back to article Hippie windfarm kingpin Dale Vince slapped down by ASA

Self-proclaimed "hippie" windmill kingpin Dale Vince has been slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for violating truthfulness requirements in a direct-mail ad campaign. According to the ASA, Vince's company Ecotricity stated in a mailshot regarding a planned windfarm in the Cotswolds that it had "consulted …

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Windbag

Yes he's a bullshitter.

However the comparison at the end is between "has created" (220MW/13Y) and "says it will create" (1GW/5y).

I'm inclined to believe a number more when it's about actual performance rather than projected.

The latter falls in the scope of "advertising blurb" and the ASA only catches the tip of the bullshitting iceberg.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

the worlds biggest nuclear waste polluter...

Is it pollution if it is not released into the environment?

Today's waste could be tomorrow's fuel, depending on research. So let us invest in clean nuclear power and not the environmentally damaging wind turbines!

After all what happens to the concrete block the wind turbine is sited on in twenty years? It starts to break down and pollute the surounding soil. Whereas nuclear plants? They just build a new plant on the same site.

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Anonymous Coward

logic failure

There are many many reasons to dismiss windpower.

But this one really is clutching at straws.

the idea that a concrete block degrading (presumably abandoned) is less polluting than a nuclear power station is mental enough to get you a job working for this "hippie" guy.

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Yeah, sure

So EDF *says* it will, while Ecotricty *has* done. I think I know who has the green credibility so far, despite slightly nutty UFO claims.

I'd rather live next to a windfarm that goes wrong than a nuclear powerstation that goes wrong. Whatever the nucleartards claim, how many people have actually suffered ill-effects from nuclear vs. wind power? I think wind is winning the 'safety debate'.

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Anonymous Coward

A fair comparison

"how many people have actually suffered ill-effects from nuclear vs. wind power? I think wind is winning the 'safety debate'."

Per KWh? Probably nuclear.

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Is this the same ASA?

That allowed all Broadband ISP's to use the word 'Unlimited' when it was anything but. Despite the high number of user complaints as well.

Best impartiality money can buy.

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Grenade

Two Types of Green

This story highlights the fact that "green" means two different things to two different groups of people.

(1) The more literal meaning: green fields, green trees, green views, wildlife, nature, rural England. This is the meaning that the Cotswold residents would support. Sounds like it is these that the CCB represent.

(2) The meaning highjacked by the "green movement": air free of unnatural gasses and particles, food and water free of man-made additives, and above all no increase in the natural level of radioactivity. This is the group to which Dale Vince belongs.

It is not clear how the colour green came to be associated with the second meaning and group. Perhaps like in the FoE, which started more Group (1) but became dominated by Group (2), as shown when their original policy of a reduced population was dropped.

The two meanings are largely opposed, or orthogonal in some areas. Other examples of the disparity between (1) and (2) are the Severn barrage (industrialising the estuary for tidal energy) and Chernobyl (the best thing that ever happened for Ukrainian wildlife). Actually, tidal energy is not renewable.

The journalist Matthew Paris once had the job of opening the letters adressed to the Prime Minister. He said that about 95% of them (can't remember the exact figure) were from people who thought they were being poisoned. Poisonong is the British paranoia, as Agatha Christie recognised. The green movement prizes "low density" technology so would cover what's left of green Britain with their solar panels, wind farms, hydro and tidal schemes to feed their poison paranoia.

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Headmaster

its its its

Its!!!!!

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Heart

One Happy Camper

Just want to say that as someone who's been an Ecotricity customer for over four years now...they haven't put a foot wrong as far as I'm concerned

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Wants to be the new Richard Branson?

Sounds like he's off to a flying start.

And not in a good way.

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WTF?

Is AManFromMars...

...ghostwriting Vince's press releases?

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EDF figures

EDF freely admit that they will achieve a projected quarter of that 1000 megawatt figure by buying renewable electricity generation from other firms already in the business. The purchased offset will allow them to continue generation in other areas, while still achieving their targets. That will probably include buying from Ecotricity, who currently have no need for purchased offset.

Dale Vince isn't someone I could trust, too far, but if you must issue Parthian shots, ensure that they hit a mark.

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Anonymous Coward

Well blow me down

An electricity company lying about windfarms? Pull the other one it's got a Catholic Pope on it.

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Comparted to some...

...or even most electricity companies, Ecotricity are Very Nice.

Be nice back to them, ok?

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wsm

Apparently

My intentions mean everything and my false claims mean even more. Please disregard anything that doesn't make me always right. Thank you for not thinking.

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WTF?

finally...

a few years ago i saw an advert for Ecotricity on the wall of a "green supermarket", declaring ecotricity to provide "Organic Electricity"! That and all this prancing about pretending to be Che decided it. I switched to Good Energy a long time ago. Its good to see some one else noticing all that nonsense!

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Anonymous Coward

First law of thermodynamics

Changes the whole idea of wind farms from being "green" to being "scary". Maybe not at today's volumes, but the same can be said for burning oil, coal and gas.

Nuclear is the only viable option - fission when we can, fusion until then. Better a few 3 eyed fish than screwing up the climate.

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Flame

Hello again Lewis...

For anyone who is actually interested - we're very disappointed with the ASA's decision, which has been reached in the absence of all the facts and in the face of others.

Nobody has been misled by our letter to residents. The facts are that we have never asked the Cotswolds Conservation Board for their opinion of our wind farm proposal - and we have never had their opinion offered to us. So when we said, in our letter,that all of the bodies we had consulted with so far had been positive - that was the absolute truth.

The ASA have told us they are too busy to get the facts themselves, which is rather shocking. They should have made enquires with the CCB (who have not been totally straight in this), in the absence of that basic diligence this judgement is premature and ill founded.

What's more the ASA have failed to meet the standard of their own code of practice (clause 7.1) - the one that says advertisers must have evidence to support up the claims they make. The ASA has no evidence to back up this judgement. The dictionary definition of such practice is hypocrisy.

This is a flawed judgement from an organisation too busy to establish the facts. It's a disgrace.

Cheers - especially to the green geeks who still read The Register ;)

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See the Evidence and Judge for yourself

The Evidence. The Letter from the CCB

The ASA gave Ecotricity three separate chances to substantiate their claim.

Here is the letter referred to in The ASA adjudication from The Cotswolds Conservation Board to the complainant.

1st October 2009

Dear Mr Travé

Ecotricity Consultation Re; Proposed Windfarm in Berkeley Vale.

I refer to our email correspondence regarding the above.

I can confirm that I met with two representatives of Ecotricity on 9th March 2009. One of the Ecotricity representatives was Mr Daniel Baird. No formal notes of the meeting were taken.

However I recall outlining the Board's general position regarding windfarms as set out in the Cotswolds AONB management plan, the Position Statement on Renewable Energy Projects, and Renewable Energy Guidance leaflets. (all of which can be downloaded from the Board's website.)

I can also recall acknowledging that the site was outside the AONB's boundary (just), but reminded the Ecotricity representatives that the setting of the AONB was a material consideration, and the Board would want this point addressed in any Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposal.

Whilst the tone of the meeting was amicable it would not be correct to suggest that I had given a "positive" response on behalf of the Board.

I hope this is helpful

Yours sincerely

Malcolm Walt

Planning Officer

On behalf of the Cotswolds Conservation Board

A CEO from an ethical company would be very concerned about a negative adjudication from The ASA, but not Dale Vince it would seem?

Save Berkeley Vale

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Coffee/keyboard

Semantricks

Hello Save Berkeley Vale, all,

Hmm... just to be clear - this ASA ruling came about from a single complaint made by none other than Graham Travé - the spokesperson for the local anti-wind group 'Save Berkeley Vale'. This whole thing is about hair splitting and semantics in an effort to simply throw some dirt our way.

That said the most important point that seems to be missed here is this - we never (ever) consulted the CCB on our proposal. So when they say in their letter that 'their response could not be considered positive' this is not the whole truth, it's misleading because they actually gave no response because they were not actually asked for one. If we didn't ask them and they didn't give one then how can our letter, which said 'all responses so far have been positive' - have been untrue?

It's worth also saying here that the CCB are not on the list of bodies that we are required to consult with, we did not conveniently overlook them - before someone jumps to that conclusion... :)

Here is a quote from another email from Malcolm Watt of CCB that we received:

"I am happy to confirm that the Council is not required statutorily to consult the Cotswolds Conservation Board on planning applications which fall under the thresholds for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP)."

He goes on to say:

"At no time has the Board made a statement, "positive" or otherwise, about your proposals"

BTW - a PDF that shows the original letter, along with Mr Travé's letter is publicly available here: http://tinyurl.com/ye5ubjt

We just found one to/from the RAF here also: http://tinyurl.com/ybdrwwp

So - this is just another case of a loud minority of people using every process available in order to derail and discredit wind projects. A bit like people using this 'news' article as justification to attack wind energy in general! Come on folks, think about the future!

Cheers

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Stop

Base load Base load

With all these cool wind turbines going up just where is the base load coming from? This is a fundamental issue surrounding all of this eco tech. You can only be seen to be viable as long as there is a base load provided by fossil / nuke. I believe in reducing carbon emissions but that requires a complete re-think of how we transport (grid) and us (low enegry devices) the generated electricicity.

The trouble is no one group of people have the whole answer. The greeens moan about co2 and nuclear the nimbys moan about turbines and the electricity companies worry what The City (aka shareholders) think about lowered revenue if we the consumer utilise low energy devices and properly insulate our homes.

There is no one simple answer and banging up wind turbines is a short term sticking plaster for a much bigger issue. Bunch of arse.

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Megaphone

Who did you consult with Dale?

An email extract from Dale Vince, when he was asked who did you consult with about your proposed wind farm? As you can see, he only sent the list after he was pressed to do so.

In a message dated 21/08/2009 10:53:50 GMT Daylight Time, xxxxxxxxxxxxx@ecotricity.co.uk writes:

Dear Graham,

Happy to expand for you. With regards your assumptions -

a) Nope you are quite wrong on this. A simple reading of what I have said should make that abundantly clear to you. I said 'I don't propose it would be helpful to list them'. But if you really want to know, I assume you feel it would be helpful to you so here is the list.

We have spoken to a plethora of telecoms consultees: JRC, National Grid Wireless, OfCom, Cable and Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile, Arqiva, BT, CSS

Also:

RSPB

BAE Filton Airport

Civil Aviation Authority CAA

Defence Estates

Natural England

RSPB

Environment Agency

National Grid (High Pressure Gas)

Wales and West Utilities

Cotswolds AONB

This is the list so far, there will be others.

(Cotswolds AONB is what Dale Vince incorrectly calls The Cotswolds Conservation Board which is a part of Natural England, also on his list.).

Quote from Ecoticity's posting Title "Semantricks"

"That said the most important point that seems to be missed here is this - we never (ever) consulted the CCB on our proposal."

Is The Cotswolds Conservation Board on his list?

Save Berkeley Vale are not throwing dirt. The letter was the start of Ecotricity's public consultation. We only asked Dale Vince about one paragraph. We then asked one of the consultees on the list given to us by Dale Vince if they had been positive about his proposed wind farm. They said they hadn't been positive in their response to Ecotricity's consultation. We asked the ASA if they felt this broke their code. They said yes it did. It would have had made no difference to the outcome of the ASA's adjudication if 1000 people had complained about 3 claims made in this piece of direct mail.

There is no "majority" in favour of this wind farm proposal either, it is just a figment of Dale Vince's imagination. Most sensible people can see that 8 120m wind turbines in Berkeley Vale is just a pipe dream of the founder of a tiny energy company. The reality is that probably many years and hundreds of thousands of pounds will be spent (much of that wasted public money) to reach the conclusion that this plan is ill conceived and totally unrealistic .

(Not sure why he felt the RAF email link was relevant. RAF Hercules aircraft and Jet fighters occasionally use Berkeley Vale for low flying exercises. They fly in a bubble that goes as low as 200ft. We were just checking that they knew about this proposed 232ft mast. Not sure why anyone would think that was not sensible?

The RAF flying safety officer was at first concerned, but on checking, he wasn't. We got a truthful answer to a straight question about public safety and the safety of the aircrews).

Our understanding is that if Ecotricity are unhappy with the ASA's adjudication they can appeal.

We will follow that appeal, if made, with light interest.

Save Berkeley Vale. www.saveberkeleyvale.org.uk

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Alert

More Semantrics from Graham Trave (of Save Berkely Vale)

Mr Trave, you need to be a little more honest with yourself and with the rest of us. First thing is to put your name to these posts.

You say 'we only asked Dale Vince about one paragraph' - but that's not the whole truth, I have letters and e-mails listing 20 or more questions at a time, from you and the (probably only) other person in your group. We've been bombarded with your nonsense.

Below you quote a list of people I told you we have 'spoken to'. For a man so proficient in semantics I would expect you to be a little more accurate in the meaning you ascribe to words. I told you we'd spoken to lots or organisations, 'spoke to' being the operative description. That is not the same as 'consulted' there is a big difference. You do not understand the issues of wind or the process of planning, and that's fine, you are a lay person with much to learn.

Whatever you say the fact remains that we did not consult with the CCB at that meeting in March - CCB have confirmed this to us by e-mail.

Their letter to you is misleading (unintentionally I'm sure) - it says they did not give a positive response (which is true but not the whole story), it fails to point out that they did not give a response at all AND that's because the issue was not discussed.

Our letter was honest and factual. It would do you more credit to raise genuine issues regarding our plans rather than try to discredit us this way and rather than just offer your platitudes here about windmills being too big (for your backyard) - what I'm saying is, play the ball Mr Trave not the man.

Our appeal to the ASA has been lodged. We shall see.

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