Clean Power

Published on April 16th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Eric Pickles Gives Himself More Power Over Renewable Energy

April 16th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Ecotricity.


Eric Pickles – expanding his own powers.

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced that he will be expanding his own powers to call-in and decide planning decisions on renewable energy projects for a further 12 months — essentially right up until the election.

The announcement means that he can personally take the final decision to consent or refuse all onshore wind farms in England. Mr Pickles’ statement says:

“I am encouraged by the impact the guidance is having but do appreciate the continuing concerns in communities. I also recognise that the guidance is still relatively new and some development proposals may not yet have fully taken on board its clear intent. Therefore after careful consideration I have decided to extend the temporary change to the appeals recovery criteria, and continue to consider for recovery, appeals for renewable energy developments, for a further 12 months. This criterion is added to the recovery policy issued on 30 June 2008.”

As part of Mr Pickles initial six month trial of reviewing planning decisions, Ecotricity had a four turbine windfarm proposal in Somerset rejected by the Communities Secretary in late February, despite the Planning Inspector recommending the proposal for approval after a planning enquiry.

Somerset currently has just a single wind turbine in the whole of the county.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “This decision by Mr Pickles is anti-wind posturing, as all his interventions in the planning process have been so far, and par for the course from this Government.

“Only last month Mr Pickles ignored all expert advice to reject Ecotricity’s onshore wind proposal at Black Ditch in Somerset after several years of environmental assessments, and after both the Council’s Planning Officer and the Planning Inspector himself recommended the site for approval.

“We’ve worked diligently through the entire planning process, passed every test, including a public enquiry — only to have our application refused by a man that knows nothing on the subject. What faith can anyone have in the planning process when this can happen, when the rules are thrown out of the window on a whim?”

Ecotricity has launched an appeal to the High Court against the decision by the Secretary of State.

The wind park of just four turbines could produce enough green electricity to power the equivalent of around 7,000 homes every year, saving around nine and half thousand tonnes of CO₂ being pumped into the atmosphere.

Dale Vince continued: “At Ecotricity we generate around a third of our customers’ electricity needs from our own onshore windfarms, which protects our customers from the fluctuating fossil fuel market, and has allowed us to freeze energy bills for 21 months – the longest price freeze in the energy industry.

“It’s a model that works for Ecotricity, it works for our customers, and it’s a model that would work for Britain by promoting energy independence – because the price of wind doesn’t go up.”

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  • JamesWimberley

    Pickles, apart from looking like a fat slug, is the kind of politician who advances by ability and a ruthless eye for the main chance, not by camaraderie and loyalty. He’s doubling down here on a vague suggestion by Cameron that onshore wind farm development be stopped someday. But he’s left himself very exposed. Pickles has just made a power grab not only at the expense of local government and his own professional planning inspectors, but also of rival ministers, Paterson at Environment and Barker at Energy. If he loses the lawsuit, he’s greasy toast.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Well, I hope he loses the lawsuit. Anyone standing in the way of renewable energy deserves to be toast, burned toast broken up and thrown out to feed the birds.

      • Bob_Wallace

        What do you have against birds?

        • A Real Libertarian

          Yeah, Jean.

          Don’t you know bullshit contains germs?

  • Michael Berndtson

    It looks like merry old England is in a Pickle.

    Anyway, besides the obvious, what is with this anti wind and solar thing coming from our serious thinkers? It’s got to be the new British invasion. The worst actors are New York Times (the new head is a Brit) and our beloved PBS and NPR. Pro tip, sending either of those two a donations is just dumb. The “public” in both entities is a sham. When BAE Security Systems and Chevron sponsor PBS’s Newshour and natural gas and crude oil sponsor NPR produced national news, neither can be considered progressive. Unless you’re a puttering housewife of a hedge fund manager/oil and gas trader who doesn’t want to sound too off putting of a conversationalist at dinner.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Failure to support NPR will assure that corporations will call the tune.
      If we want reliable, objective news we should be heavily supporting NPR and allowing them to give corporations the finger.

      • Michael Berndtson

        You’re not wrong. Probably right. But why not let CPB (Corporation for public broadcasting) just sink into the abyss? Then my beloved WBEZ can go back to awesome music 24/7, with breaks at the 20/40/60 on the hour for news collected and read by budding journalists.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Corporate news is worthless. Look at CNN. It’s gone from being a good news source to a joke. Remember when 60 Minutes used to kick down doors and drag corporate slime balls out into the sunlight?

          We need someone doing the investigate sorts of stuff that “TV news” no longer does. And we have almost no newspapers left that do more than print the obvious.

          I suspect that most of the people at NPR want to do the best job they can to bring us factual news. Not spin from either end of the political spectrum. I think if we funded them better we would see more in depth reporting.

          Budding journalists will go extinct if there is no journalism to practice. We’ll hand the task of telling us what sponsors want us to hear to telegenic new readers.

          • Michael Berndtson

            Public broadcasting could be considered even more pernicious. Sometimes its not the news that’s relayed, but the news that’s not. The lack of news on climate change and renewable energy deployment says a lot. Since public broadcasting is considered an authority, even though most of the public don’t listen or watch. Media like NYT and WaPo can fall into this category as well. For instance, if NYT thinks the news is not fit to print, then it’s not newsworthy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            NPR did four stories on climate change in March. One so far in April. You can take a look at their pieces here –
            Here’s a list of their renewable energy stories –
            The two topics get covered in the regular news aside from these feature stories.

            Then there’s Science Friday and other non-news programming. Ever listen to E-Town?

          • Michael Berndtson

            It’s not like I’m going to adjust my TV and radio antennae away from Sears Tower anytime soon. I’ll keep watching and listening. And drop a couple a bucks when the spirit moves me. I absolutely love “The Folk Sampler” with Mike Flynn on the backwater NPR station here in Chicago. I’m a big fan of Geoffrey Behr and his Chicago history programming on WTTW. But the “on the one hand and on the other” thing is killing me. “This American Life” is pretty good. “Science Friday” isn’t bad. I believe WBEZ dropped E-Town. So no opinion there.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Check out American Roots. Even if you have to stream it.

            (A musical aside.)

          • Michael Berndtson

            Will do. Fun comment thread.

      • Michael Berndtson

        Another reply. Both PBS and NPR have migrated to corporate sponsorship over the past 20 years. It probably has a lot to do with republicans forcing them to “balance” their content. So what we get is content that consists of 80 percent highly polished sounding and produced old news distilled down to a “need to know basis.” And 20 percent opinion that couldn’t be more vacuous. Kind of like how NYT has become over the past 10 years.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Takes money to run a news outlet. Republicans cut public funding, the public didn’t pick up the slack, and they turned to corporate funding.
          I see two routes to shoving corporations aside. (Refer to second sentence.)

          • Michael Berndtson

            I’m guessing one of the problems was corporate structure at the national and regional levels. For instance the program manager of WTTW (Chicago PBS) was receiving a salary above $750,000. People started to think – why the hell would I give $40 dollars during pledge week to support that kind of overhead?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve never heard stories like that.

            I have heard quite a bit about Republicans attempting to kill public broadcasting by refusing funding.

          • Michael Berndtson

            Edit to the above reply:

            the only verifiable salary was $426,178 in 2009 for the WTTW program head. The $750,000 could have been wrong or reported in the free market promoting anti Irish immigrant (19th century) Chicago Tribune, back before the Trib went bankrupt.

            Here’s an example of an NPR on PBS catfight:


            “Schmidt made $426,178 in salary and benefits in 2009, according to public documents. His chief financial officer made $265,916. Even with supposed five-percent pay cuts this year and next, isn’t there something wrong when the officers of a nonprofit company make that kind of money but claim they can’t afford to pay a‚ Rich Samuels? When viewers are being begged for donations, is it really to support the bloated salaries of management that chooses to cut off Chicago’s “most literate and thoughtful broadcast journalist” at the height of his career?”

  • The dictatorships are back!

    First Putin, now Pickles

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