SKYFALL ENERGY: PLUGGED INTO POWERFUEL

Part of Powerfuel Portland’s main incinerator planning application to Dorset Council is a “Facility utilities assessment” document, which was prepared by a company called Skyfall.

But what exactly is this company “Skyfall Energy Ltd.” which has a “contract with Powerfuel” to produce this report? As it turns out, the two companies are intimately connected. Scratch at the surface of Powerfuel and you find Skyfall. Scratch at Skyfall and beneath all the bluster about renewables you find nothing much except a lot of inflated claims, PR fakery and misleading corporate puff.

We’ll see how Skyfall is keen to demonstrate how its “in-house team” has experience and competence in the waste management sector, and how these claims fail to stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. But first, a bit of background:

THE FRAMPTON CONNECTION

Skyfall is plugged into the Powerfuel planning process — corresponding with Dorset Council, and supporting Powerfuel’s application. One of the two directors of Powerfuel Portland, Giles Frampton is also a director of Skyfall Energy. And both companies claim to have exactly the same address in a business park in Bridport.

➤ MORE ON POWERFUEL PORTLAND’S PRETENCE OF BEING LOCAL

Frampton became a director of Skyfall in May 2016, but the company was registered a couple of years earlier, back in March 2014 by the yoga instructor and wellness coach Hannah Lovegrove — Giles Frampton’s wife. We’ll have plenty more on Lovegrove in a moment. But for now, let’s take a closer look at Skyfall.

WHAT DOES SKYFALL SAY ABOUT ITSELF

Skyfall is understandably keen to stress the company’s experience in “waste management” and “energy from waste” facilities. For example, on their website they say: “We work with a variety of technology providers across the energy and waste management industries.” And they claim: “The Skyfall Energy team has a comprehensive understanding of the problems and possible solutions to the issues of larger scale energy requirements and potential for waste management.”

An even bolder statement is made on the website: “Skyfall Energy has its own portfolio of energy from waste plants, such as Willesden, in London…”

This, by any standards, is a pretty hefty claim: to have an actual “portfolio of energy from waste plants”. Oddly though, on their website, Skyfall choose to illustrate their Willesden facility with a photograph of what looks like the Scottish Highlands.

This would appear to be a photograph of part of the Lochaber aluminium smelting works, near Ben Nevis. Here’s a photo of the plant on the BBC, where the red crates are referred to as “bio-diesel units” (not an energy from waste facility).

Reuters have a report on these “Little Red Boxes”, and how they fit into a biofuel scandal around “green energy credits”. Interestingly, on the ‘Liquid Biofuels’ section of Skyfall’s website it refers to previous work with “Simec/Liberty Steel” — the owners and operators of the Lochaber smelting plant.

We’ll see that this is part of a pattern around Giles Frampton: the making of big, sweeping claims that don’t seem to match up with reality. Already Frampton needs to answer a number of questions about his energy from waste competence: is it true that Skyfall has “its own portfolio of energy from waste plants”? Does it operate one in Willesden? In fact, is there anything at all in its portfolio? And what exactly is Skyfall’s experience in the energy from waste sector?

THE SKYFALL TEAM

The company claims to have a “highly experienced in-house team” which has “many years’ experience” in such sectors as as “energy from waste”. Let’s have a closer look at this “team” and its long professional experience in energy from waste.

We’ll see that Frampton has packed out the “team” on the Skyfall website with family and friends, none of whom have any waste management experience. Indeed, it’s hard to tell whether any of them are even “in house” in any meaningful sense.

DON ARMAND

The energy sector expert in charge of “Business Development” at Skyfall is the Exeter Chiefs and England International rugby player Don Armand:

Don’s skills as a flanker are considerable. His skills in the waste management sector are unknown. Don is a friend of the Framptons. He is having a chuckle with Giles Frampton’s brother, Dan (left):

LEO FRAMPTON

The “Accounts Manager” (or “Finance Manager” according to his LinkedIn profile), is Leo Frampton, the son of Giles. He’s a former “Senior Accounts Assistant” at British Solar Renewables (Giles Frampton was a director of BSR from 2012-2016).

Leo has an AAT Foundation Certificate in accounting, but also has industry knowledge of “Power Plants”, according to two endorsements on LinkedIn. One endorsement is Kevin McGhee, the other from Bethany Frampton, both of whom have positions at Skyfall. Bethany is Leo’s wife.

BETHANY ROWSELL/FRAMPTON

Giles Frampton has listed his daughter-in-law on the Skyfall website as “Asset Manager”. Even though she’s called Bethany Frampton on LinkedIn, she appears as part of the Skyfall team under her maiden name: “Bethany Rowsell”. Presumably to disguise the fact that she’s part of Frampton’s immediate family. Her work history includes office administration and document control, but she has two endorsements on LinkedIn for her work in Renewable Energy. From Leo Frampton and Kevin McGhee.

KEVIN MCGHEE

Skyfall’s “Senior Project Manager”, Kevin McGhee, also worked alongside Frampton at British Solar Renewables (2011-2013). He represented Powerfuel Portland at an early public consultation at Portland Community Venue. He has two endorsements on LinkedIn for his work in Strategic Planning. From Bethany and Leo Frampton.

RAYANNE ARMAND

Continuing the friends and family theme: Rayanne ‘Ray’ Armand is Skyfall’s “Director of Corporate Finance” and the wife of rugby star Don. She is a chartered accountant who works at a firm in Exeter called Root2Growth. She seems to have a key role at Skyfall — “Ray is responsible for the corporate finance within Skyfall Energy” — however, her Root2Growth biog makes no reference to her senior role at Skyfall.

RORY CASEY

The Design Manager Rory Casey, the “Design Manager” is another former colleague of Frampton’s from British Solar Renewables. Casey left BSR around the same time as Frampton (2016). While at BSR his work involved “using CAD [computer-aided design] to design solar panel parks” He also has experience as a camera assistant “in the filming of commercials, music videos and a short film”. Not much experience in waste management, although he does hold a driving licence.

HANNAH LOVEGROVE

Last (but far from least) is the founding director of Skyfall, and Giles Frampton’s wife, Hannah Lovegrove. Below is a photo of Lovegrove as published on the Skyfall website. Until recently, Hannah Lovegrove was listed as Skyfall Energy’s “Director/CFO” and she remains the sole shareholder of Skyfall Energy. No wonder she looks happy:

Hannah Lovegrove isn’t your usual energy company executive. But as we’ve seen, Skyfall isn’t your usual energy company. Here’s her Skyfall Energy biog:

“After 35 years in business, Hannah has organised, managed, developed, opened and closed a variety of organisations across many business sectors, from the arts to sustainable construction, including projects for the public sector. For the past five years, she has been a consultant to the renewable energy industry.”

As usual with a bit of Frampton PR, there’s a bit of a gap between the claim and the reality. Lovegrove’s experience and competence in the renewable energy industry seem a tad more tenuous if you compare her Skyfall CV with her various other biogs which are available online.

THE REAL HANNAH LOVEGROVE

Hannah Lovegrove co-owns Lovegrove Essentials — “a natural and organic skincare brand” — with her daughter Hayley. According to her Lovegrove Essentials biog:

“Hannah trained at Chichester College in classical Health & Beauty Therapy in the 1970s. Natural cosmetics and the holistic uses of essential oils have always been her principle interests in this field. She is a qualified Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner, and a highly experienced Iyengar Yoga Teacher.”

On her LinkedIn profile, Hannah Lovegrove lists her three main skills as “Holistic Health”, “Make-up Artistry” and “Wellness”. Her other skills include “Pranayama” and “Natural Horsemanship” — which you can see her practising on her Facebook page:

Amongst Lovegrove’s other skills are “Therapeutic Massage”, “Chair Massage” and “Vegetarian Cooking”. There isn’t much in her skillset which ties in directly with the energy from waste sector, except perhaps for “Mindfulness” which is a useful tool in any industry.

In a recent interview with The Ollerod hotel and restaurant (where Hannah and Hayley opened their first Wellness Room), Lovegrove says: “I trained in Aromatherapy”, and on Lovegrove’s personal website, we’re given more details about the professional background of the owner of Skyfall Energy: “I have been practicing yoga since the 1970′s, and teaching Iyengar Yoga for 18 years. Qualified to Intermediate Level 3, I’m now training for Senior level in the UK…”

LOVEGROVE AND SKYFALL

Lovegrove is also involved in a “skin, food, yoga, wellness” enterprise called “Saddle Street”, which is “home to our collective of wellness and self-care businesses”. Interestingly, until early 2020, Saddle Street Farm shared Skyfall Energy’s contact address and telephone number.

Lovegrove says that yoga is “the rock upon which my life rests”, likewise, Lovegrove is the rock upon which the creaking edifice of Skyfall Energy stands. She’s the sole shareholder and founding director of the company, and brings all her years of experience in Iyengar Yoga and wellness to the waste management industry.

As an energy company executive, Lovegrove is typical of Skyfall — a company which isn’t really what it seems — codged together online with a bunch of overreaching claims bordering on misinformation. What Giles Frampton has done with Skyfall is assemble a semblance of a “Bridport-based” in-house team, with almost no substance to it.

On Lovegrove’s LinkedIn profile, Skyfall is described as a company which “undertakes the delivery of large scale clean energy projects.”

But is there anything in the history of anyone involved in Skyfall which can be applied to delivering a large scale energy-from-waste incinerator?

QUESTIONS FOR FRAMPTON

Skyfall is intimately connected with Powerfuel Portland, and the stretching and straining of the truth on its website speaks to the general trustworthiness of Giles Frampton. It’s time to pierce the corporate veil and for Frampton to be asked: what is the nature of the contract between Skyfall and Powerfuel Portland? And: what is your actual, practical experience in the waste management sector?

Likewise, when Kevin McGhee is representing Powerfuel Portland at a public consulation, what is his relationship to the company? Further, does anyone at Skyfall have any experience in waste management beyond taking out the bins once a week?

Frampton has a background in historically sensitive renovation and solar park construction, and boasts a “visionary approach to problem solving”. His main problem with Powerfuel Portland is the lack of anyone’s experience in waste management or energy from waste facilities. So he used his visionary problem solving skills to imagine an extensive background in the sector. Simply cook it up and hope no one notices.

AN OFF-THE-SHELF INCINERATOR

Alongside the “visionary” Frampton at the helm of Powerfuel is the “natural innovator” Steve McNab. McNab is an environmental lawyer who “uses his network to create opportunities” when he’s not “delivering sustainability solutions”, and has about as much practical experience in waste incineration as Frampton and the rest of the Skyfall crew.

Their lack of experience is matched by the lack of time they’ve spent on the project. Powerfuel was only registered in February 2019, and the Dutch/Japanese investment deal was only secured in March 2020. So it’s perhaps no surprise to find the Powerfuel pair cutting corners.

McNab claims that “this is a best in class project” but it turns out that the Powerful pair basically just purchased incinerator plans off the shelf, via Terence O’Rourke, the design company they’re using for the Portland burner. If you look at past Terence O’Rourke incinerator projects you’ll see that there’s a frightening amount of cutting and pasting going on.

One example — look at the work Terence O’Rourke did on the Lakeside Energy from Waste project (Colnbrook) — pick a document, such as the Environmental Statement, Non-technical Summary. You’ll see that the Lakeside Energy document maps extremely closely onto the same document from Powerfuel Portland’s application. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from each proposal for comparison:

LAKESIDE — NTS.14 Before they are released to the atmosphere the EfW flue gases will undergo a series of treatments that will clean the gas to a level that meets the strict legal standards set for the protection of both human health and the environment. The emissions from the stacks will be continuously monitored and real-time data will be available to Slough Borough Council and the Environment Agency at all times.

PORTLAND — NTS.21 Before they are released to the atmosphere, the ERF flue gases will undergo a series of treatments that will clean the gas to a level that meets the strict legal standards set for the protection of both human health and the environment. The emissions from the stack will be continuously monitored and real-time data will be available to Dorset Council and the Environment Agency at all times.

LAKESIDE — NTS.15 The residue remaining from the EfW flue gas treatment process is called air pollution control residue and all of this will be sent for treatment and used to create a lightweight, high quality, carbon-negative aggregate that is used as a construction building material, which is what happens to the residues from the existing Lakeside Road EfW facility.

PORTLAND — NTS.22 The residue remaining from the ERF flue gas treatment process is called air pollution control residue. This will be sent off-site for treatment and used to create a lightweight, high quality, sustainable carbon negative aggregate that is used as a construction building material.

More comparisons reveal the same story. Powerfuel Portland is using a “cookie cutter” approach to its planning application to Dorset Council. Best in class? More like another “visionary approach” towards the truth.

QUANTUM PR

Speaking of truth (and off-the-shelf incinerator plans) Powerfuel’s PR partners, Quantum PR, recently succeeded in getting an incinerator proposal passed by Northamptonshire County Council. Announcing his success, the MD of the company, Charlie Vavasour, said:

“Throughout the planning process, Quantum provided media relations support to facilitate engagement with the local, regional and trade media on both a proactive and reactive basis, as well as ongoing media and social media monitoring to keep the development team abreast of any pertinent communications by local interest groups.”

As we peel back the veneer of Powerfuel Portland it will be interesting to see how much of the PR flannel is the work of Charlie Vavasour, pictured here with a recent apprentice (Vavasour is on the left):

ANOTHER LOVEGROVE CONNECTION FOR POWERFUEL

One last Frampton family twist. On Powerfuel Portland’s “Resources” webpage, you can find a selection of promotional videos made for the company by another member of the Lovegrove clan: Ben.

Ben Lovegrove is a noted UFO enthusiast who runs the website ufologyweb.com (here’s his video on how to spot a UFO). It’s Ben Lovegrove’s promotional video that happily describes Powerfuel Portland as a “Bridport-based”.

But as with everything to do with Frampton, Skyfall and Powerfuel Portland, the truth is always a bit more complicated.

➤ MORE ON THE LOCAL-WASHING OF POWERFUEL PORTLAND

BEHIND THE CORPORATE VEIL

It’s tricky to unpack, and easy to take Powerfuel’s claims at face value, but the more you look into the company, the more you realise how much of what they say is a combination overinflated corporate PR and misleading fluff.

The more you peel back the corporate veil you realise that the company seems to exist more on paper and press releases, on pdfs and in financial documents, than in the real world. And yet it is busily engaged in trying to bring into a being a very real, and very substantial waste incinerator.

All the while, reassuring Dorset Council that they’re they’re the very best people to deliver this “best in class” waste management solution. However, the more you look at the people involved, the less reassuring it all seems.

➤ THE TRUTH BEHIND POWERFUEL’S CLAIM TO BE A “LOCAL COMPANY”