Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Great Wind Farm Debate - My Contribution

As most readers will know I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion.

And as a blood-pressure-raising local issue is currently being hotly debated in the bars and at the dining tables of Millbrook and the Rame Peninsula, I thought it might be time to shove in my twopenn'orth and, almost undoubtedly, upset at least half the population. 

So - the background. There is a proposal to erect wind turbines adjacent to the well known local beauty spot the Poron Factory.
This proposal has, of course, brought out the NIMBY brigade in great force. These are probably the same people who think it's perfectly acceptable to drive massive 4x4s for no better reason than it makes them feel important and ensures that they'll inflict maximum damage in the event of a collision with a small child. 

I've heard ridiculous claims that, if this facility is built, the house prices will drop by 25% - what? Where in heaven's name do they find this sort of wild and obviously-made-up statistic? 

I note that the well known local pauper Vice Admiral Sir John Coward is worried that Cornwall will "...get even poorer" if we dare to build wind turbines close to his (doubtless very humble) abode in St John, as tourists will never come here again. No hint of self-interest in his arguments, at all, of course: "We will see it as we go out of our driveway." Oh diddums.

You might have gathered, I'm broadly in favour of the proposal. Unlike some, I think that wind turbines are attractive, graceful and a delight to see on a skyline. Not to mention the fact that we as a nation (let alone as a small community) cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the simple necessity that we must end our reliance on fossil fuels with all possible haste. The world's oil supply will probably see me out (albeit horrendously expensively), but I suspect that unless our generation takes radical action my grand-children will face a world of endless political conflict and full-scale war as the ever expanding population struggles to control the ever dwindling resources.

That's making the assumption that we don't have a complete environmental breakdown long before the need for energy becomes dangerously all-consuming.

So - here's a photo of Mrs The Millbrooker and me along with our car beneath a very large wind turbine indeed, which Mrs The Millbrooker and I visited in Brittany as part of our research into places to live during the period in which moving to France loomed large in our personal plans. Wind farms of all sizes are commonplace around central Brittany. 
And this is just me walking away from the structure.
Yep - I'm not a physically small fellow, so you can get a vague idea of scale. This is one big mother of a wind turbine. It's part of a wind farm of several turbines (memory tells me there were eight, but I couldn't swear to that), each the same size, close to Plouye in central Brittany.

We made this visit to try and work out how much noise pollution these things make. Right underneath it you can, of course, hear the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh as the blades turn in the wind. We drove away, stopping every 100 metres or so to open the car window and listen: 100m away - clearly audible; 200m - still audible; 300m - getting fainter; 400m just a very low whoooooosh, barely audible; 500m - couldn't hear them at all. Not a strictly scientific experiment, but sufficient for us to base potentially life-changing decisions on.

From my experience no one will be able to hear the proposed turbines by the Poron Factory at all from their own habitation and it's hardly tourist or picnicking territory in the immediate environs of the site where the turbines will be audible.

Here's another wind farm in the beautiful countryside of central Brittany. Hardly intrusive is it? I took this shot from an estimated 2km away.
And here's another argument. The company which is considering erecting the turbines has to go through a rigorous planning process; it has already done so at other locations in Cornwall and has (and almost undoubtedly will) receive the go-ahead from Cornwall Council.

So let's be real about this - planning permission will, in all probability, be forthcoming and this development will almost undoubtedly happen. Before we scream and shout and hurl silly statistics about or complain that we'll be able to see it from "...our driveway..." we should remember that, in the process, we can make planning gains.

During planning applications it is normal practice for any developer to offer and negotiate improvements for the local community - new pavements, involvement in school projects.....think of something that REG Windpower can realistically offer to Millbrook and the Rame Peninsula - we can obtain something worth having and the wind farm or we can just have the wind farm. One of those two things will happen; which do we think might be the best?



Anonymous said...

here here - I like wind farms they're nice!!! Millbrooker Sis xxx

Anonymous said...

I love them . . . . I find them so mesmerising, so tranquil. The whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sounds, are like a gentle carress. Constance x

Frankenkeith said...

OK Joshua, so you think they are beautiful. I don't agree but everyone has a right to an opinion. My objection is that they don't achieve their generation targets and the more that are built the more obvious this becomes. So why are they still invading our beautiful landscape?
Because a government wants to claim to be acheiving a target while taking an ostrich attitiude to the real performance and paying outrageous subsidies to landowners and developers who are running away with OUR money. They are the ones you should be attacking, they probably do drive 4x4s unlike most poor nimbys. Frankenkeith

Mrs TheMillbrooker said...

Some interesting information about performance, subsidy and environmental impact can be found at