Saturday, 3 July 2010

Eigg On Their Face

The Isle of Eigg has a lot going for it. One of the most beautiful Hebridean Islands, 10 miles off the Scottish west coast, south of the Isle of Skye,the island has superb wildlife and birdlife and a temperate maritime climate.

Even better, its 87 inhabitants are sharing out a million pound win. A reward/bribe for being green. The £1m goes in the kitty with £300,000 won in January for its revolutionary electrification project, which generates 24 hour power. The system incorporates a 9.9 kW PV system, three hydro generation systems (totalling 112 kW) and a 24 kW wind farm. It is supported by diesel generators and batteries. The combination of solar, wind and hydro power should provide a network that is self sufficient and powered 98% from renewable sources.

The island's website boasted: "We were entirely dependent upon making our own power and the clattering of generators was always to be heard. Now, the generators are silent and suddenly we have leapt to the forefront of electricity generation."

Sad, really, that this week the islanders have been told "Put that light out! Go easy with the toaster and put away the electric iron." Once more the voice of the generator is heard in the land.

Electricity began being rationed in June after 3 days of mild weather caused supply to fall short of demand. Goodness knows what they will do if global warming happens.
Mind you, there is still money to be made from wind turbines, most of it by rich landowners who will earn millions exploiting the lucrative system of subsidies for generating renewable energy.

The richest Scottish Peer, the Duke of Roxburghe, plans a 48-turbine scheme on his Scottish estate which will "generate" an estimated £30m a year, shared with developers. About £17m of this would come from subsidies from consumers. The firm which will erect the turbines said: “We will build and operate the wind farm and the landowners will receive an annual payment.” He is seeking planning permission for 48 turbines on his grouse moor at Fallago Rig in the Lammermuir Hills in Roxburghshire, again in the face of strong local opposition.

Others seeking to capitalise on the new wind rush include the Duke of Beaufort, Sir Reginald Sheffield, father of Samantha Cameron, and Michael Ancram, the Tory grandee. One controversial proposal is at Mynydd y Gwair, near Swansea, on land owned by the Duke of Beaufort’s Somerset Trust, where RWE power wants permission for 19 turbines. The scheme, which has 1,600 objectors, would generate an estimated income of about £12m a year, including £7m of subsidy.
The growing interest in wind farms stems from the government’s subsidy system. A typical three-megawatt turbine will generate about £670,000 a year, of which £350,000 comes in subsidies. Since the machines cost £2-3m and have a lifetime of about 25 years, the profits are considerable, even after running costs are deducted. Many schemes have gone ahead despite objections from local residents concerned about blight and from economists who bridle at the “excessive” cost of the subsidy system.
No surprise that developers, landowners and wind farm supporters say Britain must accept changes to its landscape, plus the cost of subsidies, as the price of cutting CO2 emissions. RidgeWind is a company set up by Hg Capital to seek out large landowners to set up wind farms. Last August it switched on an eight-turbine wind farm at Bagmoor, part of the 3,000-acre estate of Sheffield, the father-in-law of the Tory leader, generating an income of about £3.5m a year, shared with developers. RidgeWind will soon erect 10 more turbines, each about 410ft high, on the Ellingham estate in Northumberland, owned by Lady Belinda Gadsden, whose title dates back to 1642.
Ironically, the Renewables Obligation certificate (Roc) scheme was created by a Labour government but is handing large profits to investors and country landowners. Under the system, renewable energy generators can claim a Roc certificate for each megawatt hour of electricity produced. A 3MW turbine produces about 7,000 megawatt hours a year, with the electricity fetching £320,000 and the Rocs another £350,000 at current prices. Power companies are obliged to buy Rocs to meet government targets for renewable power but pass the cost to consumers. They also take the bulk of wind farm profits.
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I hope, in its commendable erasure of New Labour's prodigality, the Coaltion will kybosh schemes like the one by which it helped the University of Warwick to pay
£14,793 for a piece of sculpture "Wet Road" by Richard Long.

Not any old piece of sculpture you understand. According to the Review of the National Art Collection fund at the time,Long combined the awful purity of the modern art gallery with the awful emptiness of the extreme, uninhabited and often remote landscape.


He took a piece of paper and typed on it details of a walk he did on a rain-
soaked road. One piece of paper,fourteen uneven lines of typing and he is £14,793 better off.

The Wet Road
"The times of walking on the rain-wetted road
"Along a 19 day walk of 391 miles
"From the North Coast to the South Coast of France

First day 1 and a half hours
Third day 2 and a half hours"

It is called soft sculpture and the University of Warwick believed it had not only got a bargain piece: it had also got a prose poem.

The Skidmore Collection of Soft Sculpture is a retrospective assembly of works by the Master of Elwyn Court. It represents his development as an artist in this exciting field. It includes Betting Slip, an early work almost stark in its conception, giving subtle hints of the power that lay dormant in his fingers; note the isolation of the nom de plume which speaks of the essential loneliness of the human condition.


2.30 Haydock Park

shilling e.w

Debs Delight

The Master was capable of a tenderness which makes a sonnet of the declaration:

Back of school bike shed. 4 pm. Bring mac.

Bring mac. What caring those simple words imply. What pictures of wet playing fields, the heedless passion of youth, tempered with the practical, the almost seminal fear of rheumatism, unique in one so young. Yet in maturity this was to be echoed and re-born as brooding pessimism in the impressive "Application For A Job as Reporter on the Kidderminster Shuttle", a series which he was to extend to cover most of the weekly newspapers in Northern Britain.

The collection contains many examples of his art in its maturity. The cycle of Daily Mirror weather stories conjours up past summers in soft sculpture in a way only Monet acheived in paint. Haunting phrases recur: "Holiday makers in Blackpool
sweltered in the August sun" has the narrative quality of Dutch genre paintings.

For many years the Master explored the possibilties of humility in what came to be known as the Canon of Cringing Letters to the Midland Bank. Impossible to do
justice to their tonality and plasticity in newsprint.That requires the medium on which they were conceived, A4 Just Write Copier, supplied by his patron of many years, the BBC.

(This blog is available as a monochrome print, signed and numbered by the artist.)