March 24, 2011

West Cumbrian wind farm protesters reject flicker report

Times & Star, 24 March 2011

Wind farm protesters in West Cumbria this week claimed that a recommendation to move new turbines further away from buildings would not reduce the problem of shadow flicker from their blades.

A new report, commissioned by the Government, proposes that wind turbines should be built no closer than 10 rotor diameters from the nearest homes.

It follows growing concern across the country about the nuisance of so-called shadow flicker.

The proposal would mean that if the length of a wind turbine blade was multiplied by 10, then that would be how far the nearest house should be.

If a blade had a 262ft diameter, then it should be at least half a mile away from any residence.

Craig Baker, of Gilcrux, who protested against the erection of six 328ft-high turbines on Tallentire Hill, said the figures did not always match up.

He said: “It is always desirable to have the turbines as far away as possible.

“However, the wind farms at Bothel are only 196ft in diameter and resident Ron Williams lives more than half a mile away but he still suffers from shadow flicker.

“It is easy to predict when shadow flicker will occur and there is very simple software to easily turn off the turbines for a limited time so shadow flicker won’t occur, but there should be planning conditions to guard against this anyway.”

John Ryden, part of the Westnewton Action Group, which fought against the erection of three 350ft wind turbines near the village, said: “It just sounds like what we have been told before.

“These people should come and see what actually happens with shadow flicker in people’s houses, especially when the sun is low in the sky between November and February.

“In the winter months when you are driving along the A591 towards Bothel you can see the shadows across the road when you are more than 10 rotor diameters away.”

The report also recommends that homes and offices within 1,640ft of a turbine should not suffer flicker for more than 30 minutes a day or 30 hours a year.

Developers applying for planning permission where there could be a flicker problem should put in place measures to stop significant nuisance. Problems could be avoided by shutting down turbines for short periods of time, changing the position slightly or planting vegetation and trees.

Studies cited in the report said that shadow flicker, over the long term, could cause a significant nuisance.

Although flicker would not cause a significant health risk, protesters have said it can cause headaches and stress-related problems, and is a risk for people with epilepsy.

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