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Vortex comments on ASA findings  

We would like to put the record straight regarding the ‘Wind farm did not mislead’ article published today.

Vortex queried, with Nuon and the ASA, the facts in Nuon’s glossy brochure, distributed locally last June in preparation for the planning application that they promised by the end of last September. Vortex questioned the quoted electricity expected to be generated, the statement that this electricity would be used locally and the amount of carbon emissions that would be saved.

1. CARBON SAVINGS

The ASA responded the advertisers have noted a recent ASA adjudication, which dealt with this issue and have given us a formal assurance that they will not use the figure again in the present context. The adjudication can be viewed here:

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_43298.htm

Unfortunately, in light of the advertiser’s stance, the ASA closed this point of enquiry down and did not refer it to the ASA Council for a formal adjudication. Nuon did, however remove all reference to carbon savings from it’s web site – it is more difficult to erase such inflated claims from peoples memories.

2. ENERGY PRODUCED

In their assessment or this point the ASA recommended to it’s council that our complaint be upheld.

The ASA understood that the load factor referred to the amount of energy extracted as a fraction of the theoretical maximum amount of energy available to a turbine in the course of a year. We noted load factors could be based on several sources of wins speed data, from databases or accepted regional and national figures to data collected from measurements carried out on-site. We noted the claim referred specifically to the Poplar Lane wind farm. Although we noted Nuon’s view that the ad made clear that the project was in its early stages and that the figures were an approximate projection, we considered that readers were likely to expect the figures to relate directly to conditions at the site.

We noted Nuon had used data from the NOABL wind speed database, which provided annual estimated mean wind speeds for each Ordinance survey 1km grid square in the UK. We noted the data was based on modelling of wind patterns and was developed by the Department of Trade and Industry. Although we considered that the NOABL data provided an estimate of projected wind conditions in an area, we considered that, when an ad referred to a particular wind farm development, such data should only be used to support data derived from site specific wind measurements. We therefore concluded that the claim was likely to mislead. On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

The final verdict by the ASA council eventually voted to over-rule this recommendation, not to uphold the complaint and that it did not breach the CAP codes.

It is clear that the above assessment, however, that Nuon used an estimated wind speed from the national data base and not a site specific measurement as quoted in the BBC report.

It is somewhat unsettling that following this recommendation by the ASA to its own council, the final verdict took some three months to determine instead of the usual 7-14 days.

3. LOCAL SUPPLY

Nuon’s claim was that “much of this power will actually be consumed locally”.

Vortex is still unclear about this issue as it is difficult to see how electricity, once fed into the national grid can be said to be for local consumption. It is like throwing a bucket of water into a river and then trying to get it out again.
The ASA, however considered that the claim did not make specific reference to the proportion of electricity that Nuon believed would be consumed locally.
The ASA therefore did not uphold the complaint because they considered that readers were likely to infer from the claim that a proportion of the electricity produced by the wind farm would be consumed locally. In the end it all comes down to how much is ‘much’!!!

Vortex feel that the fact that the ASA itself recommended that the complaint be upheld, vindicates our concerns over this brochure.

Terry May, coordinator for Vortex

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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