Victory - Blackbridge Biomass Plant plans rejected 2nd July 2018
The reasons given were that the applicant, Egnedol, gave insufficient consideration to marine wildlife and the protected sites, as well as some of the development being outside of the land specified for development in the Local Development Plan. While these are good reasons to reject the application, we were disappointed that neither the Inspector nor the Minister mentioned the lack of sustainability of the biomass and the dangers of explosion from the gasification plant.
One of the problems with fighting these large scale biomass projects is that the overall sustainability of the plant does not appear to be part of the planning considerations. However we believe it is important to continue to put these arguments forward and that they contributed to the doubts about this project and its extravagant green claims.
We will now have to remain vigilant as it is uncertain what Egnedol's plan B maybe.
Plastic Free Narberth Launched 7th May 2018
After an initial welcome we listened to the children of Narberth Youth Theatre perform a series of poems about the threat of plastic, ending with a song. This was followed by a film which traces the journey of Cal Major as she paddles her board around the Isle of Skye, there is beautiful scenery but also even on the most remote beaches plenty of plastic too. Finally Cris Tomos, PCC's lead for the environment talked about the councils plans to improve recycling rates with a new collection system. It was very good to here the PCC showing such an interest in the environment and this bodes well for working on projects like PFN in future.
This was followed by a chance to chat while eating wonderful soup and bread.
21 signed up most were keen to take part in litter picks and to join a steering group who we hope will devise a programme of events to involve everyone in our efforts to reduce our use of single use plastics, reusing it where we can and recycling it so that it does not end up in landfill polluting our rivers and seas.
Neonictinoids banned by the EU 27th April 2018
The ban on neonicotinoids, approved by member nations on Friday 27th April, is expected to come into force by the end of 2018 and will mean they can only be used in closed greenhouses.
This is a great vicytory for bees, though the fight will go on and care must be taken to ensure that they are not replaced by a new generation of harmful pesticides. With rapid declines in all insects throughout Europe, new methods of harming which do not destroy wildlife are urgently needed.
Habitat distruction is also important and as individuals we can do much to provide a space be it a window box full of flowers, a small pond or a flowering tree.
Meeting with Paul Davies AM 20th April 2018
She went on to say that "I think we made a good case emphasising the negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions, esepcially methane, that fracking would have. We also talked about further negative consequences such as pollution of drinking water. Peter said he would follow up on the information given in the briefing document.
We discussed renewable sources of energy and Paul Davies expressed his support of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, as well as further renewable projects using tidal energy. There is potential for local projects in Pembrokeshire as part of the Swansea City Deal, both in renewables as well as improving energy efficiency in homes."
New Neonic Pesticide Report confirms threat to Bees 13th March 2018
This report has been published just ahead of the up coming vote on the banning of these pesticides. And it is important to ensure that politicians do not ignore it.
For further information share this link
Plastic Free Narberth? 18th Jan 2018
We will begin with a joint meeting to explore how we can tackle the problem of single use plastics. If you are interested in helping with this campaign, please email us for more information
Articles by Neil Jordan 4th Jan 2018
He also gives some practical tips about how to achieve this in your garden and the woody heap sounds like a great habitat as well. So get building.
Keep Fracking out of Cheshire 4th Jan 2018
We are hoping to lobby our AM's to support a full ban on fracking and other unconventional gas extraction in Wales.
There will also be cards to sign in favour of the ban and we will ask you to write to the Am's urging them to support this ban too.
Please enter full news item here...
BiofuelWatch denounces new “subsidies for forest destruction and air pollution” 11th Sept 2017
Most of the new subsidies awards have gone to offshore wind which Biofuelwatch agrees produces genuinely low-carbon energy; however, one award has gone to what would become Scotland’s largest biomass power station, and others to controversial “energy from waste”  projects. The company behind the Grangemouth award is called Silva Renewable Energy Ltd. According to the Vice-Convenor of Grangemouth Community Council, Walter Inglis, the local community had not been informed about any activities or plans by that company prior to today’s Government announcement about subsidies. It is thought that Silva Renewable Energy may be seeking to use a highly controversial planning consent obtained by a Joint Venture of Forth Ports and SSE, Forth Energy, in 2013, against strong opposition from several community, council and environmental campaign groups.
Biofuelwatch welcomed the fact that the Government had prevented coal power station operators from bidding for a 2017 subsidies award for converting more power station units to biomass, but denounced the decision to allow awards for new biomass power stations with minimal heat use.
Almuth Ernsting, co-director of Biofuelwatch, said
“We are dismayed to see yet more subsidies going to power stations that will burn biomass and waste – neither of which are remotely sustainable. We are particularly shocked to see money awarded to a large biomass power station in Grangemouth, one which we must assume will burn imported wood pellets or woodchips, in an already heavily polluted town. The UK already burns more wood in power stations than we can produce annually, which causes forest destruction in other parts of the world such as the southern US. Awarding more money to power stations to burn more wood is only going to make this problem worse.”
Walter Inglis, Vice-Convenor of Grangemouth Community Council, said:
“I am shocked and disappointed to see that a company has succeeded in winning subsidies for a huge biomass power station in Grangemouth. Once again, the already poor air quality and public health of residents in Grangemouth is being sacrificed.”
Per unit of electricity, biomass power stations emit even more carbon dioxide from their smokestacks than coal power plants. Studies show that it can take decades or even centuries for new trees and forests to re-absorb the carbon emitted from burning wood now . Furthermore, biomass power stations emit levels of air pollution similar to coal power stations, including small particulates and nitrogen oxides. Grangemouth is already exposed to high levels of pollution from Ineos’s oil refinery and petrochemical plant, as well as other industrial developments.
The UK is already home to the world's largest biomass power station – Drax in Yorkshire, another recipient of substantial government subsidies – which burns pellets made from around 13 million tonnes of wood every year, 98% of which is imported. Some of this wood comes from the southern states of the US, where biodiverse coastal forests are being replaced by monoculture plantations and local communities are suffering the air quality impacts of pellet plants on their doorstep.
 Contracts for Difference (CfDs) guarantee a minimum purchase price for renewable electricity which is set far above the market price for electricity. Contracts for Difference are awarded through an auction, based on eligibility criteria set by the Government. The Government decided earlier this year that biomass “Combined Heat and Power Plants” (CHP) would be eligible to bid in the auction. To meet the definition of CHP, a power station has to make use of a limited amount of its heat and reach an overall efficiency of just 35%, which is less than the efficiency of most fossil fuel power stations and less than half what could in theory be achieved with biomass CHP.
 Biofuelwatch is a campaign group providing information, advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, environmental, human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy. . For more information see biofuelwatch.org.uk
 The “waste incineration” subsidies are going to “advanced conversion” technologies, i.e. gasification or pyrolysis.
 See biofuelwatch.org.uk/biomass-resources/resources-on-biomass/ for a list of peer-reviewed studies about the climate impacts of biomass electricity.
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch 0131 6232600
Frances Howe, Biofuelwatch 07928113194
Hinkley Point C Rising Costs 4th July 2017
To The Editor, The Guardian
Hinkley Point rising costs
As Nils Pratley reported (3rd July) the cost of Hinkley C power station has just bumped up £1500 million, and its completion date slipped 15 months. Notwithstanding, pro-nuclear politicians will assure us that it still represents good value for the consumer – despite the National Audit Office judging it “a high-cost and risky deal” (Guardian, 22nd June).
Had we invested that £1500 million in green generation, what might it have bought…? At current median project prices of $1.7million per MW (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 2016) i.e. £1.3 million per MW, that could have delivered 1150 MW of extra onshore wind turbine capacity.
The Digest of UK Energy Statistics onshore wind load factor is 27.3%, therefore that extra hardware would on average generate 314 MW of clean electricity: no risk of reactor meltdowns, and without producing bomb material or the wherewithal for nuclear terrorism; furthermore, wind turbine projects bring with them well-distributed inward UK investment, installation and maintenance jobs, wayleave revenue for landowners, rates revenue for local authorities, and local community income. Home-generated power – without the need for oil wars or fracking, and no damaging Balance of Payments issues.
History tells us that this Hinkley cost increase/start delay is only the first of many such announcements; meanwhile the failure of Toshiba’s nuclear power business surely casts doubts on the viability of even the largest nuclear equipment manufacturers. As almost every other administration quits nuclear power as fast as possible in favour of clean electricity, smart demand response, and storage technologies, why are we still backing megalithic, inflexible, economically toxic EDF Betamax?
1 West End, Marloes, HAVERFORDWEST
Pembrokeshire FoE - 30 years on the front line 28th June 2017
Amongst the many successes were -
Bottle banks and other recycling facilities locally
Cleaner beaches and seas
Preventiing the burning of dirty orimulsion
Preventing inappropriate landfull sites
Helping with Sea Empress oil disaster
Keeping Pembs free of GM crops
Supporting appropriate windfarms
Alongside these local issues, Pembs FoE has also supported many national and international campaigns, and raised public awareness of environmental issues.
A small group of volunteers have, for over three decades, ensured that Pembrokeshire FoE has put into practice the founding philosophy of FoE, “Think Globally, Act Locally”. Past successes will have to be replicated in the future if we are to play our part in protecting and enhancing the natural environment, which is our life support system, at the local and global level.
The General Election 8th June 2017
It has also been apparent that environmental issues have not featured in this election, Roger Harrabin in The World this Weekend put this down to worry overload and the influence of the right wing media in particular the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. (To listen to his piece click here it starts at 28mins 40 secs) We also feel that all the Parties are failing to highlight the importance of these issues. As Harrabin pointed out great minds like Steven Hawkins see climate change as the greatest existential threat the human race faces.
In a personal view Gordon James looks at The Nuclear Question and the Election, while he focuses on Labour Party policy it is only fair to point out that all the main political parties and UKIP are supporting nuclear power. Particularly disappointing are the Welsh Liberal Democrats as the rest of their policies are excellent. (see statement from the local candidate) We understand that Plaid Cymru is in favour of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, despite the party leader, Leanne Wood, being opposed to new nuclear. This is because Wylfa is an important employer on Anglesey, a marginal seat.
What does this all mean for Friends of the Earth supporters?
We need to raise the profile of the environment and ask questions, go to the FOE ENIW website for ideas and email your questions to candidates.
Preseli Pembrokeshire candidates need to be made aware of Egnedol's proposed biomass plant at Blackbridge . Ask candidates to commit to end the subsidy for waste incineration and gasification which is hugely inefficient, polluting and burns much that is recyclable and reusable. Instead give support for community renewable energy projects by reinstating subsidies for renewables.
Local Elections May 2017 4th May 2017
This is an exciting opportunity for councils to look afresh at what they do, and consider how they and partners can improve their area for our social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being, and help shape a sustainable future.
FOE Cymru have devised a list of 10 questions to ask candidates, including -
Will you commit to becoming a fossil free council by 2025?
Are you prepared to utilise funding schemes and borrowing powers to develop a programme to make cold homes energy efficient?
Would you be prepared to work with local take away outlets to ban polystyrene and other non recyclable food containers?
Will you support a requirement for electric car charging points to be available at all suitable public buildings and car parks, and as part of new major developments and redevelopments?
Will you work towards becoming a Bee Friendly Council under the new Welsh Government Bee Friendly scheme?
They also have a list of 10 proposals for a healthy environment that provides a flourishing life for current and future generations.
These 2 documents can be downloaded from the FOE Cymru website.
Say No to Experimental Gasification plant at Blackbridge 2nd Feb 2017
Egnedol has applied for planning permission to build a large biomass and waste Gasification Plant in Blackbridge, Milford Haven.
The application also includes plans to use the waste CO2 within a number of other businesses such as fish and prawn farming, algal farming, an "advanced" aviation biofuel refinery, a cheese factory, a packaging and processing plant, and greenhouses.
The consultation period of the planning appliction is currently running, and the public has until 2nd February 2017 to send in objections.
What are the concerns?
1) The plant would be using a technology which no company has ever made to work in the UK, despite many attempts by different companies, and which has proven difficult in many parts of the world. Egnedol have no track record in wood and waste gasification. It's unproven technology, may never work, and is unlikely to deliver the promised jobs and benefits.
2) The company claim that they will use biomass, but this fuel supply is by no means certain, and will have to be shipped in from overseas, which is not sustainable. Their claims of being ready to import the fuel from Morocco and Greece are invalid, as no supply is yet available in that country.
3) If they decide to burn waste, then under Welsh planning policy they have to prove that there is a need for this, and that it would not divert waste away from recycling. Their application shows no evidence for this.
4) Wood and waste gasification is associated with significant risks of explosion, and higher toxic air emissions than planned. This is in an area in Milford Haven which has a number of polluting industries, and industries with similar risks of explosion, such as the LNG plant. Gasification is a tricky technology to get right, and there is a high chance that unfiltered gases would have to be released directly into the atmosphere to prevent pressure buildups in the system which could lead to an explosion.
5) The planning application documentation makes exaggerated claims regarding the re-use of the CO2 released by the process, and many of its figures are contradictory within different parts of the application. It is hard to have confidence in a company that cannot get the maths right in a planning application, let alone in the complex calculations that will be required in running this technology.
6) In theory the associated businesses are good uses for the waste gas, but would require acreage far beyond what is being proposed.
So, what can you do?
Object to this planning application. For help in doing this, go to biofuelwatch.org.uk/2017/egnedol-gasifier-objection. This must be done by 2nd February 2017
Tell your Councillors and Assembly members about your concerns
Write to the local paper
Spread the word amongst friends
Print the poster below, and put up in your local area, or print some fliers and circulate.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to do more.
Leading Politicians to Speak Up on Climate Change 3rd Dec 2016
The regional Assembly Member Eluned Morgan, who is also a Baroness and the Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords, shared the sense of urgency of those attending the event for more action to cut harmful emissions and to create jobs in areas such as energy saving and renewable energy. Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru AM who is also Shadow Spokesperson for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs, emphasised the need for a more proactive and innovative approach to support green businesses and technologies. Not only can these technologies save greenhouse gas emissions, they can also make Wales more independent in terms of energy and generally better off.
The discussions were really constructive and we were pleased that both AMs agreed to ask the Welsh Government to set out a plan to meet Wales’ target of 40% cuts in climate-changing emissions by 2020.
The Welsh Government is already running energy-saving projects in homes, and these need to be expanded, especially in areas with poor housing stock. Training and development is needed to make better use of green technologies and to enable local people to take up these jobs.
We want to see progress in tackling climate change because we care about a rich natural environment in Pembrokeshire and about the communities living here. With the election of a dangerous and deluded climate change denying president in the USA, we all have to do more to ensure that efforts to tackle this economic, social and environmental threat are increased, not impeded.
The meetings, which were held at the Bloomfield Community Centre in Narberth, were part of an all-Wales “speak up” on climate change campaign, organised by Stop Climate Chaos Cymru, aimed at all Assembly Members and Welsh MPs in their own constituencies and regions.
Dyfed Reinvest - divestment campaign 12th Oct 2016
Divestment is the opposite of investment – it means taking money out of stocks, bonds or investment funds. Pembrokeshire County Council, as part of the Dyfed Pension Fund, has an astonishing £64.8m of public money directly invested through workers’ pension funds in fossil fuel companies like BP and Shell, with a further projected £76.5m in indirect fossil fuel investments.
We think that fund members and taxpayers won’t be happy to learn that their money is tied up with such a risky and polluting industry that contributes so greatly to climate change.
80% of fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. Consequently, there are growing concerns about the long-term financial risks of fossil fuel investments.
Together with Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire FoE groups, we will be calling on the Fund to wind down their exposure to the top 200 fossil fuel companies over a 5-year period. The money could instead be invested into building new homes, improving public transport or supporting local clean renewable energy projects.
Legal clarification in 2014 suggested that wider social, ethical or environmental considerations can affect investment choices by fund managers, provided there is no material detriment to the fund. However, last year UK Government issued proposals on regulation of investment principles that may prevent this, due to fears that councils may use pension and procurement policies to pursue their own boycotts and sanctions.
It is therefore important that our campaign shows clearly how risky such an investment strategy is, so that the fund trustees can take the decision to divest based on the ‘best return’ basis.
You can help by signing the campaign petition –
You can read more by downloading our briefing paper -
EU referendum 23rd June 2016
We cannot be sure but what we do know is the current Conservative Government would allow the use of bee-harming pesticides and has frequently argued against the precautionary principle which is enshrined in the EU treaty. We also know that many of the supporters of Brexit, in particular UKIP, argue against manmade climate change as was so clearly demonstrated at our recent assembly election hustings. We have already seen withdrawal of support for renewable energy. What we risk is the rolling back of many environmental laws in order to increase the UK’s competitive advantage, the all out pursuit of economic growth and policies that fail to tackle climate change and thus in the long run undermine global stability and render parts of the world uninhabitable thus deepening the current world refugee crisis.
So what happens if we stay in?
Friends of the earth argue that on balance we should stay in and join forces with the Green movements across Europe to argue for the EU to prioritise taking care of our shared global environment and improving the quality of people’s lives in a way that can be sustained. From within the EU we can fight for stronger environmental laws, a move away from growth and free trade at any price, and more democracy within the EU.
It was interesting and inspiring to hear the views from across the political spectrum at the Friends of the Earth Road show. All of the speakers, who included Jill Evans, Plaid Cymru member of the European Parliament who sits with the Greens, John Gummer, now Lord Deben who is Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change, Rachel Sharp CEO of the Welsh Wildlife Trust and finally Huw Davies Labour AM for Ogmore, argued that to protect the future of our beautiful Welsh environment in our globalised world, we should remain within the EU, fighting for the policies and changes that are needed to protect this precious environment for our children and grandchildren.
For more information go to:
Action at Ffos-y-Fran opencast coalmine 15th June 2016
Ffos-y-Fran is an enormous open cast mine near Merthyr. It's nearly exhausted and the owners, Miller Argent, have a lodged a planning application to extend it.
A group of activists (Reclaim the Power https://reclaimthepower.org.uk) along with local residents organised a camp and mass trespass to close the mine. With several hundred others we camped on the neighbouring common for two days of workshops and action training before entering the mine on Tuesday. The camp itself was fascinating. Despite non-hierarchical organisation and consensus decision-making it functioned very smoothly and efficiently.
We were apprehensive as we went in, knowing we were risking arrest for aggravated trespass. Fortunately, the owners and police had decided on a softly-softly approach (presumably to avoid bad publicity), and had written off the first shift. The police asked us to leave at lunchtime so that the second shift could start, but we refused - so the mine was closed for the whole day.
Here are some pictures: https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/endcoalnow/ and a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p762G7uHpg
What did we achieve?
Plenty of publicity https://storify.com/RTP/reclaim-the-power-end-coal-noq and significant costs to the owners and the police which hopefully will make it more likely that the Nant Lesg extension won't go ahead, either because the Welsh Assembly decides to turn down the planning application or because the security costs of guarding the extension from protesters make it commercially non-viable.
Objections needed to Blackbridge plant 13th May 2016
Please object to Egnedol's Environmental Impact Assessment for a biomass and waste gasifier. Responses must be in no later than 20th May
Biofuelwatch has published a critical report claiming that it is a "high risk, unproven technology," and casting serious doubt on the company's ability to successfully operate such a plant. Biofuelwatch's report highlights how similar attempts to build gasifiers in the UK have failed, and outlines the health and safety risks associated with the technology.
It also points to the fact that Egnedol has no track record with any power station scheme, anywhere, ever, and has provided no evidence of having any expertise in operating such an unproven and highly challenging technology.
The Biofuelwatch website has an online email with sample text for your objection - please personalize this text if you have time.
Assembly Elections 5th May 2016
In preparation for the Friends of the Earth hustings on Thursday 21st April and for those who cannot come and listen to the candidates in person, Luc Wise interviewed 5 of the candidates for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire earlier this month. He asked them about their views on local, national and global environmental issues, their party’s policies and their own priorities for the environment.
To listen to the interviews CLICK HERE
Action against Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine 13th April 2016
Climate activist network Reclaim the Power today announced it will shut down the UK’s largest opencast coal mine – Ffos-y-fran, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales – at the start of May.
Coal from Ffos-y-fran fuels the highly-polluting Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales, which has been in breach of EU air quality regulations for eight years.
Hundreds are expected to set up camp nearby and take part in a mass action to close the mine. The action will take place just a few days before the Welsh Assembly elections on May 5th.
For more information see http://reclaimthepower.org.uk/news/endcoalnow/
Blackbridge Biomass Gasification Plant 22nd Feb 2016
The Biofuel Report highlights concerns surrounding Egnedol, their proposal, including the claims surrounding the super-trees and downstream activities, public health concerns including noise fires and airborn pollution and finally what a project on this scale could mean for the worlds forests and climate change. Biofuelwatch Briefing
Remembering the Sea Empress 21st Feb 2016
Twenty years ago, on the evening of 15 February 1996, a large oil tanker, the Sea Empress, grounded on rocks while attempting to enter the Milford Haven waterway at low tide. Gordon James, who at the time was director of Friends of the Earth Cymru and an active member of Pembrokeshire FoE, looks back.
There was little evidence of a major oil spill as a small group of us, gathered on St Anna’s Head, gazed down through the early morning light at the damaged oil tanker. On this first dawn of an unfolding drama, it was rumoured that everything was under control and the becalmed Sea Empress would soon be moved to the safety of an oil terminal. Read more
Save Cardigan Bay! 17th Feb 2016
The Welsh Government are currently consulting on proposals to open up Cardigan Bay to Scallop dredging. This is a highly damaging method of fishing which destroys the seabed. Much of Cardigan Bay is supposedly protected as 'Special Areas of Conservation' yet the seabed in these areas is under threat and the species that rely on a productive ecosystem, such as bottlenose dolphin and porpoise, are also under threat.
We are asking all members and those who are concerned to respond calling upon the Welsh Government to withdraw their proposals and fulfill their obligation to protect the SAC.
It is important to use your own words. Here are some of the most important points to raise.
Supporters argue that it is a clean technology making use of a by-product of oil refining, creating
jobs and even helping climate change! But Cllr Sue Perkins gave an effective presentation against the proposal quoting from leaflet we had produced. John Hubbard the nearest resident criticised the artist impressions of the plant and Hugh Towns the planning officer accepted that it was not suitable for such a development to be on a former landfill site in a flood plain. Well done to John Hubbard and Dave Robinson for all their hard work on the proposal.
READ our arguments
Frack Free Pembrokeshire 1st Jan 2016
While we know that Pembrokeshire is not a target for the fracking companies, counties to the East of us are not so lucky.They have coal bed methane and coal seams which can be exploited to create gas by underground coal gasification. By pushing Pembrokeshire County Council to declare a frack free Local Authority we are supporting groups accross Wales in the fight against fracking.
Meeting with Stephen Crabb MP 1st Dec 2015
Environmentally Damaging Policies of the Conservative Government
Prepared for the Pembrokeshire FoE meeting with Stephen Crabb MP on October 8th 2015.
The Renewables Obligation for onshore wind energy will end on first of April 2016, one year earlier than intended. About 250 projects, with a combined capacity of 7.1 GW, will be lost. Baroness Worthington, the shadow speaker on energy and climate change in the House of Lords, has pointed out that when Amber Rudd announced this measure in the House of Commons some Conservative MPs called for an end to all forms of renewable energy.
Following the scrapping of Renewable Obligation support for solar developments over 5 MW from 1 April this year, the government is now proposing to end similar funding for smaller solar projects under 5 MW by 1 April 2016, a year earlier than expected. The Energy and Climate Change Committee has been very critical of the government’s decision to publish these proposals after parliament went into recess.
Feed-in tariffs (FITs) for renewables are to be gutted under government consultation proposals. A typical solar household generation tariff would be cut by 86% while larger systems over 1 MW would have their tariff cut to 1.03p/kWh from 4.28/kWh. Wind turbines of 100-500 kW are set to receive less than half the former payout while the generation tariff would be completely removed for systems over 1.5 MW.
An analysis, based on government data, by Friends of the Earth estimates that 22,000 jobs could be lost by the proposed cut in subsidies for domestic solar electricity. In 2013, jobs in renewable energy grew by 6% compared to a 1.2% growth in the wider economy (ENDS Report, August 2015)
The influential centre-right think tank, Policy Exchange, has spoken out against government cuts to onshore wind subsidies arguing that they are vital for the affordable decarbonisation of electricity generation. Its concerns are shared by the Committee on Climate Change, whose chair, former Conservative MP Lord Deben, challenged the government in June to explain how it planned to keep decarbonisation costs down without new onshore wind.
Today, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has announced that onshore wind is now the cheapest form of UK electricity.
Despite the government’s claims to support community energy projects, these are likely to be particularly affected by subsidy changes for small-scale renewables. The Scottish and Welsh governments have written to energy secretary, Amber Rudd, warning that UK government proposals on renewable energy could “significantly damage” community energy projects.
Planning applications for onshore wind projects over 50 MW will now be decided by local planning authorities rather than the nationally significant infrastructure regime. This will make it easier for the vocal minorities who oppose wind energy to carry the day even if a majority is in favour.
In complete contrast to this, the government has decided to fast-track fracking developments through the planning system. Ministers will be given powers to call in fracking applications and these will be prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate. Councils deemed to deal too slowly with fracking applications will have these taken over by the Communities Secretary for determination. The government has said it will progress plans to amend permitted development rights to allow drilling boreholes for groundwater monitoring to take place as soon as a potential site is identified. Fracking is to be allowed in our most precious wildlife sites: Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The UK government has added its weight to a behind-the-scenes lobbying drive by oil and gas firms including BP, Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil to persuade EU leaders to scrap a series of environmental safety measures for fracking, according to leaked letters seen by the Guardian.
The uptake of subsidies under the Renewable Heat Incentive is down about 50% compared to last year following tariff reductions introduced by the government.
Electricity from renewable sources will no longer be exempt from the Climate Change Levy, a tax on energy use paid by businesses. Designed to penalises polluting power plants, this will now be applied to clean energy. FoE said it’s like putting an alcohol tax on apple juice. Two large energy companies are challenging the government’s withdrawal of this levy at the High Court.
The government states that its Levy Control Framework subsidy for renewables will be breached by 2020. This funding ceiling was set by the Treasury and could be raised if the government had a similar commitment to renewables that it has to nuclear power.
A pioneering Carbon Capture and Storage project in the North of England, proposed by the operators of the Drax coal-fired power station, has been cancelled because of the reduction in subsidies to renewables.
The UK has now dropped to 11th in the international league table on renewable energy. Accountancy firm Ernst & Young has said that the Conservative government has sentenced the renewable energy industry to “death by a thousand cuts” and investor confidence has collapsed because of policy changes over the summer.
DECC has confirmed that £40 million will be cut from energy efficiency subsidies for homes.
The Green Deal energy efficiency scheme has been axed. This flagship scheme of the Conservatives failed to deliver predicted results. Apart from the ECO-scheme for poorer households, there is no serious energy efficiency policy for homes, which account for around a third of UK carbon emissions.
Plans to ensure that all new homes would be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 have been binned. The government did this a few days after the Committee on Climate Change asked for the zero-carbon homes standard to be implemented without further weakening. On 20th of July, green business leaders from construction and sustainable energy, including Tata Steel, Eon and Willmott Dixon, wrote an open letter to George Osborne objecting to the move [ENDS Report, August 2015].
There will be an expansion of tax relief for oil and gas exploration. FoE estimate that the government handed out hidden subsidies for oil and gas totalling £3 billion in the last parliament alone. This is in addition to the £1.3 billion paid out of consumer bills to fund the Capacity Market, an obscure mechanism designed to keep old powers stations operating.
Vehicle excise duty, from 2017, will increase for low emission cars and decrease for those with the highest emissions. For instance, a Toyota Prius hybrid could see road tax increase from £10 in the first year to £140. A Land Rover Freelander would see its first year rate fall from £800 to £140.
Fuel duty will remain frozen, breaking a previous government pledge that it would rise if oil prices remained below $75 a barrel.
Money raised from vehicle excise duty will go into a road building fund, which will increase car use, air pollution and emissions of climate-change gases, rather than into better public transport or cycling.
The government is supporting the Hinkley nuclear power station with a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years, compared with £81.95 per megawatt hour for onshore wind over a 15 year period. It is also underwriting the first £2 billion of the costs of the power station. The price being guaranteed for nuclear power is twice the wholesale market price of electricity, representing a subsidy of billions of pounds, most of which will line the pockets of the state-owned French and Chinese financial backers of Hinckley. To make matters worse, the £92.50 will rise in line with the consumer price index rate of inflation, meaning that, by 2030, the guaranteed price could be as high as £150 per megawatt hour.
A report by HSBC bank has been critical of the cost of Hinkley and concluded: ‘We see ample reason for the UK Government to delay or cancel the project.’ Former Tory Energy Secretary Lord Howell of Guildford – the self-described ‘pro-nuclear’ architect of a drive into nuclear power under Margaret Thatcher – has told the House of Lords that the reactor plan in Somerset was ‘one of the worst deals ever for British households and British industry’.
Experience shows that the predicted costs are likely to rise significantly. A similar power station being built in Finland is already running nine years late, quadrupling estimated costs. Another one being built in Normandy has already cost three times more than estimated and is running six years late. Hinkley is already five years behind schedule; it was meant to come on stream in 2018, then in 2023, but this target date has now also been abandoned.
DECC has admitted the U.K.’s present climate change policies could risk not meeting the fourth carbon budget in the 2020s (ENDS Report, August 2015). While the government is demolishing policies that cut carbon emissions, it is putting nothing in place to ensure that decarbonisation develops apace after 2020. It will be another decade or more before nuclear power or shale gas are likely to make any impact.
There will be no further commitment to raise the proportion of revenue from environmental taxes.
The Green Investment Bank, which was launched in 2012 to provide public funding for green projects, will be largely privatised (70% of the bank). The influential Tory think tank Bright Blue stated this was “the last thing we need”. Nick Mabey, the chief executive of E3G, has stated that the GIB maintained funding when bank lending fell to an all-time low and that privatisation “threatens to destroy investor confidence”.
The European Parliament has dropped a demand for a resource efficiency target in the circular economy package following lobbying by member states including the UK. The UK also opposed higher recycling targets and measures to extend the Eco-design Directive beyond energy-related products and to introduce resource-efficiency features in all product requirements. A report by Imperial College, London has concluded that the circular economy would add £29 billion to UK GDP and create 175,000 new jobs. (ENDS Report, August 2015)
The UK Green economy was worth £122 billion in 2013. Employment in the sector grew by 12% between 2010 and 2013 while turnover increased 25%. The director-general of the CBI, John Cridland, has pointed out that the green economy “is a high-growth emerging economy in its own right….It grows at 7% a year instead of 3% (for the economy overall)”.
The government has suspended a ban in parts of England on a pesticide (neonictonide) linked to causing serious harm in bees. Over 500,000 people signed a petition opposing the lifting of the ban. FoE has launched a legal challenge against the government’s decision.
The government’s attack on environmental policies indicates that the phrase attributed to the Prime Minister, of rolling back the “green crap”, was correct and that his commitment to lead the greenest government ever was always a sham. The recent announcement that the UK government has pledged £6 billion to the international climate fund stands almost alone as a positive measure but even this suggests that the government would prefer to transfer responsibility for climate action onto other countries.
Prof Jim Skea, professor of energy at Imperial College, London, has stated that the government is trying to hold two opposing views on climate change simultaneously – an externally projected one of a nation setting the pace but that this is being contradicted by a domestic low-carbon policy being put in reverse gear. This, he points out, is harmful to investment and to the U.K.’s reputation in the run-up to the crucial Paris climate conference in December [ENDS Report September 2015].
The government is promoting the most costly policies to supposedly reduce carbon emissions from energy use while it is slashing the most cost-effective and quickest-to-implement ones. Energy experts, such as Prof Catherine Mitchell of Exeter University, have warned for a number of years that promoting nuclear power would reduce investment in, and political support for, the more effective carbon reduction policies of energy efficiency and renewable energy; the government is ensuring that this prediction will come true.
While other governments, such as in the USA, China, India and Germany, are driving forward renewable energy technologies and improvements in energy efficiency, the UK stands alone in switching the most effective low-carbon efforts into reverse. This is damaging to the economy, the environment, human health and the future prospects of our children.
Trecwn Biomass Power Station 27th August 2015
Pembrokeshire County Council unanimously vote in favour of “Renewable” biomass power station at Trecwn
Is PembrokeshireCounty Council leading us into an new era of clean air and renewable energy? Alas no; the developer Valley Ltd, plan to install a 25MW power station to generate energy from biomass fuel, comprising a mix of virgin wood chip and /or pellets, with potentially a proportion of recycled / waste wood chip. The source of fuel is not determined but it is likely that initially the majority of the fuel would be delivered by ship and stored at Pembroke Dock, then transported to the site at Trecwn, the old military base near Fishguard by road.
Valley Ltd. estimate that there will be 53 HGV/106 two way journeys a day (one with an empty truck). As most of the fuel would be imported via Pembroke Dock, it would be more environmentally acceptable to site the electricity generating plant closer to the town and avoid these journeys and to enable the waste heat to be used in existing industrial facilities.
The company admits that the power station will only be 26% efficient, 74% of the energy in the fuel will be wasted. This will not help to cut carbon dioxide emissions; it’s more like fiddling while Rome burns.
The net carbon benefit of biomass electricity generating stations is questionable as government guidelines
do not include direct emissions from the stack, assuming that the process is carbon neutral. One tonne of dry wood burnt in a power station emits 1.8 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Studies show that burning trees can result in higher greenhouse gas emissions than burning coal.
Last year, 60 eminent US scientists wrote a letter to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change warning him that, “burning trees to produce electricity actually increases carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels for many decades and contributes to other air pollution problems”.
As well as releasing greenhouse gas emissions, burning wood produces other pollutants, including particulates, nitrogen oxides, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which pose a threat to human health and ecosystems. It is likely to exacerbate the problems for people used as it may contain chemicals including dioxins, arsenic, lead and mercury. Burning waste wood also diverts it from recycling by the wood panel industry.
The developers state that there is the possibility of rebuilding the old railway line running to Fishguard to transport the wood. They may be able to attract more industry to this area to make use of the waste heat produced, so making Combined Heat and Power which is much more efficient could be possible in the future. Local farmers could grow biomass crops to supply the power station in the future, but for now they would be importing wood pellets from virgin forests in the States Canada or Latvia.
The government classes biomass fuel (i.e. wood,energy crops and farming and forestry waste) as a renewable and supports its use through the Renewables Obligation, which provides financial subsidies for burning wood. FoE is calling for the government’s ambitions for bio energy to be scaled down and capped at a level that ensures supplies can be sourced sustainably and domestically.
The public health impact of woodburning power plants:
US paper discussing the air quality impacts of biomass electricity: http://pfpi.net/airpollution2 .
Evidence presented at a Congressional hearing in the US:
Cwm Arian Renewable Energy 29th July 2015
Cris Tomos, Holly Cross, Daniel Blackburn, Rhys Morgan
Budget Weakens Climate Action 14th July 2015
The Conservative government’s retreat from effective action to tackle climate change continued in the budget.
• Electricity from renewable sources will no longer be exempt from the Climate Change Levy, a tax on energy use paid by businesses. This could wipe 6% off the income for onshore windfarms and make some planned projects unviable.
• There will be an expansion of tax relief for oil and gas exploration.
• Vehicle excise duty, from 2017, will increase for low emission cars and decrease for those with the highest emissions. For instance, a Toyota Prius hybrid could see road tax increase from £10 in the first year to £140. A Land Rover Freelander would see its first year rate fall from £800 to £140.
• Fuel duty will remain frozen, breaking a previous government pledge that it would rise if oil prices remained below $75 a barrel.
• Money raised from vehicle excise duty will go into a road building fund, which can be expected to increase car use, rather than into better public transport or cycling.
Lobbying on Climate Change 26th June 2015
While he is positive about increased energy efficiency and the Swansea tidal lagoon, he hopes that some of the work may come to Pembrokeshire, he was careful to avoid further commitments. He did thank us for coming and expressed the hope that we can keep in touch. So remember letters do matter!
Please enter full news item here...
Government accuses BBC of creating 'false balance' on climate change with unqualified sceptics 10th April 2014
The report 'Communicating Climate Science’ from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is available here:
New Royal Society report on climate change 10th April 2014
Buses in Crisis 14th Jan 2014
IS THIS CLIMATE CHANGE? 14th Jan 2014
Even David Cameron admits that with climate change these events will be more frequent. He will spend more on flood defences but not renewables?
This amazing picture was taken by Captain Ian Evans
Energy in 2013 14th Jan 2014
Political panics about consumer energy bills, anti-fracking protests, energy company profits and a new nuclear power station built by the French: 2013 has been an interesting year for UK energy policy. Arguments about obscure government home insulation schemes, previously found on the business section, ended up on the front page.
Along the way, unexpected events occurred, while some long-cherished dreams failed to materialise. Here's a few of the more interesting developments that surprised us in 2013.
There's no doubt, 2013 was a busy year in climate science. As well as a bumper new climate report from the UN's official climate assessment body - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - a few bits of research caused quite a stir on their own.
We've cast our collective Carbon Brief mind back over the year to find the five science papers that had everybody talking.
IPCC Report 14th Jan 2014
This is the link to an excellent 10-minute summary of the IPCC's latest report on the science of climate change
Disappointment as Atlantic Array cancelled 1st Jan 2014
HAPPY CHRISTMAS 25th Dec 2013
Don't know what to give? Why not give a year's membership of Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth
This is a great present, no waste and it supports the environment. If you are interested please contact the membership secretary at email@example.com. We will ask you to complete a membership form for the person receiving the gift and send it to us with the payment. We will then send an introductory pack and card to either you or the person directly.
So you see Christmas made easy!
And here are some more ideas
Atlantic Array 16th Sept 2013
Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth response to the proposed Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm
Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth supports the application made by Channel Energy Ltd for development consent to construct and operate the proposed Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm.
The development, which would have a capacity of up to 1200 MW producing enough electricity to.....more
In In Memory of Val Jones: a great campaigner and wonderful person
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of one of Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth’s most comitted supporters, Val Jones.
Val moved from Newport, Gwent, where she had been actively involved with CND, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to live near Freshwater West over 20 years ago so that the cleaner air would alleviate her asthma symptoms. Her moving, with her husband Ken, daughter Sandra and other members of her family, coincided with the start of our campaign against proposals to burn dirty orimulsion fuel at Pembroke power station. Val immediately got stuck in, showing considerable courage as many of her neighbours either worked in or were strong supporters of the power station.
Val became increasingly involved in our activities, such as our response to the sea Empress oil spill and our defeat of proposals to dump nuclear waste in Trecwn and grow GM crops at Mathry, and acted as the coordinator/secretary of Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth for a number of years. More recently, Val was actively involved in our campaigns to oppose the dualling of the A 40 and the building of the new Pembroke power station.
As well as supporting our activities, Val also campaigned on disability issues and for better rewards for care workers. She kept incredibly active despite numerous years of disabling ill-health, and she always did it with a smile never complaining about her own problems.
Val has been a tremendous inspiration to many of us and she will be greatly missed.
Val will be buried at the Narberth Crematorium at 1215 on Friday 17th May. It will be a humanist funeral with flowers from family members only. Donations will be given to Friends of the Earth and Medicines Son Frontiers. After the funeral, there will be refreshments at the Plus Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth.
Both Eleanor and Gordon have written letters to the Telegraph responding to a letter by Dave Bevan and Richard Shepherd. Here is Gordon's recent response
The Energy Bill 24th April 2013
The Energy Bill will shape the energy sources used to power Britain for the next forty years. We need to attract over £100 billion investment over the next decade to replace and upgrade our energy infrastructure and diversify the energy mix. The choices made now will have long-standing consequences for the future competitiveness of the economy, energy prices and consumer bills – and our climate targets. The International Energy Agency has warned that the world faces serious risks from climate change unless the world makes a significant and urgent shift in investment patterns towards energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and away from fossil fuels.
There is a strong consensus across businesses, investors and civil society that the best way to position the UK as a modern, efficient economy attracting investment and creating jobs, while cutting carbon emissions
and controlling energy costs, is to decarbonise our electricity supply by 2030.
However, as it stands the Energy Bill will not deliver this.
Three issues dominated Second Reading and Committee Stage that if addressed would ensure the Energy Bill delivers for the economy, consumers and the environment:
1. the need for a power sector decarbonisation target in 2030;
2. the lack of energy efficiency measures in the Bill;
3. the dangers of dependence on expensive, volatile, imported fossil fuels.
Tim Yeo and Barry Gardiner have tabled an amendment to the Energy Bill which would introduce a target for clean power by 2030, in line with Committee on Climate Change advice. We are asking members to send letters to their MP asking them to add their names to this amendment. Please download the draft letter add your details and send it to your MP today
A Visit from the US Gulf Coast 15th April 2013
Bryan Parras is an environmental justice activist from the US Gulf Coast. He recently came to London with 2 others to attend the BP AGM. They were there to hold BP to account for the devastating impact of the deep water horizon spill.
During his visit he also joined UK Tar Sands Network at a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline directed at US Secretary of State John Kerry who was attending a meeting of the G8. He then travelled to Pembrokeshire with Emily Coats of the UK Tar Sands Network. We meet him first at Bloomfields where Bryan gave a fascinating account of the small, largely latino, Community of Manchester, Houston Texas.
This forgotten community is surrounded on all sides by heavy industry(see map). Looking at the pictures it is hard to imagine the smell, the noise, the level of polution and the impact this must have on the health of this small community.
Yet with the completiton of the Keystone XL pipeline it is set to get worse. Valero's gulf refineries are one of the main destinations of the tar sands bitumen this pipeline will transport. This corrosive, toxic and most highly CO2 intensive product would be refined into diesel right next door to Manchester. It is this diesel which we believe Valero will import into the UK via Pembroke. Here it may be refined into petrol which can end back in the US, or the petrol pumps of the UK and Europe.
The fight faced by Manchester reminded us of our fight againt orimulsion, a fuel with very simular properties to tar sands oil.
Manchester needs to move but so far all Valero has offered is the buy part of the area which would allow them to expand. They offered to buy the land but not the houses on it! In an interview for Bridge the Gulf Yudith Nieto and Emmanuel Guajargo talk more about Manchester and their protests.
This community like many others up and down the US is fighting the pipeline which threatens its health and wellbeing and that of our planet.
As Emily Coats points out in her account Watchout Valero "Few things put the wind up a corporation more than when its critics start to unite. Making every issue seem isolated and insignificant is a perpetual tactic to divide and conquer dissenting voices – so showing that each case is symptomatic of a wider problem is a powerful way to disarm them."
We thank Bryan for coming to visit us and hope he enjoyed his tour around Pembrokeshire despite the rain and wind!
Cwm Arian Renewable Energy Planning application 14th April 2013
CARE would like to encourage groups and individuals to write in support of the project. To do so go to the PCC website. Positive letters will help the project through the planning process and could lead to a success which brings thousands of pounds of independent funding per year to improve the community.
Below are several things which you might like to consider when commenting on the application. We would ask that you put any comments in your own words, but start your letter with the phrase "I am writing in support of this application".
a. The application is very thorough and written by reputable consultants.
b. This scheme is being delivered by a grass roots community group with a proven commitment to their local area, not outside investors with no real stake in the community.
c. There has been community consultation and support for renewable energy over a long period of time in the area.
d. The scheme is a flagship project for Welsh Government’s “Ynni’r Fro” programme supporting community ownership of renewable energy businesses. It has benefitted from significant support and public funding and been subject to the appropriate scrutiny. Permitting this scheme will put Pembrokeshire at the cutting edge of community sustainability.
e. According to planning recommendations (under TAN 8), schemes like this one with a community dimension should be actively sought by planning authorities in addition to commercial developments.
f. The community ownership is 100%. This materially affects the balance of benefits versus impact that the planning authority is tasked to consider.
g. The visual impact is in keeping with the existing features of the landscape; it is well screened from the national park.
h. The site is very close to a primary substation. This will maximise the efficiency of electricity generation to the grid at minimal visual impact.
i. The turbines will be further away from dwellings than the minimum recommended by statutory limits, for turbines at this scale.
j. Wind turbines are supported by a silent majority. A minority of insistent objectors should not be allowed to derail this community scheme.
k. Our rural communities need to harvest and profit from their natural resources to survive in the 21st century.
l. The local community stands to gain access to thousands of pounds of non-grant dependent funding from the scheme;
i. local groups would be able to do more environmental project activity.
ii. we would be able to afford more energy efficiency measures in our homes.
iii. we would have more opportunities to start up enterprises and have access to more jobs, so we could stay living in the local area.
For more information see the CARE information sheet
Financier speaks out on Climate Change 12th April 2013
In a Guardian article Leo Hickman reports on what the leader of the GMO group based in Boston is saying
Presenting the Petition 26th March 2013
Eleanor Clegg, representing Pembrokeshire FoE, along with Emily Coats from Tar Sands Network UK presented a petition with 4000 signatures to Nick Clegg at his office in Whitehall, London
The petition, organised UK Tar Sands Network, 350.org, Campaign Against Climate Change, People & Planet, and Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth, urged the Deputy Prime Minister to support the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), legislation which will discourage imports of fuels derived from tar sands oil to Europe.
The petition pointed out that increasing amounts of diesel derived from tar sands are expected to be imported to the UK, especially via Valero‘s refinery in Pembroke. Valero, a key supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline which would take tar sands oil to Texas, has also been the target of recent protests in the Gulf Coast.
The petition was received by the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, who claimed they were unaware of Valero’s plans to import tar sands oil to the UK.
Burn coal, heat the planet
To The Editor
Mr. William O’Brien(Blot here and there, March 13th2013) is completely indifferent to the fate of our planet and of future generations – as is Chancellor George Osborne, whose Budget measures promote investment in shale gas drilling, with “inducements” for neighbourhoods. Both men falsely assume that clean technologies aren't affordable; however, “There is solid evidence that investment in the low-carbon economy creates jobs and increases productivity," says Mark Kenber, chief executive of The Climate Group think tank.
The Times warned on 11th March that thousands of jobs and £billions of investment are at risk unless our Government commits to green energy: plans are already on hold and, by failing to set targets for cutting power generation emissions, our country risks losing out economically to France and Germany. Furthermore, the CBI states that the impact of climate change on the global economy is one of the biggest long-term risks to UK prosperity; British businesses, therefore, want to play their part in delivering formal decarbonising plans.
The budget ignored the green economy’s potential, but if those benefits were also given to local communities adjacent to wind farms which are being made obligatory in areas having to endure shale drilling, I’m sure that with a level playing field people would rather have green power generated nearby than suffer the risk of earth tremors and contaminated groundwater.
William O’Brien favours burning coal yet the European medical NGO, the Health and Environmental Alliance, confirms that the EU spends billions on treating illnesses linked to coal power plant emissions. So, Mr O’Brien, would you revive Pembrokeshire’s economy with opencast mining rather than green energy projects? Ripping the Saundersfoot countryside open to get at a fuel which wrecks people’s health and threatens our planet’s future?
Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth
Letters on Tar Sands and the FQD 8th Jan 2013
Please download the draft letters listed below from resources. Feel free to modify these letters, making them personal may increase their impact but the important thing is to send them. We are asking you to write to Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under secretary of State for transport. These letters should be copied to Jill Evans MEP. We are also asking you to write to your MP AM and PCC.
Copies to Jill Evans MEP
45 Gelligaled Road, Ystrad, Rhondda Cynon Taf, CF41 7RQ firstname.lastname@example.org
Tar Sands Coming to Town 30th Oct 2012
On the 30th October we held a public meeting co-hosted by TENP to launch the report Tar Sands Coming to Town. This report has been written by Emily Coats of the UK Tar Sands Network and Chris Kitchen of Corporate Watch. The meeting was chaired by Dr Clive Morgan.
Emily Coats began by presenting the report which highlights the devastating impact of the tar sands industry, both on the local environment and communities and the wider world through climate change. The report then goes on to look at the role of Valero and their possible plans to bring diesel derived from tar sands to the UK via their Pembroke Refinery. Valero was invited to attend the meeting, they declined. However they did write a letter of response which was read out to the meeting by the chair.
This letter claims the report contains many inaccuracies, however as was pointed out at the meeting reading the 2 documents together reveals that they have in fact outlined few if any inaccuracies. In fact some of the points raised in the letter are acknowledged in the report; the report makes it clear that Valero does not extract tar sands directly, that the company will not refine tar sands oil in Pembroke and that Valero does not plan to build new refineries in Texas. The letter does not deny that diesel derived from Canadian crude oil bitumen may find its way into the UK via imports to their Pembroke Refinery.
“Crude oil purchased by Valero for refining at some of its North American refineries comes from multiple sources. It is blended to produce an end feedstock, of which Canadian crude oil bitumen is a tiny part. The resultant blend is then processed to produce end product, which may be imported into the UK.”
Jill Evans MEP then talked about the EU and the role of the Fuel Quality Directive. This legislation has the potential to reduce or stop the expansion of transport fuels derived form tar sands into the European market. The aim of the directive is to reduce the lifetime emissions from transport fuels sold in the EU by 6% by 2020.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Change Commissioner, has made it clear that she wants tar sands banned from EU fuels, and while the directive does not introduce an outright ban on Tar Sands, by giving it a much higher, and in our view realistic, default value for its lifetime emissions (or greenhouse gas intensity) it will make it uncompetitive.
The UK Government appears to be responding to pressure from Canada by raising a number of objections to the directive. As seen in their fact sheet they claim to support the aims of the directive but have so far refused to support it as it currently stands. They claim that the methodology for determining the greenhouse gas intensity of the various fuels is not sufficiently robust. They appear to be characterising this as a scientific rather than a political issue. UK government critics see this as a stalling tactic. Jill Evans emphasised the importance of putting pressure on the government to back the directive at this time. Both by writing to MEP's and the Department of Transport.
All who attended the meeting left in no doubt of the importance of the issue of tar sands and the threat they pose for the future.
Please raise this issue wherever you can, we hope to follow up by bringing this to the notice of the PCC and the Welsh government as well as a letter writing campaign on the FQD.
The EC backs our complaint about Pembroke Power Station 26th Oct 2012
This is another tremendous campaigning victory for Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth, working closely with our teams in Cardiff and London, and is yet another great example of Thinking Globally and Working Locally. It's very apt that this success has come so soon after we celebrated 25 years of successful activity at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby recently. The EC decision means that the UK government will now be under great pressure to do everything possible to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of the power station. This process will take some time and we look forward to it with interest. The decision also means that the UK government now knows that it will not be allowed to get away with approving similarly damaging power stations in the future
Christmas Presents 15th Oct 2012
This is a great present, no waste and it supports the environment. If you are interested please contact the membership secretary at email@example.com. We will ask you to complete a membership form for the person receiving the gift and send it to us with the payment. We will then send an introductory pack and card to either you or the person directly.
So you see Christmas made easy!
On July 19th, we submitted a letter to the Western Telegraph correcting misinformation on climate change on their letters page. It was not printed so we resubmitted it the following week. Again it was not printed. We then learned that both Janet and Vian Roberts, of the Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group, and independent energy consultant, Christopher Jessop, had also submitted similar letters on two occasions only for them also to be ignored. In response to this, we decided to submit the joint letter below to the editor of the paper. On Friday 24th of August, the editor responded promising a full reply after the weekend. No reply was received and on Friday 31st August we e-mailed the editor requesting a reply. We have now received a reply and are glad we took the matter up.
21st August 2012
The Western Telegraph
Dear Holly Robinson,
We are extremely disappointed that the Western Telegraph has chosen not to publish letters we have submitted recently in response to letters misrepresenting the science of climate change. We attach the letters that we have submitted.
As our letters, which are based on peer-reviewed climate science, were submitted on at least two occasions and were then ignored, we can only conclude that you are happy for your readers to be fed misinformation, and for that to remain uncorrected, on one of the most important topics of the age.
The scientific evidence that human activity is causing climate change is now unequivocal. That is why it is accepted by virtually all world governments (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is backed by 194 states), the world’s leading scientists (as represented by Academies of Science), the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Medical Association, the Ministry of Defence, the Women's Institute, the TUC, farming unions, the Country Landowners Association etc etc.
It is worth noting the conclusions of the recent independent report the BBC commissioned into its coverage of science. The report points out that the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change is "overwhelming" and that "climate change deniers have become marginal to the scientific debate". It is critical of the fact that, despite this, some journalists still mistakenly give equal coverage to both sides as a result of "false balance" or the need to achieve "controversy".
It would appear that the Western Telegraph, at least in its letters page, has abandoned any attempt to even achieve balance and is now content to promote a dangerous myth.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Gordon James, Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth
Janet and Vian Roberts, Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group
Chris Jessop, independent energy consultant
This is one of the letters which the Western Telegraph ignored
19th July 2012
The Western Telegraph
Dear Letters Editor,
The claim by Dave Bevan (Letters 18th July) that Met Office and University of East Anglia data shows that no global warming has taken place for the past 15 years is incorrect.
Their research shows that the warmest years, since records began 161 years ago, were in 2010 and 2005. Nine of the ten warmest years recorded have occurred since 2001.
The Met Office has, in fact, just released ground-breaking research showing how human-caused climate change has significantly increased the likelihood of some of the extreme weather events we are now experiencing . It gives as an example the abnormally warm temperature in the UK last November which, it estimates, was 60 times more likely to happen because of climate change.
Mr Bevan’s claim that the Arctic ice cap is not receding is also wrong. The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre stated recently that, "in summer months, Arctic ice extent has declined by more than 30% since the start of satellite observations in 1979". It concluded that "sea ice is in fact declining because of human-caused climate change".
Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth
Telephone: (01437) 563670
1.‘Update to HadCRUT Global Temperature Dataset’, 19th March 2012
2. ‘Extreme heat becoming more likely under climate change’, Met Office press release, 10 July 2012
3.’What is causing Arctic sea ice decline?’, May 16th 2012, The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre
Here is the Editors reply
Dear Mr James,
Many thanks for sending me copies of the letters. I certainly had not seen them and do not know why if received they were not used. I am aware a number of letters on this subject were not used for various reasons, but these were not among the ones brought to my attention.
As discussed, in the absence of my usual letters page editor who is on maternity leave, I am now in the process of discussing our letters pages with my team to find a suitable way forward for all concerned. We have already made some changes to the process letters go through when they arrive at the office.
As you appreciate, we are not in a position to be able to publish all the letters and content we receive and while we try to ensure people are able to respond to previous letters, we do often end up in the untenable situation of letters pinging backwards and forwards on points long since forgotten. This also detracts from the issue at hand and does put some readers off taking notice of the issues.
While I do not like to 'ban' any subject area from our letters page, as per our conversation this may mean stopping all energy related letters unless they relate specifically to a local issue in the news at the time. We are not a scientific journal and do not have the time or resources to research everything our readers send in.
The point of our letters page is to give people a forum in which to put forward their views on subjects that matter to our readers, and give people a voice in our community. For this reason, letters on fresh subjects and that take issues forward instead of stomping on old ground will always take priority.
Given the concern about letters going astray, please feel free to copy me in to any future correspondence as well as sending it to the wtletters@ address - this ensures I will see it as well as the person editing letters in any given week.
Complaint to EU about Milford Haven Waterway 3rd March 2012
The Milford Haven Waterway and adjoining coast are one of the most important marine environments in Europe. It has Special Area of Conservation (SAC) because most of the features of the SAC that qualify for protection are in an unfavourable condition. FoE Cymru, in a process initiated by Pembrokeshire FoE, has lodged a complaint with the European Commission that the UK authorities are not properly applying the law to protect this area. This situation would be made worse by the new LNG-fired power station at Pembroke. Over half the energy in the LNG would be wasted as the power station, operating at 55% efficiency, would burn gas that has already needed a significant amount of energy to liquefy it for shipping and then to re-gasify for use in the UK. The waste heat from the power station would be sufficient to heat well over half a million homes. The power station would abstract cooling water equivalent to three times the average flow of the two rivers Cleddau into the estuary, and discharge it at 8C higher temperature back into the Haven. In the USA, such cooling systems are regarded as unacceptable in coastal locations because of the damage they cause to fish and other marine life.
We have long argued that the LNG should be burned in CHP (Combined Heat and Power) stations that would ensure both the electricity and heat is used. The oil refineries and LNG terminals on the shore of Milford Haven make it an ideal location for this. At the LNG power station and terminals in the Isle of Grain in Kent, this is precisely the system they are using, improving efficiency and saving 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The company has started building the Pembroke power station before it has obtained an environmental permit to operate and despite being told by the Environment Agency that the decision to start construction is at its own risk. FoE Cymru has also asked Wales' Environment Minister to call in the environmental permit application to ensure that the SAC is adequately protected. By using the best technology, industry can co-exist with Pembrokeshire's high quality environment securing jobs in industry, fishing and tourism.
Approval for Wear Point Wind farm 17th Feb 2012
The decision by Pembrokeshire County Council's Planning Committee to approve the application to build a four-turbine wind farm at Wear Point on the shores of Milford Haven was a great victory for renewable energy in Pembrokeshire. Wear Point is an already industrialised landscape where the wind turbines will provide a clean source of electricity for around 5,000 homes.
It will also be a boost to the development of the green economy in Pembrokeshire and make an important contribution to the disappointingly small amount of electricity generated from renewable sources in the county. It is technically the most advanced of the renewable energy options available and it is so good to see a decision made by PCC which we can really applaud.