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11:00 - 03 February 2005

The sight that campaigners dreaded became a reality yesterday - the towering spectacle of Devon's first wind turbine.

The Bradworthy turbine, which is 246ft to its blade tip, went up despite intense protests and warnings that it could open the way to many more.

And it prompted one campaigner to claim the village was being used as "a guinea pig".

Already plans are afoot for 20 turbines at Fullabrook Down which would be 360ft high - the largest in the Westcountry - and for anything between ten 328-ft and 19 262-ft turbines on land near North Tawton, between Crediton and Hatherleigh.

They would be erected amid heightened controversy over the cost and effectiveness of windfarms in producing renewable energy.

An in-depth report in Germany, which has 15,000 turbines - the highest number in Europe - was this week revealed as so damning that the German Government tried to suppress it.

It was sent back for "re-editing" because its findings are believed to be too embarrassing for German ministers, who want the number of wind turbines doubled by 2015. But the study was leaked to the magazine Der Spiegel, instantly provoking a huge public backlash. The report's authors concluded:

"845 kilometres of high voltage pylons should be built within the next years for 1.1 billion euros (around 760 million) to be able to incorporate the ever-increasing number of windfarms in the entire republic (of Germany)."

"In spite of substantial investment in enhanced technology, risks for the security of energy supply cannot be completely ruled out."

"The amount of the climate-changing gas CO2 saved by wind could be achieved more cheaply with other measures."

"The costs, which consumers must pay for the environment-friendly power, are considerably higher than previously assumed."

The study concluded that, for the increase alone planned by the German Government in the amount of wind electricity of 2003 to 2015, the "net additional costs" are 12 to 17 billion euro (8.3 billion to 11.74 billion).

It also undermined the basis of the argument for windfarms - that they reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

The report said the same effect could be achieved by fitting conventional fossil fuel power stations with modern filter technology.


11:00 - 03 February 2005

Noel Edmonds, chairman of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said yesterday: "This is a very dark day for Devon, but we had been forecasting it for some time and people are going to have to get used to it, unless we can change the Government's policy.

"We are seeing the destruction of this area, rising house prices, the destruction of our roads. And people are really concerned about it.

I had a letter from a couple only last week, from Surrey, who wanted to retire to the Bradworthy area, but they wanted to know just how big this farm was going to be. I had to tell them they were just going to have to accept that it's here and will be spreading across the area.

"The thing is these machines do not even produce the efficient reliable energy they claim to and they do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions."

The foundation pushes for better research into less invasive and more efficient forms of renewable energy

Last night, Alan Nunn, chairman of the Realistic Energy Forum in the South West, said it would be "crazy" for the UK to go down the German route in light of the study's findings.

He said: "The German Government tried to suppress the truth. They were ashamed to have committed themselves to a policy that is so wrong. But we could end up making the same mistake and that would be madness. What we need is an open-ended look at our energy policy and an end to this folly over wind turbines."

Jo Foster, of the Bradworthy Lobby Opposing Turbines, said: "People haven't realised how big these things are. Now that they can see them for themselves, it will really bring it home."

Local district councillor Trevor Sillifant said: "I have always been opposed to this development and I think Bradworthy is being used as a guinea pig." c Muriel Goodman, chairman of the Den Brook Valley Action Group, which is fighting a windfarm plan in the North Tawton area, said: "One can only imagine the sinking feeling and horror that the people of Bradworthy must be experiencing."


11:00 - 03 February 2005

The first giant wind turbine was towering over the Devon countryside yesterday - as a damning report revealed that windfarms could send energy costs rocketing.

The turbine at Forest Moor, near Bradworthy in North Devon, was erected amid warnings that Britain could be about to imitate Germany's disastrous policies over windfarms.

Opponents say a rush for turbines could open the way to the "industrialisation" of the countryside.

In Germany, the government tried to suppress a windfarms report, which it had commissioned, because it showed energy costs to the consumer could increase four-fold. The findings were so embarrassing that ministers sent the report back to be "re-edited".

The report warns that a doubling of the number of wind turbines could push up costs to consumers from the equivalent of 1 billion to 3.7 billion a year. It also claims that the greenhouse gases that cause global warming could be reduced more effectively by conventional means than by wind turbines.

Yesterday, as the Bradworthy turbine went into place, campaigners said the lessons from Germany, which has 15,000 turbines, the highest number in Europe, show it would be "crazy" for the UK to go down same route.