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10,000,000 Miles in a Nissan Leaf?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Always more difficult to apply than thought
Doesn't cover as well as thought
Never lasts as long as thought
Needs continual re-application
Always results in personal staining
Of who gets stained only time will tell...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Hydro Beats Windmills - Again...

More observations...  just spotted that yet again - the miniscule installed base of hydro electricity has produced more power when it's actually needed than all the windmills:

Which makes it all the more exasperating that the generation of hydro electricity at Avoncliff is still stalled by the antics of the Environment Agency. If you're curious you can see what the present state of electricity generation in the UK is right this minute on the power dashboard for the country at http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/  which is where we grabbed this graph.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

According to DECC there's no Hydro Project at Avoncliff

Just an observation - the on-line DECC Renewable Energy mapping (data courtesy of The Environment Agency one has to assume) at http://restats.decc.gov.uk/app/pub/map/map/  shows no hydro project at either Avoncliff or Kingston Mills in Bradford on Avon.

The Freshford scheme at Farthingham weir is in there though...

Avoncliff invisible then?  Now why might this be? I'm sure it's just a simple oversight.

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Story Part 1 and some Juicy FoI

OK ... here we go - we will be putting up a series of posts covering the timeline of the North Mill project and fusing what we knew at any particular time with what we now know was going on inside the Environment Agency, supported by original documents from our archives including Freedom of Information disclosures from The Environment Agency. The names of all the players will NOT be redacted.   For the curious ... who want to jump ahead a bit perhaps  - we've put a batch of scans on the main web server.  We'll give our own interpretation of what the FoI docs show - but visitors are welcome to speculate in the comments (erm... within reason).

There we were - in September 2009 looking at a comprehensive refurbishment of a water mill building that had been derelict for 35+ years. We had discussed the hydro electricity aspects of the project and done our own research and decided that rather than "DIY it" - we would engage a specialist, experienced project agent with a track record and of known good standing and use equipment of proven performance from established manufacturers.

One of our agent's first actions was to ask The Environment Agency if there were any other schemes nearby.....
So...  no other schemes at the statutory licence stage then...

Monday, 3 December 2012

We tried... honestly.

We didn't want to prejudice or poison the process and for three years we've essentially kept "mum" about the actual details of the to-ing and fro-ing of things between us and the EA hoping to resolve things - it seems that approach was doomed...

Trouble is, the EA don't appear to want to modify the way they discharge their statutory duties - which in essence seems to be arbitrarily "our way or no way" regardless of their clear statutory duty - and to reinforce that approach with a haughtily delivered blizzard of distortions, misdirections, procedural deviations coupled to a persistent stubborn refusal to communicate what is actually going on - an appetite for threatening language is in there too.

We wrote to Dr Paul Leinster over a month ago (advising that we would publish the letter if no attempt was made to address our concerns)

and the subsequent 

 Dr. Leinster's reply (opens in Google viewer) 

as you can see - simply ignores the issues we raised in our letter of complaint.

We've asked what's going on with the latest round of licence determinations (which are going to fail - that much is clear) and the EA have refused point blank to communicate with us and have stuck a £37,500 price tag on supplying information via Freedom of Information and demanded that the applicants at Avoncliff supply an extraordinary and unprecedented range of information to them - some of which can't be honestly supplied without access to a functional crystal ball and much of which is intrusive and irrelevant to the determination of a water licence.

Given what we know of previous EA intrigue and scheming - it's clear that the information demanded (non supply of which "could be detrimental to your application") is a bit like the besiegers demanding to know of the besieged "how many bullets do you have left?"

Our present pile of Environment Agency supplied Freedom of Information Responses

Friday, 26 October 2012

What Does "Without Further Delay" Mean?

After all the toxic EA behaviour that characterised the first water licence determination at Avoncliff we hoped that the organisation would abide by the terms of the High Court Consent Order that all parties agreed to on the 9th February 2012 and that a professional approach to discharging their statutory obligations would be adopted by the EA.

Unfortunately professional approach and statutory obligation appear to be alien concepts to certain individuals at the EA.

The Consent Order  contains an undertaking from the Environment Agency "to consider the two competing applications on their merits in accordance with the approach outlined above, in order to determine what is in the public interest and to do so without further delay" (underline mine)

We weren't aware at the time of the Judicial Review that our licence had been approved by determining officials but blocked and hidden by certain other officials... but anyway -  we agreed to a competitive determination on the merits of the schemes.

So... to the present process....

The Environment Agency must have a pretty elastic interpretation of what constitutes "without further delay" -

It is now 261 days since the EA signed the Consent Order (the Consent Order was enacted / given force of law by a Judges' signature 198 days ago)

The statutory window is 120 days beyond which non-determination appeals to The Planning Inspectorate apply (Extensions only by agreement with applicant - in this case there have been no such agreements this time around)

It is likely that the provisions of The Penfold Review imposes a 13 week (91 days) guillotine on statutory determination undertaken by the EA also apples in this case.

The High Court mandated re-determination of water licences at Avoncliff is clearly being messed with by the EA as two applications have been submitted and NOT DETERMINED and now, the EA are asking the parties at Avioncliff to re-apply again.

Bear in mind here that North Mill and Weavers's Mill have already been subjected to two rounds of licence applications each and the EA have accepted those applications and not determined them  - and they have now asked Weaver's Mill to submit yet another application for full process (Adverttising, Public Consultation and subsequent determination = 6 months ++)  North Mill's full licences have already been advertised, been though public scrutiny, have been determined and peer checked and are ready to go.

We have to say it again - what is going on ?

What are officials at the EA playing at ? In our opinion they are not working in the public interest, or adhering to their statutory duty and wasting piles of public money.

Are they repeatedly going around a loop in the hope that one time they'll get the answer that they have been trying to illegally impose from the start?

We've asked about what's going on - but the answer has a  £37,500  price ticket dangling from it - and from previous experience it'll take 18 months and considerable effort to winch the truth (or a version of same) out of the officials who are busy perverting this whole process - although our agent will be happy to bill the EA again......

What's actually pretty exasperating is that the EA have claimed and asserted that they aren't bound by the provisions of the High Court Consent Order -  All we can say is blimey!

In all quite a mess... and not, it has to be said - improving with the passage of time.

Why don't they want to give us our full licence? 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sometimes you do wonder what people are thinking...

"Team EA" truly excelled themselves today.

Today, the Avoncliff hydro power applicants received an EA missive containing dozens of demands for a very diverse assortment of information some of which is straight out of  la-la land and much could very easily be considered inappropriate,  overly intrusive or simply pointless. According to a straw poll of hydro power project agents conducted by telephone - the list of questions is utterly unprecedented. We keep saying this - but really - what is going on?

A sample :

EA Question:
"Exactly how profitable will the scheme be over the next five years"?

It depends how much it rains
(sorry for the shouting - but really...)

Let me remind the Environment Agency about rain:

 "The Drought could last until Christmas" © Environment Agency / BBC April 2012

Through March and April of this year I think we all remember the scare stories about drought doom etc... "unless it rains" (™Environment Agency 2012). 

sometimes.... the question explains more than the answer.  
The EA profess expertise in hydro power ?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Guinness World Records

The Environment Agency have transparently fouled up their second try at determining the water licence*(1) at Avoncliff  and again they have hugely exceeded the statutory time limit for doing their job.... and... when we asked them what was going on - The EA have asked for £37,500 to fulfil their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act  - which it has to be said is couched in some truly classic "Yes Minister" language

Bear in mind that the EA have some history here and we previously paid £1000 to have pivotal legal information hidden from us and were lied to for 18 months before the EA were carpeted by the Information Commissioner and our FoI fee was refunded.... and the sordid, unacceptable truth came out.

We are entering The Environment Agency into a number of new categories over at The Guinness World Records. (Officially Amazing) - That is - f they actually accept our applications for several new categories of records... 

Does The Environment Agency have something to hide related to water licences at Avoncliff?

We have a request for £37,500 that shouts - abso-lutely!

Sir Humphrey Appleby would be positively beaming with pride

(1)  According to the Judicial Review Consent Order there is only one scheme viable at Avoncliff -  the EA signed up to be bound by this but they are now soliciting what looks likely too be 4 or more licences - really - what is going on?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Séance at Avoncliff?

The owners of North Mill Avoncliff are considering holding a  séance to contact the spirit of Australian TV and newspaper owner Kerry Packer...

We can't endorse all the lifestyle choices Mr Packer made but we certainly have considerable sympathy with his philosophy and observations on government as expounded by the man himself when dragged in front of a panel of Aussie bureaucrats.

Watch as the youngish guy in the middle of the panel grins helplessly as his colleagues dig themselves ever deeper....

Got a tad more than they bargained for it would seem....  he's probably given God's croupiers a hard time too.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Well, here we are - now in sight is the third anniversary of North Mill Avoncliff's application for abstraction and impoundment licences from The Environment Agency - we've endured two rounds of determination and still... no electricity being generated at Avoncliff - in fact, thanks to the EA, it seems as far away as ever...

The Environment Agency has wilfully burnt its way through well in excess of  £500,000, lost a case at the High Court where it admitted to acting illegally, dissembled and delayed and certain officials have clearly conspired to pervert proper process taking place. All over a licence that costs £150 and is a stepping stone to local authority planning permission - which hasn't even started yet....

The hubris and flagrant disregard for statutory duty displayed by these civil servants has been truly epic.

That to date no persons have been held to account over the toxic mess of irrational, arbitrary and perverse activities perpetrated by the EA at Avoncliff is a true indictment of our increasingly dysfunctional public institutions. That no environmental pressure group has even squeaked about the EA messing up make it clear that he who pays the piper calls the tune principle is in operation. 

In the meantime the EA have messed up the second round of determination and are busying themselves with what they seem to do best:

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Hydro Power in Bradford on Avon  - something's not right.

n.b. I am not Millbuilder or Northmill 

Given the name of the town and being home to one of the UK's most lavishly publicly funded provincial eco-activism groups -  I think not unreasonably - that a considerable fuss would have been made over the utterly miserable botching of licences for the two prominent water power developments in the town  - not so for some reason it seems....

There's something odd going on with hydro power schemes in Bradford on Avon.  Two stories in the Wiltshire Times archive about the Kingston Mills turbine have been deliberately removed - as in deleted (Their ghost lurks in Google). 


Could it be that this scheme received similarly expert attention to that endured at North Mill from our friends at The Environment Agency?  Then... there's that project in Warwickshire which will be subject of another post at Old North Mill.

Part of the Environment Agency's remit / duty in the statutory licence process is to ascertain if a scheme is do-able prior to issuing an abstraction or impoundment licence. This includes legally adequate access provision for construction equipment, maintenance and inspection. 

Anyway - in all - odd ... very odd.....

Maybe we'll ask Linden Homes and  Dr.Rupert Gabriel what the score is with Kingston Mills

Thursday, 14 June 2012

After quite a long pause the blog is now open again and   the web site is "lit up".

This first post is about the Consent Order produced by the Administrative Division of The High Court on the 9th February 2012 (Issued 11th April) regarding the quashing of an abstraction licence unlawfully awarded to Weaver's Mill by the Environment Agency - where the Environment Agency  lost and were subjected to all costs.

We are not allowed to disclose the costs to the public purse in the Judicial Review - so please, don't ask us.

Our understanding (and our lawyers...) of the terms of the Consent Order which all parties signed - is that there is only a single scheme viable at Avoncliff and the awarding of this abstraction licence this time will be judged solely on the merits of the applying schemes.

We'd ask that you pop over to the web site and look at both the Judges comments at the permission hearing for Judicial Review and the Consent Order which resulted from the EA's admission that they acted unlawfully.

There's a bunch of stuff that will be going up on the web site as we go forwards. Please remember there are things we can't talk about for legal reasons.

We have turned moderation on - so sorry, there'll be a delay before your comment is approved. If everybody behaves themselves (and we don't mean you have to agree with us) we'll fully open stuff up.

Thanks in advance for your patience.

Going to see Duncan Hames MP tomorrow  (Duncan's "previous" with the EA)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Matters Concerning The Environment Agency have reached the point where we will be bringing the entire story online with full supporting evidence. The Blog will be re-opened for comments

Monday, 13 February 2012

The situation at the moment is very sensitive in a few areas and particularly the legal side of things - so, much as we'd like to have a truly open forum here, we have - with regret - decided to suspend all comments for a while. We will be back - and you will be welcome to comment again.

We apologise to all the readers and and particularly the commenters who've visited the North Mill Avoncliff blog since we started it in September 2010. We are astounded that we've had a smidge under 5000 views to date and we take keeping all you interested folk updated seriously. btw - your comments have not been deleted.

We hope to provide you all with plenty to comment on too.......  In the meantime we will say as much as we sensibly can both here and on Twitter.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Something new - some video actually in the blog - and surprise!  it's a video from The Environment Agency and  it concerns - you guessed ...  The Queen's hydro scheme at  Romney Weir, Windsor.

Some lack of imagination in the sound track :-)   Wagner? The Ride of the Valkyries?  geddoutahere....!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

While the situation at Avoncliff rumbles forward other people are getting their turbines going and doing their bit to keep the lights on.

We understand that the new Archimedes screw turbine at Iford just up the road from Avoncliff has now been commissioned (December 2011) and is operating rather well. We hope to treat you to some pictures and video here in a while.

We keep going on about it - but the Queen's turbine at Windsor is moving along nicely too.(video)

That the Environment Agency is making such an unholy mess of issuing permits to hydropower schemes is truly scandalous. The turbine at North Mill would have been operating for almost a year by now if they hadn't mishandled the applications so appallingly at Avoncliff.