Rampisham Down: British Solar Renewables have a digital spring clean

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With only a little over 4 months to go before the Rampisham Down Public Inquiry gets underway, British Solar Renewables has been having a digital clear out, getting rid of information that might not put it in the best light at the Inquiry. The public relations/spin website they created at http://www.rampishamdown.com has been taken down and its predecessor http://www.communityheatandpower.com has also been wiped. And the twitter account @CH&PLtd has been taken off line.

For those who are  worried that there will be no information online about the proposed solar farm at Rampisham – fear not! I will be keeping all my posts about Rampisham online and available free for anyone who wants to read them.

BSR, working through their front organisation Community Heat and Power, had put all sorts of propaganda out about the Rampisham Down Solar Farm. They had also promised to publish reports on the “experiment” they are conducting into the effects of shading by solar panels on nationally important wildlife-rich grasslands at Rampisham. It was then reported in the press that a groundbreaking report had been published showing that the panels would do no damage. I asked BSR and CHP for the report but received no reply. I spent days searching for the report online without any luck. If the report was ever published, I’d like to know who received copies. Publication usually means that a report is available to the public (there’s a clue in the name).

Subsequently a notice went up on the Rampishamdown website stating

“We’ve had a number of enquiries from individuals asking for the survey reports; as stated on our project website, reports are only released to the project working party. Whilst we have in the past released interim results to the public, due to the nature of the Public Inquiry we are unable to publish any data until the inquiry is over.”

To which I say large steaming piles of male-cattle ordure.

One thing I do know about Public Inquiries is that any information presented to the Inspector has to have been made available to all parties with an interest in the Inquiry, including your opponents – well in advance of the Inquiry.. Otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a Public Inquiry (there’s a clue in that name too.)

One of the more embarrassing aspects of the tripe that has been emanating from BSR and their minions are the outbursts from Hannah Lovegrove. Lovegrove is a yoga teacher and one would think that as such she would be a calm, collected individual who would think carefully before writing in public places, especially with a Public Inquiry coming up. As I have mentioned previously, she is the partner of BSR Director Giles Frampton and was, until a couple of weeks ago, also a Director of BSR front, Community Heat and Power.

Lovegrove wrote some truly bizarre attacks on Dorset Wildlife Trust in particular, on the CHP website. These have now been taken down from their website, but fortunately they are still available elsewhere – you can read them on http://www.dorseteye.com here and here.

Here’s one of Lovegrove’s most bizarre claims – that photos taken by Natural England during the notification of Rampisham are fakes!

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BSR is currently applying for another Solar Farm at Rampisham – but it’s across the road on farmland adjacent to their own land, and crucially it’s not on the SSSI. Recently they have reduced the size of this farm from its original 15.5MW to only 5 MW, compared with the planned 25MW array on Rampisham Down.  It’s difficult to know exactly what they are up to. If they had withdrawn the Rampisham proposal and just gone ahead with the 15 MW farm across the road, I think they probably would have got it through (though it is still in the AONB so there is the visual impact to consider, as well as the impact on the setting of a nearby Scheduled Ancient Monument.)

It’s possible that they think they can win the Inquiry, and if they got permission for a 5MW farm across the road now, they could then resubmit the 15MW proposal and end up with a massive 40MW farm on both sides of the road.

Whatever they are planning, it’s clear that BSR is preparing the ground and we can expect a full PR onslaught in the lead up to the Inquiry.

 

 

 

 

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About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in British Solar Renewables, community heat and power, Rampisham Down, renewable energy, Solar Farms and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Rampisham Down: British Solar Renewables have a digital spring clean

  1. John Kay says:

    “male-cattle ordure”

    Rocking horse dung is acceptably gender-neutral

  2. Sue says:

    I’m not sure what to think about this. I am supposed to be in favour of renewables (saving the planet and all that) but now the renewable company is the bad guy. It certainly doesn’t help if they spread muck to support their case but why do they have to? Obviously I haven’t got all the facts at my fingertips but perhaps you could explain to me simply why this proposal is so bad. Thanks.

    • Miles King says:

      thanks Sue. The proposal is to build a solar farm on an area of grassland which is very rich in wildlife. The grassland is so important for wildlife that it is protected by law. The solar farm developers claim that covering the grassland with solar panels will do it no harm. They have no evidence to support this claim. I have written many times about the case – if you do a search for Rampisham you will find my other posts.

    • David Lovelace says:

      The recent death of physicist David Mackay from cancer deprives the public debate over renewable energy of one of few rational thinkers on the subject whose online publication Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air https://www.withouthotair.com/ cuts through the willful ignorance and naïve emotion that the subject attracts. It requires only ‘O’ level physics and simple arithmetic to show that at UK latitudes subsidised solar energy generation is a drop in the ocean and may well increase GHG emissions by (a) diverting funds from energy conservation and (b) decreasing the efficiency of base load power stations due to its intermittency (there remains no realistic prospect of storing electrical energy in meaningful amounts). People who support terrestrial wind and solar power as a national solution to GHG emissions are either ignorant of basic physics or are recipients of public money (sometimes both). Using up any land on a high latitude densely populated country for solar farms at public expense is pure human folly. To place such installation on the rarest and most fragile of all habitats – species rich grassland, and one is statutorily protected is, well.. polite words fail me.

      • Sue Redshaw says:

        Thank you, David. Like all these issues – nothing is straightforward.

      • David Lovelace says:

        To Sue: Maybe, but this issue is more surely straightforward than most. Carpeting a rare surviving habitat, whose damage or destruction would be irreversible, with solar panels to receive a public subsidy that serves only as a political green fig-leaf and whose effect to make fuel more expensive for the mainly urban poor is straightforwardly the wrong thing to do.

  3. Pingback: Rampisham Down Saved? | a new nature blog

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