Wind Power Myths

Myths about wind power, wind turbines and planning processes


This is a recent  extract from the Financial Times’ Letters To the Editor section. For the full letter from: Prof Peter P Edwards, University of Oxford, UK  please use this link:  Just how ‘green’ are renewable technologies?

….Magnets manufactured from these [rare earth] metals are used extensively in wind turbines and for extending the range of electric vehicles. The manufacture of solar PV panels — the icon of all that is green — requires caustic chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid and at least one rare or precious metal, including silver, tellurium or indium. One adds for consideration, the environmental and ethical burdens of cobalt production for electric vehicles (“Lack of ethical cobalt undermines Tesla debt” John Dizard, FTfm August 14).

Such fundamental problems significantly undercut the much promoted ability of “green technologies” to fight climate change. As with the hidden financial costs of integrating renewable power (letter from Robert Goss and Phil Heptonstall, August 24), similar hidden, environmental costs relating to all “green tech products” — must be laid open for careful scrutiny. Only through increased focus, analysis and transparency in tackling the dirtier side of otherwise clean energy sources can they one day be seen truly, and not just symbolically, green.

Extract from 'The Life Scientific' – BBC Radio 4 (Tuesday 26th Feb 2013)


"Jim Al-Khalili talks to Sue Ion about working in the nuclear industry in the dark decades post Chernobyl and about why nuclear power has to be part of our energy mix for the future" – BBC.  Click the link to listen to a 13 min extract of the BBC programme.


'Why we cannot keep the lights on without nuclear energy' – The Independent Blogs, 


Dame Sue Ion




By   Monday, 24 October 2011 at 6:00 a


"The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Study of last year, ‘Generating the Future’, took the view that we needed to deploy the MAXIMUM amount possible of renewable energy resources that engineers considered feasible. We worked out what you’d actually have to build. Each element was the maximum we thought feasible

  • 38 London (sized) arrays of offshore wind (we haven’t got one yet)
  • 1000 miles of Pelamis wave machines (we’ve only got a set of test units). 1000 miles equates to building 3 miles a month, for the next 40years, or the equivalent length of one London tube train a day
  • Nearly ten thousand land based 2.5MW wind turbines
  • 25million 3.2kw solar panels
  • The Severn barrage built (except it’s already been decided not to go ahead with it)
  • 2300 SeaGen marine turbines (we got a couple of test units)
  • 25+GW biomass energy

As well as all these installations, in order to meet our apparently legally binding carbon targets we would also need:-

  • At least 40 new nuclear power plants or fossil plants with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (we haven’t got any of these yet either and CCS has yet to be proven as a viable technology)




  • A reduction in demand of 25-30%. That’s 25-30%, with the massive sociological and behavioural challenges that brings

The Engineering challenge in delivering all of this is massive in itself. But when you also consider the associated additional infrastructure, in terms of development of the national electricity grid, and the port infrastructure to facilitate particularly the offshore wind and marine technologies, it becomes nigh on impossible in engineering terms.


These issues haven’t been thought through properly (if at all!), neither the buildability nor the cost, which you and I the consumer will ultimately bear. Efforts to update the power network of the National Grid have not kept pace with the construction of wind farms.  We are having to pay windfarm operators hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep their turbines idle, when the energy they are producing cannot be accommodated.  …….."


Click here for the full blog article


Dame Sue Ion is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a visiting professor at Imperial College London.

Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save, according to potentially devastating scientific research to be published later this year.

Click the link to see the full article in The Telegraph (Sunday 24th Feb 2013)

Credit:     The Galloway Gazette     (20/01/13)


"Russell Brown told the Chief Executive of EDF that the peaceful and unique Airriequhillart valley should be left as it is.


Mr Brown was speaking during a Question Time-style debate at the Annual General Meeting of the Whithorn Business Association. Speakers from the Conservatives, the SNP and Visit Scotland also took part.


EDF, which is planning to build 18 450-foot turbines across the historic Airriequhillart valley, had sent a three-strong team to Whithorn with hopes of persuading the business community to back wind energy. Besides their chief executive, Christian Egal, two more senior executives and a press officer turned up for the session.


Mr Egal had been in direct contact with the Airriequhillart Protest Group over several weeks and had been coming under increasing pressure to make a personal visit to the proposed site. As none of the protest group were members, the Business Association decided to allow two of them to attend as guests.


Questions included why companies plan to place turbines close to people’s homes, and why no compensation was built into the process for those whose properties were blighted by turbines.


There were gasps of disbelief in the crowded room when both EDF and the SNP representative, Aileen Mcleod, argued that the imposition of a turbine site did not affect the value of adjoining properties.


Mr Egal argued that there was no evidence that turbine sites affected property prices, despite the fact that compensation schemes are in force in other countries."


TW312 comment:-

At the very least, once a turbine site is publicly identified it makes nearby properties more difficult to sell –  there is evidence that the presence of turbines (dependent on proximity and visual impact) can reduce property prices.  Houses have been down graded in council tax-bands by the Valuation Office Agency which provides the Government with valuations and property advice!


Hello again and Happy New Year!


A new report has been released which measured infrasound and low frequency noise at a wind farm in Shirley, America.


What is unusual about this report is that tests were carried out by 4 different acousticians – 2 who work for the wind industry and 2 who are independent.


The final report contains a body of text which all 4 acousticaims have signed and 4 seperate appendix reports from each individual.  Here is an important statement from the main body of the report agreed and signed off by all four.


The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.“ 


Click here to read more about the report



Burcote Wind agreed to withdraw a claim from their website that "owing to the topography of the site, (the proposed wind farm at Benshinnie) would be obscured from many local viewpoints."


The developers were reported to the Advertising Standards Authority after Crossmichael resident Alan Keith, on behalf of TW312, refuted their statement and submitted one of Burcote Wind's own documents as evidence.


Read the Galloway News article here



A new ‘good practice guide’ has been developed as part of a Scottish Government-led project, containing tips about how to overcome opposition to wind farm schemes. Ministers say the guidance is designed to ‘make planning applications for wind energy developments run more smoothly’. (Michael Blackley,   Scottish Daily Mail)


The new guidelines can be read here, but I quickly looked up the guidance on noise which states:-



 Reviewing continually the methodology, standards and policy for wind farm design and noise thresholds.

Applying up to date methodology, standards, policy as well as technology is key to minimising the noise impacts of the wind farms.


This so called 'Good Practice Guidance' has failed before it's even published because the specific advice for this recommendation is to follow the findings of the;-


"Report from the Working Group on Noise from Wind Turbines -UK
This Report (England) provides guidelines on the measurement on noise from wind farms and indicative noise levels to protect neighbours while not unduly restricting the development of wind farms."


These are the ETSU-R-97 guidelines produced in 1996 when turbines were just 50-60m to tip on average.  Turbines are now over double that height and the guidelines are longer overdue the review that was recommended in the document.

Credit:     Christopher Booker     The Telegraph     (11/08/12)


Britain would have to build 10 turbines a day every day for eight years to meet its EU renewables target



Everything about this is delusional. There is no way we could hope to build more than a fraction of the 30,000 turbines required. As the windless days last week showed, we would have to build dozens of gas-fired power stations just to provide back-up for all the times when the wind is not blowing at the right speed. But, as more and more informed observers have been pointing out, the ministers and officials of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) seem to live in a bubble of unreality, without any practical grasp of how electricity is made, impervious to rational argument and driven by an obsession that can only end in our computer-dependent economy grinding to a halt.


Click here to read more

Credit:     Gerri Peev     Mail Online     (22/07/12)





Wind farms do hit property prices – something anyone with an ounce of common sense would know but at least it is official now.  It will be interesting to see the "spin" developers will put on this!


Click here to read more

Credit:     James Gillespie     The Sunday Times     (15/07/12)


Something we learnt early on!


"Wind farm developers have been accused of deceiving local councils and the public by using computer-generated images in planning applications that make the turbines seem smaller than they are in reality."


Click here to read more

Credit:   Jackie Grant     Dumfries Standard     (29/06/12)


Buddhist monks are selling their spiritual retreat in the forest of Ae because they can’t live near a windfarm.


Scottish Power, which has lodged plans to extend the Harestanes development with a further 19, 125-foot turbines, said it was close to finalising a buy-out deal with the Tharpaland monks.


Concerned monks submitted evidence to a Scottish parliamentary inquiry into the government’s renewable energy plans, claiming they suffered serious side effects when they were praying within five miles of a windfarm.


They say these included: pain in the head and chest, heart palpitations, dizziness, dry retching, anger, heightened emotions and crying.




Keith's letter appeared in the Herald on 5th June 2012


Click here to read more

Credit:     Damian Carrington and Toby Helm     The Guardian     (02/06/12)


Plans for dramatic cuts in government subsidies for onshore windfarms are being drawn up by the Treasury in a move that seriously undermines David Cameron's claim to be running "the greenest government ever".


The Observer has learned that George Osborne is demanding cuts of 25% in subsidies, a reduction the industry says would "kill dead" the development of wind power sites. The Treasury's stance has put the chancellor at loggerheads with the Liberal Democrat energy secretary Ed Davey, whose party strongly supports more renewable energy.



Clcik here to read the full article


Credit:    Dr Sarah Laurie     Waubra Foundation      (28/05/12)



Recent acoustic surveys in and around the homes of sick people living near large wind turbines in Australia and the US conducted by acousticians independently of the wind industry have confirmed that infrasound and low frequency noise are indeed being emitted by wind turbines, and are now being measured inside the homes of sick people, the emissions correlating with symptom occurrence and severity.


The long term effect of chronic exposure to these frequencies from wind turbines specifically has not been extensively studied, but there is relevant research on the known effects of infrasound and low frequency noise from other sources which is highly relevant, but has been largely “forgotten”.


One relevant credible literature review from 2003 relates specifically to the known effects of exposure to low frequency noise, in a report by British Acoustician Professor Geoffrey Leventhall, for the UK Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This review detailed symptoms and a pattern of their occurrence, which the author has subsequently publicly admitted is identical with “wind turbine syndrome”


Click here to read more

Credit:     George Wood    


Some interesting opinions questioning whether wind turbines do reduce CO2 emissions by George Wood, a former National Grid Power Systems Operations Engineer at both Regional and National Control Centres.

Click here to read article

Credit:     Simon Johnson,     Scottish Political Editor,     The Telegraph,     (13/03/12)


The SNP’s green energy revolution will create as little as 300 permanent jobs compared to the near-50,000 projected by Alex Salmond, an industry expert has warned MSPs.


Richard Marsh, a renewable power economist, said the First Minister and green energy companies are “greatly exaggerating” the supposed benefits of their plan for a new swathe of wind and wave farms.


While they insist that 48,600 jobs will be created by the end of the decade, he said the real number of long-term posts is more likely to be 1,100 but could be as low as 300.


He will tell Holyrood’s economy, energy and tourism committee tomorrow that the large difference is because the higher figure includes temporary construction jobs created while green energy projects are being installed.


However, these will disappear after the building work has been completed. Mr Marsh concluded that the large taxpayer subsidy paid to green power companies means the industry is actually harming the Scottish economy.


He said diverting public funding into the industry instead of projects where it would have more economic impact in effect means that every renewable power job costs 3.7 posts that would have arisen elsewhere.



Click here for full article

Credit:     Christopher D Hanning, (honorary consultant in sleep medicine) and Alun Evans, professor emeritus,     Article published 8th March 2012 in the BMJ



A large body of evidence now exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom. Sleep disturbance may be a particular problem in children, and it may have important implications for public health. When seeking to generate renewable energy through wind, governments must ensure that the public will not suffer harm from additional ambient noise. Robust independent research into the health effects of existing wind farms is long overdue, as is an independent review of existing evidence and guidance on acceptable noise levels.


Click here to read full article

Credit:     Philip Case,     Farmers Weekly,     (25/02/12)


Countryfile presenter Matt Baker has waded into the debate over wind farms by questioning their effectiveness.


The 2011 Farmers Weekly Awards host, 34, was asked to name the greatest threat to the countryside and he criticised the increasing number of wind turbines appearing across the UK.


Mr Baker, who grew up on a farm in Durham, told the Radio Times: “I think there’s an enormous number of wind turbines.”  He went on: “They are right next to the farm in Durham and they’re 90m high. I’m not sure how effective they are as they never seem to be actually working.”


Mr Baker is the latest high-profile person to speak out against wind turbines. Environmentalist David Bellamy has hit out at them, saying they are destroying our landscapes for profit.


Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, said previously that wind was the “least efficient” form of green power and wind turbines were a “public menace” that risked blighting the British landscape.


In November, Prince Philip dismissed wind farms as a “useless disgrace” and described people who backed them as believing in a “fairy tale”.


Click here to read article

Credit:     Louise Gray,     Environmental Correspondent,     The Telegraph,     (12/02/12)


The National Trust is now "deeply sceptical" of wind power, its chairman said as he launched an outspoken attack on the "public menace" of turbines destroying the countryside.


Click here to read more

Credit:     Patrick Hennessy,     Political Editor,     The Telegraph     (05/02/12)


David Cameron has been hit by a major protest by Conservative MPs over the Government’s backing for wind farms, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.


A total of 101 Tory MPs have written to the Prime Minister demanding that the £400 million-a-year subsidies paid to the “inefficient” onshore wind turbine industry are “dramatically cut”.


The backbenchers, joined by some MPs from other parties, have also called on Mr Cameron to tighten up planning laws so local people have a better chance of stopping new farms being developed and protecting the countryside.


Click here to read more


To read the letter sent to David Cameron and see who signed    Click here





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