After making some improvements to a project that I have not previously had any problems with I proceeded to set up my render settings.
I then realised that I had been working in blender render instead of cycles. I don't know what the difference is between them really apart from I was able to do a lot more in blender render than in cycles.
So I made the changes I needed to make now that I was in cycles render and tried to render the animation. And this happened!!!!