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16 March 2005 Wind Round-up

10:00 - 16 March 2005

I Have been undertaking work on the problem of low frequency sound transmission from wind turbines since 1995 and I was part of the team who worked on the DTI Snow Report in 1997. It is clear to me that the downwind sounds from wind turbines have been underestimated and this is supported by the work recently undertaken by Fritz Van Den Berg, of the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands.

A very recent paper by Pedersen and Wayne in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of the Acoustic Society of America refers to sound medical dosages from wind turbines.

For a report, not to be published yet, I have computed the findings of Van Den Berg with figures of a well-known Government adviser in the UK, and have found that in the band 30 to 300Hz, the audible "swish" noise can carry for several kilometres downwind and at night time this is over the recommended limits.

My partner in the report that I am writing is Dr Amanda Harry, who lives in Cornwall, and she has many medical cases of illness - noise-related.

I am also concerned about the low frequency content of the noise and the seismic ground signals from nearby wind farms.

In 1995 to 1996 I gave evidence to planning officers of Powys Council and Leominster Council, which led to the refusal of a wind farm near Knighton.

One of the factors that the planners stated was the close proximity of the Powys Observatory, which had a sensitive seismometer.

There needs to be more work done in this field, especially if large wind farm clusters are approved.

It has often been found that standing below a turbine tower one does not detect the noise, which is often "pushed" downwind. I hold two BSc degrees, the first with first class honours (maths and physics), a London external Doctor of Philosophy degree, and I am a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (MIEE), a Chartered Engineer (C Eng), a member of the Institute of Acoustics and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (C Phys).

D M J P Manley

Stone Street


10:00 - 16 March 2005
Work is to begin next year on a huge wind farm in Swansea Bay, it emerged today. The company behind the Scarweather Sands scheme say they want to get construction underway on the 30 turbine site in 2006.

It claims that the project will be able to generate 100 megawatts of power - enough to meet the electricity needs of around 82,000 homes or a city the size of Swansea.

But opponents say the 400ft high turbines will dominate Swansea Bay and be visible from a huge area, and that wind power is unreliable.

It had been thought it was still years away.

Today's news comes just a week after previous project backers United Utilities sold off the venture to another company, E.ON UK.

Director Jason Scagell today labelled Scarweather "a very good project for us and a very good project for Wales.

"With global warming a continuing threat, this wind farm alone will prevent the emission of around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its 20-year operational life."

The development has met fierce opposition since it was first mooted several years ago.

Opposing groups have warned it would spoil the views out into the bay and be a danger to birds and marine life.

The Assembly approved the scheme last October despite an inquiry inspector's recommendation of refusal and a last-minute attempt to get it blocked by a small group of AMs.

Meanwhile, plans to develop a five-turbine wind farm on Mynydd y Gwrhyd, above Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, are back in the melting pot after Neath Port Talbot Council planning officers were last night asked to defer a decision on it.

Head of planning Geoff White told members of the planning committee the applicant, Awel Aman Tawe, wanted more time to address some of the objections to the scheme.

The council has been bombarded by objections including a petition signed by more than 1,000 people and more than 120 letters.

The council's own planning officers say it should be turned down.

In recommending refusal Mr White said the site was located in open countryside in an elevated position and would dominate the landscape. He said there would be an overbearing impact on properties.

Pauline Newman, secretary of Rhiwfawr action group, said today: "Our main objection is the visual impact these wind turbines will have on the landscape. People don't realise how huge they would be, they are 100 metres tall.

"We will be interested to know how the applicant is going to hide them from view."

Wind decision fiasco - page 14
10:00 - 16 March 2005 Little by little, the facts are emerging about the Scarweather Sands wind farm decision. Using The Freedom of Information Act, it transpires that the Welsh Assembly Government acted against the advice given to it by its own head of the planning decision branch whose recommendation was: "To recommend, in line with the inspector's conclusion, that the order should not be made and that deemed planning permission for the associated onshore works be not granted.

"Although it is accepted that opinions may differ about the visual impacts of a development and its consequential effects on tourism, we consider that the inspector has evaluated all the issues properly, and in public, and we can see no reason to advise you to disagree with this recommendation. We, therefore, advise that you should determine to accept the inspector's recommendation and refuse the application for the Scarweather Sands order."

We will leave you to draw your own conclusions about how little planning guidelines seemed to matter in this fiasco.

The four members who made up this Assembly planning decision committee seem to think they know better than Bridgend Borough Council, Swansea Council, the Planning Inspectorate and the Assembly's own planning department. Who were the four planning experts? One farmer, one ex-hospital manager and two teachers.

The fate of Scarweather was a political football and nothing to do with planning.

It also transpires that Andy Parnell, on the Greenpeace website, is openly boasting of the effect its lobbying had on the decision. He states. "A particular political party before the vote gave me their assurance that they would vote in favour. How's that for successful lobbying?"

Perhaps some of you will remember the lobbying done by Friends of the Earth outside the Assembly buildings the day before the vote, but they were also inside the building, invited, of course, telling our gullible AMs that wind power will save the planet.

Those of us who started off thinking that wind farms were a good idea are particularly worried by what the Assembly is proposing to do to Wales, namely turn it into one big wind factory with total disregard for any objections or planning sanity.

After two years of research and letter writing we, along with the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Civil Engineers, and many other leading academic institutes in this field, have come to the same conclusion: if the purpose of wind farms is to save CO? emissions by replacing fossil fuel power stations, this will not happen. Government has spent millions of pounds brainwashing our children through the inclusion of wind power in the national curriculum, claiming wind power is the only viable source of renewable energy.

United Utilities has now sold its 50 per cent stake in Scarweather to Eon, the massive German utility with more experience of wind power than any other in the world who, in its 2004 wind report, states: "Due to the massive and ongoing expansion of wind power, it has, therefore, become increasingly difficult to guarantee the stability of the electricity supply, particularly in the event of a power failure.

"Wind power plants cannot replace the usual power station capacities to a significant degree but can basically only save on fuel."

The German Government commissioned a report on wind farm- produced energy, and promptly sent it back to be edited in January, because it didn't like the findings. The 490-page report concluded that if Germany pressed ahead with more wind factories, energy costs for consumers would increase from 1 billion to 3.7 billion per annum. It also stated an extra 1.1 billion euros would have to be spent on new cable, and that new power plants would have to be built, or the old ones adapted to cope with the large fluctuations in wind energy. The research cast doubt on the main arguments for wind power, that it cuts greenhouse gas pollution. It stated that almost the same effect can be achieved, at substantially reduced costs, by installing filters at existing fossil fuel power plants.

So now Scarweather has two developers, Energi E2 (Denmark) and Eon (Germany). Why are they here, you ask? The answer is simple: the "bubble" has burst in their own countries.

David Vaughan

Porthcawl Anti-Wind Farm Group

Wind farm bid deferred

A COMMUNITY wind farm proposed for the Upper Amman and Swansea valleys would be `visually overbearing', Neath Port Talbot planners have decided.

Controversial plans by Awel Aman Tawe, to erect five 100 metre-high turbines and additional works on Mynydd y Gwrhyd had been earmarked for refusal.

But at a planning committee meeting yesterday, the applicants asked for the decision to be deferred so that the objections could be addressed.

Residents, particularly in Tairgwaith and Gwaun-cae Gurwen, are concerned that the scheme would be noisy and ugly, putting off tourists and damaging local wildlife.

Another worry is highway safety as the turbines would have to be transported through Ammanford, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and Cwmgors.

A petition against the wind farm was signed by over 1,000 people, although planners say not all representations were genuine. Objections were also put forward from Ystalyfera, Pontardawe, Betws and Cwmaman councils.

But four letters of support were also submitted, along with letters of approval from Peter Hain MP, Adam Price MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM.

Awel Aman Tawe claims that the project would provide the energy equivalent of 15% of the homes in Neath Port Talbot during its 25-year lifespan.

Their objective is to use the 200,000 projected annual income to contribute to local regeneration projects in the Upper Amman and Swansea valleys, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.




'Dirty tricks' claim over proposed windfarm

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a windfarm next to the A14 say letters of support for it are being fabricated.

The planning application for the controversial windfarm between Boxworth and Conington will be discussed by South Cambridgeshire District Council on April 6.

So far the council has received more than 500 letters opposing the plan, mostly from local residents, and more than 600 supporting it, many of the latter being identical standard letters from Cambridge University students.

The council has replied to all the letters with return addresses but three have been returned by Royal Mail because the addresses do not exist.

Mike Barnard, of Stop Cambridge Windfarm Campaign, said: "One of the letters was from someone in Church Street, Boxworth but there is no Church Street in Boxworth.

Another just said High Street, Cambridge and I don't think there is a High Street in Cambridge. The signatures all looked very similar - it's a dirty tricks campaign.

"The letters supporting us have been written by people and posted and they have taken the time and effort to think about it.

Less than 50 per cent of theirs have been sent by post, they just arrived at South Cambs in a box and they are the same but they have been signed by different people."

Richard Mardon, the director of Your Energy, which is behind the plan, said: "Three out of 600 is a very small statistic and if a lot of the letters are from students then they move around a lot so it doesn't surprise me.

"I can't vouch for every single letter that has been sent in but I can say for sure that we are not fabricating false letters.

"This says to me that the campaigners are very desperate and they are picking up small, insignificant reasons for attacking the project rather than looking at the bigger picture."

A council spokesman said the council had received 509 letters opposing the windfarm and 631 in support. The vast majority in support were signed standard letters.

"These figures will be verified and confirmed before the committee meeting. The planning team are aware of three letters of representation from addresses which do not exist, which the committee will be made aware of."