Appalled and horrified were the buzz words at a public meeting held this week to discuss potential proposals for a new wind farm.
The meeting, held on Monday in Halwill Village Hall, was to discuss the possibility of a large wind farm on Chilla Moor and the negative impact such a development could have on the area.
Everyone who attended the meeting was unanimous in voting to oppose any such development.
The meeting’s organisers described the turnout of more than 230 people as ‘fantastic’, with residents coming from across the area which stands to be affected if a wind farm is developed – including Halwill, Chilla, Black Torrington, Highampton, Odham, Northlew, Sheepwash, Shebbear and Beaworthy.
Concerns were raised after representatives from energy company Scottish Power began surveying the area and approaching landowners.
Chair of the meeting, Dr Harry Riches of Black Torrington, said: ‘It is known that Scottish Power is investigating the site for the possibility of erecting 15 huge turbines, each of which will be over 400 feet high.
‘They will be detrimental to the rural peace and beauty of the area, which is so attractive to both residents and visitors alike, and they will be destructive to the wildlife for which the area is well known.
‘They will have a negative effect on house prices and businesses who rely on tourists.
‘We are not against alternative sources of energy, far from it, we are against the siting of turbines close to houses.’
Dr Riches further stressed that renewable energy projects were entirely acceptable, provided they did not have adverse effects on residents or degrade the environment.
Chief among his concerns is the noise from the turbines, how it will affect residents and how it could lead to health problems.
He told the Times that, speaking at the meeting, Paul Mills, an energy consultant, outlined the negative effects such an inappropriately sited wind turbine development would have on the economy, while Peter Hadden and Barbara Fray described the research they had conducted over many years into the effects of noise on health.
Dr Riches concluded: ‘It was a hugely impressive that the meeting was unanimously opposed to a wind farm on Chilla Moor.
‘It was agreed to proceed further and arrange an organising committee to oppose such development.’
Bob Barfoot, from the North Devon Branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, added: ‘The main concern of the CPRE is the impact this will have on the rural way of life and the rural economy – they may well have a negative effect on this.
‘As no plans have been submitted yet we want to help and advise in any way we can.’
So far no plans have been submitted to Torridge District Council, but Scottish Power confirmed they have been surveying the area.
In a statement, the company said: ‘We are constantly looking for future development sites and at a very early stage this would include approaching land owners.
‘If we were to progress with any site development, there are very strict rules we have to adhere to as well as going through the full planning process.’
Government plans, recently outlined in the Renewable Energy Strategy, want to see 15% of the UK’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020 – a move that will require a tenfold increase in the level of renewable generation and use in the UK across the next 12 years.
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, said: ‘Wind energy could be delivering 33GW, nearly 30% of the UK’s electricity by 2020.
‘There are already 19GW at one stage or another in the system, either in operation, being built or waiting for planning.
‘The Renewable Energy Strategy has the chance to make a giant step forward for the UK’s economy, energy security and our ability to tackle climate change.
‘The Government must not be deflected by ill-informed critics and NIMBYs pursuing their own agenda.’
3 July 2008
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