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Email exchange with between Martin Livermore and Peter Melchett, Policy Director of the Soil Association

See Newsletter: Science, safety and prejudice From: Peter Melchett Sent: 23 May 2016 13:18 To: Scientific Alliance Subject: An authoritative new report on GM crops is unlikely to change minds, argues The Scientific Alliance Dear Martin Livermore, You attack the Soil Association's response to a new report on GM crops from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine as being ‘spurious’, but in doing so you come up with a couple of arguments which seem to fly in the face of the most basic scientific principles. First,...

Colin Gibson: Time we faced fact wind and solar power costly

ABANDONING coal and gas is doing industry no favours, writes Colin Gibson Events in March highlighted the deepening malaise of Britain’s energy industry; our electricity is proving too expensive for heavy industries and the subsidised expansion of intermittent renewables has disrupted supply to the point where cheap, efficient gas generators are forced to operate uneconomically and operators are reluctant to build new capacity. George Osborne seemed to understand in 2011: “I am worried about the combined impact of the green policies adopted not just in Britain, but also by...

Keith Burns: Time for a switch of electricity strategy

INADEQUATE investment in power generation is leaving us short of capacity to cope, writes Keith Burns On a mild still day last November a serious problem crept up on the UK electricity network. Darkness approached, lights came on and industrial demand stayed high. National Grid declared a “Notification of Inadequate System Margin” in order to bring in more generating capacity. The situation led to the price for extra power rising to 60 times the more usual buy-in price. With our present electricity market this is an inevitable response to urgent demand when we have hardly...

Minister disingenuous over closure of Longannet

EWING is being disingenuous when he blames Westminster for the closure of Longannet, writes Jack Ponton While it is standard practice for politicians to blame their opponents for all embarrassing events, it is disingenuous of the Scottish Government energy minister Fergus Ewing to attribute all responsibility for the impending closure of Longannet to the present Westminster government, and particularly so to imply some responsibility for the early closure of the Renewables Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme.

SNP government ‘antagonistic’ to scientific advice

by Scott MacNab THE SNP government’s “antagonism” to scientific advice is deterring the country’s top experts from working with ministers, leading scientists have warned. It emerged yesterday that the government has been unable to fill the role of chief scientific adviser (CSA) after a recruitment drive earlier this year. It is now to be re-advertised, with applications also being sought for roles on Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC).

A Tale of Two Climates and One Price

Note: Article first appearing in Scottish Farmer By Dr Keith Dawson A stark contrast still between Scotland and Eastern Europe and Russia with a harvest story of over abundant moisture in one and a droughtin the other!In both arenas yields have been good, where the right inputs have been applied, as they have in Ireland too. This will sadly not help prices, although Chinese demand for grain and soya imports remains stronger than for metal commodities! The Chinese currently lease almost 10% of Ukrainian arable land. The weakness of the rouble and increases in the Eastern harvest output...

Herald Agenda: Government's closed mind on GM crops will exact a heavy price

By Tony Trewavas and Keith Dawson   The sweet potato, often called a yam, is a familiar vegetable on our supermarket shelves. It is a swollen root and its orange flesh is rich in the precursor of vitamin A. It provides nourishment equivalent to the potato (although unrelated) but will grow in poor as well as soil-rich circumstances. It has been available for some 20 years and freely sold. If you have eaten sweet potato in the last 20 years you have eaten your first GM meal. Some 8,000 years ago, a soil bacterium called agrobacterium, inserted two of its genes into the sweet potato...

Scientists hit out at "silly" zero emissions ferry project

SCIENTISTS have blasted attempts by a Scottish Government quango to create zero emissions ferry powered by hydrogen as a "silly idea". The Herald revealed that Caledonian Maritume Assets Ltd, the public body which owns the majority of Scotland's vessels and ferry infrastructure, is preparing to apply for EU funding for the project after an initial feasibility study - part funded by £200,000 from Scottish Enterprise - indicated that the technology was "not impossible". The vessel would be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell which could be recharged while...

Scottish Government energy policy is flawed

by JACK PONTON AND JOHN WILLIAMS DASH for wind has left us facing a power supply crisis as generation is not balanced by demand, say Jack Ponton and John Williams. There is a developing crisis in Scotland’s electricity supply, created by the policies of successive UK governments but exacerbated by the Scottish Government. At times there will be a shortage which could lead to power cuts. At others, there will be an excess which cannot be used. This is a consequence of the huge increase in intermittent wind-generated electricity. Subsidies make wind power the logical investment...

Scotland faces energy crisis by 2020

Dash for Scottish renewables is creating an “economic cuckoo” which threatens security of Scotland’s energy supplies. Scientific Alliance Scotland has welcomed a report written by Professor Jack Ponton of the Alliance and John Williams, Chairman of the Borders Network of Conservation Groups, which claims that by 2020 Scotland will be generating a huge surplus of heavily subsidised renewable electricity which it can neither use, sell nor store.  The report, published in the energy sector’s Scottish Energy News, states that the costs of producing this surplus...

Current Issues

Future costs of UK energy supply

The Scientific Alliance recently published part 1 of an examination of National Grid's Future Energy Scenarios, dealing with security of supply. We are now pleased to publish part 2 - cost of supply. The authors - Dr Capell Aris and Colin Gibson - conclude that building more gas and nuclear stations would be considerably less expensive than any of the NG scenarios, as well as offering better energy security.

What's New

14 October 2016: Read the new report by Dr Capell Aris, published jointly with the Adam Smith Institute - Solar power in Britain: the Impossible Dream