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When we express our opposition to the local siting of large turbines it is not uncommon for pro-wind advocates to trot out the hackneyed accusation of 'NIMBY"!

 

Of course anyone who finds themselves directly affected by wind farm proposals will have done a little more research than most and will know about the invasive effects turbines can have on the health and wellbeing of those living nearby. This is not trivial and neither is it a gentile form of aesthetic 'nimbyism'. The validated evidence of harm is growing – and it is, of course, unlikely that you will hear the Scottish Government, wind farm developers, land owners or even local Environmental Health officers talking about it! (Hmmm – why?)

 

If you are interested or concerned you might like to look at this presentation.

 

Stop These Things have developed this really interesting timeline. It sets out a chronology of what the wind industry knew (and when); what the wind industry did in response to this knowledge and how the wind industry is still manouevering  to ensure that this knowledge is marginalised in the interests of minimising opposition to the proliferation of large turbines. Meanwhile it is increasingly apparent that turbines can have significant, negative effects on the health and well-being of people living next door to wind farms. Click here to see the presentation.

 

So when someone wants to accuse you of being a climate change skeptik, a middle class aesthete, a privileged country dweller or a NIMBY – tell them about the validated harmful effects on people who live near wind farms and who are seen as irritants to be overcome by the Government and the industry.

When we express our opposition to the local siting of large turbines it is not uncommon for pro-wind advocates to trot out the hackneyed accusation of 'NIMBY"!

 

Of course anyone who finds themselves directly affected by wind farm proposals will have done a little more research than most and will know about the invasive effects turbines can have on the health and wellbeing of those living nearby. This is not trivial and neither is it a gentile form of aesthetic 'nimbyism'. The validated evidence of harm is growing – and it is, of course, unlikely that you will hear the Scottish Government, wind farm developers, land owners or even local Environmental Health officers talking about it! (Hmmm – why?)

 

If you are interested or concerned you might like to look at this presentation.

 

Stop These Things have developed this really interesting timeline. It sets out a chronology of what the wind industry knew (and when); what the wind industry did in response to this knowledge and how the wind industry is still manouevering  to ensure that this knowledge is marginalised in the interests of minimising opposition to the proliferation of large turbines. Meanwhile it is increasingly apparent that turbines can have significant, negative effects on the health and well-being of people living next door to wind farms. Click here to see the presentation.

 

So when someone wants to accuse you of being a climate change skeptik, a middle class aesthete, a privileged country dweller or a NIMBY – tell them about the validated harmful effects on people who live near wind farms and who are seen as irritants to be overcome by the Government and the industry.

 

IMG_1693thumb

At the October 14, 2014 Brown County Board of Health meeting, a motion was unanimously approved declaring the Shirley Wind turbines a "Human Health Hazard".  The text of the unanimously approved motion reads:

 

"To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI. A Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health."

 

Visit BBCRWE wesbite for more info.

Please send any expressions of support and, if applicable, your expereinces to:  BOHsupport@bccrwe.com   

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)

 

AND FINALLY

 

  • 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.

The Shetlands are threatened with a 103 turbine wind farm in the heart of the Shetlands – constructed on a site of 32,000 acres. It is a mind boggling development. What is particularly distressing is that there were 2722 objections from individuals and objections from the John Muir Trust, RSPB and the government's own agency and statutory consultee Scottish Natural Heritage.

 

Yet Energy Minister Fergus Ewing still thought it appropriate to approve this wind farm.

 

Sustainable Shetland have decided to challenge this decision through the courts and have launched a judicial review.

 

They need funds – it's as simple as that. They have been granted a protective costs order and will only be liable for £5000 of costs. They still have to fund their own experts and legal fees.

 

If you would like to make a donation to their fighting fund please follow the links on

 

http://www.sustainableshetland.org/index.htm

 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/TurbineWatch312?ref=hl#!/groups/111070719185/?fref=ts

 

 

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:-

 

AVOIDING, MINIMISING AND MANAGING NOISE IMPACTS OF GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS
 

 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.

A community in Canada, who've been trying to publicise the negative effects of wind turbines for many years, have established a new website. You can read real stories from around the world. Click the link below to visit the website:-

 

https://www.illwind.org/index.php/reports

 

We've added this website to the permanent links we maintain on this site (bottom left).

Mayfield open for comments until the 9th August 2012 on the following sections only

 

Volume 1 Section 6 of the Environmental Statement (Socio-Economic Impacts)

Ornithology Addendum (Bird Survey submitted 31st May 2012)

 

The documents can be read here http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11366

All other documents can be read at Kirkbank House Dumfries during office hours

 

Credit:     James Gillespie,       Sunday Times,        (18/12/11)        Click here to read full report on CAWT

 

Speculators are cashing in on the unreliability of wind farms by betting that they will fail to produce enough electricity — forcing National Grid to fill the gap from power stations.

 

Analysts say traders specialising in future prices of energy are factoring in the possibility of wind farm outages for the first time.

 

The failure of wind farms to generate enough electricity even in windy conditions was highlighted again last Tuesday when many turbines were forced to shut down in storm winds of 65mph, meaning that National Grid had to spend about £250,000 to maintain supplies. A week earlier, power from wind turbines slumped from 2,000 to 708 megawatts (MW) as hurricane-force winds hit Scotland. In December 2010, it was the lack of wind that caused most of Britain’s turbines to stop producing during the big freeze over Christmas.

 

Now traders in the energy market are exploiting this volatility, pushing up the future prices for electricity.

 

“Volatility is great if you can trade it,” one market participant said.

 

 

 

According to Alex Salmond the wind is free- but our answer is, so is gas and coal at source!  It is their conversion to energy that costs money and wind is far from cheap.

 

A wind farm has been paid £1.2 million NOT to produce electricity for eight-and-a-half hours.

 

The amount is ten times greater than the wind farm's owners would have received had they actually generated any electricity.

The disclosure exposes the bizarre workings of Britain's electricity supply, prompting calls last night for an official investigation into the payments system.

 

To read more click here   The Telegraph     (17/09/11)    

 

Two thirds of wind turbines in the UK are owned by foreign companies, raking in half a billion pounds in subsidies added to household bills.

 

A Sunday Telegraph audit of Britain’s 3,419 turbines reveals 2,276 are either fully or partly-owned by foreign businesses.

The findings demonstrate how companies from around the world are benefiting from generous incentives offered by the Government to meet carbon reduction targets.

 

To read more click here      The Sunday Telegraph     (18/09/11)

 

Dumfries and Galloway Groups

 

Galloway Landscape And Renewable Energy  (GLARE)

Save Loch Urr

South West Wind Farm Action Group   (Wigtownshire / Mull of Galloway)

Save the Solway

Say NO to Arriequhillart wind farm (Wigtownshire)

Save the Machars (Wigtownshire)

 

 

Scottish Groups

 

Scotland Against Spin  (Scotland – National Group)

It's in the Wind  (Ayrshire)

Concerned About Wind Turbines  (Aberdeenshire)

 

 

Rest of UK

 

Windbyte    (Northumberland & Borders)

Too Big Too Close

 

 

Further Afield

 

National Wind Watch – Great site with up-to-date news

Wind Turbine Syndrome – Useful Resources

Wind Turbine Syndrome – Video Archive

Europe's Ill Wind

 

Fallacy of Wind Power – Prof David MacKay

 

 

 

 

Credit:   David McKay     The Press and Journal      (26/07/11)

Noise complaints have been lodged about one in three commercial wind turbine schemes in a rural part of Aberdeenshire – more than double the UK average.

New data from Aberdeenshire Council following a freedom of information request by a local action group has revealed the extent of opposition to wind turbines operating in the Formartine area, which includes Ellon, Oldmeldrum and Turriff.

Campaign group Concerned About Wind Turbines (CAWT) has blamed planning guidance, which allows for a relatively small separation distance between turbines and homes.

 

The separation distance between turbine and residential property in Aberdeenshire is just 400m,  most of the complaints have risen within the last 18 months and include a single 80m turbine to tip, 1 km from the complainant.

The figures were obtained under a Freedom Of Information request by CAWT (Concerned about Wind Turbines).  Click here to link to a more indepth report.

Credit:  Holyrood Magazine     Click here for link     (27/06/11)

It seems astonishing to me that Finance Secretary John Swinney has complained to Scottish Power about its 10 per cent electricity bill hike when he knows full-well that it is his government’s ludicrous renewable energy policy that is to blame. Its fanatical brand of on-shore and off-shore wind ‘religion’ is funded by massive subsidies which all have to be paid for by the beleaguered consumers.
The Renewable Obligation Certificates and feed-in tariffs will continue to pour money into the pockets of landowners, the Crown Estate and greedy power companies for years to come, until Scotland is bristling with 6000 turbines and our electricity bills have trebled. By that stage the Scottish Government will have presided over the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in Scotland’s recent history.

Moreover, with wind turbines only producing electricity for around 21 per cent of their active life, Scotland will still need to build new gas-fired power plants or import nuclear-generated electricity from England and France to provide base-load backup. What a shambles.
I hope Mr Swinney has the good sense not to express surprise or cast blame too widely when Scotland’s tourist industry collapses because no one wants to visit our vandalised landscape anymore.

STRUAN STEVENSON, MEP
Brussels

Here is an extract from the Turnbull report issued in May 2011 by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The GWPF is, according to their website, "an all-party and non-party think tank and a registered educational charity which, while open-minded on the contested science of global warming, is deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated."

Here's how they describe their ethos:-

We are in no sense 'anti-environmental'. There is a wide range of important environmental issues, which call for an equally wide range of policy responses. Our concern is solely with the possible effects of any future global warming and the policy responses that may evoke.
 
The GWPF is funded entirely by voluntary donations from a number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.
Extract:-

The logical economist’s approach[to energy generation] is to rank policy responses according to the cost per tonne of CO2 abated and then work through the merit order, starting with the most effective. Or, what amounts to the same thing, set a price on carbon and then let the various technologies – gas, coal with CCS, nuclear, wind, tidal, energy efficiency etc, fight it out for market share.

  

But the EU Renewables Obligation is the denial of this logic. One particular set of technologies, and especially wind, has been given a guaranteed market share and a guaranteed indexed price, regardless of how competitive it is.  The current pursuit of wind power is folly. Its cost per kWh substantially exceeds that of other low carbon sources such as nuclear when account is taken of intermittency and the cost of extending the grid far from where consumers are located. There is a constant confusion between installed capacity for wind and its actual output, which is, typically, about 20-25 percent of the former. There is also the problem that the coldest periods in the UK often coincide with low wind speeds.

     

There has been in this country initially hostility to nuclear power and now at best a half-heartedness. The Secretary of State at Department of Energy and Climate Change has called nuclear a tried, tested and failed technology. It may be that in the UK historically it has not been as successful as it might have been but it has for 50 years provided around 20 percent of our electricity reliably, competitively and safely. Just 20 miles from our coast France has produced over 2/3rds of its electricity from nuclear and regards this as a great success. Clearly events in Japan are raising new questions about nuclear power. We cannot yet say whether there is a general lesson about current designs or whether the lesson is about 40 year old designs in seismically active areas.

There is something profoundly illogical in Nick Clegg’s demand that nuclear power can only go ahead in the UK if it receives no public subsidy whatsoever, while at the same time promoting huge subsidies for renewables.

The feed-in tariff mechanism is fast becoming a scandal. Those lucky enough to own buildings large enough on which to install solar panels, or enough land for a wind farm, have been receiving 30-40p per kwh, for electricity, which is retailed at only 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on businesses and households. It is astonishing that the Liberals who attach such importance to fairness turn a blind eye to this transfer from poor to rich, running to £billions a year. If you live in a council tower block in Lambeth you don’t have much opportunity to get your nose into this trough. The good news is that, at last, the government is beginning to cut back on subsidies to large solar operators, following the trend set in Germany and Spain.

There is a major new development which fits the description of a disruptive technology, that is the introduction of new drilling techniques which make it possible to extract gas from shale[4]. This has dramatically widened the geographic availability of gas, has produced a massive upgrading of gas reserves and is decoupling gas prices from oil.

There is no peak in hydrocarbons. Gas has the advantage that it produces less than half the CO2 that coal produces. So we face a happy prospect that we can replace a lot of coal burning with gas, reduce energy prices, and make a big reduction in CO2 emissions, albeit not the complete decarbonisation sought by some, achieving in effect a dash for gas at the global level. Certainly the opportunity cost of renewables has risen, and perhaps that of nuclear power too.

To read or download the full report (15 easy to read pages) click here.

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Update 14th December 2012

 

REFUSED by D & G PAC committee 12/12/12 due to impacts on landscape and being completely out of scale!

 

We await to see whether Community Windpower Ltd will appeal this decision to the Scottish Government

 


Update 19th July 2012

 

Mayfield open for comments until the 9th August 2012 on the following sections only

 

Section 6 of the Environmental Statement (Socio-Economic Impacts)

Bird Survey submitted 31st May 2012

 

The documents can be read here http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11366

All other documents can be read at Kirkbank House Dumfries during office hours

 


 

Update 25th Feb 2012     MAYFIELD OPEN FOR COMMENT  until 15th MARCH

 

The Mayfield application (11/P/2/0478) was re-advertised in the Galloway News on Thursday 16th February due to the omission by the planning department of Section 6 of the Environmental Statement.  This enables the public to comment further on the Social and Economic impacts of the proposed wind farm.

 

Unfortunately, there appears to be an error with the software used by the council and none of the documents have been available to view since that date.  The council are working to correct the error.

 

There will be an opportunity for further representations on the bird surveys once completed and submitted by Community Windpower, which will have to be advertise in the press to enable further public comment.

 

 


 

Update   –   Friday 20th January 2012

 

 

Mayfield Wind Farm is now open for comment:  19th Jan – 16th Feb 2012

 

 

 

Previous objections will not stand , you will need to object again to be counted

 

 

There appear to be two main differences between the original application and this resubmission:-

 

A reduction from 7 turbines down to 6 but still 130m high!

 

A new, additional, construction traffic route has been introduced through Gelston village, out towards Kirkcudbright before turning right onto the Slagnaw road.  Improvements to a farm track by Lochdougan House will be required for access to the site.

 

 

Why should people object to Mayfield Wind Farm?

 

 

There are many reasons why people could object to Mayfield but there are two very important reasons why you should:

 

 

1)   If turbines of this height are approved in our lowland areas it will set a precedent and open the door to further developments which will be extremely difficult to oppose.

 

2)   The council recently paid professional Landscape Architects to assess all the landscape character types across Dumfries and Galloway and their capacity to site wind farm developments. The Landscape Capacity Study clearly identifies drumlin pastures and coastal granite uplands, which are the landscape types that will host the Mayfield turbines, as being unsuitable for large scale turbines i.e. over 80m to tip.  At 130m to tip these turbines would be clearly out of scale in the landscape.  If this proposal was approved, the money spent producing the Landscape Capacity Study, which forms the backbone of the Interim Planning Policy (IPP), would be wasted.  It would also render a major component of the IPP, which was produced to prevent inappropriately sited wind developments, totally redundant.

 

 

If you would like to submit an objection to the development of the Mayfield wind farm we have provided a list of valid grounds within a specimen letter for your use. You can modify this letter to fit with your views and circumstances.

 

Please include any of the specimen reasons you want but the two most important points are setting a precedent in this area and the landscape impact.  This will ensure your comments will be valid and then you might wish to add any other comments you would like to make.

 

Important points

 

 

For those of you who submitted an objection to Mayfield last year your objection will not stand.  You need to submit another objection – you could use the same basic letter as last time, with just a few alterations:

 

Change the date and year

 

Change the planning application number to 11/P/2/0478

 

Change from 7 to 6 turbines throughout your letter if necessary

 

Change the address for where to send to:-

 

Head of Planning and Building Standards,

Dumfries and Galloway Council,

Kirkbank,

English Street,

Dumfries,

DG1 2 HS

 

Email address is pe.stewartry.planning@dumgal.gov.uk

 

 

Please send your objection to the above addresses before the deadline of 16th February 2012

 

 

Your objection will carry more 'weight' if you can write your own letter – use our reasons if you want to as a basis and just reword.  If you don't have time to do that you can copy and paste some of our points into your own letter/email.

 

If one objection is signed by more than one person (i.e. 2 people) it still only counts as one objection.   It is better to send a letter (by conventional post or email) for each adult and sign each individually.

 

Please be aware that your name, address, date, relevant planning application number and your signature must be on your objection.  Your signature is not required for emails.

 

All objections received by the planning office will be in the public domain.  Your name and address will be available for the public to see.  Personal information (email address, telephone number and signature will be blacked out for security reasons).

 

 

 

 

SAMPLE LETTER AND REASONS FOR OBJECTION

 

 

 

Name

Address

 

 

Date

 

Head of Planning and Building Standards,

Dumfries and Galloway Council,

Kirkbank,

English Street,

Dumfries,

DG1 2 HS

 

 

Dear Sir,

 

Planning application 11/P/2/0478

 

 

I object to the proposed wind farm development at Mayfield, Rhonehouse for the reasons listed below.

 

 

 

Approval of large turbines (over 80m) in the lowlands will set a precedent and open the door for further developments.

 

The size and scale of the proposed development is unsuitable for this location and will have a widespread visual impact.   Turbines of this height will overwhelm and dominate the surrounding area, changing the local character.

 

The size and scale of the turbines is incompatible with the landscape character type – Drumlin Pastures and Coastal Granite Uplands – as described in Dumfries and Galloway Landscape Assessment 1998 and the draft Interim Planning Policy. 

 

This development will neither conserve nor enhance the landscape character as specified in the Landscape Assessment 1998.

 

The size and scale of the development will have a significantly adverse impact on tourism due to its proximity to Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas and important tourist routes along the A75, the A711 (the main tourist road into Kirkcudbright) and the National Cycle Route 7 along the B727.

 

The turbines will have an adverse impact over a large area including on local tourist attractions such as Threave Castle, Moat Brae in Kirkcudbright and Neilson’s Monument. 

 

Whilst this development is outwith Regional and National Scenic Areas, it is still close enough to have significant adverse impacts on them, particularly Screel, Bengairn and popular tourist spots such as The Doon (Nun Mill Bay).  

 

The predicted noise level of 38dB documented in the Environmental Statement does not conform to council standards (listed in Technical Paper No 5 as 35dB), so fail to comply with Policy S22 and GP 12.

 

The amenity of nearby residents will be negatively affected by increased noise levels and potential shadow flicker.

 

The environmental assessments carried out do not provide any firm evidence that the impact on wildlife will be minimal and previously requested bird surveys have not been completed.

 

Increase in traffic and abnormal loads on minor roads during construction, will have safety implications, particularly around Gelston school. 
 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Noise

 

Amplitude Modulation – High Court sets new standards for Den Brook Valley Wind farm 

Acoustic Ecology Institute     25/07/11

 

Jane and Julian Davis lived 930m from the wind turbines of Deeping, St Nicholas, Lincolnshire.  They were driven out of their home due to noise problems and in July go to the High Court in a landmark case against the landowner and wind farm developers.

This is their submission to The Select Committee on Economic Affairs on The Economics of Renewable Energy.

This is on the CAWT website who are fighting wind turbines across Aberdeenshire

 

 

Dick Bowdler – ETSU-R-97   Why it is wrong

Dick Bowdler was a member of the Noise Working Group but resigned when the remit was changed.  In this document he states his reasons why the noise standards used for wind farms are wrong.

 

UK Noise Association

Report of noise problems relating to wind farms.  In their conclusion is the recommendation for wind farms to be setback  2 km from all properties. 

 

NHS UK

The NHS criticises a wind farm industry report called "Wind Turbines and Health Effects". and make some valid observations

 

Leading British sleep specialist, Dr. Christopher Hanning, explains the profound repercussions of wind turbines disrupting sleep.

“The only mitigation of sleep disturbance from industrial wind turbine noise is a setback of at least 1.5km, and probably greater

 

Health

 

Carl V. Phillips     –     There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate.

“Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence about the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents,” Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, vol. 31, no. 4 (August 2011), pp. 303-315.

 

Australian Senate Report on the 'Social and Econimic Impacts of Wind Farms  June 2011

 

Some of the recommendations include:-

Urgent studies into possible effects of wind farms on human health

Studies into the assessmnet of wind farm noise including infrasound and it's impacts

Further consideration to be given to separation distances between residencies and wind farms

Appropriate measures to calculate the impact of Low Frequency noise (LFN) and vibrations indoors at impacted dwellings

Complaints should be dealt with expediently by local authorities through an independent arbitrator

 

An article on the work of Dr Nina Pierpont

 

DECC 2011 report  on shadow flicker

 

Community Benefits

 

How community benefits in the Highlands are set to divide people further and yes it could happen here!

 

What is community benefit?

It is a voluntary contribution paid by a wind farm developer for the benefit of a community affected by development where this will have a long term impact on the environment. (1)

 

What constitutes a community for the purpose of a wind power development?

In relation to wind power developments it is usually those within the local geographical area, often those within viewing distance of the project.  The Dumfries and Galloway Governance Framework is explicit that the benefit relates to Community Councils within a 15km radius of the windfarm. (2)

 

What is a benefit?

Community benefits come in various guises:

 An introductory payment to the community;
 An introductory payment and an annual payment to the community throughout the life of the operation;
 An annual payment to the community throughout the life of the operation;
 Advice or technical support;
 “In kind” support;
 Developer retains a fund and community seek support for projects as and when needed.

Some may regard it as a community benefit if local contracts arise from the installation phase but there are no guarantees on this score and every likelihood that the contractors will be sourced outwith the area and anyway such contracts are generally very short term.  As the turbines are usually shipped in from distant regions, often from abroad, there is no improvement in the economic profile of the area from this source. 

It would be difficult to regard the large annual payments made to the landowners by way of rent as a community benefit, they may or may not live locally and are unlikely to give their riches to the community. Indeed the letting of land by absentee landlords has been a huge source of contention.

 

How much is paid?

There is a timely warning from Ms Davis of Invernessshire reported in the Northern Times of 3 February 2011, entitled Our money is being dribbled back behind a façade of ‘generosity’. (3) The title says it all and her letter exposes the flaws in the system whereby the community believes it is getting a substantial reward but in effect people are paying for it through their electricity, which, when the sums are properly worked out, amounts to a paltry sum per person.  Her figures show that in relation to a promised £8 million over 25 years in relation to a wind factory of 28 turbines of 150 metres high, the per capita annual sum amounted to just £9.60.

Whilst on the surface the payments may seem very attractive, they may also be hedged about with conditions imposed by the developer so the local community does not necessarily have a free hand in how the money is used. 

The financial formulae in the Dumfries and Galloway framework indicates that the community benefit should be paid on the basis of not less than £1per kilo watt/hour actual output. And can be negotiated upwards. The document asserts that, the benefit will not fall below a figure of £2,000 per mega watt of installed capacity and payments are to be index-linked and reviewed as appropriate. (2)

The Highland Council is recommending some £4/5,000 per megawatt per annum throughout the lifetime of an operation. (4)

 

 
Why is a community benefit paid?

It is paid as compensation to mitigate the long term affects to the environment or local amenity.  In other words, it is a payment to offset the loss or losses to a local community resulting from the development of a wind factory in the locality. 

“The routine provision of meaningful benefits to communities hosting wind power projects is likely to be a significant factor in sustaining public support and delivering significant rates of wind power development.” (5)

Whatever the intention, there is no doubting the underlying message that public support can be bought!

 

How does this relate to the planning application?

It doesn’t.  Or shouldn’t.  There is no legal requirement for a wind power developer to provide the local community with either monetary or “in kind” benefits and such benefits do not form a material consideration in the planning process, therefore, they cannot be used to support or object to a planning application. 

 

How is the planning process protected from undue influence by the developer?

As community benefit is not a material consideration in relation to planning applications, officers and councillors directly involved in influencing the planning decision itself, including statutory consultees, i.e. community councils, should not be initiating discussions on community benefit.  This procedure is supposed to ensure probity whereby planning applications are decided by the planning committee solely on the material considerations and the related planning policies of the council.

Thus we are to be assured that the money to be given to a community by way of compensation for hosting a wind factory is irrelevant to the planning process and should not be seen as an incentive to pass the application.

However, there is a twist in the tale in that it apparently does not prevent officers and councillors who are not directly involved in the planning decision engaging in negotiations about the community benefit. (6) This seems a surprisingly weak and opaque arrangement for an issue as important as a wind power development.

In the case of Dumfries and Galloway the main decisions of their Planning and Environment Committee of May 2005, contained in their Community Benefit Governance Framework, are as follows:

 60% of the funds be used for Community projects (criteria as per report) and 40% for
projects relating to Energy Efficiency.
 40% for Energy Efficiency to go towards a region-wide fund.
 That Solway Heritage be the approved Third party administrative body for all the funds (but, in respect of the 40% ring-fenced for energy efficiency and conservation projects, they must ensure close working with the Energy Agency to ensure maximisation of match funding etc)
 Decision on spend of the funds be made by the Community Councils concerned subject to compliance with agreed criteria and developers approval.
 A Strategic Management Framework, individually geared towards each project, be
entered into with Developers to maximise benefits to the Dumfries and Galloway region from renewable energies. (2)

In this case then the planning authority is set to gain 40% of the community benefit, albeit for energy efficiency related projects. Surely this leaves the council exposed to charges of bias and creates an obvious conflict of interest? 

To quote further from the same document:

The 40% fund is also in-line with developers’ wishes to target spend towards renewables and
energy efficiency and therefore its existence and use may advantage further funding from
developers for communities developing suitable projects.(2)

It is highly questionable as to how a local authority can make transparent, dispassionate and objective decisions when its processes are so outrageously skewed to the developer’s interests and its own? 

It should be noted that Dumfries and Galloway Council is in the process of revising their 2005 framework.

 

How is the community benefit managed?

The payment may be managed by the local Community Council or it may be managed by a dedicated local Charitable Trust.  In some cases it may be managed by an external agency.   In the case of the D&G protocol the fund is to be administered by The Solway Heritage.

Not every community has the necessary expertise, time or motivation to administer the funding over the proposed time span of a wind power development and there is evidence that problems have arisen. 

At the Community Benefits On-Shore Wind Seminar in Glasgow in 2007 several problems were identified in relation to administration, including, need for better co-ordination, breakdown in communication between communities and Councils, mismatch between Council need and community need, autocratic attitude of Community Councils, the need for strategic use of grants, lack of a defined legacy, etc. (7)

 

Is the sacrifice worth it? 

If the community benefit is provided to offset long term losses, what then are the perceived losses to the community?  For the 230+ UK groups who have set themselves up to oppose wind power developments they are many and varied.  At the fundamental level there is the belief that wind power is an inefficient, destructive and costly means of securing renewable energy, that is, there are other more efficient, less intrusive and ultimately less costly methods by which renewable energy targets can be met.

The costs are not only those enormous sums paid to wind power developers via the Renewable Obligation Certificate, and which are subsidised through household electricity bills, nor are the backup costs incurred when the wind does not blow, but also the costs to the community through the destruction of the local landscape and amenity, the affect on wildlife and habitat, the reduction in property values and what some people find is an intrusive, repetitive, pulsing noise emanating from the turbines with resulting effects on their health. A less obvious cost is the long lasting harm to community relations.

For those who are trying to sell a property or whose business relies on income from property sales, e.g. solicitors, estate agents, small businesses reliant on the money spent on refurbishment, a wind power development can have negative consequences for their livelihoods as sales slow down or stop altogether.

For the tourism industry, the largest private sector industry, the losses to the economy and jobs are quantifiable although for some unknown reason they are seldom given prominence in the overall equation. 

On the one hand it is claimed by some that a wind factory development will bring with it associated short term employment – this might well sway a community towards a favourable response, even without any guarantees that jobs will be delivered.

On the other hand, tourism is a known quantity, its contribution to the Dumfries and Galloway economy was estimated at £360 million per annum in 2008. (8) Those in the tourism sector argue that wind power developments will reduce visitor numbers and consequent visitor spend and will affect the overall visitor experience such that it will adversely affect the number of repeat visits and ultimately impact on jobs.   The Scottish Government report of 2008 indicates that within Dumfries and Galloway “there is extensive exposure [to windfarms] over prolonged lengths of road” and “Over 237km of roads in Dumfries and Galloway will see at least 4 turbines at a distance of 15km or less, concluding that “it is difficult to see any routes in Dumfries and Galloway where, at some stage, holidaymakers will not be exposed to wind farms”. (8)  In an area like Dumfries and Galloway where tourism is a key player in the local economy this could have significant negative impact.

A Visit Scotland Survey dated 2002 projected the scale of potential losses to tourism resulting from the impact of wind sites.  In relation to Dumfries and Galloway the loss projected from the 25% of visitors who said they possibly would not return was £6.41 million and 209 jobs and for those who indicated that they definitely would not return the loss was estimated at £3.84 million and 125 jobs. (9)  All of this before the most recent mass of operational wind power developments and flood of applications running through the pipeline.

The Scottish Government report of 2008 indicates a loss of £3 million and 200 jobs in Dumfries and Galloway and, in relation to accommodation alone, a fall of £1.08 million and 77 jobs. (8)

 

What price community cohesion?

It is rarely focused on explicitly but there is evidence that there is a substantial cost to community relations in terms of the divisions that arise locally in association with wind power development as most, perhaps all, of the 230+ UK opposition groups will testify.

The breakdown in relations between landowners hosting wind turbines and their neighbours affected by the development is well documented; the controversy is even more acrimonious when it is an absentee landlord.

It does not require a huge leap of imagination or empathy to see the cumulative adverse impact on community cohesion.  That there will be those who will want to defend their environment and wider quality of life from exploitation is easy to see.  Considering the pervading extent of the losses, some very obvious, others more subtle, it is difficult to see who can justify such developments even with the promise of a large community benefit payment.

 

The sacrifice is too much for too many for too little for too long.

 

1 Community Toolkit: Could your community benefit from renewable energy development? Highland Council / Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Inverness, 2004.
2 Dumfries and Galloway Council Windfarms Community Benefit Governance Framework. DGC, 2005.
3 Our money is being dribbled back behind a façade of ‘generosity’, Davis, D, The Northern Times, 3 February 2011.
4 Community Benefit,  Highland Council advice leaflet, 2003.
5 Community Benefits from Wind Power: Policy Makers Summary, Centre for Sustainable Energy, 2005.
6 Delivering community benefit from wind energy development: A Toolkit,  Renewables Advisory Board, 2009.
7 The Community Benefits of On-Shore Wind, Seminar, Glasgow, 2007 and drawn from the dissertation of Elaine Macintosh on ‘An evaluation of wind farm community benefit funds in Scotland’, 2008.  The author indicates that these are the main points of relevance and are not accepted Government policy.
8 The Economic Impacts of Wind Farms on Scottish Tourism, Scottish Government Report, 2008.
9 Investigation into the potential impact of wind farms on tourism in Scotland, Visit Scotland Survey, 2002.

 

 Address For Written Objections

 

Planning and Environmental Services

Development Management

Kirkbank

English Street

Dumfries

DG1 2HS

 

E-mail Objections

 

Planning.Representations@dumgal.gov.uk

 

For Type A Applications you have 2 weeks (14 days) from the date of the advertisement

For Type B Applications you have 3 weeks (21 days) from the date of the advertisement

For Applications that require an Environmental Statement you have 28 days from the date of advertisement

 

Valid Grounds for Objection

 

  1. Proposal is contrary to the Development Plan (either Structure and/or Local Plan)
  2. Impact of the proposal on built or natural environment
  3. Creation of a precedent for more of the same
  4. Design, scale or materials of the proposal and it's relationship to it's surroundings
  5. Resendential amenity such as noise, overshadowing, overlooking etc
  6. Effect on the setting of a Listed Building or the character and appearance of a conservation area
  7. Traffic, access or parking consideration
  8. Road safety

 

You cannot make a valid objection on:-

 

  1. The developer's motives, record or reputation
  2. (Perceived) impact on property value
  3. Inconvienience caused by construction work

 

Important Points

 

Send your objection to the Planning Department after the application has been published in the local paper & before the deadline

If one objection is signed by more than one person (i.e. 2 people) it still only counts as one objection.   It is better to print the letter twice and sign individually.

Be aware that your name, address, date, relevant planning application number and your signature must be on your objection.  Signature is not required for emails.

All objections received by the planning office will be in the public domain.  Your name and address will be available for the public to see.  Personal information (telephone number and signature will be blacked out for security reasons.

 

 

 Planning Policies and Documents relevant to wind farm proposals

 

 

Scottish Planning Policy (Feb 2010)   – in particular sections 31 – 48 and sections 182 – 191 Renewable Energy.

www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/300760/0093908.pdf

 

PAN 45 (Revised 2002)   Renewable Energy Technologies

www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/02/pan45/pan-45

 

PAN 45 – annexe 2 Spatial Frameworks

www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/11/12125039/10

 

Dumfries and Galloway Structure Plan 1999  

 

S21   Renewable Energy    and   S22   Wind Farm and Wind Turbines Development    

  www.dumgal.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=349&p=0

 

E3      Landscape character

http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=348&p=0

 

 

Dumfries and Galloway Structure Plan – Technical Paper No 5 – Preparation of wind Energy Diagram

http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=358&p=0

 

Stewartry Loacl Plan

http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3738

 

ETSU-R-97   Guide lines on noise

STOP PRESS

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