By Deryck Laming
When objecting to offshore wind installations people should first check the facts.
Your front-page article ("Offshore wind farm could scare off visitors", WMN September 1) attracted my interest but it took me a second reading before I could find out why visitors would be scared by them. You gave the distances between the Atlantic Array turbines and the shore as 8.5 miles (14km) which I believe is correct for those nearest the shore, a distance which ensures a reasonable separation from any visitor on the beach.
I was recently on the North Wales shore looking out at the North Hoyle wind farm, which lies four to five miles offshore at its nearest point and asked my friend whether she was disturbed by them. "Well, you can hardly see them, so what's the problem?" was her answer. I then did my standard test of visual intrusiveness by measuring their apparent height at arms' length, and the nearest one was 6mm (a quarter of an inch) from water level to blade tip. "It's terrifying! They're 6mm high!" I said, and got the usual answer about not to be so daft. Indeed, to ordinary people in that part of North Wales they are virtually invisible, and the shoreline is definitely not blighted by them.
Possibly there are people who get agitated at any sight of any wind turbine, because they hate them, and want them all removed from the landscape. They are probably the same people who flew into a tizzy when mobile phone masts began to appear in the countryside, or long ago when electricity transmission pylons were introduced, and will no doubt do the same when historic factory chimneys are removed from heritage industrial areas.
But your article also reports that "significant concerns have been expressed locally" about impacts on tourism and the "profound economic effects" this would have, responding to "an outcry about the impact upon the environment".
So I looked at the website of the National Trust, who are dedicated to using green electricity wherever possible. I was sorry to find that they too had succumbed to the alarmist propaganda (indeed they seemed to be the source of some of it), as they wrote of the impacts being so severe that they had to object to the plan. The site is "squeezed between two coasts" – do they imagine that the Bristol Channel is so narrow that ships will not be able to pass? They should look at their own website which shows a map of the Array, underlining the nonsensical significance of this comment. Coast-to-nearest turbine distances are maintained at eight miles or more, with a large semi-circular area of clear sea north of Lundy.
Devon has no conventional power stations of its own, so it imports nearly all its electricity from elsewhere by pylons. It seems happy for this lack of generating capacity to continue and sees no problem in blithely letting other counties carry the environmental load of electricity generation. Why?