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Epson launches public consultation over wind turbine plans  

Bosses at Epson (Telford) Ltd claim the 127m (416ft) high turbines would produce more than enough electricity for its Hortonwood plant and help secure the jobs of its workers.

The Epson factory at Hortonwood in TelfordThey now hope to win the minds of the public before submitting a formal planning application to Telford & Wrekin Council.

Epson and energy company Wind Direct are staging a two-day public exhibition at the Whitehouse Hotel, Watling Street, Wellington, which continues today from 2pm to 6.30pm.

Kevin Browne, general manager at Epson in Telford, said he saw the proposed turbines not as an eyesore but as a landmark symbol of Telford’s commitment to the best in new technology.

“Ever since the days of the Iron Bridge, the Telford area has been at the heart of the latest developments in industry,” he said.

“If we get the go-ahead, we should have 100 per cent green energy on the site, with the surplus going to the National Grid. It’s always windy at our factory.

“If the opposition is too much, we won’t do it. Epson’s philosophy is to co-exist with everybody else.”

Mr Browne said Epson’s aim as to give “open and honest answers” to ensure the Telford public knew exactly what the company was proposing.

The Japanese-owned factory produces printers, ink and cartridges and is Epson’s sole manufacturing plant for Europe.

Mr Browne said: “A total of 753 people are employed here. We are hoping to expand as a company – unlike many other companies which are contracting these days – and these turbines would represent a big investment in Telford.”

He said a planning application was likely to be submitted in the next two months and the aim was to have the turbines in place and producing power by September or October 2008.

Adrian Maddocks, Wind Direct development director, said each turbine would cost £1.6 million, with a total bill of £3.5 million for the project.

He said Wind Direct would own the turbines and lease the land from Epson which would buy the electricity at a fixed rate, thereby increasing its savings year on year and also helping the long-term viability of the factory.

“We are fully aware what we are putting up are two very large wind turbines.

“I’m biased, but I think they look fantastic, although I accept other people might not like them.

“It’s not as if they would be going up on a greenfield site. This area is already a commercial landscape,” he said.

Mr Maddocks claimed surveys showed many people who were opposed to wind turbines had often changed their minds after they were installed.

A sample of Epson’s questions and answers about wind turbines:

Will house prices decrease? – There is no evidence of this ever happening. There may be positive effects on the local economy which could have a beneficial effect.

How tall are they? – 127m (416ft) to blade tip. An 80m (262ft) tower plus 47m (154ft) long blades.

What is their lifespan and what happens then? – Expected life is 20 years and after that the turbines could be removed or re-powered with newer machines, subject to a new planning application.

How fast do they spin? – The blades rotate at 8-15rpm.

Will birds be killed by the blades? – Though bird deaths are a possibility, the siting is important to minimise effects on migratory routes, flight paths etc. Natural England and the RSPB have no concerns.

Will Epson close Epson (Telford) Ltd (ETL) if the turbines are not built/expand if they are built? – These are purely commercial decisions. Building turbines will make ETL more competitive; however, there are many other factors the group considers.

Do turbines have to comply with noise limits? – Yes, they have to comply with UK and European guidelines. The level of noise is low and there is no evidence of any adverse effects to health.

What happens if they are struck by lightning? – They have lightning conductors and surge protection on the circuits. Any damage caused by lightning strike will be minimal and the turbine will automatically shut down.

Do turbines cause electro-magnetic fields? – All electrical equipment produces such fields. The turbine and all cabling are shielded and will have no harmful effects on anyone.

shropshirestar.co.uk

23 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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