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Wave energy developers’ chance to find out more about £7m support fund on 31 March 2015

PEOPLE involved in the development of wave energy technology in Scotland will be able to find out more about a £7million support fund in a special online webinar on Tuesday (31 March).

Wave Energy Scotland (WES), part of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is funded by Scottish Government. It launched its first international technology innovation competition earlier this month.

Begins a spokesperson: “The organisation issued a competitive project call for innovative power take-off (PTO) systems. This invited applications from technology developers requiring investment to advance their technology through rigorous testing and towards commercialisation.

“Successful applicants will be eligible for contracts that cover up to 100 per cent of the cost of their technology development project. Contracts will range from between £100,000 and £4 million, depending on the maturity of the technology.”

WES’s first webinar, which starts at 0930 on Tuesday, will be an opportunity for developers to ask questions and hear first-hand about the types of projects that may be supported through this initial fund. People can register for the webinar at www.hie.co.uk/weswebinar

Tim Hurst, interim director of WES, said: “This is an exciting time for the wave energy sector.

“There has already been a lot of interest in the first project call for Power Take-Off systems.

“We’re keen to see applications from across the energy industries and other sectors as we begin the programmes to find innovative solutions to the cost effective generation of wave energy.

“The webinar is an ideal opportunity for anyone to hear about the initial thoughts on how we think Wave Energy Scotland will operate going forward. Our aim is take wave energy technology to a stage where commercialisation is not only possible, but attractive to private investors who may once again re-enter the sector.”

Applicants seeking support from the fund will need to register by 15 May and submit their proposals by 22 May. Contracts will be awarded at the end of June.

Tuesday’s webinar will be made available to watch again after the live webcast.

issued by Highlands and Islands Enterprise

TransPacific Partnership – TTIP

So much has been written about the TTIP yet it is still in a shroud of secrecy and seems it will continue that way if it ever comes to realisation. We in Scotland and rest of the UK and Europe need to take a stance against this trade agreement ever coming to fruition for our sake and our children’s sake.

No Trade Treaty like NAFTA, GATT and even WTO has ever brought an increase in trade, or employment or even anything else that was touted at the time to con people into thinking that it was to their advantage.  All these treaties touted  that they would prevent damage to the environment, workers rights would be protected from unsafe conditions, consumer protection for safe food, drugs and other products would be provided, job creation will be in the thousands if not millions.  These never materialised instead all these things became worse especially for those in the third world.

NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement is a trilateral agreement between Mexico, USA and Canada came into force in 1994 and there is no evidence that it helped small businesses in any way – instead what it did was consolidate the power and greed of a few corporations £tilted the economic playing field in favor of investors, and against workers and the environment, resulting in a hemispheric “race to the bottom” in wages and environmental quality.” (robert e scott high price of free trade). What it did was bring about the loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs in the USA, a rise in income inequality, reduced fringe benefits for workers, real wages for workers was suppressed, weakened the ability to organise unions and collective bargaining powers.

GATT – General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was in place from 1948 until 1994 and was signed by 123 nations what it did was push down wages worldwide, stopped many nations especially smaller ones from making their own decisions about many trade aspects and were actually bullied into accepting GATT rules even when it was against their own people and to bring down standards. It was set up to stop any one country from bullying another to accept unfair trade agreements but ended up doing the opposite in many cases. “Who could favor this incursion on community self-control?  Traders, of course.  Multinational companies that find one country’s minimum wage or another country’s pesticide or banking regulations a nuisance.  The undiscussible reason why the new GATT should be defeated is that it was shaped and will be controlled by those who already have too much power — large corporations, bankers, and politicians enriched by them” (GATT Concentrates Too Much Power in the Wrong Hands, By Donella Meadows). Theme here as before it only helped enhance the greed and power of a few corporates.

WTO – World Trade Organisation came into being in 1995 and replaced GATT once again what WTO does is help the powerful corporations worldwide to “use WTO rules and rulings as crowbars to wrench open markets and batter down laws defending the quality of human life and the environment. The record of the first six years is clear: nearly all WTO decisions have gutted democratic restrictions on trade, effectively lowering environmental, consumer protection, public health, and human rights standards. Even when reasonable standards were applied equally to all domestic and foreign producers, the WTO has repeatedly struck them down as trade barriers, demolishing shelters that citizens have built against the stormy side effects of market forces.” (What’s wrong with the WTO? A guide to where the mines are buried by Peter Costantini).

We now come to the present the new TTIP which is secretely being negotiated between US, EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam. It is so secret that many parts of it will be never see the light of day in our lifetime or even our children’s lifetime. How can this possibly be possible? Surely something which is supposed to be for our good should be transparent so we can all see the warts and roses and make our own minds up whether it will really serve us or not for the good.  Like the previous agreements and WTO which is still in play once again it is the largest and most powerful corporations who will hold us all to ransom including governments. Currently many features which are in it are being enacted by the UK government what do they know that we dont? Or is it just to hoodwink us into thinking well it is already reality without so just accept it – nice wee article here ‘TTIP . . . Our Dilemma‘ which i found after writing this article yesterday.

TTIP will affect us in many ways the main goal is to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic:

NHS – will open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to companies from the US and what this means is that the NHS will be privatised.  The EU has said that the NHS will not be part of the negotiations but the UK Trade Minister Lord Livingston admitted that talks about the NHS were still on the table.

Currently the British Government in WM is fast tracking the privatisation of the NHS in readiness for TTIP so that when it materialises (God forbid) they can say how much it has also saved and helped everyone in the UK due to privatisation and it is no big deal. We cannot let them get away with this. Not only that but many of them have their pockets in the corporations who they have sold parts of the NHS too – 200 parliamentarians have recent past or present financial links to companies involved in healthcare

Food Safety – the EU and UK have a high standard when it comes to food safety under the TTIP standards will fall dramatically as the US standards are much lower and we may end up with GM food unknowingly, pesticides which are currently banned being unbanned or just not labelled as many of them are not banned in the USA, growth hormones and additives are used on beef in the States and they have been trying to get the restrictions on this lifted and will use TTIP to try and do so. American corporations want the ban lifted on chickens washed in chlorine.

Environment – in Europe a company must prove something is safe before it can be used in the USA it is the opposite! ie a substance can be used until proven unsafe and dangerous in the States?  The EU currently bans 1,200 substances from use in cosmetics and in the US only 12 are banned. With the lowering of environmental standards in the UK and EU fracking will be able to take place with impunity. The agreement will also allow corporations to sue governments when they decide to move away from fossil fuels to clean ethical energy such as wind and solar and wave power.

Jobs – The EU has actually admitted that there will be massive unemployment as jobs will shift to the USA – but hey were jobs not promised to the Americans under the other treaties and instead the opposite materialised? Still it is worrying that the EU is willing to sign an agreement where there will be massive job loses for their own people? How can that be are we not more important as their citizens than another country who does not pay their taxes to them?  Workers rights as we know it will be lost and we will end up with worse than the notorious zero contracts – look at the states where currently they are going back to the dark ages where workers rights are being eroded and rolled back to the early 1900s if not before.

Privacy – will back ACTA which was thrown out by the EU after a huge backlash from the public – looks like this will be brought back through the back door.  Public will not have access to pharmaceutical trial results anymore so we can be fed any old poison and have no redress against the pharmaceuticals at all.

BDS – This has currently been added onto agreement and will mean that anyone in Europe who boycotts Israel will basically be fined or imprisoned for daring to do so and will be considered an enemy of the state all because we use our own human rights to fight against what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank.

Democracy – if a company under TTIP makes a loss they can sue governments for losing profits because of that particular governments policies.  an example is ” in Germany where Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing the German government for billions of dollars over its decision to phase out nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Here we see a public health policy put into place by a democratically elected government being threatened by an energy giant because of a potential loss of profit. Nothing could be more cynically anti-democratic.” (what is ttip and 6 reasons why it should scare you by lee williams). TTIP would give corporations the power to sue governments over decisions that could harm their future profits, undermining democratic decision-making made in the public interest

Finance – many of the new rules brought out since the financial scandals of recent years will no longer be viable as the TTIP will remove many of these regulations. A leaked chapter dated January 2015 shows how we the people will have no rights to anything even our governments will be turned against us as they will be fighting being sued by large corporations losing profits. This document is supposed to be kept secret for 4  years after fruition of the agreement if no agreement still kept secret for 4 years. “Investment Chapter” of the agreement, where the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are set out. They allow companies to repeal nations’ environmental, health and labor laws.

For example if a large corporation sells widgets and we the public know it is bad for us and we refuse to buy this widget and instead buy something we consider more ethical the large corporation can sue our government for loss of profits!!! and not only that but all trials will be in secret under something called isds tribunals so no redress no complaints will make any difference what we do.  In other words our sovereign governments will be hijacked by greedy large corporations.

Intellectual Property (IP) – TTIP will create unprecedented assaults on freedom of speech and individuals right to read, write and publish as can be seen happening worldwide right now.

Extract from below from the stop TTIP site :

 “the beneficiaries of these agreements are not in fact citizens, but big corporations:

  • Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS): Foreign investors (i.e. Canadian and US companies) receive the right to sue for damages if they believe that they have suffered losses because of laws or measures of the EU or of individual EU member states. This can also affect laws which were enacted in the interest of the common good, such as environmental and consumer protection.
  • Groups of companies are intended to be included even during the elaboration of new regulations and laws if their trade interests could be affected. The name for this is: “regulatory cooperation”. It means that representatives of big business are invited to participate in expert groups to influence new draft laws, even before these are discussed in the elected parliaments. This undermines democracy!
  • Big business had, and still has, excessive influence on the secret negotiations relating to CETA and TTIP. Alone in the preparatory phase for TTIP, 590 meetings took place between the EU Commission and lobby representatives, according to official statements. 92% of these meetings were with representatives of companies, while only in a few cases there were discussions with consumer and trade union representatives. And also during the negotiations, representatives of industry are exercising influence. Some formulations in draft texts which have filtered through to the public originate directly from the pens of company lobbyists.
  • The negotiations are conducted in secret. Even our public representatives know little if anything about their progress. They receive the results in the form of long agreements (the CETA agreement, for example, has about 1,500 pages) only after conclusion of the negotiations, and are therefore able only to either accept or reject the whole agreement without being able to ask for amendments.
  • Employee rights are coming under pressure, and jobs in numerous industries are endangered. In the USA, only a few basic rights for employees are recognised (only two out of the eight ILO core labour standards). In agriculture and in the electrical industry, massive job losses could occur because of the tougher competition from abroad.
  • Liberalisation and privatisation are intended to become one-way streets. The return of public utilities, hospitals, or waste collection to the public sector once they have been privatised would be made more difficult or even impossible through CETA and TTIP.
  • The EU and its member states are falling under pressure to allow risky technologies such as fracking or GM technology.
  • Foodstuff standards and consumer protection for cosmetics and medical products threaten to be set at the same levels as US standards. However, we need higher rather than lower standards of protection, whether they apply to the use of pesticides, factory farming, or clean sources of energy. Regulatory cooperation and ISDS would make this more difficult or impossible.

CETA and TTIP want to increase the power of multinationals at the expense of democracy and the general good. We must not allow this to happen!” (TTIP a threat to demcracy)”

In conclusion the TTIP will put into the hands of the most powerful corporations and banks in the world our lives, our livelihoods and our environment to the detriment of what is ethical and morally correct.  We dont even have the right to fight against this as it is so secretly scary.  In Scotland we are blessed with a government who will fight for NHS to be protected against TTIP but we also need all our other public services, whatever are left, to also be protected. We have become so complacent with the mass use of tv, radio, internet and false and sensational news stories, movies which are blood and gore including violent video games that what is happening to our basic freedoms are being mind numbingly being taken away from us so easily.  Otherwise we are sleep walking into a machiavellian orwellian world which bodes no good to us. IT IS NOT ONLY THE #NHS WHICH NEEDS PROTECTING BUT EVERYTHING ELSE TTIP WILL IMPACT.

Intersting sites to keep a watch on are

Corporate Europe Observatory Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU.

Fracking debate heats up – 80% of Scottish Population will be impacted

Now that the referendum is over and results in for better or worse we have a huge fight on our hands – Fracking.  Westminister has licenced out large swathes of Scottish land in the central belt where 80% of the population currently lives.

You may wonder how they managed to get away with it well they called the bill such an innocous and boring name that’es how – The Infrascture Bill – yep sounds really exciting doesnt it and run of the mill crap that comes out of Westminister.  But it has an inclusion which gives fracking companies the right to frack under peoples homes and to use any kind of chemical it wants to do so.

The central belt is heavily mined whether it be coal, sandstone or other elements and so much subsidence as well that to frack in this area would be criminal. Not only that but Scottish householders do not have the right to object. So what this means is that companies like Dart Energy, Eneos etc can drill underneath your house without permission aaarrghhhh

108bn litres of waste water contaminated with fracking chemical and radioactive elements will be released into UK land. Cad Cameron’s government said by using fracking this would reduce the UK’s carbon emissions

The UK’s licensing explained re oil and gas etc

Here is a link to the Westminster site for the Infrastucture Bill

Current blocks of licensing under offer by WM 14th round map of the acreage being offered – red currently on offer and yellow already licensed

Department of Energy and Climate Change -Strategic Environmental Assessment for Further Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing – this report is misleading if you check page xv it says that there is no environmental impact the fibbers.  Also there is only a passing reference to NORM (naturally occuring radiation).  Now what about Radon levels ? Dangerous levels of radioactivity was found in Pennsylvania fracking waste site.

Below is an extract of the government website consultation :

 Is coal bed methane (CBM) in scope of the proposals?

CBM requires a Petroleum Licence as this product is defined under the Petroleum Act 1998 and would also require a coal access agreement with the Coal Authority to pass through the coal seam or any non-coal minerals owned by the Coal Authority. CBM is focussed on coal seams, however, if access to underground land outside of a coal seam is required then this currently would require an access agreement from those landowners in possession of that particular piece of land, via the same procedure as oil and gas.

Therefore, these proposals on underground access could be used to grant underground access (to land below 300 metres) for the purpose of CBM extraction. The requirements of a Petroleum Licence and coal access agreement would remain unchanged.

Is heat recovery from water in disused mines in scope?

Great Britain has geothermal potential in mine water, some of which is located at depths greater than 300m. The proposals in the consultation would apply to the extraction of mine water heat at these depths.

What will courts consider when making a decision on access under the existing procedure?

If individual access negotiations between a landowner and an oil and gas operator fail, the operator can refer the matter to the court via the Secretary of State. The Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966 allows minerals developers, including the holder of a petroleum licence to obtain a right of access, if certain conditions are met.

These conditions (as set out in section 3 of the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966) state that a right cannot be granted unless it is not reasonably practicable to obtain the right by private arrangement for any of the following reasons:

a) that the persons with power to grant the right are numerous or have conflicting interests b) that the persons with power to grant the right, or any of them, cannot be ascertained or cannot be found c) that the persons from whom the right must be obtained, or any of them, have not the necessary powers of disposition, whether by reason of defect in title, legal disability or otherwise d) that the person with power to grant the right unreasonably refuses to grant it or demands terms which, having regard to the circumstances, are unreasonable

The court must also be satisfied that the grant is expedient in the national interest.

This procedure has only once been used in respect of petroleum and there is no shale gas or oil-specific precedent due to the nascent stage of the shale industry. This procedure is not applicable to geothermal energy projects.

What do the proposals mean in terms of the law of trespass in England, Wales and Scotland?

In England and Wales, any unauthorised entry onto privately owned land is a trespass. In Scotland, although trespass is governed by Scottish law, it is similar in that trespass denotes any temporary physical intrusion in the land of another without his permission; it is an infringement of a person’s right to the exclusive use and occupation of his land.

The purpose of our proposals is not to change trespass law in England and Wales but the effect of the proposals is that trespass law would not apply to land deeper than 300 metres where a company had obtained an automatic right of access and was in compliance with any conditions attached to that right.

In terms of the law of trespass in Scotland, the proposals are the same as in England and Wales and the effect is the same. Interaction with planning in Scotland is the same as it is in England and Wales.

What depth would hydraulic fracturing take place at?

As set out in the consultation document, it is expected that hydraulic fracturing will typically occur at depths more than a mile down. However, it can take place closer to the surface – this is dependent on the geology of the operation. The Department of Energy and Climate Change holds no view on the merits of operations at different depths. This is for the environmental regulator to assess on a case-by-case basis.

Our proposals on access rights are about removing an existing obstacle and would apply to all applicable drilling activities below 300 meters. We consider it appropriate to keep the requirement in place for an operator to agree access with the individual landowners at depths above 300 metres, but this is not intended to preclude activities at these shallower depths.

 Below is further information re Scotland the blighters

The UK Government decision is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-remove-barriers-to-onshore-oil-and-gas-and-deep-geothermal-exploration

2. The five main changes in the recently published Scottish Planning Policy relating to onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction are:

  • Confirmation that the concept of buffer zones should be applied to all proposals for the first time;
  • Putting in place an additional requirement for risk assessments to be prepared, using a source-pathway-receptor model, to ensure a transparent and evidence-based approach to assessing whether proposed buffer zones are acceptable;
  • Making explicit that buffer zones will be assessed by the planning authority and statutory consultees, with a strong expectation that planning permission should be refused if they are unacceptable;
  • Ensuring that operators are upfront about their plans and that communities are consulted on all unconventional gas developments, including close involvement in the risk assessment process;
  • Requiring a fresh planning application (and public consultation) if permission was not sought for hydraulic fracturing but developers subsequently intend to undertake this process.

3. There are a number of regulators involved in the regulation of activities associated with unconventional gas:

  • the licencing of onshore oil and gas activities is a reserved matter managed through the competitive bidding process for licences known as Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDL) and issued by the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC);
  • Drilling operations which propose hydraulic fracturing techniques ’fracking’ require an added layer of permissions in the form of a licence under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR license). CAR licences are issued and conditioned by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) who carry out a risk assessment as part of its specific obligations to evaluate risks to the water environment when assessing such applications;
  • Operators must also provide details of all of the chemical additives proposed to be used in drilling and fracturing fluids to SEPA, who then use this information in their examination of any application for injection, to ensure the substances involved are of a type and at a concentration that will not cause pollution of the water environment;
  • An additional layer of regulation is applied to some surface activities connected to onshore gas extraction such as refining of gas, gasification and other heat treatments, combustion or disposal of liquid or solid wastes, which are controlled by SEPA through their Pollution, Prevention and Control License (PPC);
  • The Health & Safety Executive monitors unconventional gas operations from a well integrity and site safety perspective – safe working practices as required under the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974, and regulations made under the Act – The Borehole Site and Operations Regulations 1995 (BSOR) and The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 (DCR);
  • Any activity which intersects, disturbs or enters coal seams requires prior written authorisation from the Coal Authority;
  • Any operator wishing to develop onshore gas in Scotland also needs to seek planning permission from the relevant Planning Authority, and of course the usual public notification and consultation processes apply.

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