Friday, 27 January 2017

Vattenfall and East Kent windfarm

A very good Vattenfall exhibition and consultation on expansion of the East Kent windfarm off Thanet.

I was more than a little unfair on them suddenly announcing the events - as it turns out they were just a preliminary event and not even part of the formal consultation process which wouldn't start until Summer 2017 and be concluded by early 2018 with the Environment Minister.

How refreshing compared to Riveroak and Wetherspoons - and Chinagate and Infratil - with their hasty formal events and lack of information if not downright porkies.
On the Vattenfall proposal for expansion I have some specific concerns:

1. The 34 extra turbines are scheduled to be placed in front of (landward) and to the sides of the exisitng windfarm which is already the world's largest. This would dominate the seascape of our seaside towns - unless they were placed behind the existing layout.

2. The new turbines are much larger than the existing ones- so again would dominate the seascape if not look completely out of place and industrialised.

3. Placing any of the new larger turbines behind the existing ones would reduce their size and presence - and would allow a fuller review of the shipping lanes.

The ships piled up in front of the windfarm on the Margate Roads sealane are a Torrey Canyon pollution danger to the rare Blue Flag beaches. The most rare in UK as well as Europe.

A clear removal/alteration policy too is needed as the technology changes. Already the turbine design has altered and might even allow for solar panels on the turbines too.

4. The turbines built in previously were a concern in that the towns received no benefit in terms of hotel rooms, guest houses, pubs and cafes and restaurants as a hotel ship was used. Essentially the windfall of workers using the towns was little more than a once a week trip ashore for toilet paper, pot noodles and a boozeup. Nothing particularly wrong with that but not of much benefit to the towns and far less than promised. Any contract would need to specify such matters
TDC has largely destroyed the port and marina so a Harbour Trust with the RNLI, EALP etc, and TDC signoff would be a better arrangement.

Very good Local Community work by Vattenfall too – more later.

5, Vattenfall have an excellent reputation for the current 75 jobs in the port - so rather than just a quick fix of 34 turbines over 4 months or so of installation, how can their port work be properly expanded to 100 or 150 jobs? Not necessarily everyone based at the port warehouse but design or production bases inland and college and university courses too.

6. Similarly how could the Vattenfall sites in Wales and Scotland and Cornwall be expanded? And Vattenfall's plans in terms of how they work with Vestas and Siemens and expansion for their North Sea windfarms in Sweden and Germany etc? Even their cleanup work of Sweden's nuclear sites could be an expanded business stream given the dismal state of Dungeness and Sellafield and not one but 30(!) old UK nuclear submarines left to corrode and contaminate. To say nothing of an organised cleanup of Thor mercury and asbestos schools.

Some detailed information on the current site and electricity generated would be useful as a part of the debate too.

And Vattenfall's view on the Southern Water North Foreland sewage pipes, cleanup Resilience etc.

Siemens and Vestas are excellent companies and it was a loss to Kent that the Sittingbourne factory was lost to Hull. And other Danish companies such as malaria nets and Sumitomo haven't as yet been brought into a Nordic Hub in East Kent simialr to the Benelux Strategy. An ice skating rink and ice hockey team - the East Kent Vikings at the Vattenfall Rink? - and Landings Jorvik attraction would be a fun link with vattenfall and Hugin and Hengoist and Horsa too.

A Vattenfall view on EU funding for a tourist ferry and staff discounts etc would be interesting.

Even Scotland as with Laos the battery of Europe - the Tartan Nation even being considered as the Saudi Arabia of a Renewable North Sea to replace oil. As the Saudis are doing with divesting their fossil fuels by 2030.

Why shouldn't Vattenfall's Scottish windfarms be fast-forwarded as a part of a North Sea Ring of Renewables. And even solar farms and tidal lagoons of Cardiff bay.

I'd hate to think as with the first windfarm that TDC would underperform in the value of the site.

• School trips and exhibitions linked to Turner Centre and Van Gogh Gallery
• What's Vattenfall's view on the $300M Dover port expansion
• The Old Ramsgate Gasworks site needs improving and would make excellent offices.
• The Maritime Museum needs an overhaul of its exhibitions and the 2nd swimming pool isn't finalised as yet.
• A town UNSDG Twitter panel/plasma and Xmas lights is a nobrainer.

7. Beyond expanding the port jobs -and having a meaningful role in the use of Ramsgate port for a tourist ferry etc - how will Vattenfall capitalise on their existing local community work? The Sea Garden with FORS is still derelict. While more could be done with the KM Bike Ride similar to the Canterbury Tour de France previously, plus the derelict Eastcliff bandstand and beach shelters etc. Even a similar Reculver Nature Park hide at Pegwell Bay.

8. At Pegwell Bay there's concern over cables coming ashore through the UNESCO site rather than a few miles away as well as cleanup of the Hovercraft site and nearby St Augustine Pilgrim Trail. Again how refreshing the Vattnefall approach compared to National grid or Shard Aerial trying to hustle through mega-pylons etc. And good to see Sweden and France's Greens in the EU parliament speaking up on similar issues this week.

9. Apart from the Sea Garden I'm aware of East Kent receiving no extra benefit from the windfarm. Certainly nothing in terms of cheaper electricity. With the good folks of British Gas active on their FreeTime policy of one weekend day of free electricity which is similar to my Free Economy of utilities and wider Basic National Income policies it would be worth considering an East Kent electricity levy with say British Gas and Vattenfall. In particular switching EDF and its nuclear power that is toxic in terms of Dungeness and the French and Belgian nuclear sites along the Channel. East Kent's 500,000 citizens have power in voting with their wallet as well as the ballot box - and with their electricity meter.

10. The Vattenfall protection of wildlife is very good: how can this be increased? Designated fisheries and wildlife growth? Goodwin Sands protection? Some turbines now don't have blades but just a vertical oscillaters to reduce bird injuries.

The UK is behind on its renewables targets and the existing Vattenfall sites have been very well done so nothing I say above is outrageously impossible to resolve through working together.

I'd be interested to hear the publics views although I was the only one at the Yacht Club presentation in the evening and only c.30 visitors through the day apparently. At worst shades of the Ramsgate Fire station £1m debacle of lax development.

Time For Change

• A good article by Michael’s Bookshop on the monstrous incidence of unsold/old UK books being destroyed and burnt. Especially on Holocaust Day there must be a better way than book burning in this day and age – and with Ramsgate’s Moses Montefiore Jewish heritage. Shouldn’t the Port take up old English books and textbooks and export them to Asia and Africa and India?

* good the Aerial Shard is rejected today Friday - the usual KCC foolish planning and mega-overbuild

* how foolish the ManstonParkway limps on to another wasteful consultation

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