Campaigners against wind turbines have formed a new alliance amid claims a “windrush” of up to 600 new planning applications could turn parts of the Westcountry into a “pin cushion”.
Around 400 new schemes are being prepared in Cornwall as council planners now consider 69 formal requests for permission, it has emerged. A further 200 sites are said to have been earmarked for Devon with landowners in windy parts of the region set to earn close to £500,000 per year for a single turbine.
The new association, Protect Cornwall, says over-generous subsidies will attract a “rash” of new single-turbine projects, some rivalling the towering spires of Truro cathedral. Mike Bruton, chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in the Duchy, described the Government’s wind energy incentives as a “scam”.
“It is now more profitable to farm wind than cows on the land,” he added. “This pin cushion of wind turbines is slowly destroying our single most important resource – the tourist industry – step by step. They are a waste of taxpayers’ money and our grandchildren will be paying for them for the next 25 years.”
Earlier this month, more than 100 Conservative MPs wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to cut subsidies for wind turbines and change planning rules to make it easier for local people to object to schemes.
Protect Cornwall, which launched its new website conrwallprotect.org this week, says the north coast will be the new front in the battleground. A series of turbines are planned at around a dozen possible sites at Cubert, Crantock and St Newlyn East.
Keith Bostel, a retired renewable energy manager at National Power in the South West, said a typical project would be for a 75m-high “gridstreamer” turbine with 30m blades. Based on a wind speed of 8 metres per second, such a machine could generate 3,696,293 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and attract a subside of 13p per unit under the Feed-in-Tarrif (FiT), he claimed. And for an £800,000 investment, a developer could expect to earn £480,000 each year over 25 years.
“It is a staggering amount and the key incentive why people want these kind of machines – the travesty is it is only the rich that can afford to buy them,” he said.
Mr Bostel claimed the unpredictable nature of wind meant fossil fuel generating companies were paid to scale back production when the wind blows and to be on standby for when it dies down.
“It is a massively expensive form of technology and the poor old consumer pays the back up costs,” he added. “If these schemes are approved we will see California in Cornwall.”
Cornwall Council said it was “exploring” a whole range of energy sources in line with both EU and UK policy.
A spokesman said proposals for wind turbines are being “carefully mapped in order that the potential landscape and visual impact can be properly assessed.”
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