, not the increase which developers argue is needed to jolt the commercial rooftop sector out of the doldrums.(9)

Seb Berry of the Solar Trade Association (STA) says said the “announcement is unnecessary and totally at odds with the government’s desire to reduce the cost to energy bill payers of delivering the 2020 renewable energy target. Following close behind recent unhelpful media coverage of onshore wind policy, this policy proposal will undermine investor confidence in the entire UK renewable energy sector, by removing at a stroke the short and medium-term policy certainty required for major project investments. It is very surprising that such a deeply damaging policy proposal has been cleared by the Treasury.”(10)

Leonie Green at the STA says DECC officials have effectively said that solar is the easiest target for balancing their overspent Levy Control Framework (LCF) books. The solar industry is being treated as some sort of pop-up side-show for balancing the LCF books, while other technologies enjoy at least a level of stability. The government is bending over backwards to provide stability to the French nuclear industry. It eulogises about opening up your local park and the strata beneath your home to the American fracking industry. No wonder the British solar industry is incredulous.(11)

Posted: 20 May 2014

20 May 2014

Hinkley

WEST Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has called for an urgent parliamentary debate into the EU investigation surrounding Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. It comes just a week after former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, a legal academic, said the deal with EDF Energy over the new power station might not be valid under EU law. But David Cameron has said he is ‘confident’ Hinkley C will go ahead.

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Posted: 20 May 2014

19 May 2014

Dungeness

The Government has come under renewed fire for permitting controversial developments after a High Court judge upheld its decision to wave through a transformational expansion of Lydd airport in Kent.The site is next to two areas of substantial environmental interest and importance: Romney Marsh and the Dungeness peninsula. But the airport owner – Sheikh Fahad Al-Athel, the multimillionaire middleman in the £20bn Al-Yamamah arms deal between the Saudis and Britain – was given permission to build a new terminal and extend the runway as part of a £17m project to increase annual passenger numbers to 500,000.

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Posted: 19 May 2014

18 May 2014

Radwaste

Two new radioactive waste facilities have opened in the UK. The first two vaults for the disposal of low-level waste have been completed at Dounreay, while the first intermediate-level waste (ILW) has been put into a new interim storage facility at Berkeley.

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Posted: 18 May 2014

17 May 2014

Dounreay

UNDERGROUND vaults which will store low level radioactive waste have been officially handed over to Dounreay operators. Over 200 guests joined site staff for the official handover ceremony of the LLW vaults to Cavendish Dounreay Partnership and site licence company DSRL. Irish firm Graham Construction completed the £13 million contract for the construction to the immediate east of the licensed site, where they excavated a total of 243,000 cubic metres of rock during construction of the two vaults.

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Posted: 17 May 2014