Application to erect five wind turbines and one test wind turbine at Sheephouse Farm, Mortimer Road, Penistone, Sheffield.
I was disappointed to see that your article regarding the above application was illustrated by a photograph of wind turbines superimposed upon a view of Sheep House Heights.
This photograph has already been discredited by the organizers of the Stocksbridge Community Forum Meeting, where it was first displayed to local people, as misrepresenting the real height of the proposed turbines.
Neither are they the only people worried about this deception. At a meeting held on Wednesday, 18 June, Barnsley Planners were so concerned that the images did not accurately represent the potential impact of the turbines on our landscape, that they decided to ask the applicants to resubmit these, along with one or two extra perspectives.
They also want to look at the projected impact from a viewpoint at the edge of the national park. If anyone has any doubt as to how high these structures will be, then try this. Stand outside the library and look up at the bank rising above Crawshaw’s and Sheffield College. The tallest structure on Hunshelf Bank, at the moment, is a mast which, I estimate, is no more than 100 ft high. These proposed turbines are 410 feet high – more than 4 times its height!
The visual impact of these structures will be catastrophic. Will it be worth it? Will it save the earth? A small number of us have been researching the subject of wind energy for the past 18 months, ever since we found out that Hunshelf Bank was one of the most ideal spots in the country to erect wind turbines!
The evidence supporting them generally comes from three sources:-
* the industry itself which clearly has a vested interest amounting to millions of pounds in promoting them.
* The Government – who has its own agenda and must appear to meet its “green” targets.
* The “greens”, who express their support of these turbines mainly because they feel that global warming, at the rate it is taking place, will spoil the landscape so much in the near future, that it doesn’t matter what else we do to despoil it in the meantime!
There is, however, a massive amount of evidence against wind power. When applied to this specific application it reads as follows:-
· That it is, at best, only one third efficient. Building these turbines will not in any way reduce the need for conventional power stations or nuclear power.
· The environmental impact assessment has not been made available to the public, but, in any case, these are always commissioned by the developer and consequently not entirely reliable.
· The application for the test turbine should have been submitted well in advance of the main application.
· Under no circumstances should the above proposal be considered until a decision has been made concerning the test turbine and, if it is approved, the test carried out and the results made known.
· Massive visual intrusion by industrial buildings into the Green Belt and within close proximity to the National Park and Stocksbridge. It is ridiculous to require strict controls on building in the countryside, down to the very smallest of details, and yet allow such a huge industrial development.
· I believe that the suggested placement is unique, being close to a town situated in a valley with its southern side consisting of domestic dwellings that will face the turbines. This is not a case of NOT IN OUR BACKYARD – but not in anyone’s backyard. Such industrial units should not be placed near any domestic dwellings.
· Acoustic modulation causing a deep base beat, similar to a loud pop concert, is a known problem with large turbines. Such noise would directly affect the Stocksbridge valley. Figures quoted suggest that at distances up to 1.9 miles the noise can be very unpleasant and disruptive to people within the sound cone.
· Flicker is another identified issue with the large turbines and as such can have a profound affect on quality of life. Indeed Sheffield City Council, in considering turbine sites within the City, cited flicker as a potential significant problem.
· If this application is passed and the related infrastructure built then it is reasonable to assume that Sheffield City Council will also consider applications for similar developments on their side of Hunshelf Bank – already identified as one of the most favourable sites for wind turbines in the country!
· The applicant has already stated that analogue television reception will be affected. They have suggested that digi boxes will solve the problem. However, this fails to take into consideration the probable need for new aerials, new digital video recorders etc. No doubt this cost will be borne by the residents.
· The construction/erection of the turbines will require huge earth moving operations and concrete pads at least 50’ square x 32’ deep (dimensions from existing sites in Europe and North America). Such large amounts of earth and concrete will inevitably involve fleets of large lorries using narrow country lanes to access the site. It is possible, too, that the concrete pads may potentially fracture the bedrock and affect land drainage. Barnsley Planners were also concerned with the impact of the construction of the turbines on our environment, the amount of material to be conveyed and the possibility of having to build temporary roads for the purpose.
· Blue Circle cement is one of the largest manufacturers of cement in the country so it is reasonable to assume it will be brought from their factory in the Hope Valley but which way – through Sheffield, via Glossop or, flouting the “weak bridge” regulations, through Bolsterstone?
· Cement is a large carbon emitter in its manufacture and also requires limestone. So while one big hole is being dug at one end of the Peak Park a monstrous construction is being erected at the other!
· The planners are concerned about the distraction such huge turbines may cause to drivers on the A616, an already dangerous and busy road. The Angel of the North, which at 178 ft high is less than half the size of these proposed turbines and stands by the A1 at Gateshead, has been known to be the cause of several road accidents.
· The Little Don Valley forms a natural migration route for birds (many of which are protected species) moving to and from the plain of York and the high moor land of the Peak. Large wind turbines present an obvious hazard with their blade tips turning at in excess of 100mph. Bird strikes are reported from turbine sites across Europe and North America.
· Stocksbridge is on the brink of being renewed and revitalised, being returned to the green and pleasant valley that it was before the coal mines and the steelworks took their hold upon the landscape. There’s an active Valley in Bloom group who has already made a positive impact upon the valley. There’s another group of volunteers working hard on a Design Statement, raising people’s awareness of good design in a green setting. There are plans going ahead for a multi million pound new shopping and housing development with all the improved infrastructure and services associated with these initiatives and finally there is the Local Innovation Group, supported by public money and established to generate social and economic development in the region. What is the point of all this effort if no-one wants to live or work here because of the impact of these giant structures?
I would urge everyone who is capable of writing a letter to send their own views on this matter to Mr. M. Winnard, Development Control Manager, Planning & Transportation, Barnsley MBC, PO Box 604, Barnsley, S70 9FE, quoting the reference at the head of this letter.
As a former teacher of environmental education I have worked for the Peak Park both as a ranger and as a lecturer at Losehill Hall Education Centre. I am very much aware of our need to conserve energy and tread much more carefully upon this earth but trying to solve one environmental problem by creating another is ridiculous. Desecrating our landscape with inefficient wind machines that do little more than serve vested interest and pay lip service to sustainable energy is not the way to solve our future or even our present energy needs.
27 June 2008
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