Small ads

Zero carbon green house blocked by Calderdale

From Rachel Smith

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sorry, but I just can't let the cringeworthy "Zero carbon green house blocked by Calderdale" story pass without comment.

Like many people I would love to live in an idyllic, green belt, rural setting. However I can't help but think that this is just an attempt to bypass planning law by trying to play the 'green' trump card.

The whole article is written as if this is some grand scheme which will somehow benefit wider civilisation, with it's philanthropic-sounding yet pretty oblique references to eco-show homes, affordable housing, university and college studies, and even curing the sick! However once you cut through the waffle, it is basically just a family house, for the benefit of one family.

The article is unclear about the location of the site, but assuming it is rural, there is a very strong counter-argument that this type of development is the least sustainable, due to remoteness from existing infrastructure, transport connections, etc.

I would also question the claims about it being unobtrusive. It may be now, on paper, but what about in the future, when the land around it has been cultivated, a few solar panels have sprung up, washing hanging out, a Prius or two on the driveway... Unfortunately the planning system has very little control over this kind of 'clutter' once the original development takes place.

And finally, the confused sob-story about Calderdale Council somehow half approving this scheme and then not doing just doesn't quite wash either. At most it sounds like a misunderstanding or admin error has occurred, which the applicant is now rather desperately clutching at. The planning system has very well defined procedures which are usually followed very carefully, as any 'planning consultant' worth their salt will know.

I hate to be so cynical but I get a little weary of these attempts to use green/eco arguments as some kind of super-trump-card to override very valid legislation. It is not a "strange and interesting predicament", it is a relatively common and tediously repetitive story of people trying to build on cheaply acquired Green Belt land using whatever tactics they can.

From Dave R

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

It is interesting that these plans have been put forward by the owner of Bogg eggs farm (or Alls Well Riding School/Farm) up at Old Town, so yes very rural.

However, as the whole farm/riding area is lit up by very bright spotlights causing (in my view) massive light pollution. Ms Costello also has a windmill to generate her electricity which as far as I can recall, caused a bit of controversy too.

There have been various additions to this site over the years, I for one am glad to see some sense coming into this.

The whole business/home complex seems to be a mish-mash and odd mixture of buildings that are both eco-friendly and have huge light pollutant factors.

I hope that Ms Costello will enlighten us and give us her views for this latest refusal.

From Julie C

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fields, woods, moorland and open country are protected from development - even with new guidance from government there have to be exceptional reasons to build on it. The Green Belt still needs to be protected from development and encroachment.

There is a Local Plan, it says where new housing can be built, it aims at re-using redundant or derelict buildings, and building on brownfield sites. The main purpose is to allow the possibility of new affordable housing.
When the applicants say there were no objections, maybe that's because most people didn't know about the plans. There are no immediate neighbours who would have been notified, except the applicants themselves who live/work nearby, and a few sheep and horses, it is open country.

The application was refused according to Calderdale planning on 28th March 2013- I think there are up to 6 months to appeal, I can't see any Appeal papers yet on the planning site.

From Rachel Smith

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Interesting. I've now had a look at the application on Calderdale's website. Contrary to the story, there's certainly no ambiguity about the refusal of planning permission. Well done Calderdale planners for doing the right thing.

As the decision was made several months ago, I wonder why it has taken so long for this story/PR campaign to appear on hebdenbridgeweb? Are the applicants preparing to appeal? or maybe they are laying some groundwork for the "build it anyway and complain to the papers with a sob story when the evil council come along with a bulldozer" strategy.

I live a few miles down the valley, I don't know anything about the applicants or the site, so don't have a personal axe to grind. Just get annoyed by this type of greenwashing claptrap.

From Karen Clithero

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thanks for the comments. Sorry you are concerned about our development. Sorry you think our words are clap trap. This is a great design, you do not agree, neither do the planners. That is it I suppose.

I would be interested to see your ideas for good homes for the future!

From Paul D

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Many rural properties use kerosine and wood/coal for heat. Some are very hard to keep warm, we all remember the blue ICI fertilizer bags and newspaper stuffed into rattling windows. Now owners draw on solar, invest in insulation, strive to bring down the cost but some also act with sound environmental intent.

We would never, knowing what we do, build houses like we did before. Nor would we, if we truly cared about our rural communities that I feel far too many of us commute from than really live in, see green belt as an excuse to preserve in amber the view from our own windows or the view we enjoy on our weekend walk.

There are of course issues around 'zero' carbon and any new building. But to attack the intent and the attempt, on the grounds listed above is the worst form of nimbyism, the worst form of denial, the pinnacle of obscene ignorance at where we are and what we and those following behind us need. A house - listen carefully - where houses are desperately needed - that makes every house and every household before
look gluttonous, is almost hated? Does green belt equal do nothing nimbys?

From Rachel Smith

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Well, I don't think I'm particularly a NIMBY unless you count the whole of Calderdale as my back yard. The original article didn't draw attention to the location of the development (I wonder why?) so I didn't even know where it was when I made my first post.

We are a crowded island, and I accept that some erosion of green belt might be needed. But I believe that this should be part of a larger, coherent plan, as Julie C refers to above. This way, we can select sites more intelligently - perhaps the less promenant land, in locations with good transport links. We can then make best use of the land by developing at a higher density, to maximise the number of new homes created. I am pretty sure that Calderdale Council are already planning along these lines, and are no doubt getting plenty stick for their scheming.

With modern Building Regulations even a more conventional estate of houses can be relatively 'green', employing some of the more tried and tested stuff such as solar gain, higher insulation, more efficient appliances. I feel sure there must be environmental (as well as financial) economies of scale to be had by building groups of dwellings, rather than shunting around hundreds of turns of earth and concrete, on a rural site, all for just one house.

Unfortunately this rather dull solution is much less likely to turn heads at a Hebden Bridge dinner party, or feature on 'Grand Designs'.

And to Karen Clithero - I don't particularly dislike your design, I just think it's the wrong place for it. And I think the attempted use of 'green' issues to lend it credibility is disingenuous.

From Dave R

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I think Paul D's rather predictable drawn out comments about nimbyism is missing the point somewhat.

I can't really see anyone her is objecting to one hobbit style house per se. It is more about the double principles of the applicant. How can Mrs Clitheroe's green credibility stand up when you look at the whole All's Well dynasty:

A Farm, a riding school; a stables; 'workers /family' properties; a wind turbine and a proposed eco home. At night the light generated from this development can be seen from Heptonstall.

I don't live in the vicinity of Alls Well. Nor would I say that because I choose to walk the moorland around it that this should 'give me a right to control the view'.

My concerns are that to submit any planning application using the eco word, should be looking at the bigger picture and ensuring that eco is not used as an attempt to sway the planners.

Rachel presents a good argument in that the energy used to build one rural house could build a small urban social housing development.
Now that is housing that is needed.

From Darren Clithero

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hello Rachel

Thank you for your comments which I will now respond to. My character is straightforward, candid and sincere, I do not behave in the disingenuous way that you speak of!

Your idea of ever greater high density building, lets all live like rats on top of each other so that the chosen few can enjoy the view is not my idea of progress.

Seeing as you are not disingenuous will you be moving into these new utopia developments that Calderdale will be creating? Somehow I don't think so Rachel. Maybe you will prove me wrong.

I believe that a non carbon dependent home that blends into its environment is one of the answers to reduce Calderdale's carbon footprint.

Wind turbines are another answer which I have.

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint? I would be interested to hear. I don't know how many times I have heard educated people tell me that wind turbines do not generate electricity and global warming isn't happening. The governments of the world must be bonkers and all us wind turbine owners must be simple because we apparently invest thousands in turbines that don't generate electricity!

No, I'm not disingenuous. I must be mad to put years of effort to create this house to address global issues. I put people's welfare above all.

This house is a prototype for future developments. Yes Rachel, I want to build lots of these in Calderdale. You can live in your utopia. However, I want to give people the option of having my house design. These houses will be cheaper to build than your boring badly built dross.

As an apprentice and then foreman I built many of the same Legoland developments. We need to change mind sets. I hope that I can change yours. Are you a Calderdale council employee Rachel? I ask this as you seem to know a lot about their agenda and future development plans.

I was at the opening of the Calderdale College sustainable building where the Calderdale chief executive told us of their commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 40%.

I gave a presentation to the lecturers and students of sustainable building at the college a few months ago. These government employed professionals didn't find me or my design disingenuous or dull as you say but applauded me for my effort. Their principal - a chief sustainable architect - said our design was breaking new ground but you appear to be far more educated on the subject.

Please can you tell me all about the sustainable utopia Calderdale planners are going to be creating as I haven't seen any plans for this development.

From Rachel Smith

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hello Darren

I don't claim to live a particularly 'green' lifestyle. However, since you asked, I currently rent a flat in one of Calderdale's many converted mills ('brownfield' perhaps?). Being a recent conversion, it's well insulated, and the benefit of being one of your 'rats' in my multi-storey cage is that I only have one energy-sapping external wall. I live in a semi-urban area which allows me to walk into town or to the station, I can get buses from outside my door, and occasionally cycle to work. So although I am not a conspicuous eco-warrier, I would probably score OK if somebody was bored enough to run a "who's the greenest" competition.

My comments about Calderdale's plans were more about sensible allocation and use of land for future housing development. I have no problem with innovative designs (such as yours) being used in a reasonable density development on a sensible site. I just don't see where a single detached dwelling in remote green belt fits in to this. If you are dead set on building this as a prototype, then why not find a more sensible site for it? And surely the first eco-question should be 'do I need to build anything, at all?' Where do you live now? Do you need another house? Is this just a speculative development?

I don't work for Calderdale, and it's not often I find myself on their side. I do work in a construction-related industry, so I take some interest in the issues going on around me.

I am not anti-green, but I do have a suspicion that many supposedly 'green' activities are much less eco-friendly than they claim, particularly when bigger picture issues such as manufacture and transport of materials are concerned. And as Dave R has said above, it's particularly tiresome to watch 'eco' being thrown around as a political bargaining tool.

From Kate H

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I'm not sure about nimbyism, I think there is a bitterness towards those who are well off enough to be able to protect themselves from rising energy prices by investing large amounts of spare cash in wind turbines, sustainable vanity projects and the like, while simultaneously lecturing the poor on their carbon footprint, and claiming that it's all for our benefit. What are we doing for our carbon footprint? - not putting the heating on because we can't afford it, and actually subsidising the wealthy through the feed-in tariff.

I'm interested in Paul's view of a house 'where desperately needed'. I don't think houses are desperately needed up on the moors, away from decent transport links, and where more building will actually affect the ability of the moors to absorb rainfall effectively. Interestingly the other houses up on Allswell Farm, which I believe we originally given planning permission as farmworkers cottages, are now being rented out by the Clithero's as holiday homes, so have been removed from the areas housing stock.

From J Crompton

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Have followed with interest the debate up to this point and can`t help feeling that the issue is more green eyed from rachel rather than about carbon footprint.

Reading through the Hebweb archives it appears that some contributers have blamed Allswell Farm for nearly every negative event in Hebden Bridge including the Floods.( I would state that I have never been to the Farm or know the people involved)

Surely another issue here is the total incompetence of Calderdale planning. In this case granting permission by letter and refusing by email and apparently refusing to engage later and hiding behind a stop notice.
Recently Claytons Farm in Wadsworth was refused permission for a wind turbine for among other reasons, (if your quick enough to read the case officer report before it is rewritten), being 100 yards from a listed building, in Sowerby Bridge which would be detrimental to the views from said building.

If any of you have other records of their incompetence please log them (if Hebweb allows). Perhaps Janet Battye would care to comment about the abilities of our planning department?

From Paul D

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

On this so called dynasty, I don't get it. A farm (jobs) a riding school (jobs) family ties (social cohesion) and wind turbine (ultra cheap power) - all four components seem solutions to the risks and challenges facing our rural communities. If this is a 'dynasty' we need about 1000 more. Only those with zero understanding of the reality of rural living would take issue really.

The planning rules were applied but these can be an impediment to rural (and urban) regeneration. Largely they stifle at birth most options including innovations like this. Good intentions don't butter parsnips. Here we see the barriers to rural people being erected.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Let's get one thing straight: the winners in any 'who is the greenest of them all' competition will be those on very low incomes who can't afford to overeat, heat their homes, consume needlessly or go anywhere. No contest.

As to zero carbon houses, their virtue depends, as Rachel is pointing out, on being part of a sustainable living package. There is no 'zero' in a house that almost certainly depends on motor vehicles to be sustainable. Paul makes a fair point about rural communities being different, but unless they're self-sufficient - and hardly any now are - they're intrinsically less sustainable than urban communities where there are more opportunities to work, shop and play very locally.

As to this specific design, it's the usual architect's half-told story. All terrific stuff in theory but where are the two cars, the drive, the outhouses, the kids' trampoline, the wheelie-bin, the septic tank..? The house itself might be unobtrusive but all the rest won't be. And it lacks a guard rail above the windows - essential, I'd think. You certainly wouldn't want a cow or a child falling off that roof.

Then there's the small matter of reselling. Developers and buyers alike prefer 'boxes' because they know they can sell them. Even people green in tooth and claw might balk at buying something they fear could be an albatross later. House design hasn't fundamentally changed in something like three hundred years, and there's a reason for that.

From Paul D

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I think Graham perhaps unintentionally makes my point. Why 2 cars? Why impose a specific model of rural living that has more to do with the commuter colonisation of rural areas than life in our rural hinterland. Multiple vehicle ownership in rural areas may well include agricultural and dual purpose vehicles, but most are parked up as owners work a few hundred yards from home. Why might this house have to be for dual car owning commuter types driving around with faces like they're sucking a wasp? What about farm workers or environmentally aware farmers even? We impose an occupant to a house that may never be built and in the process reveal (as I do) bias and even prejudice.

That's the issue to me. The almost visceral disdain for rural folk. For those of us above the tree line whose contribution culturally and economically is not fully understated or even derided. As the local rural populace is displaced, just as are our once more understanding bailing, rabbiting, grouse beating urban cousins, this house and opposition to it symbolises the disconnect, that isn't rural/urban but cultural autism. A failure to try to understand is the point, not even willing to try.

From Karen Clithero

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hi Rachel, let's go back to the little problem of the council's 'misunderstanding or admin error ' as you say. I was at a planning meeting several years ago where a local couple had made an 'error' in building their remote farmhouse extension larger than their plans. It was not much larger and the whole property was still a small smallholding in a very remote location. This older couple were not the 'well off' land owners that you think we are, they were just a nice normal couple wanting to retire with a few chickens and vegetables.

Although all the neighbouring small holdings had written in to say that they had no problem with the extension and it had been well built and unobtrusive the planners made the old couple pull the extension down. Yes they had made a mistake in building the extension a bit larger but unlike ourselves who know about building they don't. They were a middle aged couple living in a 2 up 2 down small holding and wanted a bit more space. The planners said that they 'needed to be made an example of'.

Many years ago I was living on my own with four children to support, I was unaware that I was entitled to housing benefit to help me out. I went to my local council and enquired twice if my council tax was correct as other people that I knew were paying a lot less and I was struggling to pay mine. Several years later the council admitted that I had overpaid them for four years but as two years had now passed I was not entitled to any money back!

When documents are filled out incorrectly the council do not say 'Oh never mind you made a little mistake we will ignore that' do they? When tax forms are filled out incorrectly the government can come back years later and claim thousands to paid immediately and close businesses down.

Now the council have made a 'misunderstanding or admin error' as you say. So you expect us to treat the council differently than they would treat others - why? Government legislation is very clear on what to do in this instance.

Government legislation is also very clear that green belt can be built on in certain circumstances which this development is. But are we to ignore Government legislation just as Calderdale planners do? You believe that we should pass off their computer error without a quibble? We have been given three decision notices, two approvals and a refusal. We will take the approvals thank you and you can have the refusal notice.

And yes Graham Barker we are taking a big financial risk building this house. You are right in that house design has not changed in 300 years. Now we have the materials and technology to build homes that are more efficient than they could ever have been before. Cave houses have been the only homes that have held their temperature constant, with partially burying this house and using the most advanced materials and technology we can build homes with performances that have never been seen before.

Main line developers work hard to produce homes that 'look normal' but work more efficiently so that they can sell them because as you rightly point out, they can only sell houses that people feel confident in buying.

Dave R's comment 'the energy used to build one rural house could build a small urban social housing development. Now that is housing that is needed' is not actually based on truth. It will cost a lot more to build a development than a single house. In the future (but before we are dead) we are looking to help people to build their own low cost fuel-less homes in small housing developments with electric /methane car share, food growing, work premises and leisure facilities on site.

To do this we need to show people that these houses actually work, they can then have confidence in putting their hard earned cash into these revolutionary buildings that will look after them for the rest of their lives.

Until this house is built there is nothing to look at or monitor, there is no other house like this anywhere, the combination of design, materials and technology has never been done before, it is a prototype. When build we may improve the design after monitoring its performance so that newer houses can work even better or can be built at an even lower cost.

Potential 'fuel-less eco green house' builders /homeowners cannot be expected to commit their cash into a 'prototype'. We are prepared to risk our money - would you?

From Anne H

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I would dispute the fact that house building hasn't changed. A modern terraced house would have half the energy costs of the average Victorian stone terrace (one that hadn't undergone improvements that is). Sadly, it is often those on low income who live in these inefficient houses with large rooms, high ceilings, little or no insulation and no money to make the improvements.

The current winners of the 'who is the greenest' competition are likely to be those who, like Rachel, live in appartments in a converted mill, refurbished to very high modern standards and surrounded on all sides by other people's heated appartments. But mill conversion is a relatively new type of development and definitely had its sceptics 20 years ago, including no doubt people in the planning department.

I bet it took years for the first one in Hebden to get passed planning! You have to try new things and push the boundaries, so well done to the Clitheroes for being enterprising. I hope the application can be modified and eventually passed.

From Karen Clithero

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I am really sorry that this fuel-less house seems to have upset folk. Rachel you say that you live in a flat but you would like to live in an 'idyllic, rural, green belt setting' (like this one?). You say that you do not live a particularly 'green lifestyle' yet you are concerned about where and at what density houses are built.

I also walk to work as it is on my doorstep. I am one of the few who 'works the land' (no doubt I will get criticised for using such 'romantic' language!! Ha Ha!! ...... the rural idyll.... outside every morning 6.30am in all weathers for the morning muck out!! You are welcome to join us!!).

Some of you have said there will be two cars for the house. We run a car share up here.....do you?

Kate H, the cottages were holiday cottages that bring tourism and wealth to the area. Now they are homes not still holiday cottages as you say.

This house will not affect rainfall collection at all as it has a turf roof (but you have seen the plans so you will know that .... wont you?). All of you please get your facts straight.

All of you negative people are bothered by the fact that we live on a farm that earns its keep. You actually believe that we are using the words 'green' and 'eco' as if they hold some magic power to get us planning permission! It would be easier for all of us if you would read everything very carefully before writing on this forum.

I have been called 'Ms Costello', accused of having two cars, slammed for actually running a rural business, criticised for turning redundant farm buildings into holiday homes, moaned at for having security lights, accused of trying to sway the planners with false words, putting up more solar panels when there are already solar panels installed, putting up security rails on a 12' high earth roof, hanging out washing and writing sob story clap trap!

It is a good job that I am not the liar that you want to make me out to be! Yes there may be an underground septic tank (we will have a reed bed if the environmental officer is OK with that) but the first port of call for toilet and kitchen waste will be the underground bio digester to produce methane gas for cooking and hopefully fuel for a vehicle. The waste from this process should be inert enough to dispose of in a reed bed near land drains, I will keep you posted (if you are interested).

There will be a car charging point run off the turbine to power a vehicle overnight (We run a car share - remember). The house will produce much of its own food with an easy to run hydroponics /regular growing system in the 'conservatory' and a forest garden.We already keep chickens.

The planners also say that this house is not 'innovative' yet when asked where the innovative houses in Calderdale are so that we could see them, the planners said there weren't any . . . and if you had your way it would stay that way!!

I do not understand your logic. You moan about being cold yet are against a house that would keep you warm - for free! You travel to work, yet moan about us having a car even though we do not travel to work.

You use nuclear or CO2 producing coal power and criticise our wind power and solar panels. You want to preserve 'green spaces' yet do not work the land or support people like us who do work the land. You say that you would like to see a community of houses clustered together rather than a single house yet criticise our 'dynasty'.

You write as though you believe that we are trying to exploit the 'eco/geen' case just to get a single house built on our 'cheaply acquired green belt' land.

The house will be listed here . . . Will yours?

From Kez Armitage

Friday, 1 November 2013

I find it quite amusing that one of the reasons for refusal of this development is the proximity of a wind turbine, which could cause noise pollution to the proposed eco house.

It's quite ironic that this 'green' application has been rejected as a result of another successful 'green' application. Wouldn't it be even more telling if both schemes had been submitted by the same applicants? Surely not!

But if it's a question of which should stay, then the hobbit house wins hands down. Anything that would facilitate the removal of that obnoxious and intrusive turbine - a testament to insensitivity, self-interest and greed - would be more than welcome.

From Jenny B

Friday, 1 November 2013

Being a little ignorant on Eco building, I have found Karen's explanation very informative. I see nothing much wrong with her aim to invest in a new sort of build on her own land.

However some of the comments being bandied about are less helpful.
Assumptions that any objections are rooted in Nimbysm, jealousy or social status are patronising and detract from the debate.

Whilst people can make valid points to challenge the Clitheroe's green-ness, they are being shouted down with little substance. Instead of spoiling the debate by suggesting that objectors /non supporters are happy to live like rats stacked in cages in 'boring badly built dross', perhaps Mr & Mrs Clitheroe would like to reflect on their own good fortune in being in a position to propose such innovative development.

After all, as has been pointed out, mill conversions were innovative too.
For now, I remain unconvinced as I can see a closer link to green living by recycling existing buildings to make well insulated new homes.

From Pedro de Wit

Friday, 1 November 2013

A lot of green initiatives are only possible because they are heavily subsidized. I have no objection to tax payers money being used to improve sustainability. What I do object against is tax payers money being used for the benefit of the lucky few who have money and space to build a wind turbine, eco home or other sustainable solution.

If we as British tax payers want to invest in wind energy the money should go to wind farms that generate power for all of us. The same goes for sustainable housing. Money and effort should be put in sustainable social housing and sustainable city housing projects, after all that is were the majority of the population lives. There is not much to be gained from a large earth covered house in a green belt area.

If the plans are passed by the council so be it but please don't make out that it is for the greater good, because it isn't.

From Rachel Smith

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Time for me to bow out of this discussion now I think, as I lack the time and energy to respond to the lengthy and only vaguely relevant anecdotes.

Anyway, I hope I have helped provide a counterpoint to balance the original PR piece. It does seem that it's not just me (and the local planning department) that are unconvinced by the merit and motives of this project, and I hope that any building in Green Belt continues to be scrutinised carefully, regardless of any claimed eco-credentials.

Finally, I do hope that the Clitheros don't intend to go ahead and build without planning permission. The "eco-couple ordered to tear down house" stories are getting very old hat now... and surely it can't be very green to go ahead and build something, when you know there's a good chance you'll be told to pull it down?

From Paul D

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Isn't there a bit of almost green envy in all this? Power for the many as opposed to those able to erect a turbine? Isn't it just all put into the grid and producer useage deducted? The surplus used by us all as carbon free(ish) power, not ideal but not coal either.

And all this about having the time/space and wealth to experiment? But we all have less or more of all three. It's as if the urban and rural are disconnected and none of us could do this. Is it not just well intentioned people, trying hard and dealing with the messy, contradictory in places even - reality of it all - like life is? I think we risk, in focussing on what irks us most, missing the point.

From Joe Ridley

Saturday, 2 November 2013

As far as I understand it, the payments for wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and the like, isn't as altruistic a deal as Paul D infers. If you are wealthy enough to invest in the hardware then you cannot lose. Paul seems to have fallen for the propaganda and gives the impression that due to the kind people who erect wind turbines and solar panels, we have 'spare' energy being pumped into the grid for us all to share; how noble of them; aren't they kind these wealthy altruistic people? Unfortunately the utopia that has been dreamed up isn't working out too well.

The payments received by turbine and solar panel owners are not just for the 'leftover energy' that they don't use. There are two payments made: a feed in tariff is paid per unit of energy produced regardless of how much energy the owner uses themselves. For example, we generally pay in the region of 15p per unit of electricity but green producers can be paid as much as 40p per unit for the energy produced by their system. A further payment is made for any energy leftover from the owners use.

This is daylight robbery, taking money from the least wealthy and transferring it directly to the richest in society. Why we the general public are stomaching this charade is beyond me.

From Karen Clithero

Sunday, 3 November 2013

I believe that it is possible to love (care very deeply) for other people that we have not even met, I believe that it is possible to love people that do not like us or even hate us. I believe that it is possible to love people more than money or ones self.

I believe that it is possible to care more about how our children will power their houses than how we power ours.

England is building with the help of the Chinese and French, several new nuclear power stations to provide electricity. They are not being built in Calderdale so no-one here will have their view spoiled. For my children's sake and my grandchildren's sake I would prefer not to have to go down the nuclear route to power.

If I was selfish I could sell up and retire in a warm country, away from the freezing, wet and windy English winters (anyone coming for a walk up here today?).

Instead we wish to build a prototype house that does not require nuclear to power it. This home is a prototype, prototypes are a financial risk, we have researched this project and are willing to take that risk to show that fuel-less house building is possible and the way forward. Any houses built now and in the future have the ability to power themselves with the technology that is available. To build new homes nowadays that cannot power themselves does not make sense to me.

This house design as I have already said, can be extended to produce multiple low cost units, affordable to buy, easy enough for a self builder with occasional professional help to build so great for self house building co-operatives, and free or almost free to live in. If anyone wishes to build this type of house they can visit this first house to see what the finished house will be like, then decide if this type of house is right for them or not. This house will be used to show case affordable fuel-less houses.

I believe that harnessing power from nature is the way forward for the next generation. However, I believe that we need to do this for ourselves, our homes need to produce their own energy and we need to be wise in how we use that energy. The big energy companies need to make profit to exist and will seek the most profitable routes for their shareholders, one of them being nuclear.

It is the most efficient way of producing electricity today, however I am not peaceful with the whole idea of it. Accidents are very rare but if they occur are devastating, and the effective neutralisation of the toxic waste has not yet been discovered. I would prefer to be surrounded by industrial sized wind turbines than have another nuclear power station be built - anywhere. In years to come the turbines will be pulled down, just as the pylons are being pulled down now, when more effective electricity generators are developed. Yet decommissioning a turbine is not nearly as toxic, dangerous or costly as decommissioning a nuclear power plant.

Please do not accuse me of being greedy, self motivated or deceitful. I am none of these things. None of you know me. I welcome any of you to visit and get to know me if you wish. I also own and teach at Hebden Bridge Equestrian Centre. We have lovely, friendly and well-behaved horses and ponies for you to learn to ride if you would like to explore the great outdoors on horse back!

From Abby G

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Well done Darren and Karen. Calderdale need to allow the progression into Eco housing! This is a step forward and I sincerely hope you manage to complete this build because I think it will open the doors for others. Yes we must think about the countryside but that doesn't mean that we should completely block all plans for Eco housing. With energy sources disappearing fast these houses are the future. Good luck to you both and thank you for doing this for others to follow!

From Joe Ridley

Saturday, 23 November 2013

It is interesting to read the related story to this thread detailed on Hebweb.

The good people of Blackshaw Head have erected a wind turbine to help save the world. The article helpfully gives us some figures; 26,000 kWh of electricity produced in a year; £5432 paid over a 9 month period. This equates to 28p per kWh (1 unit). Compare this figure to the cost of electricity production by a gas or coal fired power station - 3p. We are paying 9 times the cost of normal production for the power produced by PCP.

We all know where the money comes from to fill this chasm of price differential; us, the energy bill payers - British gas have announced today that the average bill will rise by £120 over the next year. We don't have a choice, we are forced to pay this extra money, poor and rich alike. I for one am not happy to pay 9 times the market cost for electricity but short of buying myself a generator have no option.

But there's more. Where did some of the money for the erection of the Blackshaw Head turbine come from? Oh yes, that other well known method of extracting money from the poor and handing it to the wealthy - the National Lottery - think public school educated sports people for example. So not only are the deprived people of Blackshaw Head milking the poor people dry to keep their turbine running, they fleeced the country's poor in order to build it in the first place.

I am at a loss trying to fathom how this situation is considered worthy or commendable. It is immoral and should have the leftists who are usually banging on about the poor on here, up in arms. Why are we still swallowing this nonsense?

From Mark Simmonds

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Joe Ridley, you have made the mistake of confusing the feed in Tariff rate (formerly 28p/kWh) with the cost of production. According to a recent Royal Academy of Engineering study the costs are 3.7p/kWh for onshore wind and just under 3p/kWh for coal.

However, you do not pay 3p/kWh for coal derived electricity - check your energy bill. Coal prices are rising and will continue to do so. Wind power costs are falling and will continue to do so. The cost of all fossil fuel generation does not include the cost of climate change mitigation and other associated costs. It will probably not be long before onshore wind is cheaper.

The blaming of high fuel bills on renewables is the real scandal here along with the fact that the fossil fuel industry has successfully muddied the waters over climate change and energy such that our chances of avoiding catastrophic climate change and the associated conflict, famine and loss of biodiversity, is now very small.

We cannot really afford to burn any more fossil fuels without serious consequences. Even if we stopped now we will need to sequestrate CO2 from the atmosphere to return from the current 400 parts per million concentration CO2 to a level of 350 which still only gives us a 50:50 chance of stopping at a 2 degree C global temperature rise.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I'm not sure where Mark gets his figures from.

The cost of coal is falling as cheap shale gas in the USA has led to the dumping of US coal in Europe and elsewhere.

The only Royal Academy of Engineering report I can find is 'The Cost of Generating Electricity' from 2004. It gives a wind cost varying from just over 5p per kWh (onshore) to just over 7p per kWh (offshore) including the cost of standby generation. This compares to 2-3p per kWh for coal, gas and nuclear at continuous operation.

The cost of CO2 emission isn't included but that arguably is a separate issue. It's only a cost because we've decided to make it one.

Assuming that the outlook is grim if we don't stop producing CO2 very quickly, the only energy source capable of clean generation on the scale needed is nuclear, ideally not from uranium but from the much safer thorium. India plans to commission dozens of thorium-powered nuclear plants by 2025, and China probably won't be far behind.

It seems optimistic to believe that wind power will ever make much of a contribution.

From James Meadows

Thursday, 28 November 2013

We seem to be straying off topic here but I can't let Graham Barker's comments about nuclear power go unchallenged.

After Fukoshima, can anyone seriously say that nuclear is a sensible option?

Fukoshima and Chernobyl apart, there remain fundamental problems with nuclear power stations. The thousands of tons of waste remains dangerous for generation after generation into the future - up to a quarter of a million years. There is no safe destination.

Nuclear power stations are so expensive that they are never built without substantial contribution to their costs from taxpayers in the form of subsidies. After promising there would be no subsiidies for nuclear power, the Coalition has caved in and will be paying millions to French energy company EDF to build nuclear power stations, initially at Hinkley Point. A letter in yesterday's Guardian read: "The Fukushima tsunami was a unique event. I hope the tsunami that swept over Hinkley Point and the Somerset levels in 1607 was also a unique event."

Nuclear power has been a vaste waste of billions of pounds. Money that could have been invested in renewable energy and made the UK world leaders in that technology.

If nuclear power is such a good idea, why is it that a successful country like Germany is now abandoning it?

We have wind and water in abundance in the Calder Valley. Let's use these resources to help us live in harmony with Earth rather than leaving a dangerous nightmare for our children and their descendants to manage.

From Joe Ridley

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mark Simmonds, I haven't confused anything at all. I have seen the Royal Academy of Engineers figures and quoted from them with the 3p figure that I used. The figure of 28p/kWh I calculated from the information given in the Hebweb article about the Blackshaw Head turbine.

If I check my bill, I find that the cost of electricity is 16p/kWh. Still, significantly less than the 28p/kWh paid for the electricity produced by the turbine at Blackshaw Head.

You seem to have ignored the main thrust of my post; that the enormous price differential between the market cost for power and the money paid to private power generators is borne by us the energy bill payer. This extra burden is most significant for the poorest in society and the money invariably ends up in the pockets of the wealthiest. Are you, Mark Simmonds, in support of this immoral transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest?

To be clear; I am not anti-renewables but I do believe that our power production planning should be carried out by engineering experts with a view to supplying the country with an efficient and future proof system. The ad hoc proliferation of tin-pot turbines scattered across the countryside doesn't seem to me to be a carefully planned energy production policy and would not be happening without the ludicrously generous incentives offered by the government.

From Mark Simmonds

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Graham is correct on my source of the comparison date. There is much more up to date (although much less easy to understand) data and interesting projections on levelised costs in DECC 2013 report - Electricity Generation Costs July 2013 available on-line. These figures do show a reduction in the cost of wind and a rise in the cost of coal. There are also some interesting figures on the cost of Carbon Capture and Storage.

As I type the words "wind is almost competitive" come out of my Radio courtesy of the Today programme.

I mentioned the easy to understand cost comparison merely to illustrate that wind derived energy does not cost 9 times coal derived energy as stated by Joe.

This is a very complicated issue, with so many variables. If you really want to get into this then I suggest a bit of a look at "Energy Return on Energy Invested", which reveals another whole interesting side of this debate complementary to the cost issue, with Wind standing head and shoulders above most technologies. Google will provide.

There's a whole other debate to be had about nuclear and I agree that Thorium appears to hold out the possibility of large scale lower carbon generation without the waste problem - it's a long time coming though. Like wind technology we've had the knowledge for a long time but lacked the political will to develop it.

However starting from here. We have no technology to effectively fill the perceived energy demand in the short term. That is as much to do with the fact that our energy demand is massive and based on a history of very cheap fossil fuel. As a Society, we're a bit like lottery winners spending the last few pounds of our win on more and more lottery tickets rather than figuring out how to live on less money.

So my suggestion is a massive reduction in energy demand to allow existing technology to cope, together with a massive investment in safe low carbon infrastructure. The State has the money (our money) to wage war, well here is one one actually worth waging - create a sustainable energy system to power a sustainable society.

From Ashley Sharp

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Disclosure; I am a director of Pennine Community Power.

With reference to some of the concerns regarding the levy side of the feed in tariff scheme, you currently pay approximately £7 (DECC) a year to support the Feed in Tariff scheme.

This helps to support small scale renewable technologies, typically deployed those deployed by home owners or small businesses. One of the major advantages of this scheme is that it encourages embedded generation which ensures that transmission losses are kept to a minimum (i.e. less electricity wasted getting power to where it is used) and increases grid resilience.

With regards to the transfer of money from those in fuel poverty to those able to invest in these technologies, the stated aim of the revenues generated from the Pennine Community Power scheme is to invest in local projects which help those with hard to insulate or heat houses. Due to the inevitable cut in the ECO scheme, there is likely to be a substantial need within Calderdale for these measures. Those who were able to invest in this turbine are in a very real way going to help those less able to afford energy in future.

Also with regard to 'tin-pot' turbines, I'm of the opinion that we need to be actively engaged in the generation and use of energy. Many of us take it for granted that power will always be available on demand without being aware of how or where it is generated. Bringing electricity generation into communities is one way of engaging people in these issues.

From Joe Ridley

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Ashley, it's all very laudable but I'd prefer you left the £7 in my pocket thanks. As for embedded power generation, I think there is probably ample 'embedded generation' 2 miles up the road at Coal Clough Wind Farm - which incidentally we are already paying for and thus don't need the extra expense of PCP. Assuming the 'embedded generation' is going to reduce the losses of energy inherent in the transmission of electricity; does this mean we'll see a discount in our energy bills as losses are already paid for by us as part of our energy bills? This is what I mean by properly planned energy generation carried out by expert engineers and project managers - as opposed to wealthy speculators with an eye on the money whilst feigning altruistic intentions. If your argument about embedded generation held any water, we would have a detailed map of the most suitable sites for small scale generation and a planning policy to match.

With regard to the comments about redistributing our money to the deprived folks of Blackshaw Head; the last time I looked the residents of Blackshaw Head seem like the kind of people who can afford to insulate and upgrade heating systems using their own money.

If the tin-pot turbines that have sprung up across the hillsides were a great idea we'd have had them before the promise of free money was made. Truth is, without the overly generous subsidies very few people would entertain the idea of erecting the monstrosities in their field.
I have had conversations with 3 people who own turbines and photovoltaic panels, only one of whom gives a monkey's about the alleged green benefits. All 3 are well off with 2 of them being stinking rich. The stinking rich 2 openly admit that they have invested in their schemes because of the financial reward. One of them says he couldn't bear to see others benefitting from the gravy train without him, so he jumped on board.

Leave it to the experts and take your fingers out of my pocket thanks.

From Neti P

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I think that this project is one which needs to be upheld and supported.

It's design is innovative and a ground breaker in passive carbon neutral housing and green technology. What's not to like about creating a future that's sustainable, being a pioneer in design and pushing the boundaries of house building?

I wish the people involved every success with this project and would love to see it come to fruition.

See also

HebWeb News: Zero carbon green house blocked by Calderdale (28 Oct 2013)