September 10, 2010

Wind farm protesters horrified by noise during turbine visit 9 September 2010

Protesters against a five-turbine wind farm near their village crammed into a mini-bus to visit Somerset’s only towering turbine at Chewton Mendip.

Energy company Ecotricity organised the trip to try to persuade the group members that their plans for a wind farm would not have a big impact on their lives.

However, when the group fighting Ecotricity’s Black Ditch wind farm visited the 120m tall turbine on the Mendip Hills they were far from impressed.

The green energy company organised the hour-long visit in response to concerns about the noise, size and shadow flicker among other issues raised against the five, 140m tall planned turbines.

Protester Julie Trott said: “My concerns centre on how the wind farm will harm our way of life.

“My first impression is, there are no houses near the turbine, unlike the proposed Huntspill sites which have many houses surrounding them.

“As I got off the mini-bus, I was horrified by the noise the turbine was making.

“There was a high-pitched buzzing noise, which we were told was coming from the generator and a loud whooshing noise, which was made as the turbine blades passed the stem.

“The amount of noise surprised and alarmed me, as we were told that turbines generate little noise.

“We’re not against green energy but the proposed location is not the best place.”

Nicky Suckmith, 58, of Old Pawlett Road, who has lived in West Huntspill for around 33 years, said: “This turbine is not even as big as the ones proposed for Black Ditch and it’s making such a noise and a hiss – imagine five and closer to homes.

“This visit has not changed my mind about the plans.”

In response, Ecotricity spokesman Mike Cheshire and Victoria Allen tried to field questions.

Mr Cheshire said: “We offered to bring people up here to show them the turbine up close, the sound it makes and provide other information.

“We are behind the rest of Europe when it comes to turbines and renewable energy, and we believe in the project.”

He also compared the two developments saying the two-year-old Mendip mast produced enough electricity last year for more than 1,600 homes, while the Black Ditch farm will power 7,800 typical homes.

He added that in the 800 days the turbine has been working, it has only been out of action due to wind speeds and technical problems for eight days.

During the trip one protester, Richard Sucksmith, surprised Ecotricity’s representatives by saying he knew one of the residents near the Chewton Mendip turbine, Mr Cook.

He invited the group to detour the mini-bus to his nearby home to discuss the matter, but Ms Allen said the mini-bus was on timed hire and they could not detour.

The group were upset and angry, and the company ended saying the protesters were more than happy to visit him in their own time.

Mr Sucksmith said: “Mr Cook is happy for us to visit him on the way back and he will tell us the truth about living near the turbine.

“He tells me it’s noisy, especially at night, but the company won’t take a little time for us to visit him.”

Another protester said: “It’s like Ecotricity have something to hide.”

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