Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Turbine Lament, from Donegal

If you find anywhere beautiful in the world, what are the chances that the wind developers will be there already?

"PROTESTORS from Co Donegal have joined a national organisation at the weekend, aimed at regulating the growing number of wind farms."
Read more:

Exhibitions have been held this Monday and Tuesday for a proposal to put 6 x 126.5m turbines on land close to Ashwater, St. Giles on the Heath, Virginstow and Mount Lane, south of Holsworthy, Devon. This is an area I walked through back in 2006, and know well. As with the the Fullabrook Down Wind Farm, which is built around the small hamlets and villages of Pippacott, Beara, Fullabrook and Marwood, the developers have chosen another example of English countryside at its best, quiet, rural, in many ways untouched by time. The people of Ashwater fought off a wind farm about ten years ago, but - as happened with Fullabrook - developers are back, with an even bigger scheme. The exact location of the turbines is not yet shown on the developers map, but from what we have been told it seems that they may be close to houses in Mount Lane, for example. For farmers the temptation must be great... the going rate per turbine is probably £15,000 a year per turbine, or more. And they will believe the developers when they reassure them that wind turbines are a good thing, and will not impact on their neighbours.

The British Wind Energy website still says this about wind turbine noise:

Myth: Wind farms are noisy Fact: The evolution of wind farm technology over the past decade has rendered mechanical noise from turbines almost undetectable with the main sound being the aerodynamic swoosh of the blades passing the tower. There are strict guidelines on wind turbines and noise emissions to ensure the protection of residential amenity. These are contained in the scientifically informed ETSU Working Group guidelines 199617 and must be followed by wind farm developers, as referenced in national planning policy for renewables18. The best advice for any doubter is to go and hear for yourself!

Tell that to people like Nick Williams (and others) up on Fullabrook, or other wind farm sites in Devon!

There are other "myths" mentioned on this website. I once worked as a salesperson for a company selling a certain product, and I was very successful at first because, after reading the literature and being given the sales pep-talk, I believed in the product. Then I had to deal with Existing Customers... and heard tales of woes that made it impossible for me to continue selling the product with the same enthusiasm.

I have to admit that when I first became involved in the fight against wind turbines I wasn't sure whether wind turbine noise was a real problem.  The Wind Developers were so adamant that it was not a concern that I though they must know what they were talking about. And yes, you can stand near a wind turbine and find it is quiet, I have done this. Yes, some people do not seem to suffer when they live close to turbines.  

But I have also stood close to a turbine and heard the noise when it was bad, and I have met people whose lives have been virtually destroyed by wind turbine noise, people whose properties have been so devalued as to be worthless, and I no longer doubt them. Some of them were against turbines, but some had not minded the turbines at all, until they were up and turning.  They have nothing to gain by speaking out, and much to lose, since speaking out devalues their property even more. I also know that for every resident who speaks out there, will be others suffering who stay silent, for various reasons that are understandable.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wind Power: The Great Debate

John Constable and Ben Pile can be seen here debating wind power with Jonathan Porritt and Andrew Garrad, at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

There was an interesting moment during the debate when Jonathan Porritt inferred that wind turbine noise was not a real problem. Both John Constable and Ben Pile told him that they knew people who suffered from it, but he did not appear to believe them. Andrew Gerrard (from the Wind Industry) kept quiet.

Even the Green Party in North Devon is now (since Fullabrook Down Wind Farm became operational) reluctantly admitting that wind turbine noise can cause suffering - but there are no wind farms in Cheltenham where Jonathan Porritt, and perhaps most of the audience at this deabte, live.