Monday, 30 January 2012

Onshore wind turbines - most are good some are wrong

This Wednesday the action group Anglesey against wind turbines are holding a demonstration against onshore wind turbines outside the Council Offices at Llangefni.

According to their website their mission is:

'Anglesey Against Wind Turbines is dedicated to preserving our island landscape. We exist to oppose any further erection of commercial on shore wind turbines on the grounds that they are unsightly,damaging to our fragile economy, uneconomic, noisy and damaging to our wildlife.'

Sadly such a broad brush; that seems to rule out any onshore wind turbines irrespective of their individual merits, dilutes the case against specific sites where the erection of wind turbines should be refused.

Are wind turbines unsightly? - well that is a matter of opinion. Of course a large number of wind turbines in an area of outstanding natural beauty could be damaging to the landscape for many reasons. Then there is a case that wind turbines should be a safe distance from properties, with adequate planning conditions to limit noise pollution.

But to rule out all wind turbines onshore is plainly wrong.

I find it ironic that some people claim to be against wind turbines on the island because they say it would be damaging to tourism, but on the other hand fully support Wylfa B -  you've got to laugh haven't you?

Talking of tourism I found the following appeal decision from last August quite interesting reading.  Its an appeal against the decision of the Isle of Wight to refuse planning permission for the erection of wind turbines on land at Cheverton Down, Cheverton Shute, Shorwell, Newport, Isle of Wight.  You can read the appeal decision at the Isle of Wight website.

The planning appeal  was dismissed for specific reasons as set out by the Inspector. However, on the subject of tourism this is what the Inspector had to say:

94. ThWART and many others in written submissions and evidence to the Inquiry, consider that the proposal would adversely affect tourism, which is so important to the economy of the island. Various surveys, studies and questionnaires were submitted in this regard. Those studies which are prospective are easily criticised on the grounds that there is no guarantee that opinions would equate to actual responses to any change. In retrospective studies, it is not usually possible to say what would have happened had the change not occurred. Methods to try to quantify the effects of turbines on tourism in monetary terms are particularly fraught with difficulty. None of the studies presented to the Inquiry provide useful insight into the likely effects of the proposed turbines on tourism. The harm I have identified to landscape character and the AONB might detract from the recreational experience of those who come to the area to enjoy these attributes, but there is nothing to demonstrate that this would deter them from coming in numbers that would significantly impact upon the tourist economy.

95. I appreciate concerns about the effects on specific local enterprises. Uncertainty about the likely implications of change to this landscape is understandably a matter of some anxiety for those making investment decisions about tourism infrastructure and local businesses. However, for this to weigh significantly against allowing the proposal there would need to be some evidential basis for finding that the turbines would materially affect tourism, and the evidence presented to the Inquiry falls short of doing so.

96. Limerstone Down is a favoured location for hang gliding and paragliding. It is a good take-off point for cross-country flying, allowing for a wide range of wind directions, with lower fields for landing if required. However, I am not convinced that the proposed turbines would necessarily mean that flying from this site ceased. No doubt such high and moving structures would add to the safety risk. But experienced flyers use Chillerton Down, notwithstanding the existing television mast. Those who considered the risk to be too high would be forced to use other, perhaps less desirable, locations, but it seems to me that the financial effects of doing so would be unlikely to have a significant impact on the island’s tourist economy. This is not a consideration which weighs heavily against allowing the appeal.

97. The effect of the turbines on equestrians was raised. The nearest bridleway that is a public right of way would be some 250 m from the turbines. This would exceed the 200 m exclusion zone advocated by the British Horse Society, and cited in PPS22CG. The permissive bridleway would run close to T2 and T3. But these could be closed, albeit at a cost to the landowner.90 Whilst this might necessitate the use of other routes, it is not a consideration of much significance in determining this appeal. The scheme would not be likely to pose a significant risk to those nearby by reason of ice throw or blade failure. I do not consider that the likely effects of the proposed wind farm on equestrians would weigh significantly against the proposal.

Now whilst this appeal decision alone does not set a precedent, I think its an useful reminder that for objections to stand up against any planning application they must be based on some rational argument that you can  justify and back up when challenged.

And finally returning to AAWT mission statement, landscapes are a living entity, that over generations  reflected the growth of humanity. Even in the last hundred years, the landscape of Anglesey has changed due to i.e larger farms, growing towns. You cannot preserve a landscape, for without allowing it to change to reflect the needs at any one moment in time, you will only eventually succeed in destroying the very thing you are trying to protect.


kp said...

I don't think there is opposition to wind turbines for opposition sake.

Rather, a requirement to ensure that that the permissions for erection of such are carried out in accordance with WG guidelines.

Thus far, IoACC has singularly failed to act in accordance with these guidelines.


The Red Flag said...

KP if you don't know why then you are a fool.