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OPINION: Atlantic Array won't scare the visitors...it's too far away

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 04, 2012

Offshore Wind Farm
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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?

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  • happygutz  |  September 05 2012, 6:07PM

    the two wind farms on the Welsh hills are clearly visible from the north devon coast.

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  • timplymouth  |  September 05 2012, 2:03PM

    Small point of correction, Langage is a conventional power station in Devon. I have no problem with wind turbines, I just object to the subsidy required to make them economically viable.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 05 2012, 1:17PM

    Wind turbines are not cost effective, reliable or wanted. We have our quota now of turbines so you can stop erecting anymore. Thank you.

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  • Stork  |  September 05 2012, 11:21AM

    If the turbines were a "bit further" out to sea, then they would be invisible to people onshore due to the curvature of the Earth. Memo to power generating companies- move turbines further out to sea, so that they cannot be seen from shore. Yes, it will cost your companies extra, but no aggro from the public, ok. The other point against windfarms, is the very high cost of producing electricity, which we the consumers, have to pay. The generating companies are making ever increasing £millions in profit each year, at our expense. I wouldn't accuse them of profiteering, but their handsome profits do raise eyebrows ! The other moan against windfarms is the fact that they are rather inefficient, and the wind somewhat unreliable. They're ok to provide electricity year round for a windblown Scottish Island Croft. But for the majority of the UK, they're pretty much useless, which will become more and more apparent in the years to come.

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  • westwardhobod  |  September 05 2012, 10:16AM

    Can someone draw a scale picture with say a turbine x metres above sea level and a double decker bus at sea level when viewed from 8.5 miles away? There must be a mathematical minded soul out there who can do this accurately. An arms length and 6mm is not very accurate as arms are different lengths (for example the OP might be a chimpanzee and have very long arms! smile).

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