Hydrological Review

The statement by the developer, BSR (during the 2020 online public consultation) that the site was: “not too impacted by flooding or visual impact” has proved to be misleading.


Full Planning Application North Dairy Farm Solar P/FUL/2021/01018

Save Hardy’s Vale Summary Response to Hydro-gis Review

Image – Temporary Maintenance Compound flooded.

A. Overview of Findings
B. Background
C. Key points in the Hydro-gis Ltd Review
D. Annex 1. The EA Upper Lydden River catchment area.
E. Annex 2. The EA Wonston Brook catchment area.

A. Overview of Findings

1. The Flood Risk Assessment1 (FRA), undertaken by RMA Environmental, represents an initial desk-based study that is lacking in detail and has no results of site investigations. The background information is limited, no predicted flood levels have been identified, and the assessment of risk from the development is based purely on the findings of a study in North America, which is not appropriate for the local conditions at the site.

2. Estimates of greenfield surface runoff are based on an outdated method that is
conceptually and mathematically wrong, and the results of drainage design software are not properly discussed and remain highly questionable. A revised FRA should be requested by the Local Authority, to include estimates of the design flood levels at the site based on detailed hydrological and hydrodynamic modelling, proper estimates of greenfield surface runoff, using the ReFH2 software in accordance with SUDS guidelines, and field measurements of soil infiltration rates, and the seasonal high groundwater. A detailed design of any drainage features should also be included.

B. Background

3. The statement by BSR (during the 2020 online consultation) that the site was: “not too impacted by flooding or visual impact” has proved to be misleading.

4. We suggest it is common ground that the area floods. However, it is the cause, source, nature and intensity of the flooding which is significant in this case i.e., “unpredictable rapid discharge and flash flooding” primarily from the high escarpments overlooking the Blackmore Vale, flowing north, northeast and north-west along the EA catchment areas of the Upper Lydden and Wonston Brook, and their tributaries.3 It is important to note that the multiplicity of waterways flowing from the two main catchments(39.476 km2) focus towards, closely surround and impinge on the proposed site, before flowing into the River Lydden, some 500 m from the site’s northern tip, and then to the Stour.

5. The Applicant’s FRA is inadequate in a number of significant ways. It suggested (up until September 2021) that sustainable drainage would not even be needed for the PV panelled areas of the site.

6. Environment Agency (EA) flood maps only ‘approximate’ the flood extents. There is evidence that the maps underestimate the extent of Flood Zones 2 and 3 (e.g., 2021 image of the ’lake’ where the proposed Maintenance Compound is to be located).

7. Approximately 96% of the proposed site is saturated for around 199 days a year.

8. The Applicant’s FRA identifies a ‘risk to life’ from flooding at the site entrance.

9. There are many reports, of the site and offsite flooding, contained in the Letters of Representation, and in evidence sent to the Council by local residents, and the SHV group.

C. Key points in the Hydro-gis Ltd Review

10. Infiltration based Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are unlikely to be effective in managing or reducing surface runoff or downstream flooding, due to low infiltration rates on the proposed site.

11. A full hydrological assessment, including ground surveys, will be needed before alternative (effective) SuDS can be properly considered.

12. The EA mapping does not predict the flood levels along the waterways and should only be used to indicate whether a more detailed study should be undertaken.

13. Historical high rainfall data is available and is presented in the Hydrology Review.

14. The two catchments which focus around the proposed site are fed by exceptionally high average rainfall onto the high escarpments at yearly averages of 1000 – 1400mm – which have 50% runoff.

15. The frequency and intensity of exceptional levels of rainfall caused by climate change are already evident, and predicted to significantly increase.

16. The Stour can be used as a surrogate for recent historical flooding in the area.

17. More detailed hydrological and hydrodynamic modelling would be required to provide estimates of flood flows and levels at the proposed site.

18. Flow over the land at the site will be affected by the soil type and the state of
antecedent wetness. The Applicant’s Agricultural Land Classification indicates 199 days of saturated ground per year.

19. Part of the site following the tributary stream (Short Wood Brook) has the potential for groundwater flooding to occur at the surface.

20. Information in the FRA about the topography, geology and hydrology of the site is limited.

21. It is impossible to identify the overall landscape features, and there are no maps
showing the geology or hydrogeology. No information at all is given on the soils of the site and surrounding area.

22. No discussion on the catchment, water balance and flow regime.

23. It appears the FRA consultants have undertaken a purely desk-based exercise. There are no ground investigations findings for the site.

24. It is normally expected that recommendations for surface water management are supported by infiltration tests, trial pits and shallow boreholes.

25. The information relating to flood risk appears to be entirely based on the EA Flood Maps at the site, and on information listed in the LA’s Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. No other sources have been considered, as would be expected given that extreme rainfall and flash flooding have been frequently observed in the past.

26. Given the size and nature of the development it would be expected that proper design flood levels are provided.

27. EA’s general flood zone maps have a vertical resolution to the nearest 0.5m and are therefore too coarse for any site-specific assessment.

28. The RMA FRA is lacking recommendations for any measures which should be
implemented during the construction phase of the development and fails to discuss any of the potential impacts of the construction process.

29. The discussion of the risk of flooding from the operational site is limited to reference to a scientific paper by Cook and McCuen (2013). The hydrological regime for Dorset is entirely different. Soils are often saturated (54% of the year), have a greater propensity for generating surface runoff and, the UK has experienced record winter rainfalls over prolonged periods, such as December 2013–February 2014 and in February 2020. It is therefore highly uncertain to base the whole assumption, that solar panels would pose no increase in the risk of surface water flooding on one inappropriate study.

30. A study should be undertaken to properly assess both the impact of the solar panels on the amount of surface runoff through concentrating the rainfall and the impact of soil erosion.

31. The FRA attempts an estimate of the greenfield surface runoff from parts of the site, based on the old IH 124 methodology (Marshall and Bayliss, 1993) which is an entirely inappropriate and outdated method. It is conceptually and mathematically wrong, makes use of inaccurate paper maps, look-up tables rainfall data from the 1970s, and does not incorporate any of the climate change signals which have been apparent over the past 50 years. It has been shown to produce considerable underestimates of the true surface runoff from a plot.

32. The current SUDS guidelines (Woods Ballard et al, 2015) state that the IH 124 method should not be used, and recommend the ReFH2 software (Wallingford Hydro Solutions, 2016) as the standard method for estimating greenfield surface runoff at the plot scale, and for a proper surface water management plan.

33. There is considerable uncertainty in the RMA FRA about the use of infiltration as a measure to attenuate any surface water from new areas of impermeable surfaces at the site. It is unlikely that infiltration would be appropriate, as the soils would either not have a high enough infiltration rate, or the seasonal high water table would be within 1m of the surface, and therefore infiltration features would not properly function.

D. The Upper Lydden Catchment area is approximately 24.463 km2 and length 10.04 km. The heavy blue dashed line to the south represents the high rainfall areas of the Downs and High Escarpments (1000 – 1400 mm pa – with 50% runoff) The light dashed arrows indicate that both the Upper Lydden (yellow) and the Wonston Brook (to the right) focus their catchment flows, and runoff, around the proposed North Dairy Farm site.

E. Wonston Brook Catchment Area is approximately 15.013 km2 and Length 10.366 km As Image D. indicates, both the Upper Lydden (left) and Wonston Brook (centre) focus their catchment flows and runoff around the proposed North Dairy Farm site.

Environment Agency – CDE – Wonston Brook (data.gov.uk)

Climate change and the ecological emergency

Nature recovery in Dorset

Philip Hygate, Chair, National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said:

“We are proud to unite for nature shoulder to shoulder with so many other protected landscape organisations throughout the world. Protected landscapes are at the sharp end of climate change and nature loss and are seeing its effects already.”

During COP26, Dorset AONB Countryside Officer Ian Rees presented the work of the West Dorset Landscape Enhancement Initiative to a Green, Fair Future seminar hosted by Ofgem  (see Ian’s presentation at 40 mins in). Ian outlined that the 3-year project supported by the National Grid has restored 14ha meadows and 2km of hedgerows, planted 129 hedgerow oaks and created 9 ponds, all helping nature recover and connect.

Responding to climate change and the ecological emergency

Protected and Conserved Areas around the world sign the first-ever Joint Statement on Climate Change and Biodiversity during COP26.

The organisations in charge of some of the largest tracts of protected landscapes and marine environments across the world have come together for the first time during COP26 to call upon world leaders to support their work at the vanguard of the fight against Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss.

Orchestrated by National Parks UK, the statement has been signed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)/ World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), EUROPARC, Parks Canada, the United States National Park Service and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and others.  The statement has been welcomed and endorsed by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments.

The statement notes:

‘As a family of Protected and Conserved Areas, we recognise that no single site or organisation can address the global crisis of climate change nor the exacerbating impact of climate change on biodiversity loss.

[Together we are] well placed to … support the ambition of countries around the world, including the G7 … by taking rapid and far-reaching actions to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.  We can be the first 30% that inspires and informs land and sea use choices across the remainder of the planet, and we can be the places where billions of people connect with nature and become inspired to play an active part in combatting the dual crises.’

James Stuart, Convener of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park and architect of the statement commented:

“In the fight against biodiversity loss and climate emergency, if we fail here, we will fail everywhere. We’re star players, don’t leave us on the bench.

“Climate change is not confined within national borders, and I believe this unique agreement can help spread innovation and good practice to our collective benefit. In turn, we can show the way for countries, landowners and individuals across the world – inspiring them to put nature and nature-based solutions at the heart of their thinking and their economic and life choices.”

Stuart signed the statement on behalf of UK National Parks in the UK Pavilion at COP26 as part of the Youth Day events.  The most prominent signature was reserved for the front of the document and provided by Catriona Manders, Youth Committee & Junior Ranger, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, which is just 20 miles from the COP26 venues in Glasgow. She signed on behalf of future generations, charging Governments and conservation organisations with a duty to work together more closely.

“We are no longer at a point where we can have world leaders ignore the climate and biodiversity crises. We must act now. And we, as protected areas, have a duty of care to be the catalyst that sparks change. We know what we’re fighting for, so let’s fight.”- Catriona Manders, Youth Committee & Junior Ranger

See post ‘Right time – wrong place’

© 2022

Half the UK’s energy!

UK windfarms generate record amount of electricity during Storm Malik

Wind speeds of up to 100 miles an hour recorded in Scotland helped send power generation soaring

Turbines at Whitelee onshore windfarm, south-west of Glasgow
Turbines at Whitelee onshore windfarm, south-west of Glasgow. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Jillian Ambrose – The Guardian

Sun 30 Jan 2022 13.27 GMT

The UK’s windfarms generated a record amount of renewable electricity over the weekend as Storm Malik battered parts of Scotland and northern England.

Wind speeds of up to 100 miles an hour recorded in Scotland helped wind power generation to rise to a provisional all-time high of more than 19,500 megawatts – or more than half the UK’s electricity – according to data from National Grid.

National Grid’s electricity system operator said that although it recognised the new milestone towards the UK’s ‘net zero’ carbon future, it was “also thinking of those affected by Storm Malik”.

Gas markets around the world reached record highs due to rising demand for gas as economies have rebounded from the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the UK, electricity market prices reached an all-time high of more than £424.60 a megawatt-hour in September, compared with an average price of £44/MWh in the same month the year before.

The UK’s weekend surge in renewable electricity helped to provide a temporary reprieve from its heavy reliance on fossil fuel generation in recent months, which has caused market prices to reach record highs.

The market price for electricity on Saturday fell to £150.59 pounds a megawatt-hour, the lowest level since 3 January, while the price for power on Sunday, when the wind was expected to fall, jumped to more than £193.50/MWh.

The new wind generation record bettered a high recorded last year when the gusty May bank holiday weekend recorded 17.6GW.

© 2022

The Nelson Touch


We all have read news reports which compare surface area or volume, to tennis courts, football pitches or Olympic swimming pools. Maybe reporters assume we would not recognise a square metre if we were given one, but that somehow, we are all very familiar with Wimbledon, Wembley or Adam Peaty!

So, with tongue in cheek, and to help the Spetisbury Parishioner, who, according to the Daily Mail, recently considered it quite possible to hide 190-acre solar power station behind a hedge, in a “dip in the landscape” – we offer this nautical comparison:

A 190-acre solar power development site, with hundreds of security camera posts, a small town’s worth of inverter and transformer cabins, and an electricity substation, all surrounded by an impenetrable security fence, would cover an area of productive farmland equivalent to 47 and a half Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft carrier flight decks!

The two flight decks, in the image, represent just 8 of the solar 190 acres. If you really do know of an effective way to hide one of the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group ships behind a hedge, or in a “dip”, then the Admiralty camouflage department would love to hear from you!

As Horatio said “I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes”

© 2022

Natural Assets

From the Dorset Council Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Natural Assets Action Plan

Natural Assets play a critical role in providing services that are vital for the physical wellbeing of Dorset’s population. As well as the natural regulation of hazards, such as flooding.

“Dorset Council has a responsibility to protect the county’s Natural Assets, facilitating habitat gain and improving the quality and protection of Dorset’s species. We also need to increase sequestration, use the land to increase resilience to climate change, and ensure that future management and maintenance of these assets are financially sustainable.”

“After detailed evidence and information gathering exercises, led by the EAP and carried out by officer working groups, it has been recommended that the Council implement 24 actions relating to Dorset’s Natural Assets. Milestones have been identified for each action. This plan shows the immediate targets we will need to achieve by 2023 to keep us on track.”

One of the Natural Assets Plan’s 24 actions caught our eye, as it impacts on the proposed North Dairy Farm industrial solar plant development:

“Work in partnership with Lead Flood Authority and EA to develop Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD’s) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) ensuring that drainage solutions are of high ecological value.”

North Dairy Farm Solar – Infiltration drainage may not be feasible!

A lovely Autumn morning on the North Dairy Farm canal (or the road to Hazelbury Bryan as it is usually called!)

From the outset, nearly two years ago, the North Dairy Farm Solar plant developer suggested that planting, and maintaining, perfect grass under the approximately 200,000 metal mounted solar array panels on the 190-acre farmland, surrounded by waterways, would avoid the need to provide Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) for the PV panelled areas. They also stated that sustainable drainage, and undertaking soil infiltration tests, would be unnecessary.

In September (2021), following the SHV representations about flooding and surface runoff from the proposed site, the Applicant proposed an infiltration-based SuDS, incorporating swales. This proposal has apparently been “approved?” However, the applicant appears to have ignored the clear warning in their own Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) at paragraph 4.33 that: “The reported hydrological characteristics of the Site suggest that infiltration may not be feasible”.

Given that the area and North Dairy Farm Site are prone to flash floods now, which pose a “threat to life”, we believe that it is an unnecessary and avoidable risk to allow the infiltration calculations and drainage design to follow a grant of approval.

The SHV group share the Council’s wish to see a Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD’s) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) that will ensure that drainage
solutions are of high ecological value, prevent increased surface runoff from North Dary Farm and reduce downstream flooding. Let’s hope the Supplementary Planning Document arrives before the Planning Application is considered!

October 2021 flooding – just downstream of North Dairy Farm


Against Expert Advice!

In the setting of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The proposal to build a giant 190-acre solar farm between Mappowder and Pulham, in the beautiful and historic Blackmore Vale, met huge opposition this year.

The current situation is that Dorset Council asked the developer to redo its Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment in the wake of clear deficiencies exposed by the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Save Hardy’s Vale community  group. The photographs for this Assessment can only be completed when all the leaves are off the trees so a planning hearing will not occur until next year.

Rupert Hardy, Chair of North Dorset CPRE, says “we accept the need for solar energy given climate change, and have not objected to a number of new solar farm proposals. However, we felt that an industrial power station of this size, and in this setting, was totally inappropriate. We favour roof-mounted solar panels and small community-led solar farms that can be well-screened from surrounding viewpoints. This is neither.

Our key concerns are still that the site is within the setting of the beautiful northerly part of the Dorset AONB, and will be visible from several cherished viewpoints and much of the Wessex Ridgeway path. Other issues include amenity, heritage, ecology and flooding, which has become even more apparent this autumn.

The approval by Dorset Council of a similar-sized solar farm last month at Higher Stockbridge, a few miles to the west, is very regrettable, especially as there were, or are, equally strong material planning reasons to refuse both. However, there are some different issues too here. Hopefully, the planning committee will pay heed to the substantial harm the proposal here would have on a nationally protected landscape while the flooding issue is very serious.

The Higher Stockbridge decision is highly contentious, as the expert Planning Officer strongly recommended refusal, a number of key members of the committee were unable to be present and the reasons given by some Committee Members for approval are very questionable. We remain optimistic, but not complacent, about the outcome here.”

Rupert Hardy, Chair of North Dorset CPRE

© 2022

More Offshore!

UK Government opens ‘biggest round’ of CfD energy auctions to date

13 December 2021, source edie newsroom

The fourth round of the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme, designed to increase investment in low-carbon energy, has opened, aiming to support 12GW of new generation capacity.

The majority of the funding will benefit offshore wind.

The round of the scheme opened for applications today (13 December) and will close on 14 January 2022. It will provide £285m of support annually to low-carbon energy generation, in what the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is dubbing the largest package to date under the scheme.

The majority of the funding – £200m annually – will be made available for offshore wind. This is perhaps to be expected, given that the UK is striving to host 40GW of offshore wind by 2030. Offshore wind is, at present, the only renewable energy sub-sector with its own Sector Deal.

There is no capacity cap on the offshore wind budget. Trade body RenewableUK is estimating that more than 16GW of offshore wind could be ready to compete in the round. BEIS itself is basing calculations on around 7GW of offshore wind.

There is also a specific £24m annual allocation for floating offshore wind technologies and a £20m allocation for tidal stream projects. The remainder of the allocation is split between other technologies classed as “emerging” by BEIS (£21m), and mature onshore wind and solar projects (£10m).

Onshore wind and solar have notably been excluded from the CfD process since 2015. The Government took the decision to include them again in 2020, in light of the net-zero target, supporting Strategy packages, and much campaigning from environmental and industry organisations.

BEIS said in a statement that supporting a mix of technologies “will ensure we have a more secure, more resilient energy system and support the UK’s transition to net-zero through a greater range of energy sources”. Overall, the Department is aiming for the round to support 12GW of new capacity.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the new CfD round’s design is set up to “solidify the UK’s role as a world leader in renewable electricity while backing new, future-proof industries across the country to create new jobs”.

“By generating more renewable energy in the UK, we can ensure greater energy independence by moving away from volatile global fossil fuel prices, all while driving down the cost of new energy,” Kwarteng added, alluding to the ongoing energy price crisis, which has primarily been caused by a disconnect between supply and demand in international gas trading.

The CfD scheme first launched in 2011. It provides 15-year private contracts between electricity generators and the Government-owned firm the Low-Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC), providing stability to generators and protections to consumers. You can read more about the history of the scheme, and an analysis of how this latest round is likely to be different, in edie’s sister title, Utility Week.

Winds of change

The opening of the fourth CfD round comes shortly after BEIS granted planning permission to Vattenfall for its 1.8GW Norfolk Borean Wind Farm. The firm is planning to create a 3.6GW renewable energy zone in the region, including this array, 50 miles offshore. There will be up to 156 turbines across the zone.

The Planning Inspectorate had stated that permission should not be granted, as it wanted more information on the safeguarding of biodiversity and how the project would disrupt life for local residents.

BEIS has emphasised the need for more offshore wind in the net-zero transition, and the project’s plans to create green jobs. It has also welcomed Vattenfall’s commitment to invest £15m in a Community Benefit Fund in Norfolk.

Sarah George

© 2022

Is hydrogen the solution

Is hydrogen the solution to decarbonize our societies?  After years of debate on which role it would take in the energy transition, it seems hydrogen technologies are about to enter the mass market stage. For the past three months, not a single week has gone by without a new announcement on a hydrogen strategy from either governments or businesses. From investments, technology developments, reports, here are just some of the indications that hydrogen is about to enter our daily lives and offer a solution to decarbonise our most carbon-intensive industries.

Public money is flowing

Many countries in Europe and Asia have taken the opportunity of their post-pandemic economic recovery plans to roll out ambitious hydrogen strategies. France has recently announced a €7 billion package to build a carbon-free hydrogen industry. Germany issued a similar plan of €9 billion. In July, the European Commission said it is looking to increase its production capacity of electrolysers from 250MW today to 40GW in 2030. Similar strategies have been released by the UK, Australia, and Asian countries. These are just some of the most recent announcements, but they show a clear trend towards massive public investments in the sector.

Refuelling stations or vehicles? The chicken and egg problem finally solved

Between refueling stations and vehicles, which should come first? If there are no hydrogen stations, customers will be reluctant to acquire hydrogen vehicles. But with no vehicles, the demand is too low for hydrogen refueling stations. This situation has often been described as a “chicken and egg problem”, and has been central in the development of this new energy vector. Until now?

Thanks to strategic partnerships between many different actors of the ecosystem, both vehicles and stations are coming at the same time. These ecosystems often include automakers, mobility companies, logistics companies, hydrogen producers, fuel stations, etc. By coming together with both demand and supply at the same time, they can be the key to hydrogen’s development.

A perfect example of such a successful business model was set by Air Liquide, a world leader in hydrogen production and Hype, the first 100% hydrogen taxi fleet. Hype’s fleet guarantees sufficient demand for the Air Liquide stations in and around Paris. Hype now counts 130 taxis in operation, making it the largest fleet of FCEVs in the world.https://www.youtube.com/embed/mqXX_NUF2Nk?&wmode=opaque

Hydrogen trains are moving to their next destination

Following its successful launch in Germany, Coradia iLint, the world’s first hydrogen-fueled train, is now expanding to Austria. The bright blue train developed by Alstom offers a clean alternative to old polluting diesel locomotives on non-electrified lines. The German northern region already plans to buy another 14 of these trains, while France plans to operate its first hydrogen-fueled train by 2022. For governments, the choice is a no-brainer as the cost to operate hydrogen trains is much lower than their diesel counterparts, even though they are more expensive to buy.

Hydrogen trucks hit the road

In July 2020, Hyundai Motor is shipping the first 10 units of XCIENT Fuel Cell, the world’s first fuel cell heavy-duty truck, to Switzerland. The company plans to roll out 50 trucks by the end of the year and a total of 1,600 units by 2025. 

This is part of an innovative business model set by Hyundai: the trucks will be leased to commercial truck operators on a pay-per-use basis by Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), a joint venture with Swiss company H2 Energy. This means the commercial fleet customers need no initial investment and could accelerate the adoption of hydrogen trucks. In parallel, to guarantee a network of refueling stations, AVIA opened its first hydrogen filling station in St. Gallen, Switzerland, which was inaugurated by Bertrand Piccard.

The price of green hydrogen is falling

While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it is not easily available on our Planet. To produce hydrogen, different methods exist: using fossil fuels like oil and coal, which emit CO2 into the air (grey hydrogen); using the same process, but adding carbon capture technologies to prevent CO2 emissions (blue hydrogen); or using renewable electricity to power an electrolyzer that splits the hydrogen from water molecules (green hydrogen). While green hydrogen is the only sustainable solution, its price is much higher than its blue and grey counterparts.

However, according to a new study on hydrogen economics by IHS Markit, the price of green hydrogen is dropping fast, mostly due to economies of scale and the falling costs of renewables. In its hydrogen strategy, the European Commission announced a target price of €1-2/kg for green hydrogen, which would make it competitive with grey hydrogen (currently around €1.5/kg). Australia has a similar plan named “H2 under 2” program, to bring down the cost of green hydrogen below AUS$2 ($1.40)/kg.

Fossil fuel companies are tapping into hydrogen potential

The ecological transition will happen much faster if it doesn’t leave companies by the wayside. And one particular type of company must embark on the journey: utility and petrol companies, considering their financial importance. Green hydrogen could be a good solution to have them on board, and the latest announcements show that they are willing to shift.

Just this week, Spanish utility Iberdrola announced the creation of a new business unit aimed at developing green hydrogen to supply industry and heavy transport. It also unveiled a project for a 100MW solar photovoltaic plant and hydrogen production system which will use electrolysis to convert renewable energy into hydrogen fuel. The plant should be operational by 2021 and cut 39,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Recently, Shell announced plans for an offshore wind farm in the North Sea dedicated to the manufacture of green hydrogen. The NortH2 project would have a capacity of 3 to 4GW by 2030, and plans to expand to 10 GW by 2040.

Hydrogen is injected in our natural gas infrastructure

Hydrogen is often referred to as a solution to decarbonise the transport sector. But there’s another area where green H2 could be a key to reducing GHG emissions: heat. In many developed countries, the main source for heating is natural gas, a fossil fuel. For example, in the UK, heating accounts for a third of carbon dioxide emissions. In order to reduce these emissions, hydrogen could be injected in the existing natural gas network.

In January, the UK launched a test project to inject a 20% hydrogen and natural gas blend to heat 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings at Keele University in Staffordshire. The HyDeploy project is a trial that aims to prove that blending up to 20% volume of hydrogen with natural gas is “a safe and greener alternative to the gas we use now”. 

The main advantage of this solution is that hydrogen can use the existing gas infrastructure, so that customers don’t need to change their cooking or heating appliances to take the blend, meaning less disruption and less costs.

While currently UK network companies are allowed to blend up to just 0.1 percent mix of hydrogen in the gas grid, If deployed on a nationwide scale, the 20 percent blend could save 6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. 

Innovation is booming

The number of innovative hydrogen technologies has considerably increased in recent years. These solutions facilitate the transportation of hydrogen, such as Hysilabs, its production, such as HyRiS or Atawheel, or its storage, such as Stor-H. Many of these technologies have been labeled by the Solar Impulse Foundation as they support the energy transition and have moved beyond the demonstration phase. See a list of labeled solutions below this article.

Those are just some of the signs that hydrogen is bound to enter our daily lives. Even though hydrogen still has challenges to overcome, there is little doubt that it will play a key role in a clean, secure, and affordable energy future. According to BNEF’s Hydrogen Economy Outlook, hydrogen could account for as much as 24% of global final energy demand and could create 5.4 million jobs by 2050. As Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency stated in “The Future of Hydrogen” report:

“Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum. The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.

© 2022

National Park


Natural England has been tasked by the government to assess the creation of a new National Park based on combining the East Devon and Dorset AONBs.

As with the formative stages of the creation of the Jurassic Park World Heritage Site, all the running is coming from Dorset. The latest Dorset National Park Teams newsletter outlines proposals for a simplified and streamlined approach to planning in the proposed Dorset National ParkA New Approach to PlanningDorset offers the unique opportunity of a National Park wholly within the boundaries of the Dorset Council area. There is an opportunity to develop a unique, streamlined, and cost-effective new style, National Park.

➤ The Dorset Council could have the leading role on the National Park Authority (NPA) Board and in NPA policy development and implementation.

➤ It could develop and implement a Local Plan for the whole Dorset Council area including the National Park. NPA staff could be Dorset Council employees, with a single planning team covering all of rural Dorset.

➤ NPA resources, including central government grants, would benefit Dorset Council, local communities, and businesses, help to meet the costs of planning and other functions and thus release funds for other local priorities.

➤ A National Park Advisory Board could include relevant Dorset organisations (e.g. the Jurassic Coast Trust, Dorset Local Nature Partnership) and help promote coordination and synergy. NPA funds would support such local organisations (and thus also supplement or release Dorset Council funds).

➤ Offer a wider range of recreational opportunities than is available in any existing or proposed National Park. The former Dorset County Council concluded that “the proposal for a National Park could potentially support the Council’s corporate outcomes in relation to a healthy and prosperous Dorset.” The Dorset National Park team accepted an invitation from Natural England in the summer to be involved in the further assessment of the Dorset proposal now it has been short-listed for further evaluation. The team looks forward to renewing these discussions with Natural England. Dorset has an opportunity to take forward unique proposals for a National Park which would bring economic, financial, and environmental benefits for all.

© 2022

A view from Thanet

Written by Sarah Bowers

The Westgate & Garlinge Action Group Against Housing Development committee is a group of local residents that have come together because they are passionate about saving and protecting Thanet’s green space for generations to come. The group was set up in a bid to save Westgate agricultural land from being developed for a 2,000 home ‘new town’  on farmland,

Campaigners from Westgate and Garlinge Action Group against Houses on Farmland are calling for Thanet District Council to reassess the local plan to 2031 in consideration of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that has been issued this month.

The report states that human activity is impacting the climate and warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade. Temperatures will reach 1.5C above 1850-1900 levels by 2040 under all emissions scenarios.

Already the increase in temperature is having a marked impact around the world. Not only are we seeing wildfires in mainland Europe, but warmer temperatures are making it more difficult to grow food. Challenges to our food production systems will be just one of the impacts with changing rainfall patterns leaving many areas vulnerable to drought, while extreme weather will make agriculture harder and damage crops. For example, this year the unprecedented floods in Europe has decimated their potato harvest which means that there is likely to be a shortage of potatoes this year – a crop that Thanet is famous for growing well.

Barley harvest at Shottendane

It is vitally important that as a country we are able to grow our own food. In 2019 we were only around 64% food self-sufficient. This compares to 78% in 1984. To put it another way, in 1984 there was enough food produced in Britain to feed the nation for 306 days of the year. Today, that figure is 233 days, making 21 August 2020 the day that the country would run out of food if we were relying solely on British produce. As we respond and adapt to climate change, we must increase our food self-sufficiency. Consequently building on prime arable farmland seems very wrong.

The land in Thanet is special too. Being surrounded by sea on three sides makes it unique for agriculture. It has some of the best and most versatile soils in the UK and has a maritime, relatively frost-free climate. Grade 1 land is limited in the UK and much of it is at risk of coastal flooding. In the southeast for instance, 62% of best and most versatile soil is at risk. However, Thanet has Grade 1 and 2 land that is not at risk from coastal flooding.

Potato field

Thanet’s Local Plan (adopted in 2020) places 17140 houses within an area of just 40 square miles. Most (around 87%) of these houses will be on productive, high quality farmland. This amounts to the loss of around 700 hectares of precious Grade 1, 2 and 3 land. This decision must be reviewed in light of the IPCC report.

In addition, a key part of the Local Plan is the creation of a new ‘inner ring road’ that will be partly funded by developer contributions. The IPCC report states that fossil fuels are a big part of the cause of climate change so building more and more roads is simply not sustainable. In this country carbon emissions from transport have barely changed since 1990.  They are now 28% of domestic emissions, with about 91% of these from road traffic.

We urgently need to reduce emissions if we are to keep the earth’s temperature within safe limits of 1.5C. Building more roads and creating more traffic takes us in the wrong direction and locks us into an unsustainable future. Consequently, the road-building programme that forms a key part of the Thanet Local Plan should be reviewed. We should be investing in better and more reliable public transport instead, encouraging people to use it and getting cars off the roads.

Another concern is the potential for increased surface water flooding if all these houses are built. Our climate is changing and this has become particularly noticeable this year when we have a number of incidents of torrential rainfall that has led to localised flash flooding. This is partly due to our drainage system that simply cannot cope with the amount of rain that we are experiencing. It is also clear that we cannot carry on concreting our land and expect things to improve or even stay the same. We need green space to help manage the increased water flow otherwise flash floods will only get worse.

Ffooded farmland outside Birchington

Dr Jess Neumann, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said: “Planning and development need to consider flood risk from all sources – river, groundwater and flash floods – and adapt accordingly. It is not acceptable to keep paving over the land and expect the public to deal with the water when it comes into their homes.”

And while on the subject of water then the management of our waste water and sewage deserves a mention. Southern Water have recently received a record fine of £90 million for illegally dumping sewage into the sea. But this is a continuing theme. Every time it rains more ‘waste water’ and effluent gets pumped out around our coast in order to prevent sewage from backing up into residents’ houses.  Investment in the billions is needed to upgrade their systems and in the meantime our coastline is regularly polluted, beaches are closed, and local businesses suffer. It seems unlikely that adding a further 17140 houses will help the situation. So until the Southern Water situation is resolved, there should be no further housebuilding in Thanet.

Finally a word on nature and biodiversity. The UK is one of the most nature depleted in the world. The Local Plan will destroy much of our farmland and none of the proposed developments provide proper mitigation for farmland wildlife. Farmland bird numbers have been in steep decline for decades, but the land around Thanet is known to provide a home to these birds. In particular large numbers of skylarks live and nest around our fields every year.

No amount of ‘mitigation’ from developers will adequately replace acres of open, sensitively managed farmland which is needed by these birds for breeding and nesting. Other wildlife that uses the fields and their margins includes several species of bat, buzzards, kestrels, foxes and hares. All of these will be lost or seriously decline in number if all of the proposed developments go ahead.

Overall, given the serious nature of what we are facing, we must come together and plan for a future that will be more sustainable for all of us. Alternative build sites must be carefully reviewed with the aim being to preserve our farmland. Town centres are emptying, can buildings there be repurposed for housing? How many empty homes are there in Thanet?

Do we really need another 17140 houses? And the new houses that we build must be more sustainable and made ready to meet a different future. Should solar panels and rainwater collection be mandatory for example? Should there be less focus on the car and more on cycling and public transport? As more people work from home, should access to fast broadband for everyone be a priority?

Times are changing fast so the Local Plan and its impact on the residents of Thanet must be urgently reviewed and reopened for public consultation. Otherwise what legacy will be leaving our children and grandchildren?

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