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Is renewable energy in Devon ‘an unmitigated disaster’?

June 20, 2017

By Paul Homewood


Congrats to Philip Bratby, who has had a report published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) into renewable energy in his local county, Devon.

It has unsurprisingly generated a kickback from the renewable lobby:


Countryside campaigners and renewable energy experts have clashed on how renewable energy has benefited the county, with campaigners calling it "an unmitigated disaster".

In a damning report published recently by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Devon trustee Phillip Bratby it states that the renewable energy industry in the South West "has been entirely dependent on subsidies for its growth and its survival".

Regen South West, an independent not-for-profit organisation set up to promote renewable energy in the region, has hit back at the CPRE report.

Regen chief executive Merlin Hyman has pointed out Mr Bratby’s "views on climate change and renewables are somewhat at odds with those of the scientific community and indeed of CPRE nationally who commissioned Regen to look at how we can meet the Paris Climate Change Agreement whilst minimising landscape impacts".

In the report, published on CPRE Devon’s website, it states: "The renewable energy industry has been entirely dependent on subsidies for its growth and its survival.

"The generation of energy from ineffective and inefficient renewable sources has created subsidised employment and has thus led to a huge reduction in productivity. Wealth has been destroyed on a massive scale.

"There is no evidence that the deployment of renewable energy has led to any reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; on the contrary, it is possible that overall, emissions have increased.

"The deployment of renewable energy technologies has resulted in a detrimental impact on the landscape, on tranquillity, on heritage aspects, on residential amenity, on property values, on tourism, on local businesses, on agricultural land and on grid reliability and security of supply."


Sources of renewable energy have popped up all over Devon, earlier this month a solar farm near Holsworthy had it’s temporary contract extend a further 15 years.

Mr Hyman disagrees with Mr Bratby and says far from taking away from local communities renewable energy brings people together.

"The extraordinary growth we are now seeing in renewable energy across the world is a source of hope, hope we are beginning to turn the tide on climate change, hope that humanity can turn our ingenuity to looking after the one planet we have and hope that change can be led by local communities working together," said Mr Hyman.

"The first working steam engine was built by Thomas Newcomen in Dartmouth in 1710. I am proud that three hundred years later Devon is once again playing a leading role in an energy revolution, this time by harnessing our natural resources to produce clean, renewable power locally.

"Already the UK produces 25% of its electricity from renewables and I have no doubt that in the years ahead we will be charging our smart phones and powering our washing machines with clean power harnessed from the sun and the wind."



Mr Bratby suggests in his report that the county would be better served by one gas fired power station, he wrote: "The amount of renewable electricity currently generated in the whole of the South West could be produced by a single generator at a gas-fired power station for less than a seventh of the capital cost.

"No subsidies would be required. The excess cost of renewable electricity to all consumers (domestic, industrial and commercial) in Devon is over £80 million per year and in the South West is over £400 million per year. The brunt of the extra costs has been felt most by those in fuel poverty."

"I conclude that the deployment of renewable energy in Devon and the South West has been an unmitigated disaster. The only beneficiaries have been landowners,developers, foreign manufacturers and renewable energy promoters."

CPRE UK’s infrastructure campaigner Daniel Carey-Dawes commented: "Phillip Bratby’s report is, as the director of CPRE Devon notes, a personal one, so he is of course welcome to his opinions of renewable energy.

"CPRE is concerned about the impact of any type of energy infrastructure on our celebrated landscapes and is actively looking at ways the UK can meet its carbon reduction targets without destroying our beautiful countryside, whether in Devon or elsewhere.

"However, climate change is the most urgent and complex environmental issue this country is facing and it is already taking its toll on the English countryside. If we don’t do our best to reduce its impact, within a few decades it will have altered many of our most cherished landscapes forever."

I have left a comment, and would suggest others do. It is a pain in the bum registering, and I found I had to resubmit the comment after registering. But it is important we don’t let the idiots win this debate.

I have already left a comment about this ridiculous statement by the CPRE infrastructure campaigner:

However, climate change is the most urgent and complex environmental issue this country is facing and it is already taking its toll on the English countryside. If we don’t do our best to reduce its impact, within a few decades it will have altered many of our most cherished landscapes forever.


There are a couple of other claims in the story that warrant closer attention:

1) The extraordinary growth we are now seeing in renewable energy across the world is a source of hope, hope we are beginning to turn the tide on climate change


I assume he is referring to this!




2) Already the UK produces 25% of its electricity from renewables and I have no doubt that in the years ahead we will be charging our smart phones and powering our washing machines with clean power harnessed from the sun and the wind."


Well let’s first remember just what the cost of this is:



Let’s also remember that hydro and biomass account for 10%, neither of which have any real impact in Devon and the South West.

Philip’s report also focuses on onshore wind and solar, as there are no offshore wind farms in the area.

When we look at BEIS data, we find that these two technologies only supply  5.9% of England’s electricity, a far cry from the advertised numbers.

Is such a small amount of electricity worth the cost and environmental vandalism?

  1. Ian Magness permalink
    June 20, 2017 12:59 pm

    Well done Philip!
    I have been a member of the CPRE for years but hadn’t appreciated that it even had a “climate change” official. I shall add suitable comments wherever possible.

  2. AlecM permalink
    June 20, 2017 1:34 pm

    Congratulations Philip: the problem is that no professional scientist supports the IPCC science unless they are paid to do so, in which case they cease to be professional.

    • Chris Treise permalink
      June 20, 2017 2:42 pm

      I think they become a “Professional employee” i.e. they take a salary or stipend from someone who controls what they are allowed to say or do.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 21, 2017 12:48 pm

      When I first smelt something unpleasant about global warming the first book I read was Meltdown. In there it detailed how lots of scientists disowned the IPCC report that had contributed to since the published version did not reflect what they had said. They then went to court to have their names removed from the report. Remember that with IPCC reports we get the summary released months before the report. The summary is a political document drafted by politicians that doesn’t accurately summarise the report when drafted. Once the summary is approved the report is changed to match! Pure climate science fiction.

  3. June 20, 2017 1:47 pm

    Congratulations to Philip Bratby for investing so much time and energy in his report.
    And also to Paul, of course, who bangs his head against the wall every day.

    I wish it were otherwise, but it will affect nothing. The green blob cannot be defeated from below – it just smothers its opponents. Even the boss of CPRE has distanced himself from the denier Bratby.

    Change has to start at the top. Donald Trump showed the way. In the UK, however, only hours after his appointment, the new Environment Secretary lamented the withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement and praised Amber Rudd’s sagacious leadership of the department. Is there anyone even remotely close to power in the UK who would be capable of doing a Trump?

    It seems to me that it is going to get much worse before it gets better.

  4. Jack Broughton permalink
    June 20, 2017 1:56 pm

    Great achievement to get this published. Mainly the orthodox press refuse to publish anything even vaguely critical of “Climate Change science”: wonder who controls them all?

    The signs are good that the man in the street is not taking notice of “his betters” regarding medicine, science or experts ….. he has learned that they speak with forked tongues and out of their own self-interest.

  5. Dave Ward permalink
    June 20, 2017 2:32 pm

    Well done Philip – let’s hope some good comes of it.

    “Already the UK produces 25% of its electricity from renewables “

    Not from the turbines pictured, that’s for sure. All facing in different directions with blades fully feathered….

  6. June 20, 2017 2:58 pm

    Thank you to Paul for posting this and for the above supportive comments. Anybody who has read my full report can see for themselves the massive propaganda machine that is RegenSW. Their annual reports are a disgrace. It took me a long time to go through each of their annual reports and try to make sense of them (the periods covered are not consistent and the data is presented in different ways each time). I look forward to their report for 2016 coming out sometime in the next couple of months when we will see the cliff edge that the industry has fallen off with the change to the planning rules and the cuts in subsidies.

    With regards to CPRE: Nationally it is run by professionals based in London and they are mostly made up of young professionals who I suspect have little if any experience of the countryside and are green as grass (being young, city types and having gone through the educational indoctrination scheme). Each county branch is a separate charity, mostly made up of volunteers such as me. Needless to say, there is a lot of disagreement between those of us out in the countryside and those based at the National Office in London, particularly with regards to renewable energy and fracking. In Devon we plough our own furrow regardless of the National Office.

    I think the photo at the top is the Fullabrook wind farm in north Devon, which for a long time was the largest wind farm in England and has created as much of a noise nuisance as predicted and as little energy as predicted by the objectors. Lots of photos of the horrendous landscape impacts of renewable energy in Devon can be seen at the rogue’s gallery at

  7. Tom O permalink
    June 20, 2017 3:08 pm

    How can you possibly take exception to this statement- “However, climate change is the most urgent and complex environmental issue this country is facing and it is already taking its toll on the English countryside.”? Seriously, I took one look at the second picture in this article and it is obvious that the “fake mitigation” has had a deplorable impact. Sometimes people say things that are correct, even if they are intended to be the other way around.

  8. markl permalink
    June 20, 2017 4:33 pm

    It will take a lot more pain before the people rebel against the CAGW narrative but it will happen unquestionably. Slowly but surely people like Phillip Bratby will be heard and the facts cannot be denied. You can tell the people for only so long that the king is not naked.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 21, 2017 12:51 pm

      Mother Nature might well supply the necessary kick to change views if now that the monster El Nino heat has drifted away the coming solar minimum brings a little ice age.

  9. Mike Jackson permalink
    June 20, 2017 4:40 pm

    Well done, Phllip.

    Next step is to grab Daniel Carey-Dawes (really?) by whichever part of his anatomy you think appropriate and refuse to let go until he provides evidence that climate change is indeed “the most urgent and complex environmental issue this country is facing” and as many examples as you think necessary of the “toll” it is already taking on the English countryside.

    The second question is the easier to answer but if he mentions wind farms he’s cheating!

    I really do wonder what goes throught these people’s minds. Do none of them have even a gram of inquisitiveness left? Not one, I’m prepared to bet, could actually answer those questions and about the same number would think that in itself is a reason to investigate further. Truly they are turning into “I Speak Your Weight” machines!

  10. June 20, 2017 5:01 pm

    Once again the totally and intentionally misleading figure of 25% is being used. This is, as regular readers of this blog will know, the total capacity. To achieve 25%, all turbines would need to be running at maximum capacity, all of the time.
    There was until 1984 a coal fired power station at Yelland on the Taw estuary. It occupied a site of about 3 hectares and according to the information board on the Tarka Trail, lit up north Devon. Across the estuary is a Fullabrook Wind Farm, with 22 x 315ft turbines that dominate the scenery for miles around. You can see them from my house in Bideford.
    The farm is owned by Devon Wind Power Ltd and according to
    approximately 9000 M³ of concrete was used in the construction. Maximum capacity is quoted at 66MW.
    A glance at shows that the old power station reliably generated 160MW.

    Don’t worry the Climate Change Act is worth it!

    • June 20, 2017 5:30 pm

      Simon, right next to the old Yelland power station is a new bank of 24 x 0.4MW diesel generators to give 9.6MW of STOR capacity. North Devon Council approved this “essential infrastructure”, despite my objection, because its benefits (unspecified) outweighed the harm. A truly green development to go with the wind farms and solar farms to replace the 160MW of firm capacity.

      • June 20, 2017 9:09 pm

        Phillip, thank you for enlightening me. I will look out for these next time I’m walking g down there.
        Would you happen to know what the average generating output of Fullabrook is?

      • June 20, 2017 9:21 pm

        Phillip, I discovered this source which provides some answers. None of it should surprise you. The percentage figures given are even worse when applied to the theoretical maximum generating capacity.

  11. Jackington permalink
    June 20, 2017 5:18 pm

    I would invite RegenSW to read and internalise Matt Ridley’s recent article in the Spectator:

  12. Tim Hammond permalink
    June 20, 2017 5:57 pm

    So Regen south west fail utterly to refute any of the claims and fall back on bizarre platitudes about bringing communities together!

    Who cares how much renewables contribute if (i) they do not decrease CO2 emissions and (ii) they are more expensive than the alternatives and require subsidies?

    The 25% claim is simply irrelevant.

  13. Stosh permalink
    June 20, 2017 6:14 pm

    I agree with the wind power proponents so long as they turn off all their electric appliances, heat and air conditioning on calm days when there is no wind.

  14. Robert Jones permalink
    June 20, 2017 7:12 pm

    I read the 2014 and 2015 Reports from RegenSW and they helped to prevent the installation of a Wind Turbine within a kilometre of my house by bigging up the contribution made by all renewables in Somerset to the point that the addition of a single Wind Turbine wasn’t warranted. Even then, Devon was shown to be the fleet leader in the South West for renewables by a country mile, more than twice Somerset’s presumed output.

    Contrary to Mr Hyman’s spurious claims it seems to me that Devon might be the most despoiled county in England. Probably not as bad as Scotland (which has a lower population density) but certainly as a victim of the Climate Change scam to the detriment of its beautiful countryside. But then Mr Hyman is part of the Green Blob, so he would make his claims, wouldn’t he?

  15. CheshireRed permalink
    June 20, 2017 10:07 pm

    Great work Phillip, deserved recognition. However, some bad news: given Mrs May’s lamentable performance at the GE damn-near all bets are now off for anything other than Brexit. This parliament – and Mrs May, as it’s her swansong, are focussed on Brexit and nothing else. Anything not crucial will just be booted into the long grass. Bear that in mind depending upon future efforts expended!

  16. NeilC permalink
    June 21, 2017 9:29 am

    Well done Phillip for all your hard work trying to save our countryside, as Tesco says “Every Little Helps”

  17. Bloke down the pub permalink
    June 21, 2017 10:55 am

    ‘It has unsurprisingly generated a kickback from the renewable lobby:’

    I think you may mean push-back. A kick-back is usually something else entirely which I don’t expect Phillip will be receiving from the renewables lobby, or anyone else for that matter.

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