Turbines exhibition was no consultation

A substantial number of local residents attended West Coast Energy’s public exhibition at Alverdiscott Parish Hall on Tuesday, October 16.

The consensus of opinion was overwhelmingly that their proposed wind turbine development is wholly inappropriate and a serious threat to the amenity of local residents and to the community at large.

The turbines would be just short of 300 feet high to the tip of their blades – three times the height of a large electricity pylon.

The noise generated by similar machines and the damage that it causes to the well-being and amenity of those who live nearby has been well documented both nationally and locally.

It was recently reported in the Gazette that turbines at Fullabrook continue to breach the noise requirements imposed on their use to protect the health of local residents. The closest properties in the villages of Alverdiscott and Stony Cross will be a mere 505 metres away.

Unlike other European countries, where a minimum separation of 2km from dwellings is required and compensation is payable for any diminution in property values, no such protection is afforded in England.

It is undoubtedly significant that the proposed location of the turbines is as far away as possible from the landowners’ residences.

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The company’s representatives tried to reassure those attending that property values in the vicinity would not be affected (despite local evidence to the contrary) but at the same time refused to sign indemnity forms agreeing to compensate homeowners in the event that they were proved wrong.

What West Coast Energy have said to the press about wishing to fully consult residents “with a view to building a purposeful and effective dialogue with the local community … in order that the community view is fully taken into account” are frankly little more than weasel words.

At the exhibition their representatives were candid enough to admit that even if every resident in the locality objected, the company would still proceed with the development. This demonstrates that their so-called “consultation” with local residents is nothing more than a cosmetic, box-ticking exercise. Indeed it was stated that the exhibition was not a consultation at all.

It remains to be seen if West Coast Energy resorts to the tactics often employed by wind farm developers, eg offering to reduce the height of the proposed turbines, or to move them a few metres, etc, in the hope of convincing the local planning committee that they have genuinely taken local views into account.

In addition, it is highly misleading for them to assert that the turbines would produce enough electricity in a year to power 1,400 homes. This might be the case if their theoretical optimum generating capacity were being constantly achieved.

The reality, of course, is that this will not happen in practice. Wind is by its very nature intermittent and turbines rarely operate at full capacity. The truth is that there will be substantial periods during the year when they will not be powering any homes at all.

In countries with the largest number of wind turbines, namely Germany and Denmark, it has been demonstrated both that wind power does not result in a net reduction in CO2 emissions and that it is a very inefficient and expensive way of generating electricity.

Again it is misleading for the company to claim it “plans” to set aside 10 per cent of its profits for a community fund, when these profits are contingent on high levels of subsidy paid by energy consumers who include local residents!

What is certain is that these turbines would never be erected if developers did not benefit from these subsidies and were forced to pay compensation to those affected by their actions.

No2Turbines was distinctly underwhelmed and unimpressed by West Coast Energy’s presentation last week and remains determined to fight this proposal every inch of the way.

The group is well informed and well resourced. Members are currently in the process of instructing specialist planning Queen’s Counsel in London to advise and represent them at all stages of the planning process.

They are also taking advice on their rights under the laws of nuisance and under the Human Rights Act both against West Coast Energy and the owners of the land on which it is proposed to build the turbines.

No2Turbines (North Devon and Torridge wind turbine opposition group)

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