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The 'Curiouser and Curiouser' Case of "Yes to Wind"
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:04 pm    Post subject: The 'Curiouser and Curiouser' Case of "Yes to Wind" Reply with quote

The 'Curiouser and Curiouser' Case of "Yes to Wind"

A sorry tale in wind-ups, intrigue and misrepresentation

by Paul Mobbs/The Free Range Network -- mei@fraw.org.uk
Tuesday 22nd June 2010


First and foremost, have a look at this well known website -- http://www.yes2wind.com/

Remember this? This was the web site that WWF, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace set up a few years ago to lobby for more wind power in the UK. Look at it more closely; to bend the old Peter, Paul and Mary song a little, "where have all the logos gone?" It appears that they sold-on the name and the intellectual property that goes with the site to someone else in late 2009 -- either that or they just forgot to register the web address after the two-year expiry period. Curiouser and curiouser!

Now: 1. Do a standard 'whois' lookup on that web address and you get "not known"; 2. Check the general US .com registry and you get the name of another registering company; 3. Check the registering company for their group of addresses -- http://www.nominate.net/ -- and you'll find the registrant as being one 'Alex Doyle' from Manchester; 4. Do a company search and you'll find "Yes 2 Wind Limited" (company number 6984227); 5. Pull their documents from Companies House and you'll find that Alexander (Alex) Doyle is a director of the company -- along with Philipa Kershaw, Andrew (Andy) Nicol, and John Everett (don't ask me for their full particulars, if you want them you'll have to get them yourself).


So who are these obviously really concerned and dedicated environmentalists who run "Yes 2 Wind" now the Greenpeace et. al. have dropped it?; what's their common relationship?

Start manipulating the global web of knowledge and very quickly you'll see that the name -- "Pendragon PR" -- will keep turning up. Pendragon PR are a company who specialise in PR for the energy industries, especially, BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY, renewable energy.

So, this is how the "Yes 2 Wind" scam now works (I use the word "scam" deliberately, for it is a deception that I believe might hold some interesting opportunities for campaigning in and of itself):

Pendragon PR (http://www.pendragon-pr.co.uk/) specialise in PR for energy companies. Philipa Kershaw looks after their "support services including finances, personnel, administration and IT", and so presumably does the same for "Yes 2 Wind". Andy Nicol appears to be a front man for Pendragon at trade shows, promoting their services including something called "Express Support" (I'll come back to these two interesting words later). Skip John Everett, we'll also return to him later. Last, but not least, Alex Doyle is Pendragon's managing director.

OK, so Pendragon PR represents companies trying to get wind turbines and other renewable energy developments?; yes. Local greenies having problems with the council's planning committee over a rooftop wind turbine and PV panels?; it would appear not. Pendragon represent companies with large PR budgets... not really a cause we could define as "environmentalism", which if we take the OED definition would be: "1 a person who is concerned with the protection of the environment; 2 a person who considers that environment has the primary influence on the development of a person or group".

With that definition of environmentalism ringing in our ears lets take a look at Pendragon's select client list from their website:

# Carlton Power (don't seem to have a web site!) -- operator of gas-fired power stations in UK and Italy; joint venture with ESB building a new plant, Carrington Power, near Trafford.

# Catamount Energy Limited -- They appear to be owned by the US based Duke Corporation, "...one of the largest electric power companies in the United States, supplying and delivering energy to approximately 4 million U.S. customers. We have approximately 35,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Carolinas and the Midwest, and natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky. Our commercial and international businesses own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a portfolio of renewable energy assets."

# Covanta Energy (http://covantaenergy.co.uk/) -- "Covanta Energy is the world’s largest supplier of Energy from Waste (EfW); we operate 45 EfW plants worldwide and processes in excess of 18 million tonnes of municipal waste each year."

# Drax Power (http://www.draxpower.com/) -- One of Britain's largest point sources of carbon emissions, now burning lots of biomass very wastefully (compared to the 'best practicable environmental option' for this fuel).

# ESB International, part of the ESB Group (http://www.esbi.ie/) -- owned by the semi-national Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB, Bord Soláthair an Leictreachais), the "unregulated" international arm works outside of Ireland; "...we have active operations in over 20 countries, including strategic operation and maintenance contracts totalling over 5,500MW. In addition to investments in over 2,300MW of installed capacity and a similar amount in development, ESBI also has 146MW of renewable wind energy plant installed, 164MW under construction and a further pipeline of 740MW planned for Ireland, UK and Spain."

# Infinergy (http://www.infinergy.co.uk/) -- "Infinergy is a wholly owned subsidiary of KDE Energy of the Netherlands, a renewable energy business developing onshore wind projects across Europe. KDE is the renewables division of Koop Holding, a large Dutch construction, engineering and contracting enterprise, involved in major international development projects."

# InterGen (http://www.intergen.com/) -- "InterGen is a global power generation firm with 12 power plants representing a total generation capacity of 8,088 MW {note: 2,230MW/28% is COAL fired}... InterGen’s plants are located in the UK, the Netherlands, Mexico, the Philippines and Australia."

# Langage Energy Park (http://www.langageenergypark.com/) -- "The first phase, a gas fired power station, is nearing completion and the developers... are pushing ahead with a provision of 1.4 million sq ft of employment development, which will include offices, industrial, warehousing as well as ancillary buildings."

# Scottish Power (http://www.scottishpower.com/) -- renewable and hydro, as well as new gas-fired generating plants.


In summary: On the back of an envelope I think the fossil-fuel element of Pendragon's client portfolio far outweighs the renewable components!! So what's with the "Yes 2 Wind" thing? We have little other evidence availble but to consider, as I stated above, that it is a scam to encourage pro-wind environmentalists into lobbying for a large-scale/industrial development agenda.


OK, now let's clear the lose ends.

Remember the other director I left hanging earlier?; John Everett. He and his business partner run a small consultancy company, Green Campaigns Limited (http://www.greencampaigns.co.uk/), that offers "professional campaigning and public relations services in the fields of environmental protection, environmental sustainability and action to tackle climate change". Yeah, before becoming an author and lecturer I used to do that, except most of my clients found it very difficult to pay me anything (I readily accept that my personal "business acumen" is not very conventional).

What's more interesting is that they have a "special relationship" with Pendragon PR to use their "Express Support" software. What, you may ask, is that? Express Software (http://www.expresssupport.com/), developed by Pendragon PR, is a suite of computer (presumably database driven) programs that is used for public relations. Let me quote from their web site:

"Planning and politics are inextricably linked. After all politicians are there to represent the views of the people who elected them. So if it appears that a community totally opposes a planning development, local councillors may well see it as their job to represent that view and work to have the application turned down. The problem is when a vocal minority creates the impression of mass objection when in reality most people are supportive. How can this happen? Well objectors object -- they make themselves heard -- loudly and constantly. Supporters on the other hand tend to be silent. As a consequence vocal minority groups often have a disproportionate influence on planning decisions. And this can cause delay and be very costly not just for the developer but also the local planning authority. Ironically the increased local authority costs are paid for by the people who elect the politicians -- local community members. For the democratic process to work well it is vitally important that politicians at all levels understand the views of the wider community and not just those of a vocal minority."

Now let's network that little ditty with something from a Green Campaigns Limited flier:

"Green Campaigns currently have exclusive rights to use the *letter-generating facility* of the software. This facilitates unique, individual letters to be sent to planning authorities in support of planning applications From our experience across the whole of the UK, we believe the package is of enormous benefit in demonstrating to decision makers the extent and quality of support for specific planning applications."

Basically, they're the hit-men from Spam-a-lot!, fronting for Pendragon's clients with pro-wind groups. They get paid to bombard your local councils with letters of support for development applications. Have you ever wondered where those letter turn up from out of the blue in your local newspaper, or planning office? -- now you know. But what sort of "development applications?" Wind farms; undoubtedly. Anything else? Look at the bottom right of the Express Software front page and you'll see an interesting list of project types -- allow me to quote:
* Wind farms
* Power generation
* Housing
* Commercial developments
* Airports
* Rail infrastructure
* Energy from Waste
* Overhead lines
* Underground gas storage
* Company reorganisation

AIRPORTS?? Shocked
COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENTS??? Evil or Very Mad
ENERGY FROM WASTE??? Twisted Evil


Ooopps, hang on -- remember that client portfolio I listed above?... I think you get the picture.


So, let's bring this long, sorry story to a conclusion:

The "green veneer" is wearing thin; so thin that the true purpose of all these developments is beginning to show through. The conception of wind power that we see promoted by mainstream, industry-supported campaigners today; the conception of wind power that "Express Support" letter-bombs local councils about; the conception of renewable energy technology that Duke Energy, Covanta or InterGen are interested in -- has *absolutely nothing* to do with environmentalism (remember the OED definition above?) and everything to do with vacillating about "change" whilst the planet slowly goes into melt-down.

This isn't abut "green business", or even "big business", it's just "business as usual".


I leave you with three very basic messages I believe you should take from the wad of information above:

1. If you are a supporter/member of WWF, Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth I think you should be apoplectic with rage that a PR company, representing global corporations involved in nothing short of mass-scale environmental destruction, is trading on their associations with the former "Yes 2 Wind" website in order to promote anti-environmental development.

2. If you really truly believe in large-scale wind development, I still think you should be hopping mad! When the Daily Mail/Tory-Lib-Graph (sorry, I don't want them to but once I run my 'send' program I've no control over this information) pick this up they're going to besmirch your "environmentalist" credentials by pointing out that the company who operates the "Yes 2 Wind" web site represents a bunch of corporate bread-heads hell bent on eco-destruction -- and not only have they made you fall for it, you've probably been doing free lobbying work on behalf of their corporate clients without knowing it!

3. If you play into this game of supporting large-scale wind development then don't be surprised if you're honestly held ecological beliefs are pretty much done-over by people like Pendragon PR in the name of subsidised corporate markets. E.g., that is what the "arms race" of ever-bigger wind turbines is all about -- maximising returns.

In my personal view being an environmentalist is about seeking a reconciliation between the planet and the human species, but under the rules defined by the planet (those sciency sort-of rules that cause problems for economists; Thermodynamics, meta-population dynamics, etc.). Everything the Pendragon PR stands for is, in my opinion, the opposite. They are using PR techniques and database-driven computerised letter spamming to councils in order to get their clients dodgy projects through -- controlling the public perceptions of what is or is not "green" my manipulating the agenda through front groups and web sites.


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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was emailed ages ago asking if I wanted to sign up to Express Support but even then they had this list of dubious enterprises (Airports, EfW etc) on their site so I politely declined (this is unusual for me).

The problem as I see it is that every enterprise which starts out trying to do some good and pay its own way eventually gets hijacked/eaten by something larger that doesn't. Given this sorry state of affairs I'm having trouble finding anything I can do with a clear conscience, much to the chagrin of the guys down the Jobcentre! Even the "green" research being carried out at present is generaly geared to making commercial activity appear green, or else conform (just!) to ever-more-complex legislation.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I support large scale wind power (and small scale), but certainly find the above firm odious, and not to be trusted.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One 'curious question' has just been resolved by someone who got in touch with me.

It would appear that WWF/GP/FoE transferred the name FREE OF CHARGE to the people involved with Drax, Covanta and co. It's bad enough that they allowed the domain to fall into the hands of greenwash merchants, but even worse that they couldn't even get any 'filthy lucre' out of the transaction to put to some more useful purpose!

Quote:
http://www.windenergyplanning.com/yes2wind-revolutionised/

The Yes 2Wind website was set up many years ago as an information hub for wind farms in the UK. Supporters could use the facility to find out the location of their nearest wind farm proposal. In May of last year, the original NGOs approved the free of charge aquisition of the Yes2Wind domain by yes2wind limited. The new team is made up of directors with a history of involvement in the wind sector. Yes2Wind Directors say that the aim of the company has always been to finance and resource the project in order to enable it to achieve its original objectives of providing information to wind energy supporters. Active co-operation with NGOs and local support groups is also an integral part of these objectives.


adam2/RenewableCandy are not alone either -- other pro-wind people have got in touch with me today who not only didn't know what Express Support was, but they're also feeling pretty miffed about being manipulated by Pendragon's front-people.
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Ted



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised that anyone is surprised by this.

Big wind is just big business.
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ted wrote:
I'm surprised that anyone is surprised by this.

Big wind is just big business.

The surprise is that it was transferred from organisations that many of us support, to one that many of us may not wish to support, but may have done unwittingly. There should at least be a clear message on the web site to tell people that it's no longer run by the charities, and is now in the hands of big business. Better still, I'm sure Pendragon could have scraped up a tenner to register a new domain.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coincidental - I said to someone only a couple of days ago, "Money - others peoples' and big - determines what the country you live in actually looks like. Democracy is a farce to keep the likes of you and me subdued."

Thank you mobbsey for yet more evidence of this.
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snow hope



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+1 emordi
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RogerCO



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm:

http://www.yes2wind.com/about/history-of-yes2wind/

You could of course have started by using the information published on the yes2wind website about the transfer rather than cooking up some half-arsed conspiracy theory.

Many many people working around environmental issues find themselves also working with/for less desirable clients - making money from the bad guys and using some of it to subsidise work for the good guys is a defensible position unless you want to be a purist about these things.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+1 Roger, although you have to hunt about for that page, and even there it doesn't declare any involvement in fossil fuels. I would be interested to know what WWF/FoE and Greenpeace's view of this is - have they sold out?

I think that with most of us, somewhere in the chain behind the money we use, chances are it has been used for non-environmental purposes. I'd hazard a guess that it's extremely difficult to avoid "dirty money" so taking a purist stance is likely to be counter-productive.
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Last edited by Bandidoz on Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RogerCO wrote:
unless you want to be a purist about these things.


As a goal, there's nothing wrong with that either.
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goslow



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If BWEA seem happy with it, I am not too bothered about this outfit taking this role. Or at least, give them the benefit of the doubt.

I agree sometimes you need to make compromises to earn a living that might include (gosh!) working with companies that run fossil fuel power stations as well as wind farms.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see they're the people who can build the big stuff in good time but the problem for me is all the pro-FF lobbying they also do. You have to ask yourself, where do their loyalties really lie? Or is that a bit old-fashioned?

Incidentally I'm not sure I understand how this Lobbying lark really works. If someone spent ages wining and dining me, and I didn't fancy them, or didn't like what they were doing, it wouldn't change the result. I mean, if MPs get free lunches courtesy of EvilCorp, and then pass laws that happen to favour NiceCorp instead, EvilCorp isn't exactly in a position to sue, izzit?
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
I mean, if MPs get free lunches courtesy of EvilCorp, and then pass laws that happen to favour NiceCorp instead, EvilCorp isn't exactly in a position to sue, izzit?

But the free lunches might stop, rather than increase in frequency in the hope that said MP does better next time.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes but how many MPs have an income so low that a free lunch actually makes any difference to their standard of living? Or do you think there's some psychology at work: you can have enough lunches quite easily, but if you're stuck in London perhaps you're just desperate for company/friends?
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