Stop the Heathfield Power Plant

Following Teignbridge District Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in April 2019, in July application 19/01342/FUL was received by Teignbridge District Council for a 2.5MW gas-fired peaking power plant at Heathfield. This application has received over 300 objections. As a result of these Bovey ward Councillor Sally Morgan has called in the decision, so that it would be decided by the full planning committee. The planning officer has now recommended approval to the planning committee, which will meet at 10am 18th February 2020 at Forde House in Newton Abbot.

We will be there at 9.30 and will have a speaker against the application.

A Climate Emergency means that we must not add more fossil fuel burning plant to our electricity network. Teignbridge’s existing local plan has a policy S7, which states that CO2 emissions must be reduced by 48% on 2009 levels by 2033. The applicant claims that this plant supports renewable generation (which it does not), and contains several serious factual inaccuracies including that in 2018 52% of electricity generation was from renewables, where 33.3% came from renewables and 19.5% from nuclear.

The planning officer’s report states that the determination that the application was compliant with policy S7 was “finely balanced”, so had the correct statistics been used it is reasonable to assume that the balance might have swung the other way.

Teign Energy Communities (TECs) has done a detailed analysis of statements in the applicant’s planning statement and the planning officer’s report: http://teignenergycommunities.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/TECs-Heathfield-Power-Station-S7-Analysis-v1.0.pdf

Audrey Compton has written to the members of the planning committee:

Dear Cllr
I am extremely concerned about the application for a Gas Power Station at Heathfield and hope very much that you will be voting against it.
Thousands of us were so encouraged when TDC decided to aim for the District to be carbon neutral by 2025. The all-party agreement on this was also very heartening – having a planning officer recommend passing an application for a fossil-fuel powered generating station is not heartening. To achieve the Councils unanimous ambition means that we all need to reduce our electricity use, not continue as before.

The application asks that the station should be allowed to be used 46% of the time in order to fill gaps in renewable power, this will NOT help us become carbon neutral by 2025.
All it will do is encourage everyone to carry on as usual; which means letting down all of our young people and condemming them to an immeasurably worse life than our own!
Added to the very significant CO2 emissions from this generator are the Nitrous oxide emissions – which are very dangerous to health and will be close to a popular walking and cycle path.
How can TDC measure the impact/contribution this plant will make to the overall Teignbridge Carbon emissions (S7) without this number. An estimate based on 46% operation is quite significant at around 0.25% of total Teignbridge emissions! And what are the expected CO2e emissions per kWh electricity generated? TDC needs to look at the development of storage for renewable energy to smooth out energy supplies, if it truly wishes to decarbonise.

I am one of the four who started ACTion on Climate in Teignbridge last year – we now have around 250 members as well as 250 people who belong to our Facebook page.
Over 50 of us are very active in all of the different areas that we cover: the Built Environment, Energy, Ecology, Food, Farming and Forestry, Transport, Public Engagement and Procurement.
We will be at Forde House to observe the Planning Committee on the 18th – and hope that we can once again celebrate the outstanding leadership of our Councillors.

with best wishes for the future,
Audrey Compton

Applications for similar gas-fired plant at Ivybridge (South Hams 3354/19/FUL ) and Woodbury (East Devon 19/0591/MFUL) have already been refused permission partly on the grounds of climate emergency.

Subjectivity and Climate Change

In her 2016 PhD thesis, Gillian Westcott examined the part played by subjective attitudes to climate change in determining the policy and actions of local authorities in South West England.  

The research used interviews with officers and members of seven local authorities in the area, conducted during the years 2010 to 2013. While much has changed since then, the views expressed could well be relevant to today’s community energy workers and others who engage with local authorities on climate change issues. Read more here.

What you can learn from Energy Performance Certificates

All domestic and commercial buildings in the UK available to rent or buy must have an Energy Performance Certificate. The Certificate provides details on the energy efficiency of a building, gives it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient), and tells you what you can do to improve that rating. It is valid for 10 years.

An EPC lets the person who will use the building know how costly it will be to heat and light, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

In the Teignbridge area EPCs have been issued for more than 37,000 of around 54,000 dwellings. Nearly two-thirds of these (62% or 23,137) are rated D or worse, with just 58 rated A. Only 27 dwellings have zero or negative carbon emissions, but of those, 10 are new estate houses built by Redrow in Kingsteignton. This shows it can be done so why aren’t all new build estate houses zero carbon? Most have a B or C rating.

Total emissions from dwellings rated D or below currently amount to 127kt of CO2, against 31kt for the higher rated ones.

The top recommendations in Teignbridge EPCs for improving energy efficiency are to install: solar panels (29,642 certificates), solar hot water heating (26,591), low energy light bulbs (24,075), a new condensing boiler (11,994). There are also various insulation recommendations.

If all the suggested improvements were carried out, only 5,949 dwellings  (16%) would be rated D or worse and emissions per dwelling would drop by nearly half, from 4.23 tonnes to 2.37 tonnes. But those low rated dwellings would still account for around a third of CO2 emissions.

EPC data is a useful starting point for Parish and Town councils that have declared a climate emergency. It will help to set carbon targets and implement initiatives designed to reduce emissions.  For more details, and maps showing current and potential CO2 emissions by parish, please visit https://actionclimateteignbridge.org/index.php/energy-performance-certificates-epcs/