Resource Documents: U.K. (103 items)
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Author: Scottish Forestry
[A Scottish citizen made a freedom-of-information request, to which Scottish Forestry replied as follows.]
Thank you for your request dated 26 November and received on the 5 December and the clarification dated 19 December 2019 under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs).
You asked for:
a) the number of trees felled for all onshore wind farm development in Scotland to date.
b) the area of felled trees, in hectares, for all onshore wind farm development in Scotland to date.
I enclose some of the information you requested.
Specifically data covering renewable developments on Scotland’s national forests and lands, which is managed on behalf of Scottish Ministers by Forestry and Land Scotland. The area of felled trees in hectares, from 2000 (the date when the first scheme was developed, is 6,994 hectares [70 km², 17,283 acres]. Based on the average number of trees per hectare, of 2000, this gives an estimated total of 13.9M.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Namely data on renewable developments on privately owned woodlands.
Download original document: “Scottish Forestry information request 19-02646”
Author: Renewable Energy Foundation
2019 was the tenth year in which British wind farms have received constraint payments to reduce their output because of electricity grid congestion. There has been a total of £649 million paid out over the decade for discarding 8.7 TWh of electricity. To put this in context, this quantity of energy would be sufficient to provide 90% of all Scottish households with electricity for a year.
Because of a rapid growth in wind farms, particularly in Scotland, the total paid has tended to increase year on year in spite of grid reinforcements and new grid lines such as the £1 billion Western Link from Hunterston to Deeside, which was built specifically to export wind power from Scotland to English and Welsh consumers. Figure 1. displays this trend, showing payments rising from £174,000 in 2010 to a new record cost of more than £139 million. The quantity of electricity discarded in 2019 was also a new record at 1.9 TWh.
Scottish onshore wind farms are far and away the largest beneficiaries of constraint payments, receiving 94% of the total in 2019, and approximately the same proportion averaged over the last ten years (see Figure 2). Scottish onshore wind received nearly £130 million in 2019, and more than £607 million over the decade. The remaining 6% of payments has largely gone to English offshore wind farms, with smaller fractions for Welsh onshore and Scottish and Welsh offshore wind farms. No English onshore wind farms have received constraint payments via the Balancing Mechanism.
The number of Scottish windfarms receiving constraint payments has increased from three in 2010 to sixty-eight in 2019. The largest increase in wind farm numbers occurred in 2017, when eighteen new windfarms received constraint payments for the first time.
Of the sixty-six onshore wind farms in Scotland receiving constraint payments over the decade, two large windfarms – Whitelee and Clyde – received nearly a third of the decade’s total, taking £108 million and £80 million respectively. The animated bar chart (Figure 4) shows how the costs of constraints to windfarms have accumulated over the decade from a slow start in 2010 when payments were made on only three days, increasing to eighty-two days in 2011, with a peak in 2017 when constraint payments were made on 244 days of the year. Wind farm constraint payments were made on 229 days of 2019.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Whitelee, being the largest UK onshore wind farm and one of the earliest entrants into the constraint market, has received the largest constraint payment total. However, recent years have seen newer and smaller wind farms overtaking Whitelee, suggesting that the sites currently being chosen for wind farm development are in locations with poorer grid connection. Whether this is a deliberate choice, designed to maximise average earnings per MWh generated, is open to debate.
The animated bar chart below shows how constraint costs grew in 2019 and reveal that Kilgallioch, which was built in 2017 and is less than half the size of Whitelee, has received more in constraint payments in 2019. Similarly, Stronelairg, built in 2018 and also less than half the size of Whitelee, has risen immediately to fourth in the annual league table of constraint payments.
In 2019, six wind farms were responsible for 50% of the constraint payment receipts, namely Clyde, Kilgallioch, Whitelee, Stronelairg, Fallago Rig, and Dunmaglass. It is particularly notable that of these six highly constrained wind farms:
a) Stronelairg received planning permission in spite of being behind a grid bottleneck and was subject to a Judicial Review due to its impact on wild land. Moreover, there are currently two further neighbouring applications in process for Glenshero owned by the GFG Alliance, and Cloiche, which is proposed by SSE, the operator of Stronelairg.
b) Whitelee, which opened in 2007 with a capacity of 322 MW, and was one of the first wind farms constrained off in the Balancing Mechanism, has been extended very significantly, with a further 217 MW entering service in 2012.
c) Clyde was completed in 2009, but permission to extend the site with an additional 74 (172.8 MW) turbines was granted in July 2014 and completed in 2017.
d) Fallago Rig is currently seeking an extension to add a further 12 turbines.
e) Kilgallioch is also seeking an extension.
Wind farm owners charge more per unit to reduce output than they earn through generating. For wind farms subsidised under the Renewables Obligation (RO) the income foregone when instructed to reduce output is the value of the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC). Typically, wind farms ask to be paid much more than the lost income, and in the early days of wind farm constraint payments, the premiums charged for not generating were very high indeed. For example, in 2011, Crystal Rig 2 charged £991 per MWh to reduce output compared to the value of the ROC at that time of £42 per MWh. Kilbraur, Millennium, Farr, An Suidhe were charging between £200 to £320 per MWh constrained-off in 2011.
This was regarded as an abuse of market power, and the Government introduced the Transmission Constraint Licence Condition (TCLC) in 2012, which sought to prevent excessive bid prices in the event of a constraint. While there can be no doubt that the TCLC resulted in a reduction in prices, they are still well in excess of the subsidy foregone in 2019 as Figures 6 and 7 demonstrate.
Figure 6 shows the five onshore wind farms which received the largest premiums above the subsidy forgone and the five which received the smallest premiumin 2019. It is interesting to note that Andershaw, Blackcraig, Beinneun, Cour and Sanquar, which are receiving a high premium over lost income, are newer wind farms accredited after the ROC banding for onshore wind was reduced such that they receive 0.9 of a ROC per MWh in subsidy. Assuming the 2019 ROC value will be approximately £55, these wind farms would receive £49 per MWh if generating but ask for and receive £96-£98 per MWh not to generate and thus get a premium of £47–£49 above the subsidy when constrained off. The five wind farms with the lowest constraint prices are older wind farms which receive 1 ROC per MWh. In 2019, they were setting constraint prices of £64-£69 per MWh to reduce output, thus getting a premium of £10-£15 per MWh.
The RO-subsidised offshore windfarms which received constraint payments fall into various subsidy bands: 1, 1.5, 1.8 and 2.0 ROCs per MWh. Taking these variations into account, it is again the newer wind farms that are charging higher constraint payments with the most expensive five offshore wind farms making £52 – £74 per MWh more than the site-specific subsidy forgone. The five least expensive received £20 – £38 per MWh over their subsidy.
It is difficult to see any justification for compensation over and above the subsidy lost, and indeed REF has suggested, as many economists would argue, that constraints are a normal and entirely foreseeable commerical risk and should not be compensated at all. Indeed, REF infers from the data presented above that constraint payments are actually encouraging the siting of onshore wind farms in grid constrained areas. This is clearly not in the public interest, and entails a significant cost to electricity consumers, who ultimately fund constraint payments through their bills.
Finally, it must be remembered that the cost of mislocating wind farms in areas with weak grid connection or behind constraints is much greater than the direct payments to wind farms themselves, large though these are. When a wind farm is constrained off the grid on one side of a grid bottleneck, National Grid as the system operator is required to make up the short fall in electricity by paying other generation (usually gas-fired) to increase generation on the other side of the bottleneck. Over the last ten years, the overall cost of constraints has risen by nearly 400%, from £165 million in 2010 to £636 million in 2019, reflecting the expense and difficulty of integrating a large wind fleet, and increasingly a large solar fleet, into the GB electricity grid.
Avian vulnerability to wind farm collision through the year: Insights from lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) tracked from multiple breeding colonies
Author: Thaxter, Chris; et al.
- Wind energy generation has become an important means to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate against human‐induced climate change, but could also represent a significant human–wildlife conflict. Airborne taxa such as birds may be particularly sensitive to collision mortality with wind turbines, yet the relative vulnerability of species’ populations across their annual life cycles has not been evaluated.
- Using GPS telemetry, we studied the movements of lesser black‐backed gulls Larus fuscus from three UK breeding colonies through their annual cycle. We modelled the distance travelled by birds at altitudes between the minimum and maximum rotor sweep zone of turbines, combined with the probability of collision, to estimate sensitivity to collision. Sensitivity was then combined with turbine density (exposure) to evaluate spatio‐temporal vulnerability.
- Sensitivity was highest near to colonies during the breeding season, where a greater distance travelled by birds was in concentrated areas where they were exposed to turbines.
- Consequently, vulnerability was high near to colonies but was also high at some migration bottlenecks and wintering sites where, despite a reduced sensitivity, exposure to turbines was greatest.
- Synthesis and applications. Our framework combines bird‐borne telemetry and spatial data on the location of wind turbines to identify potential areas of conflict for migratory populations throughout their annual cycle. This approach can aid the wind farm planning process by: (a) providing sensitivity maps to inform wind farm placement, helping minimize impacts; (b) identifying areas of high vulnerability where mitigation warrants exploration; (c) highlighting potential cumulative impacts of developments over international boundaries and (d) informing the conservation status of species at protected sites. Our methods can identify pressures and linkages for populations using effect‐specific metrics that are transferable and could help resolve other human–wildlife conflicts.
Chris B. Thaxter
Viola H. Ross‐Smith
Nigel A. Clark
Greg J. Conway
Gary D. Clewley
Lee J. Barber
Niall H. K. Burton
British Trust for Ornithology, Norfolk
Computational Geo‐Ecology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Elizabeth A. Masden
Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Thurso, U.K.
Journal of Applied Ecology 2019; 00: 1–13
First published: 09 September 2019
Author: Miller, Andrew
SHERIFF COURT OF GRAMPIAN, HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS AT ABERDEEN: 10 May 2018
The sheriff, having resumed consideration of the cause, Finds the following facts admitted or proved, namely: …
10) The planning consent was subject to a number of conditions including planning condition 17, which was in the following terms:
At wind speeds not exceeding 12 metres per second, as measured or calculated at a height of 10 metres above ground level at the site, the noise level generated by the wind turbine cluster at any noise sensitive premises shall not exceed:
a) During night hours, (2300 – 0700), 35 dB LA 90 (10 minutes) or the night hours LA 90 (10 minutes) background noise level plus 5 dBA, whichever is the greater, and;
b) During daytime hours, (0700 – 2300), 38 dB LA 90 (10 minutes) or the daytime hours LA 90 (10 minutes) background noise level plus 5 dBA whichever is the greater.
Reason: In order to ensure that neighbouring residential properties are protected from unacceptably high levels of additional noise arising from the operation of the turbines.
11) The pursuers received no formal notification of the defender’s application for planning permission for the turbines and were unaware of the precise locations chosen for the turbines until construction commenced.
12) On becoming aware of the proposed location of the turbines the pursuers did not complain or attempt to intervene to prevent construction of the turbines.
13) The turbines were constructed during 2011 and commissioned on 7 November 2011.
14) The turbines were manufactured by Enercon. They are each approximately 80 metres in height to blade tip. …
25) The nearest turbine to East Mains of Crichie (‘turbine 1’) is situated approximately 477 yards (436 metres) northeast of the dwellinghouse there, the base of the turbine being no more than 8 metres higher than the ground level of the dwellinghouse. 26) The turbines were operated for the first time on 7 November 2011, when they were tested at high speed (‘the high speed test’). On that occasion Mrs Milne was in the grounds of her property at East Mains of Crichie, exercising one of her horses. Mr Milne was working offshore. No prior notice had been given to Mrs Milne of the high speed test.
27) During the high speed test the blades of turbine 1 were rotated at high speed, which generated a loud noise for approximately a minute, after which a braking system was applied, which generated a different, very loud noise similar in character to the noise of a jet aircraft. The noise emitted by the turbines during this high speed test was frightening to Mrs Milne and to her horse, which bolted.
28) A further high speed test of turbine 1 was carried out later on 7 November 2011, with the same results. The noise emitted during the second test was again frightening to Mrs Milne and to her horse.
29) On 8 November 2011 Mrs Milne approached a member of Enercon staff who was working in the vicinity of turbine 1 and complained about the noise emitted by the turbines during the high speed test the previous day. As a result Mrs Milne has received prior notice from Enercon of all subsequent high speed tests of the turbines, although on some occasions the period of notice has been as short as 30 minutes.
30) Similar high speed testing of the each of the turbines, with similar results in terms of the volume and character of the noise emitted, has been conducted on three or four occasions each year since the first such test on 7 November 2011. Each testing period lasts around half a day.
31) After the first high speed test of the turbines on 7 November 2011 the turbines commenced routine operation under wind power.
32) Under routine operation the turbines emit noise of a volume and character which is disturbing to Mr and Mrs Milne.
33) The volume of the noise emitted by the turbines is frequently loud and intrusive to Mr and Mrs Milne’s domestic routines and activities. The volume of the noise emitted by the turbines can unexpectedly drop and, having dropped, can unexpectedly resume at an intrusive level. The noise emitted by the turbines is often clearly audible within the grounds of the pursuers’ property and is sometimes audible within their house even with the double glazed windows closed.
34) The character of the noise emitted by the turbines varies from high frequency rhythmic ‘blade swish’ corresponding to the rotation of the blades to continuous lower frequency noise. The noise often pulses in time with the rotation of the turbine blades. The frequency of the pulses increases with the strength of the wind and hence the speed of rotation. Gusts of wind can result in sudden, sharp, particularly loud pulses of noise. The noise can be maintained at an intrusive level for long periods of time, extending to days at a time, depending on the wind conditions.
35) The volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines changes with the strength of the wind.
36) The turbines emit noise of the volume and character described in the preceding findings in fact constantly except when the wind drops to a level at which the turbine blades do not rotate, or only rotate slowly.
37) The noise emitted by the turbines has been disturbing to Mrs Milne. She became more upset and emotional as time went on due to the impact of the noise from the turbines on her peace of mind and quality of life. She experienced difficulty concentrating and became irritable and unable to relax as a result of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines.
38) From approximately 1991 until January 2017 Mr Milne worked offshore in the oil industry on a four week on/ four week off rotation. This limited his exposure to the noise emitted by the turbines during the period after they were commissioned in November 2011, although during his periods onshore Mr Milne has experienced the same general level of intrusion from the noise emitted by the turbines as Mrs Milne.
39) Until February 2017 Mrs Milne spent a significant proportion of her time at East Mains of Crichie outdoors exercising, riding or tending to her horses. The noise emitted by the turbines has been particularly intrusive in relation to her domestic routines and quality of life whilst she has been undertaking these activities.
40) As a result of the noise emitted by the turbines Mrs Milne has been unable to sleep in the master bedroom of the house at East Mains of Crichie since approximately November 2012. Since then she has had to sleep in a bedroom at the opposite side of the house.
41) Mr Milne’s sleeping arrangements have also been affected by the noise emitted by the turbines. He has refused to move to a different bedroom and continues to sleep in the master bedroom when he is at East Mains of Crichie. However he is only able to sleep in that bedroom with the window closed, in contrast to his longstanding practice of sleeping with his bedroom window open.
42) One component of the noise emitted by the turbines is amplitude modulation (‘AM’), a phenomenon whereby the level of noise generated by the passing of the turbine blades through the air fluctuates periodically over time.
43) Different forms of AM are associated with the operation of wind turbines. One form (normal AM (‘NAM’)) is associated with the high-frequency ‘blade swish’ arising from the rotation of the turbine blades. Other forms of AM (‘other AM (‘OAM’)) associated with wind turbines are less well understood but include a form of OAM which results from the turbine blades coming into contact with the surrounding air at too flat an angle, resulting in the generation of low-frequency ‘thumping’ noises at locations distant from the turbine. Scientific knowledge in relation to AM as it pertains to the operation of wind turbines is a developing field.
44) AM is present within the noise emitted by the turbines situated at West Knock Farm.
45) In 2012 Mrs Milne began to keep diary entries describing the noise emitted by the turbines. She maintained that practice each year until the end of 2016.
46) Mrs Milne wrote to Aberdeenshire Council Environmental Health Department on 7 January 2012 expressing her concerns about the noise emitted by the turbines. That letter made reference to 11 almost constant noise pollution” from the turbines and complained about the 11 acoustic character” of the turbine noise as well as its volume. …
50) In response to the concerns expressed by Mrs Milne about the noise emitted by the turbines, Aberdeenshire Council served an Abatement Notice on the defender on 11 December 2013 under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Proceedings at Peterhead Sheriff Court, initiated by the defender, followed. Those proceedings are presently sisted.
51) In November 2016 Mr Milne took up a temporary assignment with his employer based onshore in Surrey. He commenced work in Surrey in January 2017. His assignment there is due to come to an end in November 2018.
52) Mrs Milne chose to relocate with her horses to Surrey in February 2017 in order to get away from the noise emitted by the turbines. She presently lives with Mr Milne in Surrey and her horses are stabled near to the rented property where they currently live.
53) Mr and Mrs Milne expect to return to live at East Mains of Crichie when Mr Milne’s assignment in Surrey comes to an end.
54) Mrs Milne’s state of mind and emotional wellbeing have improved since she moved to Surrey. That improvement is due to the fact that, whilst resident in Surrey, she is not subject to the noise emitted by the turbines.
55) Solicitors acting for the pursuers served a notice on the defender on or about 14 January 2017 under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. That notice asserted that the frequency, character, duration and repetition of the noise emitted by the turbines gave rise to a statutory nuisance within the meaning of that Act.
56) As at Sunday 11 February 2018, when Mr and Mrs Milne returned to East Mains of Crichie in order to attend the proof in these proceedings, there was no abatement of the volume or character of the noise emitted by the turbines which was noticeable to them.
57) The volume of the noise emitted by the turbines has always complied with the limits imposed by planning condition 17.
58) Planning condition 17 relates only to the volume and not to the character of the noise emitted by the turbines.
Findings in Fact and Law
1) The combined effect of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines situated on the defender’s land at West Knock Farm would not be tolerated by a reasonable person and amounts to a nuisance at common law.
2) The combined effect of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines situated on the defender’s land at West Knock Farm amounts to a statutory nuisance within the meaning of section 79(1)(g) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
3) The pursuers are persons aggrieved by the existence of a statutory nuisance for the purposes of section 82(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as a result of the combined effect of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines situated on the defender’s land at West Knock Farm. …
Download original document: “SCT-Milnes-v-Stuartfield-Windpower-Judgment”