New windfarm plans go on show

Joseph Bulmer

Proposals for community-owned turbine development to be unveiled at exhibition next week

PROPOSALS to build two community-owned wind turbines on land near Bratton Fleming are to be aired at a series of public exhibitions next week.

With the dust still settling on a decision to turn down nine 103metre turbines at Batsworthy Cross, near South Molton, North Devon Council is bracing itself for an application by wind power specialists ClearWinds Ltd.

The company has already applied to the council for permission to install a 50metre anemometer mast to monitor wind conditions on land at Knightacott, around four miles from the 22 turbine development at Fullabrook Down.

It is now inviting local people to find out more about joining an energy cooperative that would enable them to purchase a stake in the project and receive an annual share interest payment from the income.

The Devon Community Wind Co-operative project is being proposed by ClearWinds and Energy4All, a not-for-profit social enterprise which facilitates and supports community ownership of renewable energy generation in the UK.

Energy4All has already created seven renewable energy co-ops in England and Scotland, including the Westmill Wind Farm Cooperative Ltd, in Watchfield, South Oxfordshire. Around 2,380 members financed the purchase and construction of five 1.3 MW wind turbines, which became operational in February 2008 and provide enough green electricity to power more than 2,500 average homes. Members even named the turbines, with monikers including Gusty Gizmo and Huff ‘n’ Puff.

John Malone, development director at Energy4All, said: “Membership of the co-operative provides an opportunity for people to engage in an active way with the issues of climate change and energy insecurity.

“The project will also provide a fund for use by local communities on energy efficiency and climate change awareness projects. Therefore, I would encourage people to visit the information sessions.”

Research carried out on behalf of Energy4All suggests 60 per cent of Devon residents would support the idea of community owned wind turbines in Devon, with almost two fifths saying they would be interested in investing in one.

The findings by Blue Marble Research Ltd say 69 per cent said they wouldn’t mind seeing wind turbines from their home, if they were in the distance, and 59 per cent said they would be happier about having a wind turbine in the local vicinity if it was owned by the local community.

Similar proposals are being drawn up for a site in South Devon.

North Devon residents are being invited to find out more about the proposed Devon-wide wind energy co-operative at Bratton Fleming Village Hall on Monday from 1.30pm to 7.30pm, and at Boston Tea Party, Tuly Street, Barnstaple on Tuesday, from 1pm to 6pm.