March 17, 2014

Stormy Winter Weather Moves South

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA for short) has published an article on the stormy weather we experienced over the winter. They say that:

In the North Atlantic [there have been] an unusually high number of hurricane-force storms. Between October 25, 2013, when the first hurricane-force event of the season occurred, and March 8, when the most recent one to date occurred, 43 unique hurricane-force events have blasted their way across the North Atlantic. Thirty of them underwent rapid intensification. The most intense system occurred on December 24, 2013; pressure in the heart of the storm dropped to 929 hPa as the storm lurked north and northwest of the British Isles.

and show this chart of wind speed anomalies over the North Atlantic compared to the 1981-2010 average:

North Atlantic wind speed anomalies for January-February 2014

North Atlantic wind speed anomalies for January-February 2014

Notice the large area of blue revealing abnormally high winds out in the Atlantic to the west of Great Britain. There's a smaller but even more intense area of strong winds between Iceland and Greenland. The NOAA go on to point out that:

Another difference between this winter and last is that while both seasons saw storm tracks passing near Greenland, many of this year’s events took a more southerly track through the eastern Atlantic near the British Isles.

We had noticed that! So had the UK's Met Office, who have produced this video that covers the stormy weather we experienced here in the UK in January 2014:

As the Met Office point out (at 00:18):

For the South of England it was the wettest January on record, and also the wettest January in the long running England and Wales precipitation series, that extends back to 1766.

They have also produced two detailed online reports on the storms, for December/January and January/February,  together with an even more detailed downloadable briefing report. The last two paragraphs of the summary section of the latter states that:

There is an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, and that the rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from fundamental physics. There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly heavy rain events.

More research is urgently needed to deliver robust detection of changes in storminess and daily/hourly rain rates. The attribution of these changes to anthropogenic global warming requires climate models of sufficient resolution to capture storms and their associated rainfall. Such models are now becoming available and should be deployed as soon as possible to provide a solid evidence base for future investments in flood and coastal defences.

Here's a couple of pictures taken at the Haldon Forest Park just up the hill from here, to give you some idea of some of the local effects of all the recent wind and rain:

The entrance to Haldon Forest Park on February 24th 2014

The entrance to Haldon Forest Park on February 24th 2014

Haldon Forest Park on March 8th 2014

Haldon Forest Park on March 8th 2014

One final message of cold comfort from the NOAA:

These intense winter storms don’t always call it a season with the arrival of the spring equinox in late March. Last year’s final event occurred on April 19th, 2013.

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March 13, 2014

Westminster Debates South West Wind Farms

Yesterday afternoon up in Westminster a selection of South West Members of Parliament, together with one or two from further afield, debated the controversial topic of "Planning policy and wind turbines in the South West" led by Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon. Here's a video recording of the proceedings:

The "They Work For You" web site has conveniently extracted a transcript of the debate from Hansard, in which the controversial phrase "Den Brook wind farm" occurred more than once. It didn't sound as though the locals present were very keen on such things. By way of one example my own MP, Mel Stride from Central Devon, had this to say amongst other things (at 2:30):

On the visual impact of turbines, I do not want to get into a bragging war about who has the largest turbines, but those that he mentioned were probably no higher than 60 or 70 metres. Those that are likely to be built now in the Den Brook valley will be 120 metres high; that is almost the height of St Paul’s cathedral. Whether they are smaller turbines up on hill ridges, which are obviously visible, or turbines down in valleys, they are often of such a magnitude that they are visible for miles around.

My hon. Friend knows that Devon’s tourist industry is valued at about £1 billion a year. There will be huge, cumulative detrimental impact on that business if we continue to despoil our landscape in this way.

One thing Mel didn't mention however, is that some of the unfortunate side effects of our changing climate are already having a huge, cumulative detrimental impact on agriculture, tourism and other businesses down here in soggy (and now also windy) South West England.

Duncan Hames, the Liberal Democrat MP for Chippenham also spoke (at 43:20). Hansard records his opening remarks as follows:

I congratulate Mr Cox on securing this debate. I anticipate that I will be a dissenting voice—[Hon. Members: “Lone voice.”] We shall see.

Mr Hames spoke some more, but he didn't mention climate change either. That controversial topic was eventually raised by a Labour MP from up country, Andy Sawford from Corby. Here's some of what he had to say (at 1:04:50):

Political division at Westminster, some of which has been reflected today, means that we are sleepwalking into a national security crisis on climate change. The science has not changed, and the terrible events of the last few weeks should serve as a wake-up call. The climate change consensus that once existed in this country has frayed.

The transition to a low-carbon economy is essential, but it also presents a huge opportunity for the UK, with the potential to be a major source of jobs and growth that we need now more than ever. The Government started out by promising to be the greenest Government ever, but the reality is that they have a terrible record on climate change. We see squabbling and inconsistent messages from Ministers and policy uncertainty on decarbonisation and support for renewables. The Prime Minister says that he has not changed his mind, but, in the face of pressure from his Back Benchers and the UK Independence party, he has ignored the issue or allowed it to become downgraded across Whitehall. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs apparently refuses to be briefed on climate change by his own civil servants.

I fear Mr. Sawford's speech won't be sufficient to persuade me to vote Labour at the next general election, but his remarks do seem to sum up quite well my own views on the sorry state of both energy policy and climate change adaptation policy over here in the once, but no longer, Great Britain.

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February 28, 2014

Can Global Warming be Limited to Two Degrees?

Last week the United Kingdom's Committee on Climate Change "launched a call for evidence in order to identify relevant published information of the risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change". Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, last night I attended a talk organised by Transition Exeter entitled "Climate Change Update – The Pathway to Two Degrees Warming" and subtitled "Can Global Warming be Limited to Two Degrees?"  The evidence was presented on the night by Dr. Jeff Ridley from the Met Office's Hadley Centre here in Exeter and consisted of an overview of the results of the UK Government funded AVOID research programme, followed by a question and answer session with the members of Transition Exeter. The brief executive summary of the answer to today's headline question is :

No – There's not a snowball's chance in hell!

By way of explanation, according to one of the glossy brochures Jeff was handing out last night, produced by the Met Office and published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change:

Climate change is happening and climate science from the Met Office and research partners adds to the evidence that early and rapid reductions in emissions are likely required in order to avoid significant impacts.

A UK Government funded initiative, the ground-breaking AVOID research programme, has helped to put the latest scientific knowledge about dangerous climate change into the hands of policymakers.

Funded by UK Government, AVOID saw scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre working alongside experts in three other leading climate organisations: the Walker Institute at the University of Reading, Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College and Tyndall Centre through the University of East Anglia. Many other national and international collaborators contributed to this vital work through the AVOID network.

The obvious supplementary question to ask at this juncture would seem to be "What use have UK policymakers made of the relevant published information of the risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change that they already possess". The answer seems to be "Not a lot"! By way of some anecdotal evidence for my hasty assertion, here's an extract from the ministerial foreword to the UK Government's previous "Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report", published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on January 26th 2012:

Climate risks affect all aspects of society. Rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and increasing frequency of extreme events have direct effects on people’s lives, as well as disrupting commodity prices, supply chains, markets, and economies. Building resilience is a long-term investment, but we can start now, particularly for risks where decisions have long-term consequences, for example planning our infrastructure.

The UK is at the forefront of climate science. Whilst the future is highly uncertain, we can use the best scientific evidence available alongside well established risk-based decision approaches to assess risks and decide how to respond.

and here's an extract from paragraph 3.4 concerning "Buildings and Infrastructure":

Climate change may have significant implications for the built environment, including buildings and energy, transport, water and ICT infrastructure. Infrastructure assets and buildings are in operation or use for many years, which means that decisions made now about their design and construction will have long-term consequences.

The UK Government and the Devolved Governments have a range of responsibilities for the built environment, including policy for the planning system, building regulations and building control, water and transport infrastructure and flood and coastal erosion risk management. Furthermore, new low carbon infrastructure and the ‘Green Deal’ for homes and businesses will have a crucial role in aiding the transition to a low carbon economy. It will be important to consider climate resilience as part of this process.

According to the Met Office's AVOID programme overview:

  • The 2 °C warming limit is achievable with a 50% chance with a peak in emissions in the next few years followed by rapid long-term reductions in emissions.
  • The later emissions peak, the more likely that techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will need to be developed and employed to limit warming to 2 °C.

Armed also with recent evidence about the UK Government's progress in addressing their responsibilities for the built environment and a new low carbon infrastructure you may wish to experiment with the "Predicted Global Temperature Rise" widget on the AVOID programme's home page. You may wish to ask your local Member of Parliament to do so as well. Here's one scenario I managed to come up with:

How to avoid a 4 degree global temperature rise by 2100

How to avoid a 4 degree global temperature rise by 2100

To summarise briefly, business and politics as usual are predicted to produce a global temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100. If global emissions of carbon dioxide and equivalent greenhouse gases were to peak in 2016 and then reduce at 3 per cent per annum thereafter the global temperature rise by 2100 could be reduced to 2 degrees Celsius. As I said in my own executive summary above, the available evidence strongly suggests there's not a snowball in hell's chance of that happening.

P.S. A more in depth discussion of these issues has now ensued over on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

AVOIDing dangerous climate change. Can Global Warming be Limited to Two Degrees?

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February 27, 2014

The Weather Report from Soggy South West England

The mass media have (for a change!) recently been full of reports about floods in South West England (amongst other places!). Here we offer our own perspective on recent events, together with a few additional bits of information that don't seem to have been widely reported as yet.

First of all here's a (slightly cloudy) view of the Somerset Levels taken from on high by the Landsat 8 satellite on January 23rd 2014:

The Somerset Levels from on high, on January 23rd 2014

The Somerset Levels from on high, on January 23rd 2014

If you're familiar with the West Country you might be able to make out the town of Bridgwater at the top left, with the M5 motorway heading past it in our direction. East of that you can see the main railway line from Exeter to Bristol gingerly making its way across one of the big blue bits.

Secondly, here's a view of the South West's soil being washed out to sea on February 16th 2014, courtesy of NASA Worldview and inspired by George Monbiot's article in the Guardian entitled "How we ended up paying farmers to flood our homes":

The South West of England from on high, on February 16th 2014

The South West of England from on high, on February 16th 2014

As George puts it:

It has the force of a parable. Along the road from High Ham to Burrowbridge, which skirts Lake Paterson (formerly known as the Somerset Levels), you can see field after field of harvested maize. In some places the crop lines run straight down the hill and into the water. When it rains, the water and soil flash off into the lake. Seldom are cause and effect so visible.

Last, but not necessarily least, here's Network Rail's time lapse video of their attempts to repair the Great Western main line from Plymouth and Penzance to the rest of once Great Britain, which was washed away at Dawlish by the storm of February 4/5:

At around 18 secs you can see the impact of the next big storm that arrived on February 14/15. The current estimate for the trains to start running again is "Mid April". According to the leader of Plymouth City Council "the rail disruption was costing the city £5 million a day". According to Robin Gisby, Managing Director of Network Operations for Network Rail:

We'll worry about adding up all the numbers later on.

Meanwhile over in the South East of England David Cameron has apparently recently stated that:

Man-made climate change is one of the greatest threats to the UK and the rest of the world.

When are you going to start putting our money where your mouth is David?

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February 12, 2014

Rydon Farm Solar Park Approved by Teignbridge DC

At the Teignbridge District Council planning committee meeting held on January 13th Orta Solar's application to construct a 12 MW large scale solar PV park at Rydon Farm between Newton Abbot and Totnes was approved by 17 votes to 2. I had an online debate about some of the issues with Nick Pascoe of Orta last year, when Teignbridge's screening decision was announced. I referred to my opposition to the construction of solar farms on what the planners call "our best and most versatile agricultural land", and some of the objectors in this case used that argument too. Nick assured me that in this case:

The fields we're planning to use have topography that does not suit arable cropping

The problem is that although I think that this sort of  issue should be a valid planning consideration it looks a lot as though in practice it actually isn't. Previous applications to Teignbridge at Tedburn St. Mary and Shillingford were rejected on the grounds of "adverse visual impact". In the case of the Fulford Solar Park outside Tedburn that verdict stood even after two applications followed by two appeals to the Planning Inspectorate! In those two cases Teignbridge's Landscape Officer recommended refusal. Here's what they had to say in this case:

The proposal is acceptable subject to conditions. I consider that the impacts have been underestimated to some extent. I consider that there would be some significant effects, but that these would be limited in number and mitigated in a relatively short space of time. Overall the proposal could be accomodated within the landscape in an acceptable way.

That's why included in the minutes of the council meeting is the opinion from one of the committee members that:

There were no material considerations, nor any policy which could be sustained at appeal to refuse the application.

So there you have it. In a few months time you'll be able to turn off the Newton to Totnes road at the Two Mile Oak in the direction of Denbury to discover whether you can see (or hear!) Teignbridge's first big solar farm in operation. When that time comes do please pop back here and let us know what you think of it.

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January 20, 2014

Free MIT online course in Climate Science

It has just been brought to my attention on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum that edX are offering a free 12 week online course on the topic of climate science, starting on February 19th. The course is (provocatively?) entitled "Global Warming Science", and is led by three lecturers from the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It provides:

An introduction to the physics of the climate system and the basic science underpinning discussions of anthropogenic climate change.

The course is free of charge, and is one example of the growing trend for universities worldwide to offer massive open online courses (or MOOCs for short) to anybody anywhere in the world with access to an internet connection. There are some recommended educational prerequisites for this course. According to edX once more, the course:

Does not require any prior knowledge of climate or atmospheric science. Some college-level mathematics (calculus, including ordinary differential equations) and physics (electromagnetism, mechanics) as well as high-school chemistry are required. Beyond these requirements, familiarity with the concept of a partial differential equation and some knowledge of basic thermodynamics will be helpful, but not essential; extra readings will be available for students unfamiliar with the concepts.

I've already done all that sort of stuff (albeit many moons ago!) and it's also a very long time since I've done any exams, so I've signed up to "audit" the course. Here's the introductory video:

and here's a more detailed syllabus:

12.340x introduces the basic science underpinning our knowledge of the climate system, how climate has changed in the past, and how it may change in the future. The course focuses on the fundamental energy balance in the climate system, between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation, and how this balance is affected by greenhouse gases. We will also discuss physical processes that shape the climate, such as atmospheric and oceanic convection and large-scale circulation, solar variability, orbital mechanics, and aerosols, as well as the evidence for past and present climate change. We will discuss climate models of varying degrees of complexity, and you will be able to run a model of a single column of the Earth's atmosphere, which includes many of the important elements of simulating climate change. Together, this range of topics forms the scientific basis for our understanding of anthropogenic (human-influenced) climate change.

Would anybody else care to join me?

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October 29, 2013

Does the Arctic Sea Ice Influence Weather in the South West?

It's not often that we devote an article to a learned academic article, but then again it's not often that such an article is published concerning one of our hobby horses here at econnexus.org. It's also not often that an academic paper is published just as the sort of weather it discusses is obligingly demonstrating itself. It's unheard of that such a journal article is introduced by a video! As the St. Jude day storm was causing flood alerts on the River Exe and many other Devon rivers yesterday Dr. James Screen of the University of Exeter had a new paper published in The Institute of Physics journal "Environmental Research Letters" entitled "Influence of Arctic sea ice on European summer precipitation". Here's his introduction:

In a familiar tale to those of us in the Exeter area Dr. Screen points out that:

In recent years, the UK and Northwest Europe has experienced a run of unusually wet summers. The six summers from 2007 to 2012 were all wetter than average.

In the UK, summer 2012 was the wettest summer for a hundred years, with frequent occurrences of flooding, which caused profound damage to property and some fatalities, and also caused havoc for farming and the tourism industry. At the same time we've been having these wet summers, the Arctic sea ice has been exceptionally low. The last six summers in the Arctic has seen the six lowest Arctic sea ice covers and summer 2012 was the lowest on record, with about half the ice that was there about three decades ago.

Although the recent precipitation anomalies are not without precedent, the recent sequence of consecutive wet summers is extraordinary. An important open question for scientists and decision makers is whether there are climate forcings, either natural or anthropogenic, that are increasing the chances of such events.

What this study set out to understand was whether there was any connection between this loss of Arctic sea ice and the wet summers in recent years.

The "Data and methods" section of the article explains that computer modelling has been used to investigate this potential connection:

Precipitation observations are derived from two sources: the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) data set version 2.2 and the UK Met Office Hadley Centre England and Wales precipitation (HadEWP) data set. 300 hPa zonal and meridional winds from the ERA-Interim reanalysis, available for the period 1979–2012, are used to diagnose the mean position of the jet stream. Since the reanalysis is constrained by observations, it is considered to provide a realistic depiction of jet stream variability and is used to validate the model output.

Model output is from the UK Met Office Unified Model, which is the atmospheric component of the HadGEM and ACCESS coupled models that participated in the fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5).

In answer to the question posed in our title, James says this in his conclusions:

This study has provided evidence of a causal link between observed Arctic sea ice changes, the large-scale atmospheric circulation and increased summer Northern European Precipitation. The simulated NEP response is relatively small compared to simulated year-to-year variability. This means that whilst low sea ice coverage increases the risk of wet summers, other factors can easily negate this influence and lead to dry summers during depleted ice conditions, or wet summers during extensive ice conditions. This is consistent with the broader view that mid-latitude responses to past Arctic sea ice loss are, in general, small compared to internal variability. However, the simulated summer NEP response is statistically significant (p = 0.05) in the large ensemble presented here.

We've mentioned Dr. Jennifer Francis a few times here whilst discussing this topic. The same issue of Environmental Research Letters offered Dr. Francis the opportunity to present her own "perspective", in which she says:

This new study by Dr Screen contributes additional evidence that Arctic sea-ice loss is partly responsible for shifting weather patterns, and provides new detail about the timing, location, and types of patterns that are expected to emerge as Arctic and global warming continue unabated.

Does that sound like a collective if tentative "Yes" to you?

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October 27, 2013

Extreme Weather Imminent in South West England!

The storm of St. Jude is almost upon us, and the official forecast has eased slightly. The latest Met Office news release now says:

The storm is set to deepen rapidly just to the south west of the UK late today, before moving into western areas in the very early hours of Monday morning.

It's then expected to track rapidly across the country, moving off into the North Sea by late morning – by which time the strongest winds will have passed.

Gusts of 60-70mph are expected in southern parts of England and Wales, with gusts of 80mph or more in places – particularly around southern and south western coasts.

Heavy rain will accompany the storm, with a chance of some localised surface water flooding.

There are currently 36 flood alerts in South West England, together with 3 red flood warnings, all for the Dorset coast:

Flood warnings for South West England on the evening of October 27th 2013

Flood warnings for South West England on the evening of October 27th 2013

The most recent Met Office surface level pressure chart (courtesy of MeteoCiel.fr) shows a higher central pressure for the storm than yesterday:

UK Met Office model surface level pressure forecast for early on Monday October 28th 2013

UK Met Office model surface level pressure forecast for early on Monday October 28th 2013

The wind forecasts from the Global Forecast System suggest that Northern France will actually fare worse than Southern England over the next few hours. Here's the maximum gust forecast for 10 PM tonight:

GFS model maximum wind gust forecast for 22:00 on Sunday October 27th 2013

GFS model maximum wind gust forecast for 22:00 on Sunday October 27th 2013

It's a bit hard to make out in amongst all the arrows, but the South West is left of centre about halfway down, on the edge of the large red area. The brightest red band represents 85-90 km/h, or around 55 mph in Imperial units. Here's how things look 3 hours later at 1 AM on Monday:

GFS model maximum wind gust forecast for 01:00 on Monday October 28th 2013

GFS model maximum wind gust forecast for 01:00 on Monday October 28th 2013

The nearest automated weather station to my current location is over on the other side of the Teign Valley at Bridford. It is currently reporting the calm before the St. Jude Storm:

The Bridford Met Site reports a maximum gust of 32 mph so far today

The Bridford Met Site reports a maximum gust of 32 mph so far today

We'll take another look tomorrow morning (if not before) to see what's been happening to it in the meantime!

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October 25, 2013

Extreme Weather Forecast for South West England

South West England is already very damp. Following a number of flood alerts earlier in the month, the Environment Agency issued several amber flood alerts in Devon yesterday,  followed by a red flood warning this morning for the River Char near the Dorset Coast:

Flood warnings for South West England on October 25th 2013

Flood warnings for South West England on October 25th 2013

As a consequence of all the recent rain the Surfers Against Sewage interactive map for South Devon currently looks like this:

Surfers Against Sewage interactive sewage outflow map for South Devon on October 25th 2013

Surfers Against Sewage interactive sewage outflow map for South Devon on October 25th 2013

and there are also short term pollution incidents at Westward Ho in North Devon as well as at Mawgan Porth and Par in Cornwall. Meanwhile according to The Express and Echo inland at Exeter:

The River Exe burst its banks today as Exeter braces itself for more rain.

The Met Office explained the reason for the current precipitation in a blog post on Monday entitled "UK’s unsettled weather and the jet stream":

The UK is set to see unsettled weather throughout this week as heavy rain and windy conditions are expected to affect many areas, whilst temperatures will remain mild for the time of year. We talk about the jet stream quite a bit in the UK because it has such a big influence on our weather, and this week is no exception as it’s playing a leading role in determining the unsettled outlook.

As if all that wasn't enough to be going on with the Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for South West England for Sunday and Monday:

Met Office severe weather warning for South West England issued on October 25th 2013

Met Office severe weather warning for South West England issued on October 25th 2013

together with this video explaining the jet stream's role in their forecast:

According to the Express and Echo once again:

Hurricane-force winds and torrential rain are predicted to produce the ‘perfect’ storm that could rip down trees, cause transport chaos, and cut power supplies across the city.

The storm, which is due to hit Exeter and the surrounding area in the early hours of Monday, is expected to bring winds of 80 miles per hour and heavy rain that could lead to flooding.

The weather front, which has been named the St Jude Storm, could produce the worst conditions since the Great Storm of 1987, according to some weather analysts.

However as the Met Office video explains:

The reason why this storm is potentially going to be such a powerful feature, as it comes across the Atlantic and potentially affects the UK, is that it remains in phase with the jet stream as it crosses the Atlantic. This storm hasn't formed yet, but modern forecasting and modern numerical weather prediction models do give us a big advantage over years gone by. Although at the moment there is quite a lot of uncertainty regarding the track and the timing of this storm we are reasonably confident that a spell of pretty wet and windy weather is going to affect the UK during the start of next week.

Not exactly a "perfect storm" just yet then it would seem!  To give you some idea about the "uncertainty" that the Met Office refers to here a couple of other forecasts from other numerical weather prediction models for early on Monday morning. The first one is from the American "Global Forecast System", courtesy of MeteoCiel.fr:

GFS model surface level pressure forecast for Monday October 28th 2013

GFS model surface level pressure forecast for early on Monday October 28th 2013

while the second is from the "European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts":

ECMWF model surface level pressure forecast for Monday October 28th 2013

ECMWF model surface level pressure forecast for early on Monday October 28th 2013

Finally here is the Met Office supercomputer's very own forecast for early Monday morning:

UK Met Office model surface level pressure forecast for Monday October 28th 2013

UK Met Office model surface level pressure forecast for early on Monday October 28th 2013

As you can see, there is indeed a difference of opinion between the numerical models on the predicted track and timing of the storm. At least they all currently seem to be agreed that this storm won't be as severe as the Great Storm of 1987, during which the lowest recorded pressure was 953 mbar.

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October 24, 2013

Tedburn St. Mary Solar PV Farm Appeal Dismissed Again

After what feels like a very long period of deliberation the Planning Inspectorate have dismissed Inazin Solar's appeal against the decision of Teignbridge District Council to refuse planning permission for the Fulford Solar Park at Gold's Cross Hill near Tedburn St. Mary for a second time. Much like the first time around the inspector's report summarises the benefits of the proposal by saying:

I… conclude that the proposal would result in material benefits in relation to renewable energy and that this attracts significant weight. I further
conclude that the proposal would thus accord with the National Planning Policy Framework in this regard and emerging Local Plan Policy S7.

whereas the disadvantages are that:

The proposal would have a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area and that this harm attracts substantial weight. I further conclude that the proposal would thus conflict with Local Plan Saved Policies ENV1, ENV3 and ENV4 together with the National Planning Policy Framework in this regard.

There is also a section entitled "Other Matters" which does address the issue I raised in my own objection about the use "our best and most versatile agricultural land" for solar PV farms. It reads as follows:

It has been suggested that economies of scale and the consequent size of the proposal would be necessary in view of the availability of financial support. This factor, together with recent concerns in relation to the security of UK energy supply, would not however outweigh the harm identified. There also is no convincing evidence that the close proximity of a grid connection, local power use and an absence of brownfield alternative sites outside the ownership of the appeal site would weigh heavily in favour of the appeal site as a location for this proposal. There is also no convincing evidence that, outside of the National Park and the AGLV, there are no undeveloped sites that have a similarly good aspect for solar energy which are not on good agricultural land. These points do not add weight in favour of allowing the appeal. Any biodiversity benefits from land management measures included in the proposal would also not outweigh the harm identified.

After weighing these factors in the balance the Inspector's conclusion was that:

The proposal would result in material benefits in relation to renewable energy that would attract significant weight. Under the environmental dimension of sustainable development, this potential movement to a low carbon economy would not however be sufficient to outweigh the harm to the natural environment in terms of the character and appearance of the surrounding area which attracts substantial weight. Having also taken into account all other matters raised, none carry sufficient weight to alter the decision. I therefore conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.

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