Posts Tagged ‘planning’

I found this article interesting: Women And Clean Energy: Overcoming The Double Standard.

I don’t know if it’s just that I care more about renewables, but I have been gaining the impression that renewables are held to far higher standards than any of their more established competitors. This holds for planning constraints imposed (met masts often have “bird diverters” attached, but I’ve yet to see them on a telecoms mast), and it certainly holds for the press coverage. The “women must be twice as good as a man to be thought half as good” idea does seem to fit this reasonably well.

But it is true that in both cases it’s a subjective thing which is being measured, so it’s harder to demonstrate an effect. I don’t know of any research done into the public dialogue for wind, nor of any comparisons of the planning procedure for wind farms compared to other technologies. Still it was interesting that someone else, in the US at least, has a similar impression.

I don’t know if you care greatly, but the gender balance in wind resource assessment isn’t too bad in my experience in Scotland: I’d say women have made up about 30-40% of analysts. Engineering teams and people working on operational wind farms still seem to be overwhelmingly male though.


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Donald Trump making waves in the Scottish Review

There are certainly people in Scotland who don’t like wind farms. There are people who are very vocal about their dislike. They like to claim they have the “silent majority” on their side, but recent polls indicate that simply isn’t true. Their concerns are raised, mitigated when valid and investigated when unsure. There are lots of concerns which have proven to be unreasonable and although the message is out there (the Viking Energy FAQs is a good place to see some concerns debunked) it takes time to filter through. Also some people don’t believe it, which is unfortunate but unavoidable. Changing people’s beliefs is hard, as monarchs and theocrats through the ages have discovered.

When concerns are raised, you work towards a compromise as far as possible. My experience of the wind industry is that companies in the UK are generally scrupulous about obeying planning restrictions, even when it costs them, and as I’ve said before, companies who flout environmental restrictions should be held to account. I think they are, as there are several national news outlets who would pounce on any breach with gusto. As Mr Trump should be, but seemingly isn’t in anything like the same way, for his golfing resort and its impact on a highly sensitive part of our environment.

His objections are NIMBYism, pure and simple. Put it in someone else’s back yard. Find some poor people: when they complain no-one listens. They’ve got no hotel to take home with them.

He is also apparently a hypocrite.

I still can’t decide if his money will be a genuine danger to the wind industry or whether he’ll make the whole anti-wind campaign into a laughing stock. I wish we weren’t talking about him so much as though his opinion matters.

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Dear Donald Trump,

Welcome to Scotland! We’re a relatively small place, and our native population are poor compared to our neighbours in London and certain parts of the US. In the international community we’re known for our tartan, our friendly football fans, our whisky, the Enlightenment, and, of course, golf.

We are, of course, pleased that you have chosen to invest some of your vast fortune here. It may be true that, without a golf course, Scotland’s laws allow all of us to enjoy access to some of our wonderful views and unspoilt land, whereas a luxury resort tends to belong mainly to the rich who can afford to use it. It’s also true that golf courses pose risks to the environment, as they’re highly managed with pesticides and chemicals and provide poor habitat for local flora and fauna. Still, water use is less of an issue in Scotland as we get plenty of rain to keep your grass green all year round. So that’s some consolation, at least.

I was concerned, several years ago, with some of the things I read about your company’s aggressive approach to gaining planning permission for your golf course, though. I read about the misuse of council compulsory planning orders and actual false statements used in planning applications. It seemed the local community felt they would not benefit from your golf course and fought against you (even amidst a hostile environment, as one councillor claims she is “used to abuse from the Trump organisation”). You pushed through the application and gained planning permission. Of course you did that by listening to your opposition, being open to changing your plans appropriately, and showing due consideration for the nation and environment which was to house your ambitious project, rather than by bullishly throwing your money and influence at elected officials until they caved to your preferences. Naturally.

And now, you want control over land that is not yours, and that you cannot buy. You try to hold the Scottish people to ransom, forcing them to choose between an offshore wind farm (and a small one, only 11 turbines; in fact the site is planned as a research and development base for offshore wind technology) and your luxury golf resort.

Your golf resort was never intended for the people of Scotland. You want the land to be a scenic backdrop where rich tycoons and executives can sit in luxury. But the land is our home; it is not simply a painted backdrop, but the source of all of our resources. Its farmland feeds our families, its people educate our children, its landscape inspires our artists and songwriters. We must be able to provide energy to our population. This is a basic need for us to continue to function as a modern first-world country.

This offshore wind hub could provide Scotland with additional security of energy supply; it allows us to take advantage of the resources we have to meet our daily needs. It will provide our graduates with jobs here in Scotland, so our best people don’t feel obliged to move to London and the South East. It does not burn fuel, therefore does not release smoke or chemicals into the atmosphere during operation. It reduces our carbon footprint. It helps to move an immature technology forwards, working towards a better and more secure energy future.

Not everyone in Scotland likes wind farms. Generally anti-wind-farm people seem to prefer offshore wind farms, because they’re not close to peoples’ homes – so fewer (purported) health impacts and noise concerns – and the wind resource is better offshore anyway. But you have railroaded people into giving you what you want, making a mockery of the planning process on the way, and you expect us to listen to your objections? Did you listen to our objection then?

So tell me now, Mr Trump, why should we, as the Scottish people, care what you think? Do your tax dollars pay for our roads, our schools, our hospitals? Have you shown due care and consideration for our valuable ecology and environment? Have you cared for our population? Have you done anything other than bully us in an attempt to profit from our worldwide reputation as the home of golf?

No. You’re a billionaire in a snit, and, whatever you think of offshore wind farms, we’re a better place without you.

Yours Sincerely,

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We don't like change.

We don't like change.

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