I was interested recently in an article (11 Dec 2014) in the Express and Star, a leading local newspaper in the Midlands, and their associated poll: "Are Wind Farms a Blot on the Landscape?"
Readers agreed that they are, roughly in a ratio of 2:1.
However, one of the comments below the article was a very informative piece contributed by an engineer with experience of living near wind turbines. His reflections on living near a wind farm are reproduced (by permission of the Express & Star) below.
.......Being a recent newcomer to the village we live in, having bought our house in September 2012, I had to think long and hard before I determined to post this on the Internet. However we have spent the last 11 years living in the Loire Valley, France, and, being in our 60’s, are likely to make the village we live in our final home. Therefore we do have a vested interest in affairs of the village.
In France we lived, for 5 years, in the shadow of a wind farm and therefore we have carried out much research into wind turbines and their effect on people and the environment. In addition I spent my time until I was 30, as an Air Electronics Engineer on Vulcans at RAF Scampton and therefore feel reasonably qualified to comment on things electrical.
We noted, following the presentation at the village hall, that a majority of the people who responded to the survey were, in fact, in favour of the wind farm at Brown’s Holt – however we were also aware that there appeared to be no counter presentation, opposed to the wind farm, hence the reason for this article/posting.
There are, unfortunately, no absolutes in the arguments regarding Eoliens (as they are termed in France) and each side will, at the end of the day, make a decision based on what is best for them. However I must point out that I am not a NIMBY. We will probably not be able to see or hear the Eoliens, we do not want to sell our house in the foreseeable future and we do not have descendants that would want to continue living in the village. Therefore my comments and findings are not tainted by emotion.
However here are the facts as we have discovered them:
No wind farm can ever reduce our reliance on Fossil Fuelled or Nuclear Power Stations. No power station will close as a direct result of Eoliens and, even if the country were covered from North to South in Wind Farms, all Power stations would remain operational and serviced. The only difference is that in times of reasonable wind, when Eoliens are able to operate, Power Stations would be on ‘tick-over’ producing the same amount of greenhouse gasses for a massive reduction in KW output, thus costing considerably more.
Wind Farms do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; they OFFSET them, according to EU rules. For example in our house in France we had 2 x 3 KW night storage electric radiators and 2 x 8 KW wood burning stoves. Therefore, according to EU rules the woodburners (being sustainable fuel) OFFSET the emissions produced by using the radiators – therefore our house was rated as a zero emissions house. Clearly, we did not actually have zero emissions but some bureaucrat in Brussels felt better. The UK is also able to offset emissions by building solar power stations in India, for instance and this can offset greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Slightly bizarre but true.
Many Wind Farms only produce 17% of the designed power output, due to wind too low, too high, servicing downtime, etc. We noticed in times of no wind, our Eoliens in France were turning quite merrily because they ‘back fed’ power to them from the normal power stations that was not needed at that time.
The Carbon Footprint of the manufacture of the Eolien, the 600 tons of concrete required for each on, transportation costs, servicing costs, and the removal and recycling costs of each Eolien is immense in comparison to the amount of electricity generated. The 600 tons of concrete will be ‘removed to a depth allowing agriculture to resume’ and the rest left in the ground for future generations to discover.
The people who profit from the development of wind power are: The landowner, who can earn upwards of £12,000 per year from each Eolien, The company who installs it, who are paid large subsidies by a Government who needs to OFFSET greenhouse gas emissions and the manufacturers of the turbines themselves who are invariably Danish or German.
We, the public, on the other hand have rising electricity prices, lowering house values (we had to reduce the price of our house by 40% of the previous valuation to sell it after the Eoliens were built and only French people would consider buying it - British people do not buy houses near wind farms). Contrary to the assurances of the presenters on the day – you will hear the turbines if you are within a Km or so and the wind is in the right direction. It sounds like the warriors advancing in the film ZULU.
Finally, wildlife will disappear. We had a very considerable bat population and may birds and raptors. After the first 2 years we noticed a lack of bats and a severe reduction in amount of birds and birds of prey. We mentioned this at the presentation and the rep said ‘we have researched it thoroughly and the chances of a bat colliding with a turbine are remote’ Yes, we said but bats and birds are NIMBY’s and they will migrate to an area where they don’t have to put up with the disturbance of air and the noise.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the development of other sustainable and renewable green sources of energy – however, wind power has no place so long as the wind ‘blows like the wind’ and we have to pretend we’re saving the world from greenhouse gases by getting an bureaucrat in Brussels to tick a few boxes and go home with a smile on his/her face. A couple of months ago the Government announced that we did not need to build any more wind Farms because we had ‘reached our target’.
I do not understand – if they are so good, keep building; if the target is simply to comply with EU legislation then we should not have built any in the first place.
Eoliens are the modern equivalent of ‘The Emperors New Clothes’ and our children will, as in the story, marvel at our naivety and our misguided belief that offsetting greenhouse gas emissions by trusting in the wind was the best we could do.
I am grateful to the Express & Star for permission to reproduce this article. Thank you.