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Westcountry is prime spot for wind farm applications

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 03, 2012

Westcountry is prime spot for wind farm applications

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The Westcountry has been one of the prime targets for deeply unpopular wind farms over the last decade, figures reveal.

But MPs opposed to massive turbines believe the march of onshore technology has come to an end, and want subsidies lavished on them cut further.

A league table published in the House of Commons library reveals Cornwall Council received 25 applications for onshore windfarms between 2002 and 2011.

The figure, which pools applications made before the county's six district councils were scrapped in 2009, is the joint second-highest of all authorities in England.

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East Riding of Yorkshire Council also received 25, Northumberland County Council got 22 and Durham County Council recorded 21.

All four are predominantly rural areas, underlining how the countryside has born the brunt of the surge. Authorities in Devon received a combined total of 20 applications, according to information supplied by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Proponents contend that wind farms play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions pumped into the atmosphere as they remain the most mature form of renewable technology available, and create jobs.

But critics say they are a blight on rural communities and are inefficient. The coalition Government supports onshore wind farms, though ministers last week confirmed a 10% cut to subsidies developers get.

Subsidies, paid for through household energy bills, will be reviewed again next year against calls from Conservative backbench MPs to cut support by 25%, which has angered environmentalists.

Sources at DECC have indicated the number of wind farm planning applications currently in the system will bring Britain to the total number the country needs, indicating more major schemes will not get the go-ahead.

It is for this reason that London-based developer Quiet Revolution's recent proposals for a 20-turbine wind farm at Buckhayes Farm near Bampton, Mid Devon, is opposed by the area's MP, Neil Parish.

Mr Parish, Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "We have enough already on land, and I don't think they are the solution to our green energy needs. We need to look at bio-digestion and look at the tidal range in the Bristol Channel to produce more power.

"They are intrusive into the countryside. People come to the countryside to enjoy it. If I thought they were the answer to our problems, I would be more enthusiastic. But they are not very efficient."

He added: "I will be encouraging a cut of 25 per cent to subsidies for onshore wind turbines."

The figures, published in response to a Parliamentary Question, also show the rate at which applications were refused. Authorities in Cornwall dismissed just five and approved 14 – the most approvals of any authority in England over the last ten years. The discrepancy can be explained by applications still going through the system. Six were made in Cornwall last year. In Devon, nine were refused.

Observers warned the figures look to be an under-estimate, despite coming from official sources. In February, Cornwall Council was said to be considering 69 formal requests for permission and a further 200 sites were thought to have been earmarked for Devon.

But the comparisons show how little other areas are targeted compared to the Westcountry. Large Wiltshire and Northamptonshire councils, which have rural areas but are less sparse, received applications in single figures.

Fullabrook wind farm, near Ilfracombe, North Devon – England's biggest – has polarised opinion for years but is now partially operational. And a proposed development at Davidstow in North Cornwall has infuriated locals.

Hazel Williams, senior analyst of Regen SW, the body which champions renewable energy in the region, said: "In the South West, appropriately sited onshore wind projects harness our excellent local, natural wind resource and offer real opportunities for local economic benefit from the generation of energy.

"For example, we are increasingly seeing community groups getting together to lead on renewable energy projects, including large-scale wind, with a view not only to reducing their carbon emissions, but, more than ever, to generate an income both for their community and for their local economy."

But she warned uncertainty about support for large-scale wind from 2014 onwards is likely to create knock-on uncertainty in the industry.

She added: "What we need is long-term, clear and transparent support for all scales of onshore wind that reflects and drives reductions in costs, whilst supporting the delivery of appropriately sited projects."

A spokesman for DECC said any wind farm proposals, regardless of their location, must go through the appropriate planning regime, and developers must engage with local communities. He added that, in proposing an application for an onshore wind farm, a developer will consider factors including the local plan and viability of the wind resource.

He added: "We are reducing the level of support for onshore wind through the Renewables Obligation by 10% from 2013 to reflect falling costs, to incentivise the most cost-effective turbines, and to minimise the impact on consumer energy bills."

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  • 2ladybugs  |  August 07 2012, 1:12PM

    I look at it this way, the more red arrows you get the more worried they are by your comments. If they weren't worried they would just ignore them.:))) I still hold the record red arrows on any Ti site I think and that is 666. Of course you do get the odd idiot like Mr Clutterbut aka Martin Bubber, Martin Blubber, Martin hairlos, Jason Mint and whatever else he calls himself who will come on here and add comments such as "Yawn". But on the whole most people put reasonable comments on here, maybe not in agreement with oneself but which we should respect anyway.

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  • Stork  |  August 07 2012, 11:07AM

    Stevie22b Yes, I had noticed.

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  • stevie22b  |  August 07 2012, 12:12AM

    Does anyone else find it strange that all comments on this matter have been heavily rated down overnight, with the exception of posts by one person? That persons posts have been heavily rated up overnight.

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  • Stork  |  August 06 2012, 12:20PM

    Wind turbines are for the likes of Scottish crofters, who face howling gales pretty much all the year round. What's needed in the South West, is primarily, Tidal Lagoons in the Bristol Channel. They're cheaper, easier and quicker to build than a Severn Barrage, also, more efficient in performance, and whats more, Friends of the Earth love them. There are the equivalent of three large nuclear power stations' worth of energy flowing up and down the Bristol Channel twice a day, that is until the Moon stops orbiting the Earth. We know the height and times of the tides for just about ever and should be concentrating our efforts on "tidal stuff" like that.

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  • stevie22b  |  August 05 2012, 7:52PM

    "thetalkmon", I agree, the Japan plant certainly withstood what it was designed to withstand, so i was wrong to say it was down to bad design. More a lack of foresight on the part of the planners. They should have factored in that an off shore quake of that magnitude was likely to happen during the life of that power station. Sadly they did not, and the result is that nuclear power takes a big hit in it's popularity ratings. I myself am a fan of nuclear power and hope this country does invest in it for all our futures. At the moment we rely on other countries far too much for a lot of our power.

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  • thetalkmon  |  August 05 2012, 2:11PM

    Stevie22b - Yes Nuclear is definitely the way forward. But the Japanese nuclear power station didn't fail due to bad design it actually performed very well in an earthquake way above what it was designed to withstand. So like all modern nuclear power stations it was designed and built very well.

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  • Charlespk  |  August 05 2012, 1:54PM

    'Renewable energy' is a misnomer. . It simply refers to energy that can be naturally replenished.

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  • Charlespk  |  August 05 2012, 1:50PM

    We don't have to worry! . The energy created from fossil fuels has not gone for ever! RELAX EVERYBODY! . IT WAS JUST A HOAX!!! I really hate people who comment, but don't really have clue what they are talking about.

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  • stevie22b  |  August 05 2012, 1:23PM

    Without a doubt renewable energy is the way forward. But i do not think that covering our countryside and coastal waters with wind farms is the way forward. We need to put more investment into other methods. We live on an island surrounded by constantly moving tides, day in, day out, you can guarantee the tides. And here in North Devon we have one of the highest tidal ranges in the whole world. All that water rushing up and down the Bristol channel on a twice daily basis, without fail. That is a source of power we should be harnessing. The government should be investing heavily in this sort of thing for our countries future. And all such schemes should be under the control of the government, not left to private companies and land-owners to sort out. because in my view, these big private companies that want to build these massive wind farms - the Atlantic Array for instance, do not give a damn how green or not these sites will be, they are only interested in how much money they can make. The same with land-owners that sell or lease their fields to energy companies to build wind farms upon, again, they are only interested in the big bucks they get in return. These massive wind farms make a mockery out of our planning laws, you cannot build a shed in your garden, or extend onto that bit of vacant land beside your house because it will spoil the view of Fred Blogs down the road, or it my impair the joy that a handful of people will receive from going out for a drive or walk in the country near to you. Or, your not allowed to put a flag pole up because it will affect the views of other people. But, it would seem that it's okay to allow hundreds of massive wind turbines to built across our countryside, or whole arrays to be built in our coastal waters, ruining our stunning sea views forever. Wind farms like that at Fullabrook, and the proposed Atlantic array will simply be the very finest tip of the iceberg if we choose to carry on down that route. There must be a better way. I would even prefer the nuclear route. For decades now this country's had several nuclear power stations that 95% of us never give much more than a glancing thought. And these are, by today's standard, old fashioned. New nuclear stations are even safer and much cleaner than these older stations.And at the end of the day, i wonder what's done more damage to our worlds atmosphere and environment over the last few decades - nuclear power, or the thousands of fossil fuel burning power stations? Yes, nuclear power does have the potential of being very dangerous - Japan and Chernobyl come to mind, but they were simply down to bad design, and lessons will be learn't from such instances. At the end of the day i do not know what the answer will be, but i am sure that allowing money grabbing energy firms to fill our landscapes with thousands of wind turbines is not the answer.

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  • thetalkmon  |  August 05 2012, 10:54AM

    Grumpygutz - Incorrect ,fundamental laws of physics state that energy cannot be created or destroyed. So it is impossible for energy to be "gone forever". I really hate people who comment but don't have clue what they are talking about.

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