Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Wind farm's 'whoom, whoom, whoom' noise drove us mad, British farmers claiming £3m tell High Court

A couple driven out of their home by noise from a wind farm launched a landmark battle in the High Court yesterday over their inability to get a peaceful night’s sleep.

Jane and Julian Davis say the low- frequency hum of the 320ft tall turbines, which they liken to the sound of a helicopter, kept them awake even with earplugs and their double glazed windows closed.

They claim it became so intolerable they were forced to move from their home in Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire, six months after the eight-turbine wind farm began operating just over half a mile from their home in 2006.

Mr and Mrs Davis are challenging the turbines’ owners in a case which, if they win, could lead to operators of up to 50 wind farms across the country having to stop their turbines or compensate hundreds of residents living near them.

Speaking yesterday outside the London court before the start of the case, Mrs Davis, 55, a former nurse, described the noise as a ‘whoom whoom whoom’. ‘I want to stop the noise so we can go back home and relax and sleep and live like we did five years ago,’ she said. It is a horrible noise. 'It is unpredictable but occurs mainly in the course of the night, and there is no assurance that you can stay asleep.

‘I’m not against wind farms or what they look like. I just want the industry and Government to recognise that some wind farms have unexpected adverse effects.’

The couple could face ruin if they lose the case and are forced to pay the defendants’ legal costs.

The case will focus on ‘amplitude modulation’, the swishing noise made by the blades in certain conditions. Research suggests many complaints about wind farms relate to this, and the industry admits it is not properly understood.

The couple, who have two grown-up children, would ideally like to be able to move back to the farmhouse, which Mr Davis, 46, bought in 1993.

They say the problem could be resolved if the owners and operators, Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Co-operative Limited, limited the hours of operation of one of the turbines and removed two others. Their lawyers are seeking an injunction to bring about these changes.

But in the event that the modifications are not made, they are seeking £400,000 damages for their extra housing costs to date and to buy an equivalent home elsewhere. There is currently no legal limit to how near a wind farm can be to someone’s home.

Opening the case yesterday Peter Harrison QC, representing the couple, said: ‘For Jane and Julian Davis, wind farms have emphatically not been the source of trouble-free, green renewable energy which the firms promoting and profiting from wind energy would have the general public believe.’

Mr Harrison added that the operator’s approach has been ‘to attack the credibility and reasonableness’ of Mr and Mrs Davis.

William Norris QC, for the defendants, said an injunction should not be granted given the operators’ willingness to find a solution to the noise.


Britain on brink of 'nuclear renaissance'

Britain is on the brink of the "biggest nuclear renaissance since the 1950s", the Government has claimed, despite fears over the recent disaster in Japan and questions over radioactive waste.

Days after Germany announced it was going nuclear-free, Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, said the UK will build a new generation of power stations.

He said that the eight sites earmarked for new reactors will could offer 5,000 jobs, as well as supplying a cheap form of low carbon electricity as coal-fired power stations close down.

Addressing a nuclear industry association conference in London, he will also hit back at criticism that Government officials conferred with the nuclear industry over how to deal with the public relations fall-out from the crisis at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima reactor.

According to emails released under Freedom of Information, one official warned the disaster threatened to "set the nuclear industry back globally" and said it was vital not to let anti-nuclear campaigners use it to gain a publicity coup.

There is also renewed concern about nuclear following an explosion at a French nuclear power station. The blaze at the Tricastin plant in Drôme in the Rhône valley came just two days after the authorities found 32 safety concerns at the plant.

In his speech, which comes after the Government confirmed eight sites where new nuclear plants could be developed adjacent to existing reactors, he will say the reaction to Fukushima was "sensible, proportionate and based on the facts".

He will tell the industry: "I want people inside and outside of this room to be in no doubt - the Government's response during and after Fukushima has been based on solid evidence and the advice of the chief nuclear inspector."

He will also say: "The UK has everything to gain from becoming the number-one destination to invest in new nuclear. "Nuclear is the cheapest low-carbon source of electricity around, so it can keep bills down and the lights on.

"The wider economic benefit cannot be over-emphasised - around 5,000 jobs could be on offer at each of the eight sites we listed as suitable for development, and as we develop a domestic supply chain, all parts of the country could gain from a nuclear resurgence."

He will add: "We are on the brink of the biggest nuclear renaissance since the 1950s. "The 16 gigawatts of new nuclear generation planned by industry equates to investment of around £50 billion with the construction of each reactor delivering investment equivalent to that for the 2012 Olympics."

The coalition Government is backing a new generation of nuclear power, despite previous Liberal Democrat opposition to the technology, with ministers insisting it will not be subsidised by tax-payers.

But the Government has been accused of bringing in hidden subsidies, for example in proposals to reform the electricity market which could favour nuclear but not other forms of low-carbon energy such as renewables.

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change minister, faces a rebellion from his own party over the issue. A large group of backbenchers are gearing up to rebel against a key section of the government’s finance bill which focuses on the so called 'hidden subsidies' like the carbon floor price.


A review and summary of The ClimateGate Whitewash

Scientific scandals revealed by leaked e-mail exchanges among prominent climate researchers within the U.K.’s University of East Anglia-Climate Research Unit network prompted three inquiries with transparent damage-control overtones. Two were “independent” internal self-investigations that were launched by UEA. The third was a cursory, narrowly-focused inquiry conducted by the British House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee.

The scientific misconduct charges against key Climate Research Unit (CRU) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change participants are serious. They include: failures to provide a full and fair view to policymakers and all available evidence to the U.N.’s IPCC; deliberately obstructing access to data and methods to those with opposing viewpoints; failures to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements; and coordinated efforts to influence review panels of prestigious journals to block papers presenting rival scientific findings from being published.

The “Parliamentary Inquiry” undertaken by the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee was conducted by eight Labour, three Conservative and two Liberal Democrat MPs, plus one independent under the chairmanship of Liberal Democrat Phil Willis (now Lord Willis). An in-depth investigation was out of the question because of severely constrained time due to an upcoming election. The committee recognized that it would not “be able to cover all of the issues raised by the events at UEA.” Questioning of witnesses was limited to a single day.

Soon after the inquiry was announced, Phil Willis made an announcement that raised questions about his objectivity regarding the merits of CRU criticism: “There are a significant number of climate deniers who are using the UEA e-mails to support the case that this is poor science. We do not believe this is healthy, and therefore we want to call in UEA so that the public can see what they are saying.” The term “denier” is broadly seen as an analogous and pejorative reference to those who deny the historical fact of the Holocaust, implying that UEA/CRU scientific methods and integrity should be beyond question.

The inquiry scope was limited to three key areas: freedom of information issues; accuracy and availability of CRU data and programs; and the independent reviews. Written evidence collected from 57 different groups was limited to 3,000 words per submission, allowing little opportunity to make full cases or to provide details.

While the committee took no direct testimony from those who challenged CRU activities, methods or errors, they nevertheless determined that there was essentially nothing wrong with the organization’s basic science. They mistakenly assumed that important investigations they had no time or expertise to conduct would be fully covered by the other “independent” reviews which never occurred. And they concluded that global warming is human-caused, endorsing IPCC representations as facts.

The first UEA-sponsored investigation called the “Scientific Assessment Panel Inquiry” was headed by Lord Ronald Oxburgh, an ardent global warming believer with strong green energy business ties. He served as chairman of U.K. Shell (a major biofuel player), chairman of the wind company Falk Renewables, and a board member of Climate Change Capital, a major investor in carbon credits. In a 2005 interview with the Guardian, Oxburgh advocated that all possible government incentives be used to promote alternatives to carbon-based energy, stating that “what we don’t want to see is in two years’ time the government becoming bored with climate change after we’ve invested a lot of our shareholders’ money.”

The Oxburgh panel did not assess the reliability of CRU’s science. Its scope of inquiry was limited to reviewing papers provided to it only for evidence of deliberate misconduct. Many of those papers selected for examination by UEA were obscure, never having been challenged by critics—while others that had been criticized were not presented for review at all. Lord Oxburgh’s final report stated that the papers were chosen “on the advice of the Royal Society”, however this was apparently untrue. In fact many or all of those papers were reportedly selected and cleared by CRU’s director, Phil Jones, a central figure in the ClimateGate controversy.

Although at least one committee member voiced serious concerns about how the CRU science had been conducted and incorporated into IPCC documents, no word of this was reported in the proceedings. And contrary to strong recommendations from committee members, no public interviews were conducted, no formal notes were taken, and no recordings or transcripts of interviews were made available to the public.

The remarkably short five-page Oxburgh report generously concluded that it found CRU scientists to be merely an innocent “small group of dedicated, if slightly confused, researchers.” It also mildly criticized IPCC for failing to cite reservations those dedicated and confused researchers attached to their work describing scientific uncertainties.

Another CRU-sponsored inquiry called the “Climate Change Emails Review” headed by Sir Robert Muir-Russell hurriedly looked at more than 1,000 selected communications within a period of two and one-half weeks. Two evidence-collecting interviews were conducted with CRU staff, which the majority, including the chairman, didn’t attend. No CRU critics were interviewed.

Muir-Russell emphasized the independent selection of his five panelists, stating: “None have any links to the Climate Research Unit, or the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” and “They were selected on the basis that they had no prejudicial interest in climate change and climate science and for the contribution they can make to the issues the Review is looking at.”

Yet one of the panelists, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Boulton from the University of Edinburgh, had previously signed a petition in the wake of the ClimateGate scandal expressing confidence that global warming was caused by humans. He was also a former University of East Anglia employee, having worked in its School of Environmental Sciences for 18 years … therefore also a previous colleague of Phil Jones and other important ClimateGate figures.

The panel failed to question Jones about an email entitled “IPCC & FOIA” he sent to Michael Mann requesting “Can you delete any emails you have had with Keith [Briffa] re AR4? [the IPCC's 2007 Summary for Policymaker's Report]. Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment-minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. Will be getting Casper [Ammann] to do likewise.”

Muir-Russell’s report concluded that the “rigour and honesty” of the CRU scientists were not in doubt, that they did not subvert the peer review process to censor criticism, and that key data was freely available and could be used by any “competent” researcher. Yet the panelists admitted that the scientists’ responses to “reasonable requests for information” had been “unhelpful and defensive”, that “emails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them”, and that there had been “a consistent pattern of failing to display a proper degree of openness, both on the part of CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA.”

Did the Climate Change Emails Review accomplish the goal Muir-Russell called for : “a concerted and sustained campaign to win hearts and minds” to restore confidence in the [CRU] team’s work” ? The Lancent scientific journal’s editor, Richard Horton, doesn’t think so. Testifying before the inquiry, he said: “The Muir-Russell review has rejected all claims of serious scientific misconduct. But he does identify failures, evasions, misleading actions, unjustifiable delays [in releasing information], and pervasive unhelpfulness- all of which amounts to severely sub-optimal academic practice. Climate science will never be the same again.”

Hans von Storch, a professor at the Meteorological Institute at the University of Hamburg and director of the Institute of Coastal Research at the GHSS Research Centre in Geestacht, Germany believes Dr. Horton’s appraisal applies this assessment to all three inquiries: “Nothing ought to be swept under the carpet. Some of the inquiries — like in the U.K. did exactly the latter. They blew an opportunity to restore trust.”


More on the "Chinese aerosols" explanation for global temperature stasis

The research concerned has been found wanting in a number of ways, some of which I mentioned yesterday. Below is another stake through its heart

A media summary of the paper:
The lull in global warming from 1998 to 2008 was mainly caused by a sharp rise in China’s coal use, a study suggests.

The absence of a temperature rise over that decade is often used by “climate sceptics” as grounds for denying the existence of man-made global warming.

But the new study, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that smog from the extra coal acted to mask greenhouse warming. China’s coal use doubled 2002-2007, according to US government figures.



China is one of the few places that hasn’t cooled since 1998, but why let actual data interfere with climate propaganda?

New paper on hurricane frequency says that they have not increased in frequency in recent years

The paper: “Estimating Annual Numbers Of Atlantic Hurricanes Missing From The HURDAT Database (1878-1965) Using Ship Track Density” By Vecchi and Knutson 2011. Journal of Climate, 24(6), doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3810.1.


“This study assesses the impact of imperfect sampling in the presatellite era (between 1878 and 1965) on North Atlantic hurricane activity measures and on the long-term trends in those measures. The results indicate that a substantial upward adjustment of hurricane counts may be needed prior to 1965 to account for likely ‘‘missed’’ hurricanes due to sparse density of reporting ship traffic. After adjusting for the estimate of missed hurricanes in the basin, the long-term (1878–2008) trend in hurricane counts changes from significantly positive to no significant change (with a nominally negative trend). The adjusted hurricane count record is more strongly connected to the difference between main development region (MDR) sea surface temperature (SST) and tropical-mean SST than with MDR SST. These results do not support the hypothesis that the warming of the tropical North Atlantic due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions has caused Atlantic hurricane frequency to increase.”


EU Parliament Votes Down The 30% Emissions Proposal

Roger Helmer

The Eickhout report proposed to raise the EU's emissions reduction target from the current 20% by 2020 to 30%. The Conservative MEP delegation takes the view that it would support 30% only if the rest of the world signed up to the same figure -- and that won't happen.

For myself, I oppose 30% absolutely (and 20% as well), as it will have no effect on climate, but will make energy more expensive, and drive energy-intensive businesses offshore to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards. So we could well end up with two tons of CO2 in India or China to save one ton in the UK.

Higher emissions targets will force up energy prices even more quickly than Chris Huhne's current plans will do, driving more households into fuel poverty and putting thousands of pensioners at real risk of harm from winter cold.

The Guardian has tried to talk up a "rift" between Tory MEPs and the Party in Westminster. In fact, we've agreed to differ (and many Conservative back-benchers in Westminster would support our opposition to 30%).

I am delighted to record that the whole report was voted down today (July 5th) by a substantial margin. It's difficult to predict what will come next, but I can't see the Commission coming forward with legislation based on the 30% target after the parliament has decisively rejected it.



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