September 1, 2012

Guardians of hills join row over turbines

Western Daily Press | 31 August 2012

The Mendip Society, a charity of 700 members, is joining forces with the newly formed Action Against Turbines on Mendip (AATOM) to fight schemes, including two 300ft turbines at Victoria Farm.

Mendip has been declared a National Character Area, extending from the edge of Weston-super-Mare in the west, to the edge of Frome in the east. More than half is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the area includes Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well as National Nature Reserves, registered parks and gardens, 238 scheduled monuments and 1,204 listed buildings.

Graham Price, the society’s chairman, said: “What then is the worth of all this if we are now to blight the landscape with wind turbines?

“Wind turbines impact on the value of properties and their desirability to prospective purchasers. They affect the health and well-being of people, creating physical and mental health issues resulting from invasive noise, shadow flicker and the recently identified ‘wind turbine syndrome’.

“They impact on wildlife, its habitat and ecology, and create a real major danger for birds and bats which are a nationally endangered and protected species.

“If the impacts on people and the environment are not enough, it has to be considered that wind turbines are neither viable or economic. There is considerable evidence showing they are inefficient and do not work. Currently, for on-shore turbines alone, £400 million per year is given to companies to subsidise manufacturing and to landowners in rent for having them on their land. Without these huge subsidies it is questionable if we would see another turbine.”

Two companies, ClearWinds and TUK, are each considering building a 300ft turbine on Mendip. The Clearwinds turbine, would be at Victoria Farm, near the Slab House Inn. The TUK one would be at Little Maesbury Quarry. Both are at the pre-planning stage.

William Clare of ClearWinds said on Wednesday that subsidies are part of a national policy to reduce carbon emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuels, but that, like subsidies for other new industries, they are likely to reduce in time.

His own turbine scheme is for a local co-operative in which people could buy shares from £20 to £20,000. The mast would have a capacity to power up to 1,286 homes, saving 2,599 tones of CO2 per year.

A spokesman for AATOM said “We are not against renewable energy, but, in this case, the visual impact of vast turbines on part of a famous range of hills around one mile from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty far outweighs any so-called benefits.”

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