Letters to the Editor
Silton Wind Turbines
In last week's BVM, Mike Cheshire of Ecotricity is quoted as saying "Our turbines are 90% efficient and operate in everything from breezes to hurricanes." This statement is misleading - the turbines may indeed operate for 90% of the time, but for most of it they produce a mere trickle of electricity. As I write this letter, at 1.35pm on Sunday 8th August, the amount of electricity being generated by all 2909 wind turbines in the UK is 38 MW, (which = 0.1% of the total UK electricity production). There have been many days so far this year when the amount generated by wind has been at this level or less. The total capacity of the turbine fleet is 4580 MW, so the 38 MW is 0.83% of their capacity - a long way from 90%!
Further, it is of course impossible to predict when the wind will blow at the right speed to generate effectively. It is therefore necessary to maintain a constant back-up, which can only be provided by conventional power stations. So the saving in carbon emissions is actually trivial. OFGEM itself states that for every MW of electricity generated by wind, 0.9 MW of back-up is required. And the final irony is that, because of the extremely generous subsidies paid to wind turbine operators through our electricity bills, there is little development of more reliable forms of renewable generation - such as tidal.
Are we really prepared to spoil this area and risk the tourist business for no purpose?
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I object to this planning application firstly because of the detrimental effect on the landscape in the surrounding areas, secondly the negative effect the turbines will have visually and due to noise on our friends living in the immediate vicinity and thirdly because we as taxpayers and payers of utility bills will be subsidising these turbines at no overall economic benefit to the community.
Global warming is of concern to everyone. We should all be supporting any viable initiatives that combat this world threatening phenomenon. That said it is not a given that each and every proposal labelled as reducing CO2 and combating global warming has a right to be approved without question and that any questioning of such a proposal should be deemed to be nigh on immoral.
If wind turbines are considered such a worthy method of reducing global warming there should be a "top down" strategy from the government which decides where the wind farms should be located based on the amount of wind, closeness to the grid etc. Wind turbines are not very efficient at best so it should be a requirement to position them in the most effective locations so that the numbers of turbines needed is kept to a minimum thereby reducing both cost and any global warming impact caused by building and installing them.
All this is especially true given projections that several thousand turbines are required. It makes no sense for government to initiate and support such a large, urgent and costly programme and then simply to offer some financial incentives to encourage private business to go out and do the job. No wonder there is lack of progress. Currently the driver for any wind farm proposal is finding a landowner willing to permit the erection of turbines on his property. So long as the few turbines (sometimes only one) produce the minimum amount of power to make the required financial return for the developer, a return based primarily on the government's incentive, then planning permission is sought. This is a ridiculous, inefficient and inevitably frustrating methodology.
It is no wonder there is local opposition to any proposal for a wind farm that is selected purely on a landowner's willingness to participate, in an area that is barely efficient, close to houses etc etc. We all know there are great swathes of countryside that are windy and unpopulated. Why are there no turbines there? Maybe they are areas of natural beauty? How beautiful would they be if we don't get to grips with global warming (to use a typical argument!?) While there are designated areas of natural beauty and large landowners such as the National Trust who do not wish to have turbines on their land then developers are limited to small projects wherever they can get them.
A few turbines dotted here and there in inefficient areas is not the solution. If it were it is probable there would be less local opposition.
That there is such vehement opposition all over the country is because when people are affected they look at the issues more closely and quickly come to the conclusion that they should not allow their area to be blighted for no local benefit and more important for no significant benefit on a global basis.
There is a belief that these small wind farms will become white elephants as government will eventually, and sooner rather than later, have to initiate significant national programmes of green energy production and when this happens these small wind farms will be totally irrelevant.
In this light it makes total sense to object to the Silton wind farm proposal and to do so is certainly not immoral.
Martin Jones by e-mail
I read in the BVM that Ecotricity's spin doctor Mike Cheshire claims that their turbines will "operate in anything from breezes to hurricanes". This is not true, these giant turbines will automatically shut down at force ten on the Beaufort scale. Force eleven is a violent storm, and force twelve is a hurricane.
So either Mr. Cheshire does not understand wind or he is trying to deceive the general public. I leave you to make up your own minds.
David Smith, Silton
I am not quite sure which is more hubristic, the effrontery shown by
Ecotricity simply ignoring the clear message delivered by the people and
their representatives the last time it tried to inflict its highly inefficient and ugly turbines on us, or the utter nonsense Mr Cheshire
writes in the BVM.
To claim that wind driven electricity generation is 90% efficient (which would be the first time ever) is at best a half truth and at worst an outright lie.
The giant wind turbine on the M4 near Reading has recently been proven to have an overall operating
efficiency of 18%. I would be surprised if Mr Cheshire's could be 90%
efficient except for brief periods in perfect laboratory controlled conditions but I understand that Ecotricity has not built a full sized
Wind is normally absent during very cold weather, when electricity is needed, so I doubt Mr Cheshire would underwrite such a guarantee.
Also, the overall cost of installing, maintaining, subsidising, and
decommissioning these follies in terms of kW used, and hard cash, far
exceeds any generating output. The government recently declared that
political power is to be devolved to the local communities. This local
community has said no, means no, and will fight Ecotricity's application
any way it can whether from an engineering aspect, proving the lack of
any tangible benefit and exposing the subsidy path which forces poor
people to disproportionately subsidise massive profits for the greedy few, and by exercising our democratic right to stop anyone forcing
these or any other ugly, unwanted, developments on us.
Peter Watson, Hinton St Mary
Let's expose the myth behind the reasons for Ecotricity targeting Silton yet again as a potential site for giant wind turbines. Mr. Vince, who controls that company is a businessman. He's in the renewable energy business to receive millions of pounds in taxpayer's subsidies from government by installing wind turbines – wherever he can get planning permission to put them. Without those subsidies let's make no mistake, his business wouldn't be viable and he would walk away from Silton. Simple as that, and if you don't believe it challenge him to prove it by asking him to offer, if he were successful, to donate all the subsidies from the Silton project to charity! Believe me, he won't do it!
His company is targeting Silton, yet again and having failed once, not because it's a highly suitable place for four giant wind turbines – which it isn't - but because it's a small vulnerable rural community struggling like hell to defend itself against an attack which would devastate the local environment but which would enrich Ecotricity and the farmer involved. Ecotricity are hell bent on flying in the face of democracy to do this.
Make no mistake, they are also determined to break down the defences of rural North Dorset which over many years has resisted attempts to site wind turbines indiscriminately in the county. Silton is in a sense the Trojan horse – allow them to penetrate here and they will be encouraged and seek to expand elsewhere in the area.
At the time of their previous application to erect a wind farm in Silton the vast majority of those living in the village and the surrounding area opposed the proposal. We will oppose it again. Over two thousand supporters wrote letters to the North Dorset District Council in opposition. They will do so again. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the application and will do so again. The vast majority of elected members of Parliament and councils in the area opposed the proposed development and we believe will do so again, echoing as they rightly should, the voices of the their constituents. Will Ecotricity listen! No!
Ecotricity's hope is that the opinion of just one North Dorset planning officer who was in favour of the Silton wind farm at the last hearing will this time succeed in overwhelming the strongly held beliefs of the majority who passionately believe that the siting of giant wind turbines at Silton is entirely inappropriate.
Now there's nothing wrong in making money. But there's something desperately wrong when the way of doing so is to exploit the weaknesses of small and vulnerable communities who cannot, without a great deal of help, defend themselves from attacks from big businesses with pots of cash, earned incidentally from misplaced subsidies.
Those who oppose this development in the community do not oppose renewable energy. But they do discriminate between the choices available to tackle the issue. Planning policy at local level should be discriminatory and sensibly applied and it should not fly in the face of democracy and the will of local communities. Elected officials please take note.
David Desborough, Silton
I have no doubt that everyone involved in the Save our Silton feels very justified in their actions to stop the windmills and they have already undertaken a lot of dedicated research into windmills.
Instead of just running a campaign to stop windmills being built could they perhaps also look at how people in the countryside should reduce their use of electricity. They could also investigate alternative methods of producing electricity and suggest which should be suitable in the area like solar panels which are now very effective.
Let us be positive and look to the long term future, the countryside is shaped by man to meet his needs after all.
Steve Claxton, Tarrant Hinton
Yet again the wind farm raises its ugly head - or tries to.
I note from your lead article on 6th August that Mike Cheshire of Ecotricity is quoted as saying that the South West is the UK's second windiest area.
As I wrote in BVM 4th December 2009, "The EU has imposed upon us a Regional Government - not a lot of people know this - and we in Dorset are part of the South West Region.
The South West Region includes Cornwall, which bears the brunt of the Atlantic storms that sweep in from America, and is thus an entirely appropriate place to erect wind turbines.
But the EU has ruled that wind turbines must be installed in this region, and distributed amongst the counties regardless of the appropriateness of any particular county.
Dorset - and particularly inland Dorset, is obviously totally unsuited."
Ecotricity claim that (in their view) "Dorset desperately needed to rely on its own energy sources instead of relying on power from other parts of the UK." Mike Cheshire also is quoted as saying, "We all use electricity, so it's up to all of us to decide where we want it to come from."
Well, we have our very own nuclear power station, thank you.
Again, as I wrote previously, Gordon Brown allowed the EU to dictate that we shall have wind turbines in Dorset. All that is left, is to fight over where they shall or shall not be situated.
No: I didn't vote for it. Did you ?
Robin Clay, Chartered Civil Engineer, Okeford Fitzpaine
Royal Oak, Motcombe
I must respond to the comments in last week's BVM made by Mil Chimley concerning the Royal Oak in Motcombe.
Everyone in the village was given the opportunity to complete a survey using a paper version in the Villager magazine, at the village fete or online. Around 97% of villagers who responded wanted the Royal Oak to stay as a pub and indicated that they would use it if it re-opened. This indicates that more than "a handful of villagers" support the pub re-opening as a pub.
The Coppleridge is a lovely country house hotel but cannot be called a village pub. It is at the extreme outskirts of the village and would be neither possible nor safe for many villagers to walk there. The reason that the Royal Oak closed was due to not providing potential customers with what they wanted. There is no reason why a well run pub in the Royal Oak's location should not be successful. Hence the Royal Oak Action Group was set up to try and facilitate this if the village wanted this amenity retained.
Jon Rose, The Royal Oak Action Group
I am not sure that your correspondent has all his facts right regarding photovoltaic panels. (letters 6th August)
The utility companies pay the Feed in Tariff not the government. The tariff pays for what you produce. The tariff is not changeable by any government . It is a European directive. All those entering now will get 41.3p tax free and index linked over the next 25 years. However from 2012 the tariff will drop for new people joining. All part of the drive to get people on line, now, after the government did drop the subsidy in February to get people connected and part of the green campaign.
I am not sure that the 30% increase in fuel bills is right either. My understanding is the figure agreed was about 1%. The German situation is slowing down due the tariff being reduced but this effects only new installations. They have a legally binding contract as in UK for 25 years. They could, though, reduce entry payments in the future. The majority of utility companies have opted not to meter the expected production but assume it will be sold back and I understand the figures are that 50% is paid at 41.3p and 50% at 44.3p.
One thing is for certain. Energy costs will rise in the future and until we accept the need and principle of nuclear energy, we will be addicted to the carbon fuels for the main stay of our energy requirements.
Michael Nathan by e-mail
The Ministry of MisinformationIncreasingly I note the misinformation presented in these columns regarding renewable technologies.
I present as my case the letter regarding photovoltaic technology by Mr Woodhouse; May I offer a response: The installed panels do not have to have direct sun to produce power - photo as the name suggests means light. Panels indeed like direct sunlight, but they also produce a good output on light and breezy days, much like the past week.
The total power generated annually is considered when specifying a system – not just the sunny days.
A £300 annual saving looks optimistic for an array of 2.75kW, however the most worrying point is the quoted costs. I have researched costs for my own benefit and have found that a 2.75Kw system installed would cost no more than £12k.
To be precise, my enquiry was for 2.88kW array (slightly larger). This would be at a fully installed cost of £12,114.16 and would provide me with an income of 1,145.00 annually.
Based on these figures my ROR will be 11%, not taking into consideration the reduced unit cost I am likely to attract from my supplier.
The government is not behind this scheme; It is funded and led by supply companies. They have carbon reduction targets to meet and every time a system is installed, it will help them to meet those targets: This is far from ideal, I totally agree, but the only driver to effectively encourage the public en mass to face up to reality is through a basic instinct: "What's in it for me". Yes, the less privileged are unlikely to be able to benefit from the scheme, but the costs are being passed on regardless of take-up and, unless alternative sources of energy are exploited, all our bills will continue to rise.
I am not sure if the German government is directly subsidising their scheme, but the German incentive toinstall PV is now 10 years old! Out of the 27 European countries, we as a nation stand 11th in having realised our target PV capacity. The German tariff was put in place to encourage the public to use the technology and it worked but it wasn't meant to be forever.
It could be said that we haven't earned the right to form opinion when, as a nation, we haven't exactly been at the forefront of addressing the need to live at a sustainable level.
Oh and the power cuts...watch this space...
D Meyrick, Blandford Forum
I cannot let Bill Woodhouse's letter go unanswered. I had ten photo Voltaic panels installed on 2nd August at a cost of over £3,000 less than he quoted. The meter that was fitted shows that in the five days since installation I have save 28.5 Kwh and this at a time when there has been very little sunshine. My roof faces south east and obviously there will be less light to activate the system in winter but with a feed in tariff of 41.3p per kilowatt I am very satisfied.
Jonathan Marriot, Mere
What is the Royal Mail up to?
For some time now the Royal Mail has insisted on imposing street names into addresses where none have ever existed. Here in our tiny hamlet of Mappowder the lane between the cottages is now listed as Hammond Street. Half a mile away on a different lane there is Hammond Street Farm and Cottages. Delivery drivers are completely confused and misdirected.
We hear of similar unnecessary confusion in Winterborne Zelston where an unknown Bushes Road has been introduced in addition to The Street in a one lane village.
The latest announcement by the Royal Mail is that they intend to abolish our thousand year old counties that are the basis of all local administration. At least there is an explanation for such an apparently bizarre decision and that is to comply with our government in Brussels who wish to split up England into eight regions the more easily administered and coming into line with landers in Germany and departments in France.
Bill Woodhouse Mappowder, Dorset
You can imagine my dismay on walking my dog today when I discovered that some idle person has dumped a huge amount of garden waste (Leylandii and hedge cuttings) on the corner at Moorhayes. We have a great recycling centre in Shaftesbury where, in our experience, the staff are always humorous and helpful, so we are at a loss as to why these lazy folks feel at liberty to use our verges.
Also, yet again, I encountered numerous piles of dog faeces just left on the verges for others to avoid. How it sickens us that these so called "owners" think it is not their responsibility to clear up after their animals! Do pick up your pet's poo!
One of our neighbours very kindly keeps the verges neatly mown and how sad is it that his gesture to the community is so abused.
We have children playing on the lane, even more now that it is the school holidays, so the health risk is obvious. It is sickening to think that these selfish people feel that it's in order for their animals to foul the area.
Is it that society as a whole has become so utterly self seeking and "pass the buck" is the norm?
How depressing it is.
Richard & Barbara Matthews, Sturminster Newton
On behalf of the canine residents of Dogs Trust Salisbury I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who supported our Open Day and Fun Dog Show on Sunday 1st August. The weather held out and we even had two celebrity guests in the shape of Merlin and Buffy star Anthony Head and animal behaviour expert Sarah Fisher. Nearly 6,000 people from all over the south west of England joined in the fun, raising £15,000 that will go directly to care for the wonderful woofers at the Rehoming Centre.
Supporter Relations Officer
Dogs Trust Salisbury