January 31, 2008

Wind farm plan kicks up a storm

A proposal to build towering wind turbines near Gillingham has caused uproar.

Green-energy company Ecotricity is eyeing up a site on privately-owned land at Silton, north-east of the B3081 for a possible wind farm. The six turbines could be up to 120m high – more than twice as tall as Alfred’s Tower at Stourhead.

Holiday accommodation owners fear the turbines will destroy their landscape.

Ecotricity previously lost a battle to build a wind farm at nearby Cucklington, and Silton is among several possible South West sites. It is consulting local councils and environmental bodies before it decides whether to seek planning permission. If the scheme goes ahead, the farm could generate about 29GWh of renewable electricity annually for the local grid.

Managing director Dale Vince said: “The burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity is this country’s single biggest cause of climate change, responsible for over 30 per cent of our carbon emissions. The biggest thing we can all do is change where our energy comes from. Wind turbines are an essential part of this.”

The company already has several wind farms across the country, including one at Avonmouth near Bristol and one near the M4 at Reading.

But residents living near the Silton site are concerned about the turbines, which would be visible for miles.

Nicki Baxter, aged 56, who runs neighbouring Slait Farm bed and breakfast, is worried about the timescale of the consultation, responses to which are required by mid-February.

She said: “The sheer magnitude of these things is frightening. Once they have got six you do not know how many others there are going to be.

“We are desperately proud of our countryside here. People come and stay particularly for the tranquil countryside. It will not be tranquil with six of these monsters alongside my back garden.”

She said the location of the turbines would be near a landfill site and there were concerns about possible gaseous emissions.

Tim Allard, 39, who has recently built a second holiday let at his Whistley Farm home, downwind of the site, is concerned about the impact on his business.

Mr Allard, who lives with wife Debbie, 43, and sons Adam, 11, and Ben, nine, also runs a DIY livery service and his wife breeds horses on the farm.

He said: “When you come up my drive the first thing you will see are the wind turbines. It could open the floodgates. I have just put every penny I have got into these lodges. It is an utter shock for our family.”

He was worried about ultrasonic waves, sounds and vibrations from the turbines, which he believes are not as efficient and economical as many people think.

“As far as I am concerned I am not prepared to take a risk on that with my small children,” he said.

A meeting will be held at St George’s Primary School in Bourton next Friday at 7pm for residents to discuss Ecotricity’s proposal.

THE news that Silton could be earmarked for a wind farm came as power company Southern Electric reassured Gillingham residents that there was no immediate threat to the their power supply.

A concerned resident contacted the Western Gazette after hearing that the company had hit problems negotiating with landowners about building a substation at Common Mead Drove, for which planning permission has been granted.

While the company was unable to confirm or deny the rumours, spokesman Morven Smith said the site was one of a number still being considered and negotiations were ongoing.

While she conceded that it was not impossible that Gillingham could face a power shortage in years to come she said there was no immediate risk.

“We want to be able to provide a secure supply to all our customers. It could get to the stage where we just cannot add any more to the system. We are not at that stage yet but it is essential that we do find something and build a substation that does secure the supply for the area. At the moment there is no threat to the security of the area,” she said.

Western Gazette

31 January 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/01/31/wind-farm-plan-kicks-up-a-storm/