Preliminary Results of the Research on the Public perception on

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					Preliminary Results of the Study of the Public Perception on Biomass Energy

Bishnu Raj Upreti School of Social Science and Public Policy King‟s College London 15 May 2002

Table of Contents Table of Contents................................................................................................................................... 2 1. Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 3 2. Current Renewable Energy Policy and biomass to energy development in UK ...................... 3 3. Methodology ...................................................................................................................................... 3 4. Findings from the case study sites: ................................................................................................. 4 4.1. The Integrated Wood processing Plant-Newbridge-on-Wye, Powys ................................. 4 Newspapers: .......................................................................................................................... 5 NGOs and local communities: .......................................................................................... 6 Statutory consultees: ........................................................................................................... 7 Other consultees: ................................................................................................................. 7 Powys County Council: ...................................................................................................... 7 Developers’ perspective: ..................................................................................................... 8 Results of the Questionnaire survey: ............................................................................... 8 4. 2. The Elean Power Station Sutton-Ely, Cambridgeshire ..................................................... 12 Responses of local communities: .................................................................................... 13 Consultees’ response: ....................................................................................................... 13 East Cambridgeshire District Council:.......................................................................... 14 Non Governmental Organisations: ................................................................................ 14 Developers’ perspective: ................................................................................................... 14 Result of questionnaire survey: ....................................................................................... 15 Newspapers and other media: ......................................................................................... 17 4. 3. The North Wiltshire Biomass Power Plant, Cricklade ...................................................... 18 Appeal and decision: ......................................................................................................... 19 Public oppositions: ............................................................................................................ 19 NGOs and other organisations: ...................................................................................... 21 Newspapers: ........................................................................................................................ 21 Developers’ perspective: ................................................................................................... 22 Result of the questionnaire survey: ................................................................................ 22 4.3 The ARBRE Plant-Eggborough, Selby, Yorkshire .............................................................. 24 Public perception: .............................................................................................................. 25 Developers’ perspective: ................................................................................................... 27 4.5 Beddington Zero Energy Development, Hackbridge, Sutton ............................................. 30 Public response to the development: .............................................................................. 31 Developers’ perspective: ................................................................................................... 31 Results of questionnaire survey: ..................................................................................... 32 5. Major issues raised by public: a brief discussion ....................................................................... 35 6. Some lessons for future directions ................................................................................................ 38 7. Conclusion: ...................................................................................................................................... 39 References ............................................................................................................................................ 40


Preliminary results of the study of the public perception on Biomass energy
1. Introduction The UK has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of various renewable energy sources. Biomass is one of these sources. Winning public trust is crucial to achieve the UK‟s target of 10% of total electricity from renewables by 2010. Although the use of renewable energy sources has fewer environmental impacts compared to the conventional sources, still there could be local impacts and therefore, local people raise concerns and oppose the development of plants. Public acceptance or rejection of any development is mainly based on the trust the concerned public have (Löfstedt, 1999). This paper briefly reviews public concerns related to biomass to energy development in the UK. Based on the five case studies the paper documents the main concerns of the public, the communication strategies of the developers, the responses of the statutory and non-statutory consultees and the opposition of local action groups. The paper also documents the causes of mistrusts in biomass to energy development processes including the roles and concerns of environmental organisations and local media. Based on the information of public concerns over biomass some general recommendations are presented. In-depth analysis is yet to made after completion of the collection of information from all the case study sites. 2. Current Renewable Energy Policy and biomass to energy development in UK Global climate change is the major driving force behind promotion of biomass energy (Jackson and löfstedt, 1998). One of the main causes of the greenhouse effect is the emission of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. Biomass energy is principally carbon neutral. Following the world summits at Rio (1992) and Kyoto (1997) to address Global Warming and Climate Change, the UK Government has made four key policy arrangements to achieve 10 percent target of electrical power generated from renewable sources by 2010 and to reduce its emission of greenhouse gases to a level of 12.5 % below the level of 1990 by 2012 (MAFF, 2000): 1. An obligation on all electricity suppliers to provide an increasing proportion of their power from renewable sources, 2. Exemption of Climate Change Levy to electricity and heat generated from the renewables, 3. An expanded new and renewable energy support programme, including research, development, demonstration and dissemination of information, 4. Development of a regional strategic approach and targets for renewable energy. The key policy instruments to facilitate the growth of renewable energy are the Renewables Obligation (an obligation on all licensed electricity suppliers in England and Wales to supply certain portion of their electricity supply from renewable sources) and a system of capital grants (DTI, 2000). Biomass is one of the priority components of renewable energy promotion programme of the government. Biomass energy not only reduce the greenhouse effect but also creates local employment opportunities. The degree and intensity of environmental problems related to the biomass are small compared to the conventional energy sources. 3. Methodology Public distrust towards development of biomass infrastructures is increasing due to perceived potential environmental, social and ecological risks or communication gaps. Not only the techno-economic considerations but also public acceptance are important to develop bioenergy-related infrastructures. Concerns raised by local policy makers, non-governmental


organisations (NGO) and the concerned general public play a crucial role in promotion and expansion of the biomass energy industries. In this report the public perceptions are analysed by using a qualitative multi-methodological tool-box consisting of in-depth interviews, document search, content analysis, questionnaire survey and focus group discussion: 1. In-depth interviews with local councillors, Planning Officers of the Development Control Department of the Council Offices, developers, Environmental NGOs, Leaders and active members of local „opposition groups‟ were conducted to explore their opinions and concerns about the development of bio-mass plants. These interviews focused on the reasons why the public supported or opposed the proposed biomass plants and what should have been done to minimise public opposition? What were the weaknesses and strengths of the public relations (PR) strategy of the developers? What lessons can be learned from these experiences? 2. Analysis of policy documents of UK State organisations, planning application files held by local authorities and environmental statements prepared by the developers were carried out to explore the public opinion about the proposed plants. 3. A content analysis of local newspapers was accomplished from case study sites covering the issues related to biomass power plants for the period when they were of public concern. Content analysis in the Ely case study sites focused on the Ely Standard, the Cambridge Evening News and the Ely Weekely News between 13 January 1994 to 10 November 2001. In Newbridge, The Bercon and Radnor Express, the County Times and Mid Wales Journal between 27 November 1997 to 19 September 2001 were analysed. In Cricklade, the Wiltshire Gazette, the Herald and the Western Daily Express between May 2000 to 27 October 2001 was analysed. For the Beddington Zero Development (BedZed), the Croydon Advertiser, and Sutton Borough Guardian between 25 October 1999 to 10 September 2001 were analysed. The content analysis of the local newspapers from the Selby area (ARBRE site) is yet to be done. 4. Person-to-person questionnaire survey with 180 respondents was conducted in four case study sites (except ARBRE in Selby, Yorkshire) with the people around the (proposed) sites of biomass plants. The questionnaire was designed focusing to explore understanding of the respondents on environment, renewable energy, biomass and the specific issues related to the particular biomass plant. The first part of the questionnaire form contains public perception on environment. The second part deals on public perception on renewable energy. The third part explores the roles of environmental NGOs, local action groups and media. The forth part of the questionnaire is devoted to the issues related to the specific biomass power plant. The people available in street, out of shops and supermarkets, parks and churches were requested to participate in the survey. 5. Three focus group discussions and participatory appraisals (one each in Sutton, Newbridge and Ely) were performed with the members of the Hackbridge Resident Association, the Action to Save Our Heritage and local key people to appraise their opinions and perceived risks. 4. Findings from the case study sites: 4.1. The Integrated Wood processing Plant-Newbridge-on-Wye, Powys The pyrolysis-technology-based wood burning power plant was first proposed by Border Biofuels Ltd on 10 Nov. 1997 to construct in the New-bridge on Wye, Mid Wales. Powys County Council (PCC) rejected planning permission on 17 dec. 1998 for the following reasons:  Significant increase in use of existing access where visibility both forward along the trunk road and from the junction is substandard,  Significant increase in number of slowing, stopping and turning traffic movement generated by the proposal would exacerbate the existing potential hazards along this section of the trunk road,


   

Detail environmental study lacking (in odour effect of pyrolysis, nuisance due to dust, odour and visible plumes), Potential negative impacts of the proposal on the sensitive ecology of the area (particularly National Nature Reserve which is in close proximity to the proposed development), Harmful effects of increased HGV lorry traffic on the local settlement, Discharge of the water vapour on the neighbouring land and visible plume from the plant‟s drying process.

It was reported that though the developers did a lot of presentations during the process of the first application, some basic questions (environmental and socio-economic issues) raised by the council and local people were not addressed. After the rejection of the first planning application (by 16 to 15 council members), B.S.W. Timber Plc submitted another application in 25 Nov. 1999 to construct 22 MW Integrated Wood Processing Plant. The proposed site was in the area of the existing B.S.W. saw mill in Newbridge. The proposal incorporates new access road and junction, new wood processing building, new drying kilns, new wood treatment building, wood chip storage silos and dryers, pyrolysis plant building, electricity generating plant building, air cooled condensers, etc. The main difference between the two proposals was that the first proposal was only electricity generation plant whereas the second plant was combined with wood processing and generation of electricity. Public interest in this application has been high, especially in the light of a previous refusal for the plant on the site and the fact that the current submission includes the existing sawmill with the likelihood that, if the development does not go ahead, current jobs will be lost. A strong opposition was developed after the second application. A local action group called Action to Save Our Heritage (ASH) was formed to protest against the proposed development. A total of 233 individual letters of protest and 143 letters of support were submitted to Powys County Council (PCC). Local members of the National Assembly of Wales were divided. Mr Nicolas Bourne opposed the development based on negative environmental and social impacts whereas Mr Cynog Dafis supported it on the economic ground. Mr Cynog Dafis wrote to the PCC, “I understand that there are still some objections to this scheme. However, I very much hope that these objections will not prevent this very important scheme from going ahead. The plan offers the opportunity for continued employment in this rural area on a sustainable basis. To turn down this opportunity would be a disastrous signal in relation to the kind of future we are hoping to create in rural Wales. I strongly urge support for this scheme” (PCC Planning File). Local newspapers and NGOs played a crucial role to provoke discussion and debate about the potential negative impacts of the power plants. Local people including local politicians became more negative towards the BSW because it put the condition that if the plant will not get planning permission then the existing wood processing plant will be closed down which has great impact on local employment. Many people take it as the intimidating and threatening response of the developer. The report compiled by the Head of the Development Control of the PCC indicates that „30% of objectors live in communities neighbouring the development and they considerably outnumber supporters in these areas (69 objections as against 8 in support). Residents of Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells and the Mid Wales area in general make up the bulk of the remainder of objectors‟. Newspapers: From the inception of planning process of this power plant the local media were very active and deeply engaged. The leading newspapers of the area such as the Bercon and Radnor Express, Powys County Times and Mid Wales Journal have widely and frequently covered the story. The County Times on its front page (9th Jan. 1998) wrote that “The demand of community leaders to organise public meetings was not accepted by developer arguing that the format of public meeting would be too narrow for the wider understanding as compared


to public exhibition”. This message further strengthens the public suspicion toward the developers and leads support to the opposition. All of the issues covered were related to the tension between community leaders and the developer, debate over need of public meeting and expression of opinions of the councillors, planning officers and the Chief Executives of the PPC and the developer and local people. Many of these issues were presented in the front pages of the newspapers. For example, 13 out of 24 articles were front-pages news. Several letters to the editors were also published in these newspapers. NGOs and local communities: Environmental NGOs were amongst the major players to oppose the development. Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), Farmers Union of Wales, Heart of Wales Tourism Association, The National Trust of Places of Historic Interests or Natural Beauty, Newbridge –on-Wye Church in Wales School, Radnoshire Wildlife trust, the Wye Foundation (Conserving Wye Fisheries) have all strongly opposed the development. Following are some of their major concerns:  This is a major industrial development wrongly located within a radius of 5km of the site where there are 14 Sites of Special Scientific Interests, 1 National Nature Reserve and the proposed Wye Special Area of Conservation, which include the River Ithon, the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Special Landscape Areas,  Large amount of annual imports and exports (import of some 196,000 wet tonnes of the wood fuel from other parts of Wales and export of 363,000 wet tonnes of product and waste from the plant) give rise to massive movements of HGVs daily, which is not environmentally friendly and could have considerable impact on communities in this area, particularly Builth, Newbridge and Rhayader. It is also risky to pupils, parents and staff of school. As a consequence there will be unacceptable increase in noise levels, risk of traffic accidents and levels of pollutants derived from exhaust emissions which are unacceptable,  No clear standards set for air quality to protect human health effects,  The 131 ft height of the stack building will be highly visible from the surrounding and affects the landscape,  Potential airborne and water-borne emissions may have an adverse effect on the environment, local amenities and wildlife and it will cause irreversible damage to vegetation and legally protected (9) species,  Negative effect on livestock,  Negative effects to tourism,  Tree harvesting will increase considerably the silt burden in the Wye River and disturb fish spawning. The workers of BSW submitted „Save our job petition‟ to support the development. There was also 3000+ petition in support of the application. The petition was worded as “we the undersigned consider the application to build a wood processing facilities at Newbridge is vital to the local economy and therefore call upon all Councillors to support this application and save all the jobs that rely on it”. The supporters have overwhelmingly focused on economic benefits and adverse impacts are seen to be relatively minor. BSW threatened to close the existing sawmill if planning permission was not granted to the proposed plant. This warning caused more concerns to businesses, forestry industries and employees. The Forestry Commission, Forest Enterprises, Forestry Contracting Association Ltd, BSW Newbridge on Wye branch have strongly supported the proposal on the ground of more socio-economic benefits.


Statutory consultees: Among the three statutory consultees, the Countryside Council for Wales recommended to refuse the proposal based on the potentially significant ecological impacts. The Environment Agency and the Natioanl Assembly of Wales Highway Directorate recommended acceptance of the proposal subject to conditions (further assessment of the scope of the project under Habitat Directives and Pollution Prevention and Control, bringing into use of the proposed access road, etc.). Other consultees: Among the 6 community and town councils three councils have opposed, two have supported and one has given conditional acceptance to the proposed development. Likewise, The Forestry Commission, Forestry Contracting Association, GMB Newbridge, Rhayder and District Chamber of Trade Welsh Development Agency were supporting the proposal based on economic ground whereas Friends of Earth-Cymru, Heart of Wales Tourism, National trust, Newbridge-on-Wye School, Radnorshire Wildlife trust, The Wye Foundation and Wye Salmon Fisheries Association have objected the development based on potential negative environmental and social impacts. Powys County Council: The PCC was not satisfied with the environmental assessment, so it employed an independent institute to undertake a Review of the Environmental Statement as a whole. The Planning Department of the PCC wrote, “In general, the assessment offered does not give an adequate in depth analysis of the impact of increased HGV traffic on the settlements affected. A brief indication of an undated survey is produced but with no attempt to address the detailed Environmental Impacts listed in the Institute guidelines in relation to the built environment of settlements. I would expect Noise, Vibration, Visual Effects, Severance, Driver Delay, Pedestrian Delay and Amenity and Pollution and all other topics to be addressed. There is no mention of the fact that Builth Wells and Rhayader have Conservation Areas and town centre improvement schemes and the potential impact on the attractiveness of these settlements as retail centres”. Councillor Mr Leslie Davis was elected from the Newbridge area specifically through the support of the people opposing the plant. He said, “As far as this project is concerned, I could support it if the size is small and less harmful to the local environment. The approach of BSW is threatening and people have a lot of bad feelings. As a politician, I have to take the fear of the public into consideration1”. In interview the Chairman of the ASH Mr Clive Myhill said2, “Nobody opposed renewable energy but the way it is put and the size of the plant is not acceptable. You can‟t call this project carbon neutral as it runs 1000 HGVs and produces a lot of emissions. There is a great risk to at least 13 sites of national interests. ASH asked them for an independent socioeconomic assessment but they did not accept. We can not accept the plant which cause severe environmental impacts”. In interview Mr Steven Packer3, Case Officer of the PCC explained that local farmers are against the plant because this is basically a sheep growing area and they fear about potential threats to their livestock. They are also reluctant to grow short rotation coppice (SRC). The Case Officer feels that developers made tactical errors by proposing wrong site, mixing saw mill and power plant and proposing a big single plant instead of two small plants in South and North Wales. In his assessment the case officer writes “The applicants have been made fully aware of the reports of consultees, consultants and other important commentators and have
1 2

Interview with Councillor Leslie Davis on 17th September 2001. Interview with Mr Clive Myhill on 17th September 2001 3 Interviewed with Mr Steven Packer on 19th September 2001.


been given every opportunity to negotiate on the amelioration of the impacts which the Planning Department have indicated as being problematic. At a meeting which they requested with the Chief Executive and attended by the Chairman of Council and Vice Chairman of Planning on 17th August the applicants revisited their reasons for an approval to be given particularly in view of their economic circumstances but were unable to offer any further guarantees or amelioration. The applicants remain of the opinion that their proposal in its totality has insignificant or minor impacts on interests of acknowledged importance and that they have offered all the mitigation that is necessary. My conclusion is, that on the basis of the above appraisal the application should be refused, which will give the applicants the opportunity to test their assumptions at appeal”. Considering all these complications, the Wales National Assembly (NA) intervened to the process and now the case is no longer with the PCC. On 26th September the National Assembly of Wales intervened writing, “this would be the first biomass power station in Wales and Ms Essex (Secretary of Environment) considers that the proposed development raises planning issues of more than local importance and directs that the application shall be determined by the National Assembly of Wales”. Developers’ perspective:

Results of the Questionnaire survey: The questionnaire survey was conducted in this case study site from 17 to 19 September 2001 with 62 people to get their opinion about the environmental problems, renewable energy issues and their specific reactions related to the proposed development . The respondents were from Llandrindon Wells, Builth Wells, Direnth, Newbridge, Marryhall, Heways, Rhayadar, Llanyre and Crossgates. The following tables summarise the responses of the respondents: Table 1. Environmental problems perceived by the respondents Environmental problems Frequency Percent Traffic related 11 17.7 Air and atmosphere related 7 11.3 Water related 9 14.5 Farming and wildlife related 8 12.9 Others 12 19.4 No problems at all 15 24.2 Total 62 100.0 Wide range of problems listed in the questionnaire is grouped into six categories. In the question „what problems do you see concerning the present state of environment‟ about 24 percent respondents did not see any problem where as 76 percent respondents experienced environmental problems. The main environmental problems listed were related to air pollution, waste disposal, light and noise, health, odour, „traffic related problems‟ water pollution, farmer and wild-life related problems, etc. (Table 1). Table 2. Possible solutions of the environmental problems Possible solutions Frequency Percent Government initiative 26 41.9 Individual initiative 4 6.5 Community initiative 9 14.5 Don‟t know 23 37.1 Total 62 100.0


To answer the question „how these problems can be solved‟, 37 percent respondents has no clear idea whereas 42 percent believes that government should take initiative. About 14 percent believe that the community initiative is the best possible solution of these environmental problems (Table 2). Table 3. Willingness to address environmental problems Willingness Frequency Percent Want to play proactive role 29 46.8 Participate in other's initiative 3 4.8 Don't want to involve 30 48.4 Total 62 100.0 To reply the question about their willingness to involve to address these environmental problems more than half of the respondents (53%) said they are willing whereas 48 percent people are not. Vast majority of the people willing to address environmental problems wants to play a proactive role and 5 % want to participate to the initiatives of others (Table 3). Table 4. Familiar with different sources of energy Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 45 72.6 No 17 27.4 Total 62 100.0 Another question asked to them was related to their knowledge on source of energy. More than two-third (72.6 percent) of the respondents said they are familiar with different sources of energy (Table 4). They list these sources as wind, water, sun, tide, oil, and gas. But only half of the respondents (51.6 percent) are familiar with different sources of renewable energy (Table 5). Those who were familiar with different sources of renewable energy most of them listed hydro, solar and wind. Table 5. Familiar with different sources of renewable energy Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 32 51.6 No 30 48.4 Total 62 100.0 They were also asked about their willingness to promote renewable energy. Out of the 62 less than half of respondents (48.4%) said they are willing to promote it. Most of them said they want to involve in disseminating information about the importance of renewable energy, participate in discussion. The remaining 51.6 percent respondents are not interested (Table 6). The response of the table 6 closely corresponds the figure of respondent familiar with renewable energy (32 out of 62 in Table 5). Table 6. Willingness to promote green electricity Willingness Frequency Percent Yes 30 48.4 No 32 51.6 Total 62 100.0 In the specific question about their willingness to pay more for the green electricity, only 15 out of 62 respondents (24%) said they are willing to pay more for it. About 14 percent respondents said that they have not decided yet. Quite large numbers of respondents are not interested to pay more for the green electricity (Table 7). This clearly indicates that unit cost


of the green electricity is one of the important determinant factors of the expansion of renewable energy. Table 7. Willingness to pay more for green electricity Willingness Frequency Percent Yes 15 24.2 No 38 61.3 Not decided yet 9 14.5 Total 62 100.0 The environmental awareness is one of the important aspects to accept renewable energy. Therefore a specific question was asked to explore their association with local environmental groups or NGOs. It is reported that vast majorities of the respondent (63 percent) were not involved in such groups (Table 8). Most of those who were not involved said that they are not interested. Those who involved were mainly members of local branches of national NGOs like Greenpeace, FoE, CPRW, etc. Table 8. Involvement with environmental groups/NGOs Involvement Frequency Percent Involved 23 37.1 Not involved 39 62.9 Total 62 100.0 Awareness rising is one of the main activities of environmental groups. Therefore the respondents were asked to assess the effectiveness of such NGOs to raise awareness to address environmental concerns and to promote renewable energy. Out of 62 respondents 41.9 percent said they are effective and almost equal portion of the respondents (40.3 percent) does not know. Only 17.7 percent respondents said these organisations are ineffective to address environmental concerns (Table 9). Table 9. Effectiveness of environmental NGO Effectiveness Frequency Percent Effective 26 41.9 Ineffective 11 17.7 I don't know 25 40.3 Total 62 100.0 Where there is strong oppositions to biomass power plant development there is commonly an influential role of the local action groups. A question was asked to find the association of number of people in such an action group (ASH in this case). Only 14.5 percent of the respondents said that they are members of the ASH and vast majorities of them (85.5 percent) were not actually associated with the ASH. Nevertheless, many respondents, though not the ASH member, were opposing the development (Table 10). Table 10. Membership in local action groups Member Frequency Percent Yes 9 14.5 No 53 85.5 Total 62 100.0 Local newspapers play crucial role to raise awareness and to amplify risk about biomass power development. Therefore, respondents were asked to assess the role of local newspapers to raise environmental concerns and awareness about the promotion of renewable energy. About 40 percent respondents said local newspapers are effective, same percent said they don


know and only about 20 percent assessed that the ineffective role of local newspapers (Table 11). Table 11. Effectiveness of local newspapers Effectiveness Frequency Percent Effective 25 40.3 Ineffective 12 19.4 Don't know 25 40.3 Total 62 100.0 The section forth of the questionnaire has focused on the issues related to the proposed Newbridge power plant. To respond the specific question „have you heard the proposed Integrated Wood Processing Plant (IWPP) in Newbridge-on-Wye‟ 38 (61.3 percent) respondents said „yes‟ and 38.7% said „no‟ (Table 12). This indicates that more people are aware about the proposed development. Table 12. Familiarity with the proposed Newbridge IWPP Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 38 61.3 No 24 38.7 Total 62 100.0 The similar number (37) of respondents expressed their concerns about this plant. Their main concerns were related to environment (17 %), transport (21%), and social issues such as local conflict, disturbance to community, risk to school children, asthma and other health hazards, etc. (17.7%) and noise and smell from the plant, (3.2 %). This indicates that those who were not much concerned to the general environmental problems are also concerned about this plant. Table 13. Main concerns related to the Newbridge IWPP Main concerns Frequency Percent Environmental 11 17.7 Transport 13 21.0 Social issues 11 17.7 Others 2 3.2 None 25 40.3 Total 62 100 Very large number of the respondents (34 of 37) who were concerned with the IWPP expressed their concerns with local councillors, councils and the developers (Table 14). Most of them had either signed a petition or submitted letter of objection. Vast majorities were objecting the plant whereas few of them were supporting the plant on the ground of economic opportunity to local area. Table 14. Expression of concerns with councils and developers Expression Frequency Percent 34 54.8 28 45.2 Total 62 100 About 35.5 % respondents are happy with the role of local politicians about this plant and 16 percents of them are not satisfied (Table 15). The unsatisfied group wanted more strong action from their representatives to oppose the development of this plant.


Table 15. Representation of public concerns by politicians Representation Frequency Sufficiently represented 22 Insufficiently represented 10 Don't know 30 Total 62

Percent 35.5 16.1 48.4 100.0

During the discussion many respondents made suggestions for the developers to win the public support. They believe that public will support the development if they were consulted in advance, get sufficient information and discuss all issues openly. Most of the respondents who were opposing plant said that the public relation strategy of the developer was poor, communication was ineffective and information given by them was not reliable. Even some respondents questioned the intention of the developers saying that „if this development is beneficial there are sufficient forests in Scotland, why the Scottish Company came in Wales to build the plant. They love much to people of Wales than the Scottish people? There is something wrong4‟. The respondents emphasised that site was totally inappropriate. They should have proposed to develop such a big plant in brown field and industrial area. From the above information it is concluded that by and large the environmental problems were less realised by general public. Public support or opposition of development of renewable energy plants depends upon their understanding of environmental problems. In this case the immediate local social issues outweigh the long-term environmental benefit. The public relations strategy and the communication procedure of the developer were not effective to convince people on environmental benefits of the development. 4. 2. The Elean Power Station Sutton-Ely, Cambridgeshire The Elean Power Station (EPS) is a 36 MW Straw fired power station in Sutton near Ely, Cambridgeshire. It is a joint venture between Energy Power Resources Ltd (EPR) and Cinergy Global Power (CGP). This is the world‟s largest straw-fuelled power station in operation, which was constructed under NFFO 3 contract5 and will continue under the contract until August 2013. The planning permission for the plant was obtained in 1996. This plant requires 200,000 tonnes of straw per year, which is collected from farmers within a 50mile radius of the power station. The European Development Corporation Plc (EDC) made the first application for the plant on 25ht March 1994. The East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) rejected it on 3 rd October 1995 due to the strong opposition of the public from Mepal, Sutton and Witcham area and local parish councils. The local Labour Party was also opposing the proposed development. A pressure group was formed by the local community of Witcham and Sutton to oppose the propose development. The ECDE has rejected the proposal because of the following reasons:  Pollution due to the proposed use of the municipal waste,  Visual impact (height of the boiler house),  Traffic pressure and associated risks, noise,  Environmental impacts,  Landscape impacts.

4 5

During the time of the interview 4-5 people expressed similar feeling. At that time the NFFO conditions were site-specific and therefore, developers were not much interested to accomplish extensive public consultation process to select site before obtaining NFFO contract. There was financial risk to invest in public consultation if not obtain the NFFO agreement. But now this is changed. In NFFO 4 only 13 out of 59 biomass project were successful to obtain NFFO contact (Sinclair, 1998).


Then the developers revised the proposal to address the issues raised by the public and the ECDC. In the amended proposal the developers withdrew the construction of municipal waste digester6, reduced the height of the boiler, proposed new arrangements for landscaping (compensatory planting in the proposed development site), submit revised EIA. They also offered to keep the working turbine and first one mile of power lines from the power plant underground and include 35 acres glasshouse development. EDC also agreed to verify emission data and adopt UK and EC emission requirements, carry out air quality monitoring in 3 locations after obtaining the planning permission and give a copy of the results of the monitoring to the resident committee. They also agreed to perform quarterly environmental and safety audits and tests of quality of straw and wood chips. They also sponsored to a factfinding mission to visit Denmark. A fact-finding mission of 15 members including councillors, representatives of 3 parish councils, planning officers and an editor of the local newspaper visited Denmark to observe the HASLEV CHP plant in March (9/10) 1995. After this trip the majority of them were convinced of the potentially positive contribution of straw burning renewable power plants to the local economy. All these efforts were led to get planning permission after the second application. Responses of local communities: Local people did not trust EDC. All Mepal, Sutton and Witcham Parish Councils were opposing the development. The general public had the highest trust in the parish councils followed by the media, environmental groups and district council respectively (Sinclair, 1998). They argued that the proposed development would alter the whole character of the area, if planning permission granted. Mepal Parish Council held a referendum, which showed that out of 372 returns, only 9 were in favour of the development and all others were in opposition. These councils also formed a local action group to oppose the development. The local action group submitted a 105-page petition with the signatures of 1456 people. The public opposition was continued at the beginning of the second application. They argued that there was only little difference between the current application and its predecessor. The site was inappropriate on visual ground, insufficient information was given and the proposal, if approved, would undermine the credibility of planning system. In addition, 55 individual letters were submitted to the ECDC objecting the proposal. The opposition raised the concerns such as loss of property value, health effects, and adverse effects on tourism and farming environment. In Sutton a survey was made where 74 percent of the people were against the development and 12 percent were in favour and 14 percent were neutral7. Councillor Din Owen said that he was elected in the ECDC from the support of the people who were opposing the development. Therefore, he made every effort to represent his constituencies. He said, „EDC was arrogant and showed its “cavalier behaviour” towards local people. Public relation strategy of the EDC was poor and badly handled the issues raised by the public. When EPR took over the project they did a good job in dealing with the public. Gradually they won the public support. EPR is supporting community. Now there is a very good relationship between EPR and the public and there are no conflicts. Everything is going fine8‟. The Sutton and District Labour Party Office opposed the plant. It published the newsletter “Village Voice” where issues related to this plant was covered. Consultees’ response: The Local Highway Authority put condition to amend the plant to address the „slip road‟. Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Pollution also did the same to amend on the cooling equipment. However, both of them had supported the plant if the developers meet their conditions.


In the previous application the developers proposed to incinerate domestic, industrial or commercial refuse in the plant. 7 The detail of this result is available in the files related to this development in the Planning Division of ECDC. 8 Interview with Councillor Dil Owen on 9th November 2001.


East Cambridgeshire District Council: The first application was refused by 10 to 4 votes in the Planning Committee. Reasons of refusal were the contradiction of the application with the Cambridgeshire Structure Plan, the Local Plan and the Cambridgeshire Landscaping Guidelines 1991 because of the plant‟s size, scale and it‟s potential negative impacts to western Witcham. The Greenhouse application was also refused by 9 to 4 votes by the Planning Committee. The Planning Manager warned that there is 80-90 percent chance to succeed the appeal and the Council may have to compensate up to £ 300000 to EDC as an appeal cost. In the Council meeting the application was refused by 18 to 17 votes based on the same reasons given by the Planning Committee. However, the greenhouse application was approved by 26 to 5 votes with 4 abstention. EDC expressed its intention to go for the appeal. However, instead to go to appeal EDC submitted the revised application. In Feb 1996, the revised application was again heard in the Council. First the Planning Committee recommended refusing by 11 to 4 but the full Council voted in favour of the proposal by 16 to 14 with 3 abstention on 10 June 1996 with 33 conditions related to the Section 106 of Town and County Planning Act 1990. In 1997 the Energy Power Resources Ltd (EPLR) took over the plant from EDC as owner/operator. Ms Rachel Almond, the Head of the Development Control said, “EDC was very top down and did not care about the public relation issue. This plant is the most controversial in the history of ECDC. A lot of myths and rumours were cut out from the councillors‟ visit to Denmark. Realising the concerns of the public ECDC proposed „Resident Liaison Group‟ representing local parish councils and general public, the developer, and the ECDC. This group played a crucial role to develop public confidence over the proposed development. EPR also produced a leaflet answering the pertinent questions raised by public. EPR adopted a good public relation strategy. Now the plant is running without significant problems9”. Non Governmental Organisations: In the beginning several concerns were raised by local NGOs. For example, FoE raised the concern about potentially harmful emissions from pesticide residues on the straw entering the furnaces. English Nature expressed concern about the potential effects to Ouse Washes Site of Special Scientific Interests (SSSI), which is only 1.5 kilometres from the proposed development. When the second application was made, Cambridge FoE, Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), Anglian Water, Department of Environment, National River Authority, Royal Society of Protection of Bird (RSPB) did not raise serious objections. They made comments on strategic issues and suggested some points for further consideration. English Nature recommended consulting Cambridge Wildlife Trust. Only National Rivers Authority raised strong concern about potential adverse impacts to wildlife (Sinclair, 1998). Mary Edward, from FoE said, “there is misconception about burning biomass to generate electricity. People see biomass plants similar to that of waste incinerators. It is important to make the public aware of this. There needs to be a lot of work before lodging application for planning permission. Among renewable energy options, biomass is worse in terms of emissions as it involves a huge amount of transport and use of fossil fuel. Now Countryside Agency is starting a new initiative called „Community Renewable Initiative‟ establishing „Local Support Teams‟ in different regions to involve communities in renewable energy development. This type of work is essential if we want to promote local people‟s involvement in renewable energy10”. Developers’ perspective:



Interview with Mrs Rachel Almond on 8th November 2001 Interview with Mrs Mary Edward on 9th November 2001


Result of questionnaire survey: The questionnaire survey was conducted in this case study site from 6 to 10 November 2001. All total 44 respondents were participated in the questionnaire survey from Ely, Mepal, Sutton Cambridge, Sutton Gualt, Witchford, Wardy Hill, Wenth Worth, Haddelham and Covney. The outcome of the survey is summarised below. Table 16. Problems concerning present state of environment Perception of problems Frequency Percent Many problems 23 52.3 Few problems 12 27.3 No problems 9 20.5 Total 44 100.0 Out of the total 44 respondents 80 % have perceived the existence of environmental problems. 52 % respondents realised that there are many problems related to environment. About 20 % said there is no any problem in current state of environment (Table 16). The main environmental problems listed by them are pollution, shelterbelt damage, increased number of HGVs traffic flow, urban waste and refuse, Foot and Mouth and BSC diseases, water pollution (rivers and north sea), flood, noise, etc. Table 17. Solutions of the environmental problems Solutions Frequency Percent Government initiative 18 40.9 Individual initiative 11 25.0 Joint initiative 9 20.5 Don‟t know 6 13.6 Total 44 100.0 Majority of the respondents (40.9%) believe that the government should take initiative and leading role to address these problems where as 25 % believes on the individual initiative to address them instead to wait for the government initiative. Small proportion (13.6%) of the respondents sees the „joint initiative‟ as the best option to deal with these complex environmental problems (Table 17). Table 18. Familiar with different renewable energy sources Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 14 31.8 No 30 68.2 Total 44 100.0 Knowledge and understanding of the respondents was assessed asking their familiarity with different sources of renewable energy. However almost tow-third of the respondents (68%) replied that they are not familiar with different sources of renewable energy. Similar situation is noticed in case of their exposure to the renewable energy policy of government (Table 19). Only 34 % of them are aware about it and 66 % are not. Table 19. Familiar with government‟s renewable energy policy Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 15 34.1 No 29 65.9 Total 44 100


Likewise vast majorities of the respondents from this area (70.5%) are not familiar with use of biomass as source to produce green electricity (Table 20). Upon closer examination of their saying it is realised that lack of knowledge of public about the renewable energy policy of government has direct implication on public resistance to biomass energy development. Most of them interpret biomass as similar to the waste incinerator. In such a level of understanding it is obvious to develop their negative perception towards biomass energy development. Table 20. Familiar with use of biomass to produce electricity Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 13 29.5 No 31 70.5 Total 44 100.0 The low level of knowledge and understanding of the respondents on renewable energy policy is reflected to their willingness to promote renewable energy. Out of 44 respondents only 34 percents are willing to promote green electricity and remaining 66 % are not (Table 21). Table 21. Willingness to promote green electricity Willingness Frequency Percent Yes 15 34.1 No 29 65.9 Total 44 100.0 Only very few respondents (18%) are willing to pay more for the green electricity (Table 22). Most of the respondents say „why to pay more if there is electricity is available to normal price‟. Those who were willing to pay more said that they want to support renewable energy to address environmental problems. This indicates that environmental awareness is important factor to motivate consumers to opt for renewable energy. Table 22. Willingness to pay more for green electricity Willingness Frequency Percent Yes 8 18.2 No 36 81.8 Total 44 100.0 People‟s concerns are also reflected in their involvement in environmental NGOs. Environmentally conscious people generally involve in such organisations. The questionnaire survey in this area indicates that only small portion (22.7%) of respondents is willing to participate in environmental movement (Table 23). Table 23. Involve with environmental NGOs Involvement Frequency Percent Yes 10 22.7 No 33 77.3 Total 44 100.0 Similarly half of the respondents are not familiar with what these organisations are doing. Only 22.7 % respondents are happy with their performance and 27.3 % are not satisfied with the role of environmental organisations (Table 24).


Table 24. Effectiveness of environmental NGOs Assessment Frequency Percent Effective 10 22.7 Ineffective 12 27.3 I don't know 22 50.0 Total 44 100 To assess the role of local newspapers in raising awareness on environmental and renewable energy concerns a questions was asked „how effective do your think is the role of newspapers in dealing with biomass issue and environment concerns‟. Half of the respondents say they simply don‟t know and out of remaining 50% only 13.6% are satisfied with the role local newspapers and remaining 36.4% felt that they are ineffective (Table 25). Table 25. Effectiveness of local newspapers Assessment Frequency Percent Effective 6 13.6 Ineffective 16 36.4 Don't know 22 50.0 Total 44 100.0 More than half (24 out of 44) of the respondents are not familiar with the Elian Power Station (Table 26). Even only very few (19.5%) respondents actually concern about this plant (Table 27). Majorities of them simply do not bother about it. Those who are familiar with the plant they have some environmental and social concerns. Table 26. Familiar with the EPS Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 20 45.5 No 24 54.5 Total 44 100.0 Table 27. Main concerns related to EPS Frequency Percent Environmental 4 9.1 Transport 1 2.3 Others 4 9.1 None 35 79.5 Total 44 100.0

Table 28. Role of politicians to ensure public concerns Frequency Percent Sufficiently represented 5 11.4 Insufficiently represented 5 11.4 Don't know 34 77.3 Total 44 100 The tables 26, 27 and 28 clearly indicate that people are neither much aware nor much care about this plant. Only small portions of the respondents are actually informed about the plant. The one of possible explanation of this may be the time scale. This plant was in controversy in 1994-97 and since then there are no serious problems and people may have not bothered about it. Newspapers and other media: Content analysis of the three local newspapers with the highest circulation was carried out. Ely Standard, Cambridge Evening News and Ely Weekly News wrote several editorials, published hundreds of letters from the residents and carried out intensive debates and discussions about the potential positive and negative impacts of the power plant since the inception of the proposal in 1994. This coverage went on until late 1996. Local people first read about the proposed plant through the Ely Standard when it wrote a lead story on 13 January 1994. When people first heard about this plant 60 percent were against, 25 percent in


favour and remaining were not able to say anything (Sinclair, 1998). Pollution and traffic were two top issues followed by visual impact, smoke, smell and health related problems raised by the opponents and the job was the main attraction of the supporters. Some time the local newspapers wrote in such a way that it enhanced the public opposition. For example, the Ely Standard under the heading „Straw doubts‟ wrote, “PR men from the EDC are trying to coerce, filibuster and blackmail thousands of people‟s life through their councillors into accepting this crude obnoxious plant” (27th April, 1995). The Independent Television, a local channel had also occasionally covered this issue. Some local people gave radio interview about the potential negative effects of the plant. John Ison, the editor of the Ely Standard said, “The main cause of the public opposition in the beginning was the lack of information. The developer did not make efforts to improve the public relations. EDC did not clarify the issues raised by the public such as visual effects, landscaping, noise, burning of waste and rubbish. The general public felt lot of fears and uncertainties at that time. Now the situation is changed. EPR has good relation with public and they are giving loads of information. In this September the EPR also invited public to visit their plant. Public were delighted. They are also supporting small community development activities in the Sutton area11”. Based on the information gathered from questionnaire survey, local newspapers, planning documents and reactions of local policy makers and NGOs it seems that communication, public relations and flexible attitude of the developers are important factors to win public support. The evidences suggest that EPR has adapted a flexible and responsive approach and much responsive to the concerns raised by local people. Now the company is closely working with Local Liaison Group, supporting community initiatives and inviting general public to observe the plant, which helped a lot to rebuild trust and win the public support. 4. 3. The North Wiltshire Biomass Power Plant, Cricklade The 5.5 MW North Wiltshire Biomass Power Plant (NWBPP) was proposed to construct under the NFFO 3 contract in the Kingshill farm, Cricklade by the Ambient Energy Limited. The North Wiltshire Biomass Power Limited (NWBPL) was set up to develop the NWBPP. This project proposes to generate electricity using an advanced gasification technology 12, enough to provide power to over 10,000 homes. The proposed power station requires about 36,000 tonnes of dry wood, which is planned to supply from clean forestry residues and Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) grown in 3,000 ha around a 30-mile radius of the power station13. The NWBPL selected the Cricklade as the appropriate location because the surrounding area is suitable to grow energy crops and has good access to sources of forestry residues. It has good road network for the delivery of fuel supplies and the good access to the local electricity distribution network. The NWBPL believes that this project, if granted the planning permission, would bring local employment14 and contribute to diversify local farming industry. This plant was proposed as a decentralised local electricity production to make energy efficient than the electricity distributed through the national grid, which reduces the grid maintenance costs and reinforcement costs associated with accommodating the peak electricity demand. The plant was designed to operate for approximately twenty-five years. If
11 12

Interview with John Ison on 9th November 2001. Gasification is a modern, clean way of extracting solar energy stored in biomass for electricity generation. This method of using wood is most appropriate at smaller scale applications. In gassification dried wood chips will be gasified and the cleaned wood gas will be combusted in gas engines that drives generators to produce electricity. The two rotary kiln gasifiers proposed to use in the plant that each requires 2.5 tonnes/hr of dried wood. The wood chips will be dried using heat from the engines. The wood gas that is produced is cleaned using a wet system, which is very effective at „scrubbing‟ the gas before it is combusted. 13 SRC planted for this purpose is eligible for the establishment grant under the woodland grant scheme. 14 15 new permanent jobs will be created to operate the plant and 18 other jobs will be created indirectly from the procurement of goods and services required by the plant. In addition, because of directly or indirectly gained employment as a result of the plant and jobs from the increase in expenditure in the local economy gives a total of 68 additional jobs. There will also be 75 workers employed during the 18-month construction and commissioning period. (Source:


the NWBPP got planning permission, a consortium of UK energy and engineering companies would provide technology for the plant. The proposed building would be 126 metres long and 46 metres wide. The two stacks would be 25 metres high. Construction and commissioning would take approximately 18 months. North Wiltshire District Council (NWDC) rejected the application on 26th of Sept 2000 with the following reasons15:  “The Biomass Power Station is a major development proposal which would, if allowed, seriously undermine the openness of the rural landscape, resulting in a loss of countryside creating an inappropriate form of major development in the Rural Buffer, contrary to the Wiltshire Plan Review and Policy DP 13 of the Wiltshire County Structure Plan 2011 Proposed Modifications”.  “ The Biomass Power Station, if allowed, would cause demonstrable harm to the amenity and rural character of the countryside, significantly impacting on the open landscape of the area by virtue of the proposal‟s scale and design contrary to the provisions of Policy C6 of the North East Wiltshire Structure Plan, Policy C7 of the North Wiltshire Local Plan, Policy RC9 of the Wiltshire local Plan Review and Policy DP15 of the Wiltshire County Structure Plan 2011 proposed Modifications”. Appeal and decision: NWBPL appealed against the decision of the NWDC on the following ground16:  Though the proposed site is within the rural buffer, but still the development is an appropriate because it is inextricably linked to the forestry and agriculture sectors.  Redesign the building to reduce it's footprint or to change it's shape or dimensions is not appropriate (according to engineering and architectural investigations) because changing one aspect of the design would affect another part. Hence, it is not technically feasible to change the plant size or shape of the proposed plant.  The awarding of the contract between government and NWBPL is to develop a specific renewable energy scheme at a specific location. Both the DTI and OFGEM (the Office for the Gas and Electricity Markets) have not approved Ambient Energy's request to move the contract. Ambient Energy cannot therefore, moves the contract to another site. On the appeal against the decision of NWDC, the public inquiry was accomplished between 9th May to 13th July 2001. In determining the appeal the Inspector considered effects on amenity, character and landscape, the application of renewable Energy Policies and the Rural Buffer Zone Policy. He gave significant importance to visual harm the proposal would create within the countryside. In assessing the amenity, character and landscape he concluded, “I think the scheme would have a noticeable harm on the character and amenity of the landscape17”. Based on the inquiry he dismissed the appeal. Public oppositions: Local people formed a biomass action group called BLOT (Biomass Lumbered On our Town) to oppose the proposed development. The BLOT was strongly organised to protest the development. The BLOT fears that the implications of the proposed development may have adverse effects to local environment, its ecosystems and general public. The BLOT had also created a home page in the Internet called Cricklade.Com to facilitate debate, express opinions and reactions from the residents. They conducted several independent studies and reports. Main issues raised by the opposition were:  This proposal sets a precedent for further industrial development and deter people moving to area
Source: Letter issued by the Head of Development Control, North Wiltshire District Council, 26th Sept.2000. 16. Summary copied from the application file held in Development Control, North Wiltshire District Council. 17 Report on Appeal decision by Mr. R. H. Baker, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (11 September 2001: P. 6)


        

It contradicts with local policies namely an Area of Special Archaeological Significance and Rural Buffer Zone, Huge increase in daily HGVs in A491 Huge size of the plant: 6 chimneys (2*81 ft high, 2*40 ft high, 2*20 ft high and 20 ft wide) Extra 117 million litres of water per year steamed into already dump air condition Odour, dust, noise and emissions nuisances Long term uncertainty about general health effects Unquantifiable damage to Cricklade‟s south east meadows, flora, fauna and unique water systems of rivers Compensation issue: If any thing goes wrong in the plant that affects general public. The Ambient Energy said they would only pay compensation to their own employees. Negative effects on property prices in the area.

The local MP Mr Wills and Cricklade Town Councillor Mr M. Krikbride were also opposing the plant. The opponents were from Cricklade, Cirencester, Swindon, Purton, Blunsdon, Castle Eaton, Water Eaton and Ashton Keynes. There were 439 letters submitted by local people to NWDC opposing the plant where as only one willow grower farmer had submitted letter supporting the development. In addition to opposition letters they had also submitted a petition letter signed by 861 people. Cricklade Town Council and Purton, Blunsdon and Castle Eaton Parish Councils had also objected the proposal based on potential negative effects to local people and environment. The BLOT also asked Oxford Scientific Services Ltd to examine the environmental issue. This organisation concluded, “Emissions of water vapour from the proposed Biomass Power Plant will cause mists and fogs to develop nearby, and in particular, will constitute a serious road safety hazard on the A41918”. Councillor Mr Brain Atfield of the Cricklade and Purton County Division says, “In public eyes the siting of plant is totally inappropriate. There were glaring inconsistencies in the developer‟s side. Scientifically it may not be true but in people‟s perception this development is harmful to the local environment. Development of biomass plant is essential but it should not contradict with local policies. Cricklade is within Buffer Zone and it has archaeological significance. If planning permission were grated this development would disturbs ancient history of the site and its rural characters. It would also disturb the 11th century church. The communication strategy of the developer was ineffective to persuade the general public. The government also made mistake in NFFO arrangement by imposing non-portability condition. In north of the Swindon there is brown field big industrial site, the developer should have proposed the plant there. In such a development developers should first consult public. Furthermore, they did not give sufficient information asked by the public to make value judgement19”. Mr Charls Uzzel, Planning Officer of the Development Control Division of NWDC agreed with most of the issues raised by the Councillor. He concludes that the site was inappropriately proposed. He says, “it should be proposed in employment sites identified by local councils. The site selection process should be more robust and matching with the local plan. NWDC has criteria based policy to develop such projects in employment site but non of developers propose such sites 20”. However, he admits that the Ambient Energy made sincere efforts, far more than other developers did, to give information to public but the opposition was so strong that their information did not convince people. Their communication approach was better than the developers of residential housing development.


Letter (Ref.APPROACH/J3910/A/00/1056129) of Oxford Scientific Services Ltd to the BLOT on 9 th April 2001. 19 Interview with Councillor Atfield on 24 October 2001 in the North Wiltshire District Council Office 20 Interview with Mr Uzzel on 24 October 2001 in the North Wiltshire District Council Office


Chair lady of the BLOT Action Group Mrs Gerdie Schaffer says, “Cricklade is a country conservation area having clean and peaceful rural character, which can be disturbed by the proposed development. The residents fear of increase of daily HGVs and associated problems such as vibrations, fumes, jam-ups and general nuisance and the potential long-term risks due to noise, dust, noxious-emissions, odours, to health, wildlife and environment. The local residents also wanted legal guarantees over the traffic management, which was not enforced. The developer selected wrong site and totally ignored the public opinions. They wanted to establish precedence to build such big plants in buffer zone. The developer‟s motive to develop power plant in buffer zone would be related to cost of the land, as land is very cheap in Buffer Zone. The Ambient Energy used very top down decision process declaring that they want to develop plant in Kingshills. They did not consult local people in advance and did not seek suggestions from general public. The label „green‟ does not always green. The developer was dishonest saying that the building is of the farm size. People also annoyed with the word NIMBY21”. The Councillor, the Planning Officer and the Chair lady of the BLOT admitted that the rigidity of NFFO arrangement is one of the major causes of this problem. The developer was bound to that particular site. This was also clearly presented by NWBPP in their justification to go for appeal. NGOs and other organisations: CPRE, Criclkade Business Association, Cricklade Action partnership had also opposed the plant22. Though the volume of Environment Statement was quite big with 15 chapters and several appendixes, it was highly criticised on the issues of meteorology, transport, fuel, emissions and pollution by environmental organisations and general public. Cricklade Business Association objects the proposed development arguing that it will cause traffic pressure, spoil rural landscape and cause adverse impacts on flora and fauna. Highway Agency expressed its road safety concerns. Highway Authority gives conditional support (predetermined routing strategy to fuel supply vehicles). Environmental Agency and Swindon Borough Council said they have no objection in principle. Wiltshire County Council Archaeologist suggested to add appropriate conditions to minimise archaeological features likely to be affected by the proposed development. English Heritage objected the plant. English Nature and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust gave conditional support. National Office of the FoE and FoE Swindon had supported the application where as FoE North Wiltshire objected it. MAFF, National Farmers Union and Forestry Commission were supporting the application. Newspapers: Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Gazette, Evening Advertiser, Herald and Western Daily Express were intensively covering traffic and pollution issues related to this development. Their coverage gave sufficient information about the ongoing debate. Their news coverage was archived in the homepage The issues related to the public concerns were also covered by the BBC „Look West‟ Programme. The highlights of these newspapers are summarised here. Earlier the BLOT was not clear about whether it should oppose the plant outright or simply campaign to ensure that the proposed plant does not adversely affect the community and local environment. Later it made strong efforts to prevent building the power station. The Managing Director of the Ambient Energy views that the decision to reject the planning permission was strongly influenced by the strength of opposition from people in Cricklade. Distrust over the integrity of the experts of the Ambient Energy was very high because public see this plant as designed solely for the financial gain ignoring the concerns of local people. Resident‟s attitude towards the proposed
21 22

Interview on 27 October 2001 in Cricklade. The details of the response of NGOs and other organisations are available on the Report No 27 of the North Wiltshire District Council dated 26 September 2000.


power plant was substantially more negative. However, the Manager of the NWBPL believes that that public opposition is irrational. Local Newspapers play crucial role in amplifying risks of the proposed development. The content analysis of the newspapers indicates that local public fear that the specific arrangements of approved project could be use for other purposes by the developers, or use another fuel source (for example urban waste) other than stated in the proposals (wood chips from willow tree). Local councillors mostly value the opinion of public as their politics is based on local voting. Developers’ perspective:

Result of the questionnaire survey: The questionnaire survey was conducted in this case study site from 23 to 27 October 2001. All total 43 respondents from Swindon, Cricklade, Chippenham, Blunsdon, Cotswolds, Hook and Callow Hill were participated in the questionnaire survey (additional 25 people had committed to fill up the questionnaires but they are not returned yet). Fig.1 Pie chart showing the perceived environmental problems by the respondents (N=43)

T raffi c related 18.6%

No probl em s at al l 41.9%

Air and atm osphere r 4.7%

Water related 18.6%

Others 11.6%

Farmi ng and wil dl ife 4.7%

This pie chart suggests that 58 percent respondents have experienced environmental problems and remaining 42 percent did not. Those who felt environment problems, traffic and water related problems are more serious in their opinion followed by air and atmosphere and farming and wildlife related problems. To address these problems out of 43 respondents almost half (20) said that the government (including local councils) should take initiative. Each 2 respondents believe that „individual initiative‟ and „community initiative‟ is the best way to address these problems respectively. 19 respondents (44.2%) do not know any solutions of these problems. Table 29. Individual response to address environmental problems Individual response Frequency Percent Want to play proactive role 13 30.2 Participate in other's initiative 5 11.6 Don't want to involve 25 58.1 Total 43 100 Likewise 30 % of the respondents want to play proactive role to address environmental problems and 11 % want to participate in the initiatives of others where as 58 % respondents do not want to involve at all (Table 29).


Table 30. Familiar with different sources of energy Familiar Different sources of energy Different sources of renewable energy Frequency Percent Frequency Percent Yes 19 41.9 11 25.6 No 25 58.1 32 74.4 Total 43 100 43 100 Relatively large proportion of the respondents (58%) is familiar with different sources of energy compared to 42 % who were unaware. In opposite, only small proportion (25.6%) of them is familiar with different sources of renewable energy (Table 30). Table 31. Willingness to promote green electricity Willingness To promote green electricity To pay more for the green electricity Frequency Percent Frequency Percent Yes 17 39.5 7 16.3 No 26 60.5 32 74.4 Not decided 0 00 4 9.3 Total 43 100 43 100 Relatively small numbers (17 of 43) of respondents are willing to promote green energy and even smaller number (7 of 43) are willing to pay more for green electricity. Four of them have not decided yet to pay more (Table 31). Table 32. Involvement with and effectiveness of environmental NGOs Involvement Effectiveness
Frequency Percent Involved 9 20.9 Not involved 34 79.1 Total 43 100.0 Effective 11 25.6 Ineffective 8 18.6 Don't know 24 55.8 Total 43 100.0

Only small proportion of the respondents (21%) in the NWBPP area was involved in environmental action groups or NGOs. Likewise 59% respondents did not know about the performance of these NGOs. Only 25.6% respondents said that these organisations are effective to address environmental concerns and to raise awareness on the importance of renewable energy. Table 33. Membership in BLOT Membership Frequency Percent Yes 6 14.0 No 37 86.0 Total 43 100 Table 34. Effectiveness of local newspapers Effectiveness Frequency Percent Effective 7 16.3 Ineffective 13 30.2 Don't know 23 53.5 Total 43 100.0

This development is one of the most severely affected by the co-ordinated actions of the BLOT (local action group). To explore the intensity of involvement of local people in the BLOT the question „are you a member of local action group‟ was asked. Only 14 % said „yes‟ and remaining said „no‟ (Table 33). Similarly, another question was related to the effectiveness of local newspapers to address environmental/renewable energy issues. Only 16% respondents said they are effective. Vast majority does not care about it (Table 34). Though this development was quite controversial there were only 42% respondents who were informed about this project and rest were not familiar (Table 35).


Table 35. Familiarity with the proposed NWBPP Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 18 41.9 No 25 58.1 Total 43 100 Likewise only 37% respondents showed their concerns with this development and 63 percent interviewees were not really bothering about it. Those who had raised their concerns they were particularly worried about potential environmental problems (air and water pollution, emission of toxic gases, noise, odour, dust, etc.), traffic problems and others (effect to especial archaeological sites and rural buffer zone, devaluation of property price, etc) (Table 36). Table 37. Opinions to win public support Table 36. Main concerns on the NWBPP Response Frequency Percent Better public 2 4.7 Main concerns Frequency Percent relation strategy Environmental 11 25.6 Locate plant in 12 27.9 Transport 4 9.3 brown field site Others 1 2.3 I don't know 29 67.4 None 27 62.8 Total 43 100.0 Total 43 100.0 Vast majorities of the respondents (67%) said that they do not know the answer of the question „what should have done by the developer to obtain the planning permission‟. 28 percent respondents believe that the siting was wrongly proposed. If the site were proposed in brown field site they would obtain planning permission. About 5 percent said that the developer should have consulted public in advance (Table 37). Based on the case study it is concluded that the planning permission of this power plant was rejected mainly because of the effectively organised opposition of local people. Local people argued that they opposed the biomass power plant because they perceived that the plant has several negative local environmental and social impacts. In this case there were two distinct characteristics of the local people and the developer. i.e. NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) and TINA (There Is No Alternative). NIMBY is an attitude commonly exists in many newly proposed development sites (ETSU/DTI, 2001) and TINA is a rigid attitude of developers toward social and environmental concerns raised by public. The common reasons of NIMBY behaviour may be due to lack of full understanding of potential long-term environmental advantages (to reduce greenhouse emissions) of the biomass, distrust or misunderstanding with plant developers, procedural weakness during the planning process or lack of knowledge on biomass technologies. TINA is an attitude based on the techno-centric rigid arguments. The rigidity of the developer to stick on their original design of the building and landscape is an example of the attitude. In this case distrust with the developer was the important factor for NIMBY response. To minimise the NIMBY response, it is important to ensure full consultation with local public, community leaders, planners and all other relevant stakeholders in advance while selecting site for development. This can be done through local situation analysis; exploring what are the potential problems, who are the influential people, what are their concerns, how they see the proposed development, how they can be mobilised to persuade general public, how local interests can be effectively represented in the proposed development. But to do that flexibility and openness are the pre-conditions, which are opposite of TINA attitude. 4.3 The ARBRE Plant-Eggborough, Selby, Yorkshire The Arable Biomass Renewable Energy (ARBRE) is a demonstration plant supported by the European Union‟s THERMIE programme. It is up and running since late 2000. This is the


UK's first wood fuelled electricity generating plant developed by First Renewables Ltd. (a Kelda Group company) under NFFO 3 contract. This plant is operating under joint venture by Yorkshire Water plc in partnership with the technology developer TPS Termiska Processor of Sweden and the Royal Schelde Group of the Netherlands (85:10:5 split respectively). The £ 28 million (out of that £10 million is from the European Union grant) power plant produces 10 Megawatts of electricity, 8MW of which is exported to the National Grid. The power station requires 40,000 dry tonnes of wood, supplied from Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) and forest residues collected from within a 40 mile radius of the power station. This is the first commercial power plant of its type in Europe. This plant uses gassification technology. The ARBRE is planning to plant coppice in 2,000 hectares within a 50-mile radius of the site to supply fuel. Forest Enterprise, the commercial arm of the Forestry Commission, provides the required wood until SRC willow is ready to commercially harvested. ARBRE is currently planting seven varieties of SRC23 on 1300 hectares. Public perception: In general public had not strongly opposed the development. Some people raised concerns on pollution, transportation and environmental effects from the plant. But the developer used very strong public relation strategy to convince people. Mr. Keith Fisher, the Manager of the Power Plant explained that they were very alert about the public concerns from the beginning and selected site in such a way that public opposition would minimum24. They conducted large feasibility (both technical and social) study in Yorkshire. Based on the outcome of feasibility study they decided the Eggborough as a suitable site for the power plant. Local employment was one of the motivating factors for local people to support this plant. ARBRE is their 4th renewable energy plant of the First Renewables Ltd. They have already developed 3 wind farms and therefore quite good experiences to deal with public. Their main strategies to win public supports were: 1. Good site selection: Conducted a comprehensive study in the Yorkshire area to find the suitable site for growing coppice, good infrastructure (road, connection to grid, etc.), and brown-field sites. 2. Organised several meetings with local community and Selby City Council to discuss issues of employment generation and impacts on local environment from the project. ARBRE also developed a simple and clear information package about the development to maintain information flow to local media and general public. 3. The developer also changed the original design of the plant within first 6 months of application and re-submitted to the Selby City Council. 4. The developers have also conducted voluntary environmental assessment to satisfy the quarries of council. The EA covered background, policy and details about the sites and environmental issues. 5. They also followed Best Practice Guidelines 6. They also invited national and regional journalists in seminar meeting to brief the plant and create positive media image. The Evening Press is occasionally reporting about the plant. Role of mass media was important to disseminate information. Channel 4 television took interview with the developer


These include one traditional UK variety and six new Swedish varieties, which have been bred for high yield, high disease resistance and suitability for UK conditions. They have all been extensively tested in UK plant breeding trials and are all approved by the Forestry Commission. ( SRC offers farmers the opportunity to diversify their farming, it requires low input of pesticides and other agrochemicals than conventionally-farmed arable crops and creates a mix of wildlife habitats for a variety of bird species, particularly migratory song birds such as warblers. In the first growing season willow coppice should reach three to four metres in height, depending on ground conditions. Prior to harvest in year three willow coppice should have reached six to seven metres in height. However, SRC grower farmers are confused with the beetle problems and other uncertainties (market index and not encouraged track record). Farmer leader sees the area of improvement in co-ordination with ARBRE. 24 Interviewed Mr Fisher on 4th of June 2001 in the ARBRE Power Station in Eggborough.


of the ARBRE plant. Local radio, television and newspapers were largely supportive to ARBRE plant. Local newspapers raised some issue about the storage buildings. Friends of Earth and Council of Protection of Rural England raised theoretical environmental issues. They do not wanted developers to go to biodiversity sensitive areas. But they were positive to promote green energy. Farmers and council were happy to design coppicing according to Forestry Commission‟s guidelines. Local people also raised several questions about the supply of wood and coppicing area close to National Park25. NFU was also positive towards the ARBRE. There were some concerns were raised by local newspapers such as Selby Post, The Selby Times, The Selby Star, Selby Chronicle but not objected or coverage of negative aspects of the plant. Only once the potential risk of firing from the plant was published. Rather, farmers‟ opinion about the promotion of SRC was published frequently. However, a local environmental group called Keep Eggborough Rural (KER) vehemently objected the development. In their letter of objection to the Selby District Council (25 June, 1996) they wrote: “While welcoming the attention now being given to renewable energy sources, the KER Committee has very grave reservation about the environmental impacts that this proposal will have on Eggborough and its surrounding area. Egg borough already suffers from the impact of the existing power station, and the establishment of the proposed one can only be to the detriment to the area. Such a development can not be justified on the promise of jobs for local people-very few jobs are likely to be generated and suitably qualified people will not be available in the immediate vicinity of the area. If the Committee, despite the objections, agrees to the proposed development, then this Committee would endorse the request made by the parish Council to lessen the consequences for the village”. Eggborough Parish Council wrote to the principal Planning Officer of the Selby District Council (dated 17th June 1996), “Whilst Councillors believe that planning consent for this project is merely a formality based on the fact Government and European Grants are site specific, they still wish to make their comments in the hope that Planning Officers and members of Planning Committee will take on board their concerns and always consider the possible effects on our village, the resident and their priorities”. In the conclusion section of their three page document submitted they wrote “The application is very well presented and it is difficult to find any material considerations opposing it, except for the location. If the location has been on the existing Power Station site or adjoining it, there would have been less opposition. The fact that the development is in an open field causes concern. For such a high cost project the employment forecast is very low. Arbre Energy Ltd have always indicated that bottom ash would be used as a fertiliser. This was supposed to be major factor in the „renewable energy‟ process. The environmental assessment states that this dust will more probably be disposed of at landfill site. This is not satisfactory. If Planning Permission is granted stringent conditions must be imposed upon this aspect. The three families presently living a short distance from the proposed site must be considered, after all some of their taxes will be funding this project. Is it fair that they should contribute to making their own homes unsaleable?”. The member of the Local Liaison Group Mick Reynolds26 The report of a survey conducted by NFU (Oct.1999) on interest of farmers (from the 40 miles radius) to grow SRC for the ARBRE shows that 54 percent of the current growers (n=98) plan to establish further area of SRC. If new woodland grant scheme comes 70 percent

Coppicing in the special area and more than 50 ha in any area needs EA/public registration and inspection from Forest Officers from Forestry Commission.

Interviewed on 8th of February in Selby District Council Office.


current growers would consider establishing more SRC. The reasons of growing coppice were decreasing production from existing production, set-aside payments for SRC, to have environmentally friendly image, establishment grant available, overall financial package offered by ARBRE, desire to support renewable energy, poor quality land to grow other else. Seventy percent of the total respondents‟ (300) were non-growers. The reasons of their unwillingness to grow SRC were:  Income projections from SRC are too low  The coppice may damage field drainage systems  Harvest machinery not readily available  Concern over longevity of set-aside (under CAP) and future agricultural policy  Landlord/tenancy issues  Time scale of the supply contracts (16 years, too long),  Too little is known about pests and diseases and lack of information Currently, ARBRE coppice growers are facing insect problems. They are not happy with the developer especially in the quality of genetic materials of willow supplied to them. The willow trees are much insect susceptible and causing huge loss. Developers’ perspective: About the selection of gassification technology Allan Weeks27 from ARBRE Plant says, “We used gassigication technology because EU Therme Programme identified gassification for demonstration in ARBRE. It is also more established with higher efficiency than combustion. Pyrolysis is less understood technology”. About the public opposition he added, “there was a lot of concerned raised on the use of sewage sludge in willow plant. Later they convinced when we explained the method of application as and work as a substitute of farmyard manure. To win the public support we used three strategies, i.e., publicity, set up of Liaison Group and adjustment of car park. We are also facilitating Christmas tree recycling scheme and local people are happy to recycle their Christmas plants. Public also asked us to put Christmas tree in the roof of the plant and we did that. Public asked to net all woodchips during transport, which we agreed. Though we are not involved in any big community development support, we have good relation with community”. Though the local Liaison Group was formed only after getting the planning permission, it worked well to discuss the issues and problems arise during the construction of plant and to inform the public. Result from the questionnaire survey: All total 47 people were consulted to get their responses on the questions raised in the questionnaire forms. Their response is compiled as follows
Table 38 Perceived environmental problems Environment al problems Frequency Traffic related 7 Air and atmosphere related 8 Water related 7 Farming and wildlife related 5 Others 12 No problems at all 8 Total 47 Percent 14.9 17.0 14.9 10.6 25.5 17.0 100.0

Out of 47 respondents almost 15% respondent felt traffic is the main environmental problem and similar proportion views the problems related water. Air and atmosphere related problem was main concern of the 17 percent respondents and 25 % felt more social issues as the causes of environmental problems. 17% respondent does not feel any environmental problems at all (Table 39).


Interviewed on 7th February 2002 in Eggborough, Selby.


Table 39 Possible solutions of the environmental problems Possible solutions Frequency Percent Government initiative 23 48.9 Individual initiative 3 6.4 Community initiative 1 2.1 Don‟t know 20 42.6 Total 47 100.0 About the possibility of solving these problems almost half of the respondents (48.9%) thinks that the government should take initiative to address these problems and 42.6% does not know the answer. Only very few (6.4%) respondents believe that individual initiative could solve these problems. (Table 39). Table 40 Individual involvements to address environmental problems Willingness Frequency Percent Want to play proactive role 9 19.1 Participate in other's initiative 7 14.9 Don't want to involve 31 66.0 Total 47 100.0 About their willingness to address these environmental problems only 19.1% wanted to take proactive role and remaining 15 % wanted to participate in the initiatives of others in addressing environmental problems. Astonishingly, more than 42% respondents were either not interested or no time to engage in the environmental problems (Table 40). Table 41 Familiar with different sources of energy Familiarity Frequency Percent Yes 33 70.2 No 14 29.8 Total 47 100.0 Table 41 shows that more than two third of the respondents (70%) were familiar with different sources of energy but only less than one third (31.9%) respondents knew about the renewable energy (Table 42). Vast majority (68.1%) of the respondents even did not know renewable energy. This has great consequences on the objection or support of the renewable energy development. Table 42 Familiar with different sources of renewable energy Familiarity Frequency Percent Yes 15 31.9 No 32 68.1 Total 47 100.0 Those we were familiar with the renewable energy, most of them (27.7%) were also familiar with the government‟s renewable energy policy (Table 43). Large majority (72.3%) were unknown about the renewable policy and comparative advantages of renewables. They almost equate it with other fossil fuels and dirty energy sources. Table 43 Familiar with government‟s renewable energy policy Familiarity Frequency Percent Yes 13 27.7 No 34 72.3 Total 47 100.0 Vast majority of those who were familiar with renewable energy were also familiar with biomass energy. One of the probable reasons of the familiarity was the ARBRE plant itself as it was near to the big co0firing plant and peculiar in the area.(Table 44).


Table 44 Familiar with use of biomass to produce electricity Familiarity Frequency Percent Yes 12 25.53 No 33 74.47 Total 47 100.0 The table 45 shows that even if people were not familiar with renewable and biomass energy some of them (38.3%) were willing to promote it, if they know more about it. Vast majority were not familiar and therefore not interested to promote it. That clearly indicates the need for awareness rising in the area of renewable energy development. Table 45 Willingness to promote green electricity Willingness Frequency Percent Yes 18 38.3 No 29 61.7 Total 47 100.0 Another indicator of people‟s awareness and acceptance to renewable energy is their willingness to pay more for it. In this issue only very few (10.6%) respondents were willing to pay more for the renewable energy and equal number had not decided yet about it. But large proportion of the respondents (78.7%) was really not ready to pay more. Their frequent question was why to pay more if getting it in cheap price. Table 46 Willingness to pay more for the green electricity Willingness Frequency Percent Yes 5 10.6 No 37 78.7 Not decided yet 5 10.6 Total 47 100.0 Active involvement in environmental groups and NGOs is also important indicator on how people care for the environment and how concerned they are about environment and renewable energy issue. Surprisingly, only few (21.3%) were involved in environmental groups and remaining large majority were not active in environmental campaigns (Table 47). Table 47 Involvement with environmental groups/NGOs Involvement Frequency Percent Involved 10 21.3 Not involved 37 78.7 Total 47 100.0 In case of effectiveness of environmental NGOS, assessment of the respondents was not encouraging. Only 10.6% were satisfied with the role played by environmental NGOs in promoting environmental awareness and 23.4% were unhappy. However, large numbers of respondents 66%) were not able to assess as they simply don‟t know (Table 48). Table 48 Effectiveness of environmental NGOs Effectiveness Frequency Percent Effective 5 10.6 Ineffective 11 23.4 I don't know 31 66.0 Total 47 100.0 In the questionnaire survey area almost half of the consulted respondents (48.9%) were familiar with the ARBRE power plant (Table 49). Many of the respondents have referred to the nearby co-firing plant and some of them confused. Many of those who did not know the plant were from other villages such as Doncaster, York and other surrounding areas.


Table 49 Familiar with the proposed ARBRE power plant Familiarity Frequency Percent Yes 23 48.9 No 24 51.1 Total 47 100.0 Though many people knew the ARBRE power plant, most of them (74.5%) were not concerned about it (Table 50). Those who were interested to the plant they were mainly concerned about the potential environmental, transport and social risks of the plant. Similarly, majority of the respondents (72.3%) did not know the role of politicians to represent public concerns and only 10.6% believed that the local politicians sufficiently represented their concerns in the Council meetings (Table 51). When they talk about the role of politicians, most of the time they straightway linked with the policy of three major political parties and refer to the action of particular politicians to their party background. Table 50 Main concerns related to ARBRE power plant Main concerns Frequency Percent Environmental 10 21.3 Transport 1 2.1 Social issues 1 2.1 None 35 74.5 Total 47 100.0 Table 51 Representation of public concerns by politicians Representation Frequency Percent Sufficient represented 5 10.6 Insufficient represented 8 17.0 Don't know 34 72.3 Total 47 100.0

4.5 Beddington Zero Energy Development, Hackbridge, Sutton Peabody Trust28, Bioregional and Bill Dunster Architect developed the Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZed). The BedZed contains seven 3-story buildings in the 3.5 acre of brown-field land site in the east side of the London Road, Hackbridge, Croyldon. This development is based on the framework of sustainable development through energy-efficient design29. It has integrated transport strategy- a car pool including electric vehicles, bulk deliveries of Internet-ordered groceries and improved cycling facilities. Application for the planning permission was submitted on Oct 1999 and the permission was granted on 2 Feb. 2000 by the London Borough of Sutton (LBS) with 15 conditions that needs to be met before commencing the construction and operation. BedZed was given full planning permission by the LBS on Wednesday 17th November 2000. In this process an agreement was made between the Mayor of the LBS and the Governor of the Peabody Trust on specific matters referring to the planning permission. BedZed provides 82 homes (a mix of social rent, cost rent, shared ownership and outright sale), 20 work/office units, a nursery, living centre, sports pitch and clubhouse and organic shop/café (BedZed, 2001). A combined heat and power (CHP) unit able to meet the requirement of heat and electricity from tree waste is another feature of he development. The BedZed‟s heat and electricity comes from a CHP unit. This is

Peabody Trust is one of London's largest housing associations and a leading regeneration agency in the capital with more than 19,000 homes for affordable rent across London. 29 Heat loss from the buildings reduces an „overcoat‟ of super-insulation to the roofs, walls and floors, so that heat from sunshine, lights, appliances, hot water, and everyday activities such as cooking, keep the houses cosy and warm. (The thick walls of the building prevent overheating in summer and store warmth in the winter to be released slowly during cooler periods such as night and on overcast days. (BedZed, 2001). A heat exchanger in the wind-driven ventilation system recovers between 50% and 70% of the warmth from the outgoing stale air. The houses face south where they can make maximum use of solar energy. All homes are fitted with photovoltaic solar panels to convert the sun‟s energy into electricity (Source:


fuelled by biomass. The CHP unit generates electricity and distributes hot water around the site via insulated pipes. They deliver heat to domestic hot water cylinders positioned centrally in every home and office so that they can double up as heat emitters in cold spells. The CHP unit has been sized to generate as much electricity as will be used at BedZed. Public response to the development: The London Borough of Sutton sent the Neighbour Notification Letter to all residents asking their reactions on the BedZed development. The following written concerns were submitted by the public to the Environmental Service Division of the LBS in response to the Neighbour Notification Letter:  Disturbance to the Clover Way Garden,  Increase noise and traffic in busy London road,  Size of the buildings will affect the day light to residents of the Clover Way and also affect privacy of them,  Noise pollution.  Burglary increase,  Disturbance due to additional cars and equipment,  Effects on trees, needs for car parking, storage of hazardous substances,  Incompatible use of building, inappropriate layout, inadequate landscaping, etc. Three written protests were made even after the completion of neighbour notification process and public inquiry. The Development Control Service of the LBS conducted public inquiry. The Planning Area Manager of the LBS addressed all the concerns raised by public furnishing written replies to their questions. After the neighbour notification and the public inquiry by the LBS Policy and Resources Department of the LBS made comments on the planning application and approved by the council. Earlier, even when planners were supportive and councillors were still concerned about the possible crimes due to the use of same gate by large number of people in the new buildings. At the beginning the Resident Association of the Sutton had supported this project. They have good relation with the developer. However, after commissioning, some neighbours of the BedZed buildings and the Resident Association are not happy. Ms Pat Hutt, the Secretary of the Resident Association said, “it is horrific, worse tenement, so close and no place for children. It is good for those who do not stay in the buildings but it is not good for those who will be residing there. It is also bad for the neighbours30”. The Chairman of the Resident Association Mr. Richard Linard is also dismayed with the developers. He said, “In principle we are in favour of such development. But in reality the developers cheated to local residents. It is too much in too small place. It is going to be slum. The developers have also broken their promises to develop football pitch and club. They also changed the location of the generator house but they did not consult the public to change it. The council, because of their political interests, changed the plan presented to general public earlier. Children from these houses have to come to park by crossing this busy London road, which is very risky31”. I have also attended one of the Resident Association‟s meetings related to this development. All the members present in the meeting were expressing their dissatisfaction with the developers especially their roles after getting the planning permission. Developers’ perspective: Pooran Deshai, the Director of Bioregional Development admitted that there were some problems. He said, “we had very good relation with the Chairperson and member of the previous Resident Association. But the chairperson left the town and we have not yet able to establish communication with new chairperson. We have yet to develop good communication
30 31

Interview with Mrs Hutt on 10th September 2001 in Hackbridge. Interview on with Mr Linard 10th September 2001 in Hackbridge


and public relations with them. About the change in location of the CHP house it was changed due to the technical problem.32”. But the developers are also not fully satisfied with the bureaucratic procedures of the LBS. The Director of one of the Developers said, “We faced some complications in obtaining the planning permission, especially due to the bureaucratic approach of planning officers. They did not read all the documents we have submitted and again and again asked us to clarify the issues to them, which were already explained in the submitted our documents. That caused some delay. The former Head of the Environmental Service Division was in favour of BedZed Plant and supported the idea but after his retirement problems arose with new one. Nevertheless, The former Division Head of the Environmental Service joined as trustee of the board in BedZed and lobbied for it. The lack of co-ordination between various departments of the council also caused some problems and the project is being 6 month delayed for commissioning. In the midway of the construction LBS asked to redesign the CHP building because of the complication of land ownership of the land proposed to build the it33”. The local newspapers such as Croydon Advertise, Sutton & Epsom Advertiser, Sutton Borough Post and Sutton Borough Guardian occasionally wrote about the BedZed. Most of their contents were supporting the development. Results of questionnaire survey: All total 31 people were participated in the questionnaire survey in BedZed area. By and large majorities of them were not much concerned about the environmental issues and the BedZed. Almost half of the respondents (48.4%) were not aware of any environmental problems. The remaining half were raising the problems of traffic congestion, air pollution, water related problems, rapid urbanisation and waste problems and others (dust, reduction of open area, landscaping change, etc.) (Table 52). Table 52. Problems concerning present state of environment Main concerns or problems Frequency Percent Traffic related 6 19.4 Air pollution related 3 9.7 Water related 1 3.2 Urbanisation and waste related 1 3.2 Others 5 16.1 No problems/I don‟t know 15 48.4 Total 31 100.0 Similarly, more than half of the respondents (55%) said that they have no idea how to solve these problems. Some 35% believe that the government has to take initiative to address these problems. 6.5% respondents thinks the individual initiative is more important solution of these problems and 1 respondent said joint initiative is the best way to address these issues (Table 53). Table 53. Solutions of the environmental problems Solutions Frequency Percent Government initiative 11 35.5 Individual initiative 2 6.5 Joint initiative 1 3.2 Don‟t know 17 54.8 Total 31 100.0

32 33

Interview in 12th September 2001 in Guildford. Interview in 4th May 2001 in Sutton


Table 54. Familiar with energy issues Familiar with energy Familiar with renewable Familiar with biomass to produce energy electricity Frequency Percent Frequency Percent Frequency Percent Yes 16 51.6 6 19.4 8 25.8 No 15 48.4 25 80.6 23 74.2 Total 31 100 100.0 31 100.0 31 The Table 54 shows that slightly more than half of the respondents (51.4%) were familiar with energy, quarter of the respondents were familiar with renewable energy and only 19.4% knew that biomass can be use to produce electricity. This clearly indicates that vast majorities are not aware of the energy issues. Table 55. Willingness to promote green electricity To promote green electricity To pay more for the green electricity Frequency Percent Frequency Percent Yes 11 35.5 4 12.9 No 20 64.5 20 64.5 Not decided 0 100 7 22.6 Total 31 100 Only about one-third of the respondents (35.5%) are willing to promote renewable energy whereas only 13 percent of them are actually ready to pay more for t he renewable energy.

17.0 16.5 16.0 15.5 15.0 14.5 14.0 13.5 yes no


Figure 2 Famaliarity w ith the BedZed development

The bar diagram (figure 2) suggests that out of 31 respondent only 14 respondents did know about the BedZed development and remaining 17 did not. Those who heard about it said that this is a housing facility and people can rent flats. In this area only 6.5 respondents were members of the Resident association and vast majority not (Figure 3).


yes 6.5%

no 93.5%

Figure 2. Membership in local action group Table 56. Degree of concerns related to BedZed Degree of concerns Frequency Percent Deeply concerned 2 6.5 Concerned 6 19.4 Only little concerned 4 12.9 Not at all 19 61.3 Total 31 100.0 Only 11 respondents (39%) out of 31 were concerned about the development. Among them 6.5 % were deeply concerned 19% were concerned and 12.9% were little concerned (Table 56). Their concerns were related to congested space, risk to children while crossing the busy London road and changed in the development plan earlier accepted by public. Among the total respondents 87% did not know what energy sources are used in the buildings whereas 13% did. Those who said they are familiar with the energy source mentioned the solar panel and biomass (Table 57). Table 57. Familiarity with energy source used in BedZed Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 4 12.9 No 27 87.1 Total 31 100 Table 58. Familiar with National Sustainability Award to LBS Familiar Frequency Percent Yes 2 6.5 No 29 93.5 Total 31 100 The LBS won the National Sustainability Award for the development of the BedZed but vast majorities (93.5%) of the respondents did not know that (Table 58). This also indicates that awareness is lacing in environmental issues.


To reply the question‟ what economic benefits the BedZed development will provide to the area, 80.6% of the respondents said „I don‟t know‟, 13 % said „employment‟ and remaining 6.5 percent said „housing facility‟ (Table 59). Table 59. Benefits from the BedZed project Benefits Frequency Percent Housing facility available 2 6.5 Employment 4 12.9 I don‟t know 25 80.6 Total 31 100.0 In case of potential positive and negative impacts of the development to the local area 19.4% respondents believe that the development will bring positive impacts through employment and other economic opportunities but equal proportion of them said it would bring negative impacts to environment. Again the vast majority (61%) said that they don‟t know any consequences of this development (Table 60). Table 60. Potential impacts of BedZed to local area Potential impacts Frequency Percent Positive-employment/economic 6 19.4 Negative-environmental 6 19.4 I don‟t know 19 61.3 Total 31 100.0 Though some people have opposed some aspects of the development (e.g., change in design or non-compliance to the promises made earlier, etc.), it seems quite important initiative to promote environmentally friendly urban housing. The initiative of the developers and Sutton council to develop the BedZED is a good example of effective use of renewable energy for future housing development. In the possibility of expanding the BedZed types of housing to wider scale, Pooran Deshai said, “subject to experience of operating b-9 technology at BedZed we would consider incorporating wood fired CHP into future zeds - particularly where we can promote the technology as a way to consume tree surgery waste or to use woodchip to support he management of local woodlands”. In answering the question what conditions are required to promote the BedZed like approach, he says, “committed and brave developer and receptive local authority”. To reveal the reason of not opting for the BedZed types of scheme by other boroughs he says, “ developers are not offering zed options to local authorities. Also many local authorities are not willing to accept the perceived risk associated with innovation such as with bedzed”. About their strategy to deal with public he quotes, “explanation of value to the environment and as a showcase of sustainable living, commitment to integrate bedzed into local community and provide some local community facilities”. 5. Major issues raised by public: a brief discussion Based on the information presented in the section four the following issues are identified as main public concerns in biomass power plant development: 1. Siting: Location of the plant, disposal of scrub water, growing of biomass crops, buffer zone and SSSI, close proximity to local residents, 2. Air quality and emission: emission of greenhouse gases, effect on grass, animals and plants, unpleasant odour, light emission at night, nuisance from traffic, vibration and noise from power plant, 3. Management of by-products of plants: handling and disposal of char and ash and their chemical and leaching effects,


4. Traffic: highway access and traffic movement, increases in HGV, peak traffic flow, increased pressure from construction traffic, SRC/straw/waste traffic, use of town trunk roads, accident, noise, etc., 5. Ecological effects: fear for negative impacts to rare species, wildlife and ecosystems, aquatic environment and local weather system, effects of dust residue (mainly while handling wood chips) to surrounding flora and fauna, 6. Landscape and agricultural change: visual effects of relative height of buildings chimney and other associated structures (for example, chimneys and other buildings taller than local cathedral). Continuity of planting grant for SRC and its market assurance after NFFO contracts, 7. Fear of potential use of other energy sources like waste after NFFO contract period, 8. Economic benefits: low benefits to local community compared to associated social and environment costs of the project, 9. Health hazard: Potential negative public health hazard due to emissions, 10. Effects on cultural heritage and archaeological significance. The approach of the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI) to promote renewable energy through NFFO and Renewable Obligations (RO) seems more attractive to bring investors. However, not yet sufficient efforts have been made to social dimensions such as awareness rising, communication and public participation to develop trust of public and win their supports in past. Though public opposition to renewable energy is increased not enough efforts have been made by the government and companies to minimise mistrust and conflict. The low level of understanding of the questionnaire survey respondents to renewable energy is a clear evidence of insufficient efforts of the government to make people aware in this issue. If people do not understand the relative importance of renewable energy development they equate such development with incinerator or simply focus on negative side. The survey result shows that those who have knowledge of renewable energy they are willing to promote it and even ready to pay more for it, but those who have lack of understanding of renewable energy they are not willing to promote and not ready to pay. This is obvious correlation. Therefore, in the long run public education and awareness is far important than anything else to promote renewable energy. Only financial grants is not sufficient condition (may be necessary) to promote biomass to energy. Some time difference of interests among local councils and the central governmental agencies have caused conflict in developing energy plant. For example, when North Wiltshire District Council included new renewable energy policy in its local plan in 1995 restricting development of big plants in countryside, ETSU, British Wind Energy Association and Forest Authority objected it (Hargreaves, 1996). There is also lack of co-ordinated planning on biomass to energy development. For example, NWDC has identified employment area for such development but developers did not prefer these areas. Planning Officer of the NWDC agrees that there is no effective co-ordinating mechanism to push such development in brown field area identified by local councils as employment area, which would have minimise public opposition. There is also clear lack of exchange of experiences among the developers. Some developers have applied innovative public relation strategy (e.g., EPR, First Renewable Ltd, etc) and getting success but such experiences are not shared widely. All five cases indicated that there is clear difference between local perception of likely negative effects and the technical assessment. Even if the plant is technically environmentally sound the negative perceptions of people create suspicion if there is no appropriate communication strategy to address such negative feelings. When local media amplify environmental and social risks then mistrust develops into conflict. Whenever public raise their concerns that have to be clarified promptly. Delaying to clarify these concerns cause further mistrusts and it has only minimal effect to change public attitude. Dissemination of proper information is vital to prevent such conflicts. For example, some local residents opposed the BedZed writing to London Borough of Sutton based on the wrong information


they obtained about the height of the buildings (they understood the proposed 3-story buildings as 4-story buildings). Therefore, proper information dissemination from the beginning and awareness rising to bridge the communication gaps are important options to minimise public opposition and to promote biomass to energy development. Creation of „local platforms for negotiation‟ is important especially to deal with public in such a relatively new development. The success story of Resident Liaison Group‟ in Ely proved that platform for negotiation is crucial to win public support. The Ely Resident Liaison Group‟ is surprisingly successful to rebuild public trust. Collaboration with local environmental groups and NGOs, resident committees, parish councils seem quite helpful to develop trust. It is also noticed that public value much to the opinions of professional and specialists working in local areas. For example, in Newbridge, opinion of doctors about the potential risk of asthma to children and old people was crucial to develop mistrust towards the developers. Likewise, environmental specialists, pollution specialists influence public opinion especially if they express negative feelings towards the development. For example, the opinion of expert on potential road safety hazard from the water vapour in the Criclkade case made public more strong in their protest. This suggests that collaboration with local professionals to promote awareness will help developers to convince public and win their support. Concerns of environmental pressure groups/local action committees come from their value and belief system and, if any external development intervention is posing threats to their values and expectation, then it develops mistrust. When they develop negative belief about the proposed development, they bring sensitive issues in the debate that makes their arguments more strong and problem much complicated. For example, height of the building similar to the cathedral in town, negative effects of plant to children, etc., which places developers in wrong position. The ways to minimise such mistrust is to adapt interactive dialogues among the involved actors. Interactive dialogue helps to develop accountability of public towards any development interventions. It is observed that the degree of attentions given by the developers and companies to the environmental and social issues are relatively less. Gaining planning permission is being difficult because of their insufficient focus on interactive dialogue and less attention to public opinion. This situation is ultimately causing frustration among developers (William and Limbrick, 1995). The Newbridge case clearly indicated that public opposition on siting causes considerable delay in getting approval of planning application. It is even worse if developers have to appeal for public inquiry. At the end, delay in obtaining planning permission and other associated costs could be more than the cost required to facilitate interactive planning process engaging local people through appropriate platforms. Biomass to energy development mainly relies on SRC plants grown by individual farmers. The willingness of farmers to participate in SRC plantation depends upon the persuasive communication strategy, market condition and perception of farmers towards biomass energy. Visual impact was one of the most frequently referred reasons of public opposition. Architectural design acceptable to the public greatly helps to win public support and minimise the opposition related to visual impacts. Often several questions were raised on information contained in the environmental statements. Therefore, following a democratic process to formulate detail and properly categorised environmental statement involving members of local community, third party verification in some important issues raised by public and greater degree of transparency of planning process help to minimise public resistance. Public opinion very much influences the action and decision of most of the politicians. People have faith to development if they are involved to design it. Crucial issues in promotion of renewable energy relate to how risks, both perceived and real, are communicated and managed by the concerned authorities and how concerned public internalise these risks in relation to renewable energy (Löfstedt, 1997; Stern, 1991). The


important concern in biomass energy development is to build trust. Trust building is basically based on the relationship between local politicians, decision-makers, concerned public and industries. Developers are frustrated with the considerable opposition from the public, which caused wastage of their time and resources. They want more speedy process of planning permission. Considering the national needs to have a modern infrastructure in the country the government is setting new parliamentary procedures for processing major infrastructure projects where a package of measures is outlined to speed up planning decisions of major infrastructure projects in order to minimise delays and uncertainties (DTLR, 2001). 6. Some lessons for future directions 1. The BedZed case clearly indicated that one of the important strategies to promote biomass energy is to incorporate CHP in housing development. Public opposition is found relatively less in such development. 2. Use participatory methodology in planning phase of biomass development projects: Promote public interaction to develop public understanding of biomass to energy and establish scientific confidence that biomass energy plant can be operated with minimum negative effects and more positive impacts to local environment and society. Lack of knowledge is seen to be one of the fundamental causes of resistance. 3. Case studies clearly indicated that perceived risks from biomass energy plants by the local people are higher than the perceived benefits. Most of these risks are remarkably different from the opinion of biomass power plant developers. Local people conceptualise risks not on the basis of standard scientific information/data but by subjective criteria such as use of unfamiliar technologies, potential of great consequence when and if failure, environmental hazards, nuisance in landscape, non-realisation of need of development, etc. The ways to deal with such perception is to adapt transparent and deliberate strategy discuss matters with public from the very beginning. Such deliberate local participation process may be relatively costly and time consuming at short run. However, it helps to develop public support to obtain planning permission, which will be far cheaper in the long run than to waste time, resources and bear hurdles from likely rejection of planning permission because of public opposition. 4. It is revealed that those who concern environment and are familiar with renewable energy they are willing to promote biomass energy. They suggest that it should be sited in brown field and employment areas identified by local councils. If the siting is inappropriate the opposition is strong. This phenomenal opposition syndrome becomes less if the development site is placed appropriately. Familiarity is another important issue. Once local people become familiar with power plant when it comes in operation (e.g., EPR) local people support it because the perceived fears are gone. 5. In addition to use criteria for economic and technical optimisation, developers need to go to open decision making and more responsive to public concerns. 6. Prepare a baseline of various potential sites within the frameworks of the Local Agenda 21 and Regional Planning considering the following spatial, economic, environmental and social issues that would help to promote renewable energy and minimise public opposition:  Economically deprived area or employment areas identified by local councils,  Available infrastructures (transportation and grid networks)  Potentials for the secure fuel supply,  Not close to cultural heritages, natural reserves and ecologically sensitive areas  Marginal environmental impacts  Identify the sites with minimal number of population (and households) likely to be affected by the development


Identify the sites where there are already existed environmentally dirty plants (e.g., coal burning plant) 7. Scale is important issue in biomass plant development. If the size of the plant is small there is less likely to be strong public opposition. If the plant is of CHP type there will be less resistance as it provides local direct benefit 8. Because of opposition and counter opposition all major parties involve in the biomass development process loss something which could be avoided by different approach. Oppositions feel disregarded, invest considerable time and efforts to oppose, councils loss the opportunity to promote renewable energy through biomass as envisioned by the government and developers loss money, efforts and time. So, to avoid such losses a more democratic, transparent and participatory process from the beginning is essential. 7. Conclusion: Obtaining planning permission is seen as one of the major difficulties in promoting biomass energy (ETSU/DTI, 2001). To achieve the government‟s renewable target among others effective communication and building public trusts are crucial. Interactive decision making among the major actors in the UK‟s renewable energy sector like industries/developers, environmental concern groups, local government and concerned public is important to realise this objective. When local communities appreciate development of biomass energy in their area and accept the local consequences success of such development is more anticipated. Awareness rising and interactive discussion helps to win the public acceptance. The rejection of the planning permission in Cricklade was mainly as a result of strong public opposition. Different stakeholders involved in the biomass energy development interpret it differently. Development interpret it is an open process advantageous to all and direct contribution to the government to meet its renewable energy target and the public interpret it as close and basically economically motivated development. These interpretations are somehow promoting misunderstanding. Developers interpret the opposition is simply a typical NIMBY behaviour and public interpret developers focus on particular site as rigid TINA (there is no alternative) attitude. It is observed that there is a difference between local perception of the risks associated with development of biomass and the technical assessment and the perception of developers. Though, by and large, public acknowledge the negative environmental effects of conventional power generation, they much more concern on the immediate negative effects of development of biomass power plants in their area. All cases demonstrated that while local people support idea of producing energy from renewable sources, they want assurance about emissions, pollution, noise, traffic congestion, and other adverse effects. Opponents usually use sensitive issues (e.g. largest and important public building of the locality like cathedral as a visual icon to attract people‟s concerns and memory. Once local people organise through „action group‟ to oppose the proposed development they effectively convince local residents and it becomes difficult to win their trust. Action group generally explores all weakness or options to keep the developers wrong-footed. The action of BLOT was a clear example how effectively they were organised to oppose the plant. Lobbyists and members of action groups are generally having strong conviction, energy, professionalism and therefore make case more effective and logical. They use powerful images (e.g., health risks to children, height of the cathedral, etc.) and therefore individuals believe. It is also found that local action groups use enormous time and efforts in achieving their objective and for that they obtain experts‟ advice and administrative inputs free of cost most of the time. Similarly, most of the time they do not verify or justify their claim. Furthermore, defensive, reactive response of the developers or negligence of the issues raised by opponents makes them more negative and erodes public trusts (Hargreaves, 1996). In most of the cases failure of wining public support is due to strategic choice of developers to use top-down communication approach. Top-down approach is mainly based on the formal channels to disseminate message to win public support instead to opt for reciprocal or



dialogue risk communication approach (Löfstedt, 1999). If the persuasive approach were used in communicating with local environmental groups and lobbyists it would be more effective to develop trusts among general public. Another lacking part of the strategy of developers is that they mainly focus on technical data and information and not made through assessment of the public perception site in terms of disseminating information, consulting them and clarifying confusions. If public perceive some thing negatively and disseminate to other people it soon establish in people‟s mind and it takes quite much time and efforts to overcome it later (Renn and Levine, 1991). References BedZed, 2001. DTI, 2000. New and Renewable Energy: Prospects for the 21st Century. The Renewable Obligation Preliminary Consultation. London: DTI. DTLR (Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions), 2001. New Parliamentary Procedures for processing Major Infrastructure Projects. London: DETR. ETSU, 2001. Summary, Final Report. Renewable Energy Assessment and targets for the SouthWest. Terence O‟ Roacke Plc and ETSU. ETSU/DTI, 2001. Development and Delivery of A Workshop methodology: Planning for Biomass Power Plant Projects: London. European Commission, 2000. The TRUSTNET Framework: A new Perspective in Risk Governance. Brussels: European Commission. Hargreaves, D. 1996. An Investigation into Risk Communication Issues Surrounding A Proposal to Site a 20 MW Straw-Burning Electricity Generating Plat at Calne, Wiltshire in 1994. MSc Thesis. University of Surrey. Jackson, T. and Löfstedt, R. 1998. Renewable Energy Sources: A Background Paper for the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Guildford: Centre for Environmental Strategy. Löfstedt, R. 1999. The Role of Trust in the North Blackforest: An Evaluation of a Citizen Panel Project. Risk: Health, Safety and Environment 10(7), …. Löfstedt, R. 1997. Evaluation of Siting Strategy: The Case of Two UK Waste Tire Incinerators Risk: Health, Safety and Environment 8(63), 63-77. Löfstedt, R. 1996. Risk Communication: The Barsebäck Nuclear Plant Case. Energy Policy 24 (8), 689-696. Linnerooth-Bayer, J., Lögstedt, R. and Sjödtedt, G. 2001 Management. London: Earhtscan Publications Ltd. (Eds.). Transboundary Risk

MAFF, 2000. NATTA, 1999. Renew, 120, July-August. National Farmers Union, 2000. NFU Briefing, 14 March 2000.


Renn, O. and Levine, D. 1991 Credibility and Trust in Risk Communication (Chapter 9). In: Kasperson, R. E. and Stallen, P.J. (eds.) Communicating Risk to the Public-International Perspective. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers Sinclair, P. 1998. Social Capital and Trust in Planning a Biomass Plant. Guildford: University of Surrey. Stern, P. C. 1991. Learning through Conflict: A Realistic Strategy for Risk Communication. Policy Science 24, 99-119. Williams, N. C. and Limbrick, A. J. 1995. A Scoping Study to Review Obstacles to the Growth of UK Renewable Energy Industry. Report for Association of Electricity Producers.