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Eco-warriors for hire muster turbine support

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: January 15, 2013

By Richard Wevill

Environment campaigner Jeff Rice, raises support in Tiverton  marcus thompson

Environment campaigner Jeff Rice, raises support in Tiverton marcus thompson

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HIRING wind campaigners from hundreds of miles away to boost support for a controversially proposed turbine in Mid Devon has been branded a "propaganda exercise" by opponents.

The latest tactic from developers keen to redress the tide of local opposition to their scheme for a turbine near Stoodleigh appears to be calling in wind activists from elsewhere in the UK – in this instance, from around 300 miles away in Yorkshire.

Dr Philip Bratby, a retired energy consultant who lives near Rackenford, said this was an unusual, although not an unprecedented move by the pro-wind lobby.

He said: "I have heard of it happening before but not very often, and not usually for a single wind turbine application. There was an example of this being done for a previous planning application near here, but that was for a wind farm with multiple turbines.

"It is a propaganda exercise and I would encourage people to look into all the issues connected to such a scheme before signing anything."

He said generally people in towns and cities were more in favour of wind turbines than those in the countryside, who were most affected by such schemes.

So far the scheme to build a 330kW wind turbine with a maximum blade tip height of 54m on land at Blatchworthy Farm, close to the North Devon Link Road, has attracted more than 80 letters of opposition.

At the time of the intervention by the eco-campaigners, only four letters of support had been received by the planning department at Mid Devon District Council, which will determine the application.

Manning said the make-shift stall in the centre of Fore Street, which was draped with a sheet with the words 'Yes to wind', was manned by Jeff Rice who came all the way from Yorkshire and was assisted by a colleague from South Wales.

Jeff estimated that around 100 people had taken away a prepared document which was in support of the wind turbine proposal for Stoodleigh, with a space for people to fill in their names and send the letter to the council's planning department.

Jeff admitted that not everyone they had spoken to had been supportive of their stance. He said: "A small number of people have told us they are opposed to wind power but from the people we have spoken to today I would say around 80 per cent have been in support."

Asked whether he felt it was right for someone who did not live in the area to be lobbying for more wind turbines in the Devon countryside, Jeff said: "Quite a small turbine was built recently close to where I live, but this is not about me or any other campaigners, there are still a majority of people out there who are in favour of turbines whether we are here today or not."

He said the turbine could provide enough electricity to supply 150 homes per year.

Applicants Windberry Energy Operations has already sited an anemometer to measure the wind speed on the site close to the North Devon Link Road. Opponents say the structure was still visible from several locations despite being shorter than the tip height of the proposed turbine.

Phil Talbot, who chairs Stoodleigh Parish Council, which has formally objected to the scheme, said: "I went up to Bampton Down a while ago, and you could see the anemometer from there."

A separate application for a solar farm development on land in the same ownership has also been submitted to the district council and is due to be discussed at the end of the month, when a rearranged site visit is planned, after poor visibility hampered a previous visit.

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 20 2013, 6:50PM

    I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a "windy" and until getting involved with this thread, I didn't realise the negative aspects of wind generation. I'm glad you mentioned about biomass too. I was really surprised watching Eddie Stobart Trucks & Trailers the other evening, to see a load of bales, made from shredded rubbish, which was being sent to Europe for burning in a Biomass power station. Lunacy, in my mind, sending a resource like this when we could be using it here.

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  • Vindpust  |  January 17 2013, 9:09PM

    isever***used. It is not "59.3% efficiency", 59.3% is the maximum coefficient of power. The actual conversion factor to electricity is much lower than that and then we have the actual load factor - the average output as a percentage of headline capacity which the wind industry usually claims 30% for a modern onshore turbine and 40% for offshore. However, using recorded output figures, DECC's national 5-year average for onshore is 26.2% and offshore 28.2%. For comparison in 2010 coal fired power stations averaged 40.9%, biomass 53.3%, nuclear 59.4% and Combine Cycle Gas Turbine 60.6%. However, load factor alone is meaningless. As National Grid points out, availability is key and wind performs lamentably here, averaging some 7% at peak load for years prior to 2010 and worse then. You ask what is a better alternative. Well, if you are interested in minimising emissions and costs a mix of gas and nuclear with no wind is demonstrably the best solution. If you are interested in gesture politics and are an anti-nuclear hysteric, then less wind and more biomass/biogas makes more sense. Biomass/biogas is 'firm', i.e. predictable, and is therefore of much more use than wind. Few Windies realise that we already generated 12,973GWh from bioenergy sources in 2011 compared to 15,498GWh from wind. Considering the over-emphasis on wind this shows the potential. Denmark, the Windy wet dream actually produces much more renewable energy from bioenergy than wind: "In Denmark, biomass currently accounts for approximately 70% of renewable-energy consumption, mostly in the form of straw, wood and renewable wastes" (Danish Energy Agency). With the present nonsense we stand a 50% chance of powercuts if we get a hard winter in 2015 because of the failure to build reliable generating capacity rather than wind.

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 17 2013, 4:38PM

    Isn't 59.3% efficiency quite high? How does that compare to a fossil fuelled power station - if you take into account the production and delivery of the raw material? And I'll ask you again, you are obviously convinced that wind power generation is not the way forward, but what is the better alternative?

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  • Vindpust  |  January 17 2013, 2:17PM

    isever***used. The technical improvements you mention, most of which have to do improving the longevity of components rather than output, have very little effect on the basic physics of wind power production, as I said before, that is why we now have 198m turbines with 61m blades. Commercial wind was in widespread use in Denmark and California 30 years ago. First in UK in 1991. I remember off-grid turbines with sheds full of batteries in Wales and on Exmoor in the 1960's and 1970's (most people ended up getting big Lister diesel generators instead!.) Betz Limit: "Albert Betz was a German physicist who calculated that no wind turbine could convert more than 59.3% of the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy turning a rotor. This is known as the Betz Limit, and is the theoretical maximum coefficient of power for any wind turbine." (http://tinyurl.com/ahwwted).

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  • Vindpust  |  January 17 2013, 1:40PM

    isever***used. The technical improvements you mention, most of which have to do improving the longevity of components rather than output, have very little effect on the basic physics of wind power production, as I said before, that is why we now have 198m turbines with 61m blades. Commercial wind was in widespread use in Denmark and California 30 years ago. First in UK in 1991. I remember off-grid turbines with sheds full of batteries in Wales and on Exmoor in the 1960's and 1970's (most people ended up getting big Lister diesel generators instead!.) Betz Limit: "Albert Betz was a German physicist who calculated that no wind turbine could convert more than 59.3% of the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy turning a rotor. This is known as the Betz Limit, and is the theoretical maximum coefficient of power for any wind turbine." (http://tinyurl.com/ahwwted).

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 17 2013, 1:22PM

    Vindpust This is obviously a topic in which you have a far greater knowledge, but no, I am not joking. Wind power generation may have been in use for a millennia for all I know, but modern, carbon fibre composite blades high efficiency gearboxes etc. are new. And I certainly don't ever remember seeing wind power used on a large commercial scale, multiple unit installations etc. twenty years ago. I should imagine that there are some less than idealogical "deals" done between government and energy providers and that some truths are omitted from being broadcast to the public, I am a cynic by nature! But what do you propose as an alternative? Personally, I watch the tide rise and fall twice a day and wonder how much energy could be produced from that. (1m3 = 1 ton)

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  • Vindpust  |  January 17 2013, 1:50AM

    isever***used. "New technology", you must be joking! They have been in use in the UK since 1895 and have been in widespread commercial use in other countries for over 40 years and for 20 years in the UK. The technology has inherent limitations according to Betz's law which has been understood since 1913. The only way to significantly improve output is to build them higher (better wind speed) and increase blade area. The drawback is that new giant turbines up to 198m (Enercon E126, as already built in France, Belgium and Germany) have equally great visual impacts and have to be built much further apart because of wind turbulence - adding to the problem. Renewables Obligation subsidies were only supposed to be a short term support for 'emerging technologies' - so why do they still need a 100% subsidy (90% from next year) and 200% for offshore after 10 years? These subsidies were criticised as being more than twice what was needed to bring forward investment by the Audit Office back in 2005. Ofgem criticised the RO in 2007 for costing eight-times what other EU countries paid through the ETS to save a tonne of carbon. But we are still being shafted by the wind industry, and will continue to be until 2037. By then we will probably all be living in fuel poverty and what is left of process and manufacturing industries will have left for countries with half the Green taxes and renewables costs that they have to pay in the UK.

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 17 2013, 1:08AM

    Like it not, we do have to start weening ourselves off from fossil fuels. We don't have a great history with nuclear, so "green" methods are the way forward in the long term. Of course, these are the early years and the technology is new and probably wouldn't be economically viable without subsidies. You cannot blame businesses exploiting these incentives to the maximum. It's just a bloody shame that British companies or even a Nationalised British company isn't cashing in... I wonder if you'd get planning permission for one on the old windmill at Dolphin Court in Paignton or Windy Corner, Galmpton?

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  • Wiegand  |  January 16 2013, 7:01PM

    The big lie is their game plan for over 28 years when headless eagles first started falling out of the sky around wind turbines. Paying for supporters is to be expected. It is very obvious that would there be little support for the wind industry if they did not lie about turbine impacts, lie about energy output/potential, and stopped their false promotion of turbines being a solution to our energy needs. They know this. But even if a person doesn't understand that these wind projects will always be a small supplement to the grid and that rare bird species are being slaughtered off across the world, everyone should be concerned about a few private landowners selling out the quality of life in their communities. It happens everywhere these turbines go up. Serenity is lost and property values plummet. Everyone can understand that there is something very wrong when a landowner is allowed to profit off this degradation. Ignorance, fraud, and obscene profits are keeping this industry alive. Why have over endangered 200 whooping cranes gone missing in the last several years? Why have mortality studies been rigged for over 28 years? Why do investors like Google have to give $2.65 million to wind energy lobbying groups?............It is all part of the big lie. What is not a lie is that wind energy projects are toxic. Everyone should search the internet and they will realize that a major resistance movement towards wind is developing across the world.

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  • shresident  |  January 16 2013, 4:17PM

    It is becoming increasingly recognised now that wind turbines are nothing to do with producing clean, green energy, but EVERYTHING to do with producing lots of ££££££s for largely foreign owned wind 'energy' companies and greedy landowners. And we're all paying for this, not only through our ever increasing energy bills, but through the loss of beautiful landscapes, a potential drop in the value of our homes, the impact on local wildlife etc. To cap it all, they don't even do what is says on the tin. The current UK energy demand is 39.97GW and the entire wind turbine fleet is producing a pathetic 0.65GW. Simple, really - in very cold or freezing conditions we have high pressure which means little or no wind! You can get up-to-the-minute energy status information on http://tinyurl.com/6ja8btf Good luck to the Stop Dorcas Lane Turbines group!

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