Tag: blow

Blowing in the wrong direction

’Tis amazing sometimes just how tenuous are the causes for complaint put forward by nimbies. For those living near a large car assembly plant, you’d think that distractions from a couple of wind turbines would be the least of their concerns. Apparently not. South Marston parish council are worried about strobed sunsets.

We’re concerned because it’ll be situated to the west of the village which means when the sun sets there may be a sort of strobe effect as the turbines go round.

Perhaps if the sun always set at the same point on the horizon, regardless of the season, it might be a legitimate concern. If clear sunsets on a windy day were a common occurrence, perhaps I’d have a little more sympathy for the potential mind-blowing effects of a dazzling stroboscopic display. Perhaps.

Mr McEwen, the chair of South Marston parish council, is also worried about noise from the turbines.

Also, we understand that there are noise issues which are currently being checked out and I’ll be very interested to see the reports on how those issues are going to affect people.

Perhaps he’d also considering campaigning against leaves on trees that rustle in the breeze.

Blowing for show

Where do you plug the kettle in?As their slogan says, ‘Every little helps’ but in the case of Tesco’s plans for wind generation at their Ocotal Way store in Swindon, it’s very little indeed. They like to puff that the output from the turbines is impressive.

This is part of our commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of our existing stores by 50 per cent by 2010…. Each turbine generates 6KW, enough to power four households, and reduce carbon emissions by 24 tonnes a year.

The reality is less impressive. Despite the spin, their spokeswoman seems not to know what impact these turbines will have.

What proportion of the Swindon store’s power could be generated by the turbines would depend on the size of the store.

Well, yes, but the proportion will always be virtually nothing. To get this in perspective, as the supporting statement to Tesco’s planning application says,

Given the intermittent nature of the wind it is generally assumed that wind turbines in the UK will have a capacity factor around 30%, meaning that they will, on average, generate power equivalent to around a third of this ‘Installed Capacity’.

So that’s just 2 kW per turbine… enough to boil a kettle. Three kettles’ worth of power is insignificant in comparison to the energy consumed by a large superstore. The supporting statement goes on.

A 6 kW turbine will, at its maximum, generate sufficient electrical power to supply the equivalent of around four average UK households, and would prevent, on an annual basis, the emission to atmosphere of 13.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Only 13.6 tonnes? What happened to the other 10.4 tonnes that Tesco’s spokeswoman was talking of? It seems that Tesco’s press statements have even more puff than their pastry!

The real purpose of these turbines is demonstrated by their positions. As the plans show, the turbines are located around the store for maximum visibility, with one of them, contrary to the supporting statement, even being shielded from the prevailing wind by the store itself. This planning application has everything to do with Tesco trying to promote an image of being environmentally friendly and very little to do with serious renewable energy generation.

Let the wind blow

Not surprisingly, the annual general meeting on Saturday of Westmill Windfarm Co-operative produced opinions totally dissimilar to those of campaigner Joanna Lambert, who regards the five wind turbines as a noisy eyesore. However, some of them are as prone to overstatement as Ms Lambert.

I think they are not only beautiful but absolutely vital to the survival of our species and the planet.

A lack of cheap electricity may be inconvenient, but it hardly threatens the extinction of the human race.

The AGM itself was an odd affair. Held in a marquee beside the turbines and run by a chairman who forgot that not only did motions need to be proposed and seconded but they also needed to be voted on. Then their were the questions and comments from the floor, a mix of a few logical questions concerning the future of the business, and a large number that were bizarre to varying degrees. There were people who clearly found the whole idea of making money from a business as abhorrent and suggested alternatives to people receiving interest on their investments. There were others proposing over-the-top technological solutions to non-existent problems: as one of the co-op’s advisers said, why bother with battery storage of power from windfarms when they’re connected to the National Grid? Others were keen to publicise their own schemes — watermills on the Thames seemed popular — or had parochial questions about their own interests. The overall impression was more parish council than efficient business.

One thing was indisputable: the turbines were quiet, with the sound of birds in the surrounding fields much louder than the swishing of the blades.

The chill wind of reality

It’s difficult to know where to start when attempting to comment on the campaign by Joanna Lambert against a new windfarm… especially when plenty of others have already subjected her to plentiful dose of ridicule. Never mind, I’ll try.

When Watchfield air base was started it was a heavy drop air base, and the reason for this was that they found there were exceptionally low wind levels around Watchfield.

Remind me of that later please….

My reaction when I came over the hill on Friday to see they had gone up was that they are so much bigger and more dominating than I imagined.

So dominating that you didn’t see them until you went over the hill. Massive, then.

I was someone who thought they wouldn’t be awful, but they are and have completely devasated the landscape.

Err… to the west, Swindon; to the east, Didcot power stations. Blinkered vision is a dreadful impediment.

They are so enormously tall and move all the time so the eye is drawn to them, not like a building which is static and you learn to look beyond it.

So you’d prefer five 50 metre high blocks of flats to be built there would you? No? Thought not.

Millions of people over the last 4,000 years must have walked along the Ridgeway marvelling at the intimate beauty of the Vale.

For most of the last 4000 years, walking was more a necessity than a leisure activity. I suspect they had more pressing thoughts on their mind than “Isn’t it pretty here.”

Until that awful day ten days ago the walker’s eye drifted to the church towers, to the tall poplars and oaks.

And to the six cooling towers of Didcot A power station in the background.

Yet now five massive industrial turbines with angry noisy blades cutting the air will dominate the landscape for decades to come, and shatter the peace and serenity for those around.

I’d never realised the traffic on the A420 and the trains on the Great Western mainline were so quiet until you mentioned it. And what was it you said about it being an air base? Guess those aircraft were silent too. Oh yes, and did you say something about there not being much wind? That’ll be the meek and quiet variety of ‘angry noisy blades’ then.

Even when the blades are turning, electricity is not necessarily being generated unless the wind blows at the right speed. Because of this irregularity this plant will have to be inefficiently backed up by fossil fuel power.

It’s fortunate that we’ve got Didcot power stations sitting so prettily in the background then, isn’t it?

It seems a cruel trick that 10 to 20 per cent of all our energy bills in future will be a hidden levy to fund this ongoing rural destruction without any serious clean electricity produced

I trust you’ll be submitting a letter in support of a Watchfield nuclear power station then? No?

All campaigns need publicity. I suspect this sort of attention wasn’t quite what Ms Lambert had in mind.