December 19, 2013

Wind turbine plan at lighthouse is shelved

Berwick Advertiser | 19 December 2013 |

Plans to build a wind turbine on the iconic Farne Islands lighthouse that was once the home of Grace Darling have been abandoned.

The custodians of Longstone lighthouse have backtracked on their turbine plan after being advised by planning officers that it would likely be rejected.

Instead, Trinity House now intend to place 27 solar panels on the accommodation block roof to power the Grade II listed lighthouse.

A planning application for listed building consent has been submitted to Northumberland County Council.

Thomas Arculus, estates and property manager, said: “The lighthouse is currently powered by diesel generators running full time. In future these will only be used to supplement the site generated solar power.

“We investigated installing a wind turbine which would have provided enough power for building conditioning and allowed us to move the generators completely but the pre-application advice which we received indicated strongly that the impact of the wind generator may be sufficient to make it unsupportable by the local planning authority.”

The original plan was to have a vertical axis wind turbine and solar panels mounted on the walls of the lighthouse.

The new plan would see the solar panels installed at 10 degrees to the horizontal so that they do not protrude above the parapet wall.

“It is our opinion that from a distance from sea level the solar arrays will not be noticeable,” said Mr Arculus.

The use of solar panels would reduce the lighthouse’s carbon footprint from current annual emissions of 14.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide to 0.69 tonnes per year.

The works would be timed to avoid the seabird breeding season. If permission is secured, it is planned to carry out the project in early May 2015.

Longstone lighthouse is most famous as the scene of the Forfarshire wreck of September 1838 when Grace Darling, a daughter of the keeper in charge, braved stormy seas to help rescue four men and one woman in their frail open boat and later a further four survivors.

Grace was celebrated as a heroine by the Victorians but tragically died of tuberculosis just four years later, aged 26.

There were calls for the lighthouse as early as 1755 but it was not built until 1826.

The Longstone light was originally fitted with 12 burners, parabolic reflectors and a catadioptric optical apparatus.

Major alterations were made to the Lighthouse in 1952 and the light was converted to electricity.

Longstone lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in September 1990 and is now monitored from the Trinity House Operations and Planning Centre at Harwich.

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