A small community near Bridlington may soon have more wind turbines than houses. Chris Berry reports.
The last time Fraisthorpe got the wind up was over part of the beach being designated as a nudist area. That status was revoked some years ago.
Now there’s another storm brewing in this quiet coastal spot two miles south of Bridlington. Nine wind turbines, whose tips could be five times higher than Flamborough lighthouse, are set to dominate the largely flat landscape between Bridlington and Barmston.
There are already 12 wind turbines visible from Fraisthorpe three miles away at Lissett – and there are proposals for sites at three other nearby locations. Fears have been raised that Bridlington could soon become seen as a wind turbine town.
This might be seen as an own goal at a time when Bridlington stands to benefit from a fair wind of favourable national publicity. There’s the huge attention being paid to local artist, David Hockney, whose sell-out show at the Royal Academy in London largely features the pictures of Yorkshire Wolds painted at his studio in the town.
Bridlington also features in the Visit England national TV holiday campaign where the Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint promotes the town’s windsurfing potential as a better bet than travelling to Bondi Beach in Australia.
No wonder the turbines are upsetting some people. Michael Estill lives in Fraisthorpe, but not for much longer. “We’re putting our house up for sale,” he says. “We came here seven or eight years ago for the quiet life and the beauty of the area and these will just be an eyesore.
“From what we are given to understand, they are not a particularly efficient form of producing electricity and will affect our property value. They will also spoil the look of Bridlington Bay and there are many who are up in arms about the proposed wind farm.
“I can understand the farmer at the end of the village agreeing to have the turbines on his land because the company is offering a lot of money. But it doesn’t help us.
“The wind farm at Lissett is owned by another farmer who lives at the other end of Fraisthorpe. He had plans for another two turbines at the back of the church here. With this only being a small community it means that 25 per cent of the population would have wind farms.”
The mayor of Bridlington, councillor Cyril Marsburg, is chairman of the planning committee and believes things have gone too far with the latest proposals. “I have no problem with some of the wind turbines that are already in place between here and Scarborough,” he says.
“But the ones proposed at Fraisthorpe are monstrous and overwhelming. The way these things are mushrooming thick and fast they will surround Bridlington.
“I’m a great believer in harnessing wave power. That is a far more efficient natural power than wind turbines. These seem quite inefficient. “They will also be clearly visible from Bridlington Bay and the harbour, but I particularly feel for those who have to live near them.” Nigel Jackson farms at Manor Farm in Fraisthorpe. It is on his land that the wind farm development company, TCI Renewables, will be building turbines. You can’t get away from the fact that they are going to be very visible,” he says.
“They will have a bigger visual impact on some than others but unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast. It is an opportunity to secure a future for my family for at least the length of term of the wind farm (at present 25 years).
“It’s an opportunity I would never have had by farming the 400 acres of land here.
“I read a story recently about a farmer up in the Borders. He was asked about erecting turbines on his land and he had a strong opinion about them. He turned them down. A development company then approached his next-door neighbour who said yes.
“The one who rejected them now has to look at them every day and is getting nothing back in return.
“I can understand people not wanting the amount of turbines that are being proposed for the area, but personally I don’t mind them otherwise I wouldn’t have entertained the idea.
“I’d sooner have a wind turbine than a nuclear plant. I’m not saying that they are totally efficient, but from a green energy point of view it is one of the ways forward. ”
All there is to see here at the moment is the developer’s wind speed monitoring mast. Nigel doesn’t know whether they will get planning permission for all nine turbines, nor their locations.
Developers TCI say that if the proposed wind farm at Fraisthorpe performs as well as others in the UK it will generate enough electricity to power 11,800 households.
And there could be more to come. A ‘scoping report’ proposing a further five turbines has been submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council, via another developer.
Bridlington Bay’s sands stretch south from Sewerby right along the Holderness coastline.
Further south, between Hornsea and Withernsea, there are already several wind farms.
The largely flat countryside plains leading to the coast appear to be a favoured location for developers.
Windfarms are the future
Edward Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, recently said that contrary to reports, the Government is committed to the EU target of 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.
A wind turbine over a year will generate about 30 per cent of the theoretical maximum output.
Average cost of wind energy from a new onshore wind farm in a good location is 3-4 pence per unit. New coal is 2.5-4.5p and new nuclear is 4-7).
Main source: Renewable UK