Paul McIntosh says:
Rebuttal to skeptics view on the Blandford Hill Wind proposal

Category: Dorset Energized News, Wind Power

It is interesting to see that even at this early stage in the planning process the anti-renewables activists are already using the same tactics of misinformation and scaremongering that we have come to expect. If I could deal with specifics:

In the article it states that speakers asked if “the noise from wind turbines 250m away was comparable with that from a busy main road outside a home.” Obviously the noise from a main road varies according to the time of day, the road surface and the speed of the traffic but generally speaking I believe on the basis of visiting several large wind farms that the answer to that question is that a road such as the A354 through Winterborne Whitechurch is far more of an issue than 4 wind turbines such as suggested for Blandford Hill. However the more important point is that the question might lead you to believe that the turbines are intended to be sited within 250m of the village. Having looked at the maps of the site the nearest of the turbines is about 1000m from the nearest edge of the village at which distance the turbines will be to all intents and purposes inaudible over the road and wind noise (wind turbines only produce noise when the wind blows and even then modern, well designed turbines do not waste valuable energy by making much noise at all).

Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines

Dark mention is made of “health risks of noise and shadow flicker”. There is no reasonable evidence of health implications from noise or shadow flicker or any other aspect of the operation of wind turbines especially at the sort of separation distances involved. The noise is no threat whatsoever and whilst flicker can be an issue of annoyance more than health risk at closer distances, firstly you would have to be much closer to the turbines than any houses are proposed to be for it to be a genuine concern and secondly flicker only occurs when the sun is a) shining, b) at a very specific angle and c) at a specific time of day so it is perfectly possible to program turbines not to function during those few minutes each year if there is a property for which it actually is a problem. What is a health risk however is the very real issues of negative placebo effects generated by anti-wind turbine activists spreading false tales of dire threats to local residents’ health.

An LSE draft report was cited which it was claimed said that wind turbines caused an 11% drop in house values for properties within 1.2 miles. This is no doubt based on the partial coverage given to the report by the Telegraph and the Daily Mail both of which fail to mention that the report suggests such a level of value reduction only if there are more than 20 turbines within 2km (1.2 miles) of the property under consideration. As wind turbines have to spaced out to work properly the only way of getting that many turbines within 1.2 miles of your house would be to have the nearest one practically in your back garden! Again it comes down to the fact that only 4 turbines are proposed for Blandford Hill and they are all about 1km or more from the village. There have been many studies of property prices and some show a small decrease in house values, some no effect whatsoever and some even suggest an increase in value. It is fact surprizing that there isn’t more of an effect given the false propaganda peddled at every opportunity by the anti-renewables lobby and the fact that there isn’t is largely due, in my opinion, to the fact that more and more people are seeing first hand that wind turbines are not the spawn of the Devil and don’t wreck communities wherever they appear.

What there will be is some period of planning blight which will be made much worse by people going around falsely saying that the Winterbornes will be impossible to live in if turbines are built and dragging the whole process out for years to come.

“Mr Turner described the offer (£30,000 community funding by REG per year) as essentially a “form of bribe”” says the article. This is true but it is not, as implied, a bribe to put up with horrible, non-existent, downsides of wind turbines but a bribe to make people ignore the scare stories of the opposition. It would be far better if wind turbines could be built more with genuine community investment and ownership giving even higher returns to local economies but as long as the hysterical anti-wind turbine lobby make it such a divisive issue it will only be the thick skinned big business enterprises that can see things through to giving us the renewable energy capacity we need for the coming century.

Finally, we have the old chestnut of the “unreliable nature of wind energy.” There is no energy strategy that could eliminate the need for reserve capacity because demand is far more variable than the output of wind or any other source of supply (The Coronation Street kettle boiling effect). Large, centralised plant like nuclear and

cows and wind

cows and wind

coal occasionally suffer unexpected failures leaving far bigger holes in our electricity supply than any unexpected change in wind strength. Experience in Germany has shown that oft predicted problems in system balancing are proving less of a problem than expected due to the fact that the system is already set up to cope with variations in supply and demand and the fact that geographical dispersion and mutually balancing technologies like wind and solar make for a much more even renewables output than expected. We could increase our renewables penetration by a factor of about 3 before we reached the levels seen in Germany. Eventually we will need to invest in storage, demand side management and other techniques to modify our grid for the new century but we can build many more wind farms the size of Blandford Hill before this is a real issue.

To conclude the sites at Blandford Hill and near to Tolpuddle (although it’s not nearly as near as the protesters make out)are good sites for wind turbines in the sorts of numbers proposed. They will make a significant contribution to the energy needs of our county and the local economy and most important of all will not ruin local lives. We have no choice but to get away from our reliance on fossil fuels for many reasons and wind turbines remain one of the best ways we have of doing so.

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