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PaulS's picture

The Big Field wind farm: reasons to object

The Big Field wind farm: reasons objectors use

This Good Energy project near Jacobstow will have 11 wind turbines and will supply enough clean power for well over 10,000 homes in North Cornwall.

Here are the most frequent objections raised and an explanation why they are irrelevant, not applicable or downright wrong:

Noise: The turbines will be located between 2 and 5 km away from Jacobstow. At that distance they will be completely silent. Within 1 km the 30 or so properties may experience minute amount of noise - the regulations allow a maximum of 35 decibels, which is less than your fridge produces right in your kitchen. So no, noise is not an issue

Flicker: It is physically impossible for anyone outside 1km distance to experience any flicker effect at all. Even inside that area, flicker at any particular house can occur perhaps 5 times per year on average, each occasion lasting less than 15 minutes. You see flicker occurs only under some very special circumstances: the sun must be at the right height (perhaps 1 month a year), no cloud cover, wind must blow and blow from just the right direction and even if it does occur, the sun will move through the blade circle within a few minutes. In any case Good Energy plan to stop any turbines causing flicker at local homes for the period of time when that might happen. Nobody in Jacobstow will be affected by flicker.

Visual impact: these turbines will be built in a natural hollow, making them appear much shorter. All the local villages are well over a kilometre away from the site and that means these turbines will appear as little more than a small structure on the horizon. Just draw it to scale to visualise it - 1000 m distance and 100 m height - the angle is minute, meaning the top of the turbines will just be small structures on the horizon. Many houses in Jacobstow will not even see any part of any of the turbines.

Carbon foot print of wind turbines of this size is repaid in terms of clean energy in about 3-4 months, followed by 24 years and 8 months of carbon free energy production. Wind turbines are a great way to produce carbon free energy for decades. The bedrock or rocky deposits in Cornwall are usually only 1 or 2 meters under the surface, often right on the surface. The concrete foundations of wind turbines are not much different. At the end of their lifespan the turbine metal structure will have much greater value than the cost of removal, so that will easily pay for itself. No problem here, only benefits.

Ecological impact on wildlife: the impact of the wind farm will be almost entirely positive. The wind turbines as such have near zero effect on wild life, but the various measures planned by Good Energy will have a substantial and lasting positive effect on the whole local ecology. Birds and bats almost never collide with wind turbines. Cats, windows in building, cars and other man made structures kill many more birds and bats (over 99.99%, i.e. less than one in 10,000 deaths are caused by wind turbines).

Damage to local tourism: there is unlikely to be any. In fact the wind farm is likely to attract numerous visitors to the area, just like the Delabole wind farm does. Numerous pieces of research have shown that great majority of tourists like to be in areas with wind farms and in any case tourism is concentrated on the coast, much less 11 miles inland.

Local roads: Good Energy will be improving, widening and straightening the access road, which means that road safety will be improved for decades to come. The construction phase is planned for less than a year, during which time there will be more traffic then usual, but no doubt local residents will quickly find alternative routes or just put up with the extra traffic. The slow transport of the major component are planned for night time. If you do get stuck, just imagine you are behind a tractor – and there are quite a few around here.

Backup by power stations: Wind turbines will need backup when their combined energy supplies more than 20% of total electricity. We are far from that and the current variability is easily dealt with. In the future we shall need electricity storage facilities - and there are many highly efficient methods available, such as compressed air, hydrogen, batteries, pumped storage, cooled air to -200+C, chemical storage, heat store, even fly wheel storage. Others will no doubt emerge over time. So no problem here.

House prices: there is no evidence that wind farms lower house prices. However, even if that was the case, that would have its benefits. Surely we all know that houses are grossly overpriced in the UK, particularly so in Cornwall. Having lower house prices would tend to attract young families into the area and perhaps even reduce the scourge of second homes.

In summary, apart from the short term increase in traffic during the building phase of the wind farm, there are no serious negative effects and no reason to object.

There are good benefits for Jacobstow residents:

£300,000 estimated income to Jacobstow parish projects (just imagine what we could do with that!)

20% reduction in electricity prices for Jacobstow residents

Possibility of investing in one of the turbines by local residents and thus sharing whatever ‘riches’ Good Energy get from subsidy and wholesale electricity market

This is the application that will determine whether Cornwall is serious about renewables and about limiting the pervasive and irreversible impacts of climate change. Arguments about losing the landscape we love miss the point: if we don't respond to climate change the landscape we love will disappear in any case.

Good Energy itself has a well deserved reputation for seeking to compensate for local impact in a variety of ways. We need this project to reduce Cornwall's dependence on imports of energy, and even more importantly, to make use of our fantastic resource of free energy in the form of wind and sun.

Who in their right mind would say, no, we won't have free, non-polluting fuel, thank you, we'd prefer to rely on dirty coal, oil and gas?

So tell Cornwall Council to approve this application and enjoy the benefits to come. The best way to do so is to email planning@cornwall.gov.uk giving your full contact details and something like 'I would like to register my SUPPORT for the PA14/02107 planning application, The Big Field wind farm near Jacobstow, Cornwall', plus your own personal points.