Archive for April, 2006
Four steps to Devon
Three steps to heaven, pah, just one more and you’ll be singing hallelujah round the renewable fire, according to Regen SW.
Each one of these steps is intended to make energy policy more local, because we know local councils make such good decisions nearly all the time.
So here they are, and oh, of course we here at the People’s Republic of South Devon feel that we have at least played a small part in forming these suggestions.
1. Allow local authorities to require zero carbon buildings in new
development. Without this measure the construction of new buildings in
the region will result in the contribution of over 700,000 tonnes of
carbon dioxide a year by 2020. In the South West there are large new
settlements being developed that are unlikely to have any renewable
energy content because it takes so long to embed new requirements in
planning documents, and because the renewables requirement is not
2. Require every District Council to set its own renewable electricity
In the last three years District Councils in the South West have given
planning permission for one major renewable electricity scheme and
rejected eleven schemes. We believe that each district and unitary
planning authority should be required to adopt its own renewable
electricity target, and to develop a delivery plan to meet these
3. Give local and regional authorities the ability to take
responsibility for reducing carbon emissions. The South West has the
highest environmental footprint for its energy use of any UK region and
emissions continue to rise. The dispersed nature of many carbon
emissions, from homes, cars and offices means that local influences can
have a significant impact on climate change, both in increasing or in
reducing fossil fuel use. Therefore, local and regional government need
to be given greater responsibility for carbon management.
4. Create a financial incentive for the use of renewable energy for
local heat needs. Gas is expensive and is not available for 400,000
homes in the South West. Government should commit to reducing the UK's
dependency on gas and oil for heating and create a financial mechanism
to encourage uptake of renewable heat technology.
Posted by Cptn
April 29th, 2006
Sleaze the symptoms
Is there a pecking order of political sleaze? Is it worse to be politically sleazy, sexually sleazy or financially sleazy?
Surely, for a politician the political sleaze is the thing that should matter most. Poor old Patricia Hewett being booed by nurses. Maybe it’s because we all recognised the challenging time the NHS is going through in the face of the government’s meddling rather than anything else. The reforms seem to have created another social class of managers reliant on the government for their livelihood. It’s happened all the way up from GP level. Or at least that’s how it seems to me.
Then there are the constant stories of how unworkable the NHS is. Despite all the funding, it won’t succeed, and the leader writers and commentators of every persusasion wring their hands and mumble ‘nothing to be done’ while paying into their private health scheme.
Maybe we should take our lead for the people on the ground rather than the shamen of spin.
Posted by Cptn
April 28th, 2006
What Petey did next
We didn’t go and see Babyshambles at the Plymouth Pavilions last night. We stayed in and watched The Apprentice with Mrs PRSD instead. So sue us.
Luckily, the Evening Herald was there to catch all the junk-rock action. Here’s what they said, in a ‘nutshell’.
1. Pete and Co ambled on to the stage at around 10pm.
2. Guitarist Patrick Walden didn’t turn up for the show.
3. There was a muted response from the crowd.
4. Killamangiro was well received, but things were starting to fall apart.
5. There were embarrassing gaps inbetween the songs.
6. Pete lurched around the stage.
Phew, roggen roll, eh viewers?
On the other hand, here’s what we learned from last night’s The Apprentice.
1. Alan Sugar’s a cock.
2. Er, that’s it.
Posted by Thin White Duke
April 27th, 2006
What a waster
Coo! We’re sure looking forward to witnessing crackpipe-punkas Babyshambles at the Plymouth Pavilions tonight.
According to the Pavilions website, doors open at 7.30pm with the ‘action’ starting at 9pm.
However, frontman Pete Doherty is famous for turning up late (if he turns up at all) to his shows so we were interested to find out what time the band arrived onstage for their turn in Wolverhampton yesterday? Well, it was 10.20pm apparently. Punctual by Pete’s standards but not much good for those of us who have to get back to man the lighthouse of an evening.
Um, praps we’ll give it a miss then.
April 26th, 2006
Call into play
If you’re an aspiring Pablo Picasso these days, you don’t spend hours and hours painting ladies with wonky eyes – you simply film your bum with a mobile phone and send the pictures to one of your many whores.
Is this progress? No.
So why not expand your artistic horizons at a free workshop about making and distributing content for mobile devices at the University of Plymouth this week?
Arranged by the Plymouth Media-Partnership, in conjunction with the Institute of Digital Art and Technology, the workshop is taking place at 4pm on Thursday,
April 27 (ie. tomorrow).
The event will demonstrate social network (Web 2.0) projects that incorporate streaming media, Bluetooth and mobile gaming technologies.
And, er, some other stuff.
Yeah, well, it’s all Greek to us too but if you’re a bit handy with a mobie and wanna reserve your free place, call or email
Posted by Thin White Duke
April 26th, 2006
Poverty kills. Poverty causes abuse. There is nothing noble about being poor. And here we are thinking we’re so smug in such a rich country that poverty is a thing of the past. But some might disagree. And this isn’t about that respectable poverty that’s almost braggable at dinner parties.
Shelter was in Torquay recently and pointed out that the South West ‘is the second most unaffordable region in the country, house prices now average around 10 times the average income, while the region is host to 22 per cent of all second homes in England - the most in the UK. Furthermore, around 35 per cent of council housing stock has been lost through the Right to Buy since the scheme was introduced.’
If you’re in doubt about the way poverty and poor housing affects people’s lives get a copy of Waiting for the future, poems by children on poverty and bad housing, from Shelter. It’s £5.
April 26th, 2006
Responsibility, responsibility, responsibility. Yes, we all know that’s what we should look for when we begin on the property ladder, but what’s it go to do with energy? Well, take it from someone who has been criticised for burning the candle at both ends, it’s kinda basic.
One of the beautiful side-effects of being more mindful of renewable energy is that you start getting in step both with the seasons and your energy use. With hydro-power, you’re probably going to need more energy when the rivers are running wild in winter than when they’re trickling down in summer, for example.
Renewable energy is more than just wind (was there talk once of tying up all the hydro-powerers on Dartmoor to produce energy for their communities?), so what intrigues me is the focus on wind power as the only renewable. And as we know the debate is vicious.
So, I was interested to hear what European Energy Man MEP Giles Chichester had to say. He’s always been against wind, but why? Below is a paper that was forwarded as his response to his anti-wind stance. All good stuff, and certainly adds to the debate, so thanks. But why the nuclear thing at the end? Surely the main reason we’re all of us concerned about energy usage and provision is the main reason nuclear won’t cut it. . . responsibility, responsiblity, responsibility.
From Giles Chichester MEP
‘CHICHESTER’S ENERGY COMMENTARY
How long will it take until this Government learns and recognises that the solution to future energy needs and the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions is not blowing in the wind? Recent developments in Ireland which are outlined in a paper on security of power supplies by Professor Michael Laughton for the British Management Data Foundation (February 2004) give pause for thought.
In December 2003, the Irish Electricity Regulator took emergency measures to reduce the amount of wind power on the electricity grid, following major concerns about the security and stability of the power system. The ESB National Grid advanced a number of reasons for its advice to cease authorisation for new wind farm connection.
Analysis of historical wind data has shown that, with wind plant installed capacity of approximately 20% of peak demand, variations in wind generated output that would be beyond the capacity of available generation reserves or back-up capacity could be expected to occur regularly. That means supply interruptions.
In order to cope with the unpredictability and variability of wind generation, it is necessary to have reserve or stand-by conventional generating capacity to match and maintain balance in the system. That means running the additional reserve plant at reduced output which, in turn, means lower efficiency. Put another way, you have the cost of the wind capacity, plus the cost of the reserve capacity, plus the cost of the reduced efficiency.
Furthermore, the likely generation schedules arising from this mix are likely to increase overall emissions, hardly the hoped for benefit from windpower. In addition, a multiplicity of small-scale connections to the transmission system, (i.e. from hundreds of wind towers scattered over the countryside, each requiring it’s own connection), is likely to compromise the reliability and security of the national transmission system. Remembering that security of supply is about keeping the lights on and electricity available to meet a demand that fluctuates significantly through the day, what are the implications of this for the Labour Government dash for wind?
Studies by Oxera (June 2003) of hourly demand data and simulated wind generation data covering 10 years, point to significant periods in an average year when electricity demand is high and wind output is low. For England, Wales and Scotland as a whole, given a hypothetical widespread distribution of wind farms, there are on average 1,642 hours (that is 18.75% of the time), when wind generated output would be less than 10% of maximum rated capacity and 450 (5.1%) of those hours at a time when demand would be between 70-100% of peak demand.
What this tells us is the high probability of blackouts if we become dependant on wind generated electricity up to the Labour Government target of 20%, without maintaining other reliable, conventional generating capacity of at least 100% of peak demand. In fact, a rule of thumb suggests there should be total capacity of 120% of peak demand to allow for routine maintenance and the occasional unavoidable accident to power cables. And if we maintain a part of that reserve capacity as back-up to variable wind generation, there is a cost.
A study (March 2004) by the Royal Academy of Engineering into the costs of different generation technologies, puts numbers on the additional standby cost for wind. Onshore wind generation costs 3.7 pence per kiloWatt hour (kWh) which increases to 5.4 pence per kWh when you include the cost of standby generation. Offshore wind costs are 1.8 pence per kWh more expensive in each case, i.e. 5.5 kWh and 7.2 pence per kWh. By comparison, a combined cycle gas turbine generates electricity at a cost of 2.2 pence per kWh, whilst a nuclear power plant cost is 2.3 pence per kWh. These costs are based on state of the art new build plant and include de-commissioning for the nuclear plant.
From all this, I suggest there are sound engineering, energy, efficiency, climatological and economic reasons for being very cautious about putting all the eggs in one wind basket, so to speak. This is not to be against wind generation, because it clearly has a contribution to make and should be part of a diversified energy supply. But it makes little sense to build hundreds, maybe thousands of wind towers the height of Salisbury Cathedral Spire (403 feet) and more, in parts of our countryside which are scenically outstanding, when we don’t absolutely need to do so.
Furthermore, I believe the arguments about the level of birdlife slaughter and the human health effects of low frequency sound are a powerful addition to the case for caution. To any clever man from the ministry who may say the death of a few birds is as nothing to the costs of failing to address the implications of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, I would say a virtually CO2 emission-free option is available, which would produce the electricity of 2,000 wind tower aerogenerators of the height of Salisbury Cathedral spire and would do so reliably as base load electricity. It is called nuclear energy. Or perhaps people would like to dust off plans for a Severn Barrage, a snip at tens of billions of pounds and never mind the ecological impact or the fact it would only generate on the ebb tide! ‘
Posted by Cptn
April 24th, 2006
We’ve all seen the sad story about Gerard Dornan, 52, who reportedly suffered a bloody nose and, even worse, the loss of his glasses when he was attacked by some “lager ladettes” near his Northview Road abode, in Brixham last weekend.
The hapless Dornan was chinned after daring to scold the girls for their abusive antics.
“I asked them to leave the area when one of the girls grabbed me and I pushed her away,” he explained.
“Then my glasses fell off and broke and they started on me.”
“One was carrying a two litre bottle of cider,” he added.
We know what you’re thinking. What’s the bally world coming to when you can’t put these young ladies over your knee and give them a sound thrashing without losing your spectacles, eh?
Luckily, D Bailey of Newton Abbot (surely a pseudonym for Anthony Giddens) has thought about this subject at great length and posted his musings on thisissouthdevon.co.uk
“Sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what little girls are made of,” he begins.
“Sadly, although all little boys were taught courtesy and chivalry, little girls never were.
“Things became worse with yobbish behaviour among young women, encouraged by ‘girl power’ and the Spice Girls.
“With political correctness and positive discrimination in favour of women, things have gone into warp drive and these days many women are out of control, common, discourteous, rude, vulgar and violent.
“How many women drivers let cars out from a side road, let on-coming cars come up a hill, stop for a pedestrian, or show any road courtesy?
“Every day, we learn of a violent confrontation started by a woman or a fatal car accident where the woman driver was too arrogant to understand that her driving was appalling.
“Political correctness has gone mad.”
We travelled back in time to 1996 and put these allegations to a spokeswoman for the Spice Girls, who laughed in our faces and stomped on our glasses.
Proof, if proof be need be, that D Bailey of Newton Abbot is 100 per cent RIGHT.
Posted by Thin White Duke
April 23rd, 2006
Whirlwind to the centre of the earth
What tireless energy the Kneehigh Theatre company has. Take a look at the itinery of the last travelling family show Journey to the Centre of the Earth. If only you could catch the funky, mystical piece of theatre at Dawlish Leisure Centre on Tuesday night before it fizzes throughout the country to rave reviews. . .
This show will grab you, pick you up, shake you and put you down in a completely different place, I’m sure. And this group has quite a reputation, so catch it while you can for just £5. Call the leisure centre on 01626 25620. It kicks off at 7.30pm (I’m no expert, but isn’t that a bit late for a school night with the hangover of Easter holidays still hanging over the attention span like a pall).
There will be puppets, there will be shadow play, live music, physical comedy and a B-movie feel and the play is suitable for all, so expect the usual frowns when you bring your youngest along with the rest of the family.
If you go, we’d appreciate a review.
Posted by Cptn
April 21st, 2006
Art and performance
He doesn’t do it for the money. ‘I only do what I do because I like to do it,’ said Vic Reeves at the Eyestorm gallery in Exeter at the launch of a whole load of his new and not so new pictures.
Not so new because he’s been at this game for twenty or thirty years.
‘I left art school and did Big Night Out - it was a piece of performance art,’ said the soon-to-be father.
And he’s been doing it ever since. The show is based around birds and people interacting in some way (mostly it’s just birds). But what was odd was how much better the pictures are in real life than on the website or flyer. Engaging almost. Now that’s an art in itself.
Posted by Cptn
April 21st, 2006