The Middletown Town Council, Zoning Board and especially the Wind Turbine Planning Committee should be informed that last month, Dong Energy, the state-owned power utility of Denmark, announced it will abandon any further development of on-shore wind turbines due to widespread, growing opposition from civic groups to the noise pollution impact on neighboring property values.
Denmark has been the world leader in wind energy development, with over 4000 land-based turbines in operation. Last month, Denmark’s state-owned power company, Dong Energy, announced that it would abandon future onshore wind farms. I have traveled to Copenhagen numerous times. Shallow, near shore wind farms are located in the water in commercial, industrial locations near highways, bridges and less pastoral settings. In Middletown, the near-shore location on the western shore alongside the Navy base is an appropriate location.
Middletown leaders should heed the comments of their Danish counterparts. “Every time we were building onshore, the public reacts in a negative way and we had a lot of criticism from neighbours,” said a spokesman for the firm. “Now we are putting all our efforts into offshore wind farms.”
Other countries also seem to be cooling on the idea. This summer France brought in new restrictions on wind power which, according to the French wind lobby, jeopardize more than a quarter of the country’s planned wind farm projects.
Thanks in part to the wind farm subsidies, Danes pay some of Europe’s highest energy tariffs – on average, more than twice those in Britain. Under public pressure, Denmark’s Left Party, largest member of the ruling coalition, is curbing the handouts to the wind industry.
The subsidy cuts are almost certainly the main reason behind Dong’s move out of onshore wind. But public anger is real enough, too. Until recently, there was relatively little opposition to the windmills. Now a threshold appears to have been crossed. Earlier this year, a new national anti-wind body, Neighbours of Large Wind Turbines, was created. More than 40 civic groups have become members.
“People are fed up with having their property devalued and sleep ruined by noise from large wind turbines,” says the association’s president, Boye Jensen Odsherred. “We receive constant calls from civic groups that want to join.”
Middletown civic leaders should recognize that “dominant visual impact” is only part of the negative impact of large wind turbines on the community. A utility-grade industrial wind turbine on Paradise Ave is dramatically out of scale and would almost certainly disturb the natural environment and negatively impact the property values of all contiguous parcels. Surely, the profits of one land-owner should not pre-empt the quiet enjoyment of dozens, if not hundreds, of nearby property owners.
1 Prospect Avenue, Middletown
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