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Six years on... and Totnes submits wind turbine plan

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

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A planning application has been registered for a community wind farm which has been in the pipeline for six years.

The Totnes Renewable Energy Society (Tresoc) was first formed after a 2006 meeting of Transition Town Totnes, which strives for a lower carbon society.

Now, its 500 members are celebrating the fact that a return on their £20 shares is a step closer, as the £6.2 million proposal for two 100-metre turbines between Totnes and Harbertonford finally enters the planning stage.

Tresoc spokesman Ian Bright said community engagement was key to garnering support. He acknowledged that the plan is controversial, but insisted that the majority supports turbines.

Mr Bright, a former renewable energy officer for Somerset County Council, said polls showed that 60 to 70 per cent of the public support wind energy, with the figure rising to 80 per cent among those who live near turbines.

He said wind was the most "cost effective and abundant" resource, and new sites were needed to meet government targets.

He said the site had been carefully chosen, but he recognised that some people were strongly opposed to the plans.

He said: "My approach is to give out as much information as we can, because the more people understand about wind turbines, the more they realise that they're not going to mince all the birds for miles around, or reduce all the property values, and they won't make loads of noise and send everybody mad.

"If someone was setting up a 100 metre structure within 100 metres of my house, of course I would want to find out all the information I could. But the way the antis operate is to target those households and feed them the most horrendous stories so they think their properties will be worth nothing, and that's totally untrue."

Tresoc is working in partnership with renewables company Infinergy on the project, which it is hoped will be decided by planning councillors at South Hams District Council this year.

Once completed, the two turbines would contribute up to 4.6 megawatts of locally installed renewable energy capacity and replace between 4,200 and 10,100 tonnes of CO2 every operational year.

Marlies Koutstaal, of Infinergy, said the level of community engagement in Totnes had been "impressive", and said everyone would get to have their say through the planning process.

"The prospect of share ownership in the project has created an interest in a wide variety of aspects such as how the finance is organised and how the turbines would be operated and maintained.

"We are hoping that community ownership of renewables where communities and developers share in the revenue, generating low carbon energy for a sustainable future, will become more and more common in the UK."

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  • Vindpust  |  September 06 2012, 2:57PM

    Mr Bright, the disinformation officer for Tresoc, is guilty of trotting out a succession of misleading and untrue statements in this article. Firstly, the claim about public support is taken from a contentious survey commissioned by the wind industry trade body. Other surveys have showed a high level of opposition to large industrial turbines from people who actually live in areas that have experienced the worst of the industrial wind rush. Wind is certainly not "cost effective" if you figure in the costs of grid restructuring, backup, 'curtailment' and the huge consumer subsidies it receives. All of these costs are excluded from comparative costings by DECC which, even so, show onshore wind to be more expensive than gas and nuclear (offshore wind is massively more expensive than all thermal generators). The only reason this so-called community scheme is being punted is the very large production subsidy paid through Feed-in Tariff subsidies. This levy is paid from our electricity bills and is effectively a regressive tax which disproportionately affects the fuel poor. As for need, even the minister, Ed Davey, has admitted in Parliament that we will meet UK 2020 targets with what is already built, consented and in the system. There is absolutely no need for any more wind totems. Mr Bright's claims about house prices and noise should be seen in the light of the facts. The adverse affects of industrial turbines on property values are recognised world wide, but not by the UK wind industry. Denmark has a state-run compensation scheme, see: 'Loss of value to real property due the erection of wind turbines' - http://tinyurl.com/7jgjwjg The effects are also recognised by Valuation Office Agency (VOA) here in the UK which have reduced many community charge valuations in recognition of damage to property values. Near Braunton a couple saw the value of their home 650 yards from the Fullabrook turbines fall from £400,000 to £300,000 according to valuation by local estate agents. This was recognised by the VOA who rebanded the property. Noise problems with turbines are widespread and recognised by academics and acousticians. Only the UK wind industry still tries to deny the facts. Ironically, on the day this article was published it was reported that, "A schoolS in Wotton [nr Stroud] has been forced to remove its controversial wind turbine after receiving a noise abatement notice": http://tinyurl.com/bsj83f5 This is just one of dozens of reports of noise problems with turbines that are recorded every year. Most readers will be familiar with the ongoing saga of noise nuisance at the Fullabrook wind farm in North Devon.

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