A friend has recently sent me copies of Sir Bernard Ingham’s article in your paper, the review of Keith Milligan’s book, and Mr Butterworth’s letter.
As Sir Bernard’s piece explicitly refers to Todmorden Moor, and I am secretary of Todmorden Moor Restoration Trust, I feel that I need to exercise a right of reply to comments appearing about wind farms.
Coronation Power submitted a new application for five turbines on Todmorden Moor in September. There are two significant changes between the application that was refused by the government last year and the new one.
The first is that the amount of land required has increased very considerably, while the second is that the amount of electricity produced per year could be up to 10 per cent less than previously claimed (according to the press release accompanying the application).
Because many of the access roads to the turbines would have to be built across deep peat, there would be considerably greater damage to peat than previously thought. The peat on this moor has been a carbon store for around 4,000 years and could, with some assistance, be a more effective carbon sink than it is currently. However, many of these areas of peat are supposed to be sacrificed for the putative benefit of building wind turbines with a life span of no more than 25 years.
As regards a peat slide on Todmorden Moor, I fear Mr Butterworth has taken points made by Mr Milligan for dramatic reasons in his novel as being statements of engineering probability. There is some risk of a peat slide but it could not be on the scale of that at Derrybrien.
What Mr Butterworth is probably not aware of is the fact that Todmorden Moor has a long history of coal and clay mining going back at least 300 years. There are no records of the early mines, or their position, which means that the foundations needed for turbines run the risk of breaching the old workings. And then there is the question of private water supplies. Many properties would be at risk.
Mr Butterworth believes the impact of wind power is to reduce the amount of electricity, and hence carbon dioxide, produced by coal-fired power stations. Unfortunately, coal fired power stations need about half an hour to be pushed up to full output, so the turbo-generators best able to respond to the sudden changes which the wind is capable of are gas-fired. The biggest problem occurs when the wind is too strong at around 55 mph and the wind turbines are switched off completely for safety reasons, requiring to be instantly replaced.
The net result of building ever more wind turbines is that ever more pylons have to be built to cope with the surges of electricity, and the country is ever more dependent on gas supplies from traditionally unstable countries.
Visual impact is far from being the most important reason for objecting to wind turbines in the case of Todmorden Moor.
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