Tag Archives: Honda

Advertiser: Honda seeks to build energy plant at Swindon site

Swindon Advertiser today ran the following article:

HONDA is looking to build a state-of-the-art energy centre at its factory in South Marston. An application has been submitted to the council that would see the plant provide a portion of the site’s power in renewable form. If successful, the new centre will replace former plans to build three wind turbines, which had been rejected.

Although the centre will take the form of a biomass plant, Honda is keen to stress it is very different from other proposals in Swindon. The company will bring in recycled wood chip which will then be converted into gas. The heating of this gas then provides the energy.

Julian Bliss, a senior staff engineer at Honda, said the new centre would give the company far more energy security in the long term without affecting residents nearby. He said: “The important factor with the system we are using is that there will be no actual burning of wood in the process. This is a gasification process as opposed to combustion. We heat the wood up to incredibly high temperatures without oxygen, which in turn make it a gas. It is this gas which is then effectively boiled which creates heat to turn the turbine. The emissions which are generated are minimal and you will not see fumes pouring out of chimneys.”

When in operation the energy centre will generate about 3.8 megawatts of power at all times of the day. This is the base level of power the plant needs at all times, even when it is not operational. The vast majority of energy it generates will be used to power the factory, although if there is a surplus this will be put into the national grid.

“This will give us much more security with our power as we will not be susceptible to power outages,” said Julian. “It is an efficient energy source and will also mean we are taking less electricity out of the grid.”

If it gets the go-ahead the energy centre will be located on the north section of the plant, with a single stack not jutting above neighbouring buildings and affecting the skyline. An estimated extra 12 jobs will be created as a result of the centre. It will involve an extra 10 lorries entering the site a day on average, but with the current average 591 a day, the company believes the impact on nearby residents will be small.

Honda has met several South Marston parish councillors and given them the outline of what it is they plan to do. Barry Thunder, of South Marston Parish Council, said: “From what we have seen so far, it appears there will be very little actual impact on the village. Although I have not seen the formal plans, what we were shown looked very good. It will not stick out over the skyline and the emissions look as though they will kept low. We will have to wait until the full plans go before the parish council planning committee but at this stage I cannot see there being a problem.”

BBC: Honda to cut 800 jobs in Swindon

Honda The power of dreamsVia BBC News website:

Honda is planning to cut 800 jobs at its Swindon plant, blaming weak demand across Europe. It is the first time the Japanese carmaker has cut jobs in the UK since it began manufacturing there in 1992.

The Swindon plant, which produces the Civic, Jazz and CR-V models, employs 3,500 people, having added 500 to the workforce a year ago.

Honda has begun a 90-day consultation period on the job cuts and says it hopes to avoid compulsory redundancies.

“Sustained conditions of low demand in European markets make it necessary to realign Honda’s business structure,” the company said in a statement.

It added that demand for cars in Europe had fallen by one million in the past year. But Honda said it was still committed to manufacturing in the UK and Europe in the long term.

The Swindon plants built 166,000 cars in 2012, which was well below the capacity of 250,000. It was a big jump from 2011 when 97,000 were produced, but still significantly down from the 230,000 made in 2008.

In a statement, industry group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said it was very disappointing news.

“Despite challenges brought by weak European demand, the longer-term prospects for the UK automotive sector remain good,” SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said. “We hope that those affected will be able to take advantage of the opportunities we know exist throughout the UK sector and its supply chain.”

SMMT figures from earlier in the week showed that UK new car registrations rose by 5.3% in 2012 to 2,044,609 cars, which was the highest number since 2008.

Honda Jazz
Honda Jazz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its figures showed that 54,208 Hondas were registered in the UK last year, up 7.2% from 2011.

About 40% of the cars produced in Swindon are sold in the UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable visited Honda in September last year to welcome its £267m investment in the UK.

“This Honda story is part of a much bigger picture of optimism, of feeling that Britain is a really good place to manufacture and make cars,” he said at the time.

‘Crisis’ in Europe

The latest figures on car registrations from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) shows a different picture to the UK data.

In the first 11 months of 2012, 131,346 Hondas were registered in Europe, down 6.2% from the same period last year.

Earlier in the week, Peugeot Citroen said its global sales had fallen sharply in 2012, which it blamed on “the crisis affecting the European automobile market”. It said that sales had been particularly poor in the recession-hit southern European states.

The ACEA supported this assessment, with registrations in Greece down 41% in the first 11 months of 2012, while Portugal was down 37% and Italy was down 20%.

BMW, on the other hand, said the popularity of its brands had allowed it to overcome challenging market conditions. It reported record annual sales for 2012, including 1% growth in Europe.

Advertiser – Honda disappointed at turbine decision

Swindon Advertiser today ran a more detailed article regarding the outcome of Thursdays planning committee meeting regarding Honda’s application for Wind Turbines:

The town’s second biggest employer has said bosses are disappointed after the council took the decision to reject their green plans.

On Thursday night, Swindon Council’s planning committee rejected Honda’s plans to put up three large wind turbines on its South Marston site.

It said the visual impact would be to much. Continue reading Advertiser – Honda disappointed at turbine decision

BBC – Honda’s wind turbine plans rejected – updated

The BBC ran the following article today regarding the Wind Turbine planning meeting last night:

Plans by Honda to build Wiltshire’s first wind turbines have been rejected.

The car company had proposed three wind turbines to power its plant near South Marston in partnership with energy supplier Ecotricity.

Planning officers had recommended Swindon borough councillors approved the plans.

However, councillors voted against the application by nine votes to three abstentions. Honda said it would now consider whether to appeal.

Residents said the 394ft (120m) high turbines would be be too large and noisy.

South Marston-based protest group Ill Wind said even though Honda had suggested scaling back the plans to two turbines they remained too close to homes at a distance of 1,935ft (590m).

Andy West, from the group, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. We don’t want these turbines in Swindon because they’re totally unsuitable.”

Councillor Dale Heenan said the committee had been “between a rock and a hard place” when making the decision.

“On the one side, as councillors, we’re here to represent residents and on the other side of the argument the applicant is one of the biggest employers in the town.

“On balance the committee decided the application for the three wind turbines was inappropriate at this time.”

Honda had argued it was essential to keep its Swindon car and engine manufacturing site one of the world’s most efficient while also meeting internal targets to reduce its carbon footprint.

In a statement it said: “We are obviously very disappointed with the decision, however, we will be discussing our options with Ecotricity over the next few days.”

Advertiser – Council says no to wind turbines

A wind turbine at Greenpark, Reading, England,...
Image via Wikipedia

The Swindon Advertiser reported last night on the outcome of the Wind Turbine planning meeting:

THERE was a standing ovation at the Wyvern Theatre tonight as hundreds of members of public performed miracles to prevent the erection of wind turbines at the Honda plant in South Marston. Continue reading Advertiser – Council says no to wind turbines

Swindon Advertiser – Ill Wind slam Honda’s compromise plans

A wind turbine at Greenpark, Reading, England,...
Image via Wikipedia

Swindon Advertiser today ran an article regarding the upcoming planning meeting regarding Honda’s planning application for Wind Turbines on their site.

WIND turbine campaigners have slammed Honda’s formal offer to compromise over its plans – days ahead of a meeting to decide whether the controversial project can go ahead.

The car firm says it still wants to build three 120-metre turbines at its plant, in South Marston, but it is now offering Swindon Council the option to grant approval for only two turbines.

To support the alternative, Honda and green energy firm Ecotricity have submitted an additional environmental impact assessment document for just two turbines.

However, members of the Ill Wind campaign group say that removing the turbine – the one closest to Highworth Road – still means that two turbines will be too near to houses and could cause negative health effects.

A special meeting of the planning committee to determine the application will take place at the Wyvern Theatre on October 13 at 6pm, with doors opening at 5pm.

Des Fitzpatrick, 64, of South Marston, who is chairman of Ill Wind and will speak at the meeting, said: “They’re still applying for three, but even were they to apply for two, we wouldn’t be happy with that. What we’ve asked for is to see a minimum separation between turbines and houses of 2km and we’ve backed this up by saying this is a standard recommendation in Scotland and also on two bills in Parliament at the moment. So even with the two turbines option, they would be within 590 metres of residential housing so we wouldn’t be happy with that. “

“People typically think that the visual impact is the main concern, and of course that’s a concern: these turbines are half as big again as the David Murray John building. But also of great concern is the noise. There’s a lot of evidence that the closer you live to turbines, the more downsides there are. We have submitted evidence to the council that the turbines this close cause noise which will be detrimental to health and wellbeing.”

Andy West, 45, of Stratton, who is also a member of Ill Wind, said there was little difference in noise levels for many residents from the removal of the turbine – and claimed the only way to mitigate this would be to move the turbines further away.

He said: “It’s scant difference. The basic problem is no one should be living next to those turbines and people will be. You cannot play with people’s health like this.”

He added: “It’s critical that people go to the meeting to defend their homes and families.”

Colin McEwen, the former chairman of South Marston PC, said the two-turbine option would not really help South Marston.

He said: “It’s the turbine that’s closer to Stratton that may be removed so it doesn’t affect South Marston so much. The turbines closest to South Marston would remain even if that compromise was agreed. And those are just too big and too close to the village.

The turbines project is part of a bid by HUM to reduce its carbon emissions by a minimum of 30 per cent by 2020 to meet both environmental and financial pressures.

Mike Godfrey, the divisional manager and chief engineer at Honda UK Manufacturing (HUM), told the Adver this week, : “Either by design or through technical mitigations we have put in, the issues of flicker and vibration will not be an issue for our local residents.

“And that’s been verified by third party consultants, Halcrow, and approved by Swindon Borough Council’s planning officers.

To register to speak at the planning meeting, email Iain Tucker, the committee officer, at itucker@swindon.gov.uk or call 01793 463605 . The deadline to register is noon on October 12.

Parish Council Update – Oct 2011

Mafate Marla solar panel dsc00648
Image via Wikipedia

Solar Farm Update

Earlier this year a planning application was submitted by AEE Renewables, the developers, for a Solar Farm adjacent to the Highworth Road in South Marston. Many villagers attended a road show presented by the company in the Village Hall, where the environmental features of the installation were presented, including a spiral stake system to support the panels.

This had the advantage of ease of installation and removal, with mininal environmental damage at the end of the solar farm’s life. In addition, the potential to supply cheaper, cleaner energy to the village from the solar farm was also discussed. The Parish Council therefore decided not to object the application, but requested changes to ensure that existing rights of way along footpaths remained.

In order to obtain government grants, the solar farm had to start supplying energy to a consumer by 1st August 2011. This was achieved by installing a direct feed from the first solar panels to the Honda Plant.

AEE Renewables have signed a non-disclosure agreement with Honda and therefore we do not have details of any supply arrangements which may now be in place. Our requests for further meetings to discuss options for supply of power to the village are currently being declined.

We have also been informed by Swindon Borough Council that during the planning consultation period a number of archaeological remains of potential historic significance were identified. The developer therefore produced a revised design for mounting the solar panels. This involved mounting the panels on wire cages filled with stones and consent was given for this design. However the construction of this arrangement could not meet the required completion date. The developer therefore requested that concrete pad foundations be used instead. Swindon Borough Council Planning Department considered this change to be a non-material amendment and therefore approved the change without informing or consulting the village. The first we knew about the change was when we saw the concrete pads being installed.

The Parish Council will therefore be complaining to Swindon Borough Council that we were neither informed nor consulted on this issue which we consider to be more significant than a non-material amendment. There is also a potential issue concerning an increased flooding risk due to additional run-off water from the site as a result of this change. However, there is probably little that we can do now to change the situation.

Finally, there have been some complaints concerning the installation work. If you have any issues regarding consequential damage or access to public rights of way as a result of the installation, please can you pass any details on to the Parish Council.

Septic Tanks

In order to identify infrastructure issues associated with village expansion and to investigate the potential to connect all properties in the village to the main sewer system, we have been asked to provide details of properties in the village that use septic tanks. The parish council would therefore be grateful if you could inform the Parish Clerk (clerksmpc@aol.com, 01793 820529) if your property has a septic tank.

Parish Council Meetings

Members of the public are welcome to attend Parish Council meetings which are held on the third Tuesday of the month, at 7.30pm in the Village Hall. There is an “Open 10 Minutes” section at the start of the meeting where you are invited to ask questions or discuss an agenda item. It would be helpful if you could inform the Chairman at the start of the meeting of any items that you wish to raise or discuss. All agendas are published on the village website and on the village notice boards, prior to the meetings

Swindon Business News – Pioneering hydrogen filling station opens in Swindon

Honda FCX
Image via Wikipedia

Swindon Business News ran the following article regarding the launch of the UK’s first Hydrogen Filling Station at South Marston.

The UK’s first open access hydrogen vehicle refuelling station has been officially launched in Swindon – putting the town at the centre of innovation for what many believe will be the motoring technology of the future.

The station, at Honda’s South Marston car manufacturing site, will be open to anyone developing or using hydrogen-powered cars, vans or trucks.

In a ceremony attended by local dignitaries, business people and the media, Honda senior engineer Thomas Brachmann used the filling station to refuel a Honda FCS Clarity hydrogen-powered car.

The facility is designed to look like, and operate in the same way as, a conventional filling station. Refuelling takes less than five minutes.

Built and operated by industrial gases company BOC, the project is the result of a partnership between Honda, BOC and Swindon’s economic development company Forward Swindon.

BOC UK managing director Mike Huggon said: “This is not an experiment. It’s a piece of the jigsaw that leads to the sustainable society we are all craving. This station is state of the art. It can fill hydrogen vehicles from scooters to passenger cars and buses. Pointing out that it works with swipe-card technology, he joked: “We even have a Nectar points scheme.”

Experts say hydrogen has huge potential as a sustainable transport fuel, creating no emissions other than water vapour. Hydrogen-powered cars can travel around 270 miles on a full tank and are twice as efficient as a diesel car and three times more efficient than a petrol one.

Yet while all the major vehicle manufacturers are developing hydrogen-powered models, there are few refuelling facilities available to UK users meaning take-up is likely to remain low.

And in a catch-22, the major fuel companies will not invest in new facilities while there are very few hydrogen vehicles on the road. The automotive and low-carbon industries are urging the Government to do more to promote the use of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

The Swindon station can fill vehicles at both 350 bar and 700 bar – the two standard filling pressures adopted by the world’s major vehicle manufacturers.

A range of hydrogen-powered vehicles including passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, an ambulance, a taxi and a London bus were on display at yesterday’s unveiling – with the bus used to ferry guests between the Honda site’s car park and the fuel station.

Richard Kemp-Harper, lead technologist for transport and energy at the Swindon-based Technology Strategy Board, said: “The change from conventional transport systems to sustainable, low-carbon alternatives is one that can only be made through businesses and government working in partnership to develop innovative solutions. This new refuelling station gives a real glimpse of the role hydrogen can play in practice. It is a great example of the kind of collaboration and innovation we need.”

Forward Swindon chief executive Ian Piper added: “I’m proud that we have been involved in such an exciting public-private partnership. Forward Swindon was the initiator of this project and brought together the funding: it’s a great example of how innovative projects can come to life in the UK, even in a recession. Swindon’s strategic location makes it the natural home for new transport technologies, and I’m confident this facility will encourage a growing interest and take up.”

He said Swindon could benefit from the economic advantages that came from developing innovative, low-carbon technology. As well as Honda, the town is also home to Johnson Matthey’s UK fuel cell research and manufacturing base which supplies some of its pioneering products to the automotive industry.

BBC also ran an article on the subject, complete with video and interviews.

Swindon Advertiser: Anti-turbine campaigners warn ‘the battles not over yet’

Enercon E-66 wind turbine with an observation ...
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Swindon Advertiser, yesterday ran an article on the latest state of the Honda Wind Turbine planning application:

CAMPAIGNERS against giant wind turbines have issued a rallying cry: ‘We’re not out of danger yet’.

The Ill Wind campaign group is delivering around 5,000 leaflets to houses in the South Marston and Stratton area, warning supporters that despite an apparent concession over the number of turbines, “the risk to you is greater than ever before”.

The group fears the original plans for three wind turbines at Honda, not two, are still likely, and it is urging no let-up in the fight.

Ecotricity, the company behind the plan, says it will settle for two if that is what the council wants.

But Des Fitzpatrick, chairman of Ill Wind, casts the campaign as a David- versus-Goliath style battle against corporate spin, and urged residents “not to be fooled”.

He said: “Following recent press headlines, radio and TV broadcasts many people in Swindon now believe Honda have reduced their application from three turbines down to two.

“This just isn’t the case and we are distributing thousands of leaflets explaining that the application is still for three turbines – and pointing out that, even were Honda to go for two turbines, there would still be thousands of homes within the two kilometre zone that many authorities regard as too close.

“Though we are individuals battling against the spin machine of a multi-billion pound international company, we will continue to keep the people of Swindon informed of what is really happening.”

Ecotricity would build and own the 120 metre turbines, and Honda would host them at its South Marston factory. The firms have not withdrawn the original planning application for three turbines, but because of the massive public outcry, they did agree to settle for just two if they have to.

This suggestion was tacked on to the existing application, which is due to be voted on by the council’s planning committee later this year.

No date is yet set for this meeting, but it is likely to be in mid-October.

In a joint statement, Ecotricity and Honda reacted to the Ill Wind campaign.

The statement said: “The decision on whether three, two or no turbines are approved sits with Swindon Borough Council, but Honda and Ecotricity have made it clear that if they chose to approve two turbines we would accept this and progress with a development of only two.

“If only two turbines were approved, the same planning committee which had refused the third turbine, would have to approve any amendment to build a third, and this would, therefore, be very unlikely.

“There is no intent, nor would be any opportunity, to build a third turbine on this site if we received permission for two.

“The latest Ill Wind leaflet also repeats a number of falsehoods and inaccuracies about issues including vibrations, sleep and safety that are at risk of confusing or even scaring local people.

“We’d encourage people to contact us directly if they have any specific concerns.”