May 13, 2011

Energy firm bid to put up 80m sensors

By Mike Sims, 13 May 2011

A pair of 80-metre wind gauges could soon be erected in Sellindge as part of an energy company’s multimillion-pound proposals for a wind farm.

Ecotricity has applied to Shepway District Council for permission to install the sensors, which would remain on the Harringe Brooks site for up to 18 months while measuring local wind speeds and direction every 10 minutes.

The results would then be analysed to help decide whether the site is suitable to house six wind turbines, each 120 metres tall from ground to blade tip.

Ecotricity is also inviting feedback from groups such as Natural England and the RSPB due to the “unusual layout” of the site, in particular the woodland to the south.

It has already collected comments from 130 residents at a public exhibition in March, where reactions were mixed.

Some argued the focus for local energy should be the Dungeness power station but others expressed support for the scheme.

The proposed wind farm would supply “green” power to more than 10,000 homes in Shepway – 24 per cent of the district’s households.

A spokesman for Ecotricity, which already operates 52 wind turbines at 16 sites across the UK, said: “The masts can be simply and easily installed by a small team in a couple of days, and once removed leave no trace.

“Temporary masts are one of a number of thorough stages we go through to assess if the site is a good one for producing wind energy.”

On the issue of consulting with Natural England and the RSPB, the spokesman added: “We do this so that we are able to get initial feedback from them at an early stage.

“All the information gathered goes into the final report submitted to the council, upon which they make their decision, and the whole document will also be available to view publicly.”

Speaking at the public exhibition, Ecotricity spokesman Mike Cheshire said Sellindge met all 27 criteria for potential sites.

But Residents’ Association chairman Ronald Lello called the project “another nail in Sellindge’s coffin”.

He said it was too much for a small village already battling against the plan for a lorry park and another for 400 new homes, as well as the “sludge” plant, which was granted permission in March.

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