THE COUNTRYSIDE COMMISSION "(now renamed "The Countryside Agency)".is the UK Government's countryside and landscape adviser. It aims to make sure that the English countryside prospers and is protected and that it can be used and enjoyed now and in the future.
On the subject of wind energy schemes it states: "we do not feel it makes sense to tackle one environmental problem by creating another" - "Wind farms will ruin countryside".
The Commission also produced guidelines in 1991 for wind energy projects (then turbines were around 30 metres in height, including the blades). We quote from those guidelines:
- "There should be a presumption against wind farms in the countryside where their scale, siting or cumulative effect would have a significant adverse impact on landscape quality and recreational enjoyment thereof."
- "the criteria for applying these policies should take into account the character of the landscape, the importance of skylines and views, the use made of the adjacent countryside for leisure and recreation, and proximity to roads and other public rights of way. The presence or absence of other development should be taken into consideration with the aim of avoiding, wherever possible, incursions into largely undeveloped countryside and "greenfield" sites".
- "Wind farm development should not be permitted in existing and proposed National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Beauty and Heritage Coasts where such development is incompatible with the aims of designation."
- "Any major new development in Heritage Coast is incompatible with a fundamental purpose of designation, namely to conserve scenic character and quality. This applies as much to renewable energy as to other forms of development."
We have highlighted "Heritage Coast", as certainly if the Makara Coast were in the UK, it would be so classifed. One third of the English Coastline is designated Heritage Coast so this designation is not uncommon.
In 1996, the Commission called for designated scenic landscapes to be closed for wind farms and for local authorities to assess their impact on skylines.
The stance of the Countryside Commission - as at May 1998 - in respect of NFFO 5 - "The Countryside Commission cannot support the timing and scale of this development, and therefore argues that large scale wind energy schemes should not be included in NFFO5".
The commission believed that there should be two technology bands, one supporting smaller schemes less than 0.8MW ... and one supporting off-shore schemes".
"The Commission believes there is a need to foster the development of solar technologies that have been identified as having considerable, medium or long term potential".
The reason for this stance? "The Commission believes, that the rapid and large scale development of on-shore wind power is creating significant landscape character and visual impacts and compromising the planning system".
"The main contentious technology at present is the large scale on-shore wind farm".
" The economic incentive has been to develop sites that maximise electrical generation at the expense of landscape character and amenity values"
Wind power does have an unacceptable negative environmental effect. Why else, would a Countryside Commission in a country in critical need, now wish to discontinue such developments?
Wind power seemed the best option for Britain some years ago, but now this has changed.
CAMPAIGN FOR THE PROTECTION OF RURAL WALES (CPRW): The CPRW has produced a report entitled "Turbine Blight, a Plea for the Landscape". In that report published in 1997, the CPRW stated: "We finally urge the environmentally - conscious public and especially these who share our concern for the need to produce energy responsibly by non-polluting means, to recognise that wind turbines are industrial machines for which there should be no place in our finest landscapes". "We therefore refuse to accept that our coasts and uplands should be sacrificed in this way, either as a penance for past failure to safeguard the environment or as a token contribution towards reducing atmospheric pollution or addressing possible shortages of fossil fuels. We believe that the costs of such a policy to a civilised society far exceed the perceived benefits".
THE COUNCIL FOR THE PROTECTION OF RURAL ENGLAND (CPRE): The CPRE supports the development of renewable sources of energy where they can be developed in an environmentally acceptable way.
Of wind power, September 1995, in a report, - A CPRE Perspective - the Council states - "There are, however, significant disadvantages to current wind power technologies and serious environmental constraints which will necessarily limit the number of wind projects that can be acceptably developed in this country. In particular, wind turbines can degrade the landscape and tranquillity of some areas. Noise from wind developments can also cause serious problems to local communities".
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH (UK) (FoE): - does not consider wind above any other renewable. It only states that wind power is more benign than burning fossils fuels. It acknowledges that the UK needs wind power because, "our current use of fossil fuels and nuclear power is having a significant negative impact on countryside and environment".
However even with the critical need in the UK - the guidelines for project developers and local planners states:
"no large wind farm should be developed in the Heritage Coasts"......... A large wind farm is of a generating capacity of over 5MW.
A PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY : THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF RURAL SCOTLAND, CPRW, CPRE, THE COUNCIL FOR THE NATIONAL PARKS AND THE RAMBLERS' ASSOCIATION: May 1997 called for Government to legislate for a new direction for wind power policy.
"At the heart of the problem is the way in which subsidies are awarded schemes producing the cheapest electricity. This encourages developers to target the windiest spots which often coincide with our most beautiful and wild landscapes".
In the same press release it is noted that: "The short history of wind development in this country has not been a happy one".
THE RAMBLERS' ASSOCIATION: This association is akin to New Zealand's Federated Mountain Clubs. It has some 119000 members, and is a club for walkers and hikers. In August 1997 it released a memorandum to all its members stating that, "Area delegates voted by a large majority in favour of a campaign against major wind turbine developments. Delegates were clearly concerned about the adverse effect of such developments upon the countryside in many parts of Britain". The Association also offers funding to assist all Areas to play an active part in the campaign against such developments, and encourages all Areas to take part in opposing all such developments. The Ramblers' Association Scotland, in January 2004 has declared the spread of large turbines to be the biggest threat to the Scotish landscape in decades, and it is planning a high-profile campaign against "unsightly wind farms".
THE NORWEGIAN WATER RESOURCES AND ENERGY ASSOCIATION
ENDS - Environmental Daily - Wednesday 29 April 1998 reported comments made by NVE following its inspection of the Danish wind power industry: "The main success of Danish involvement in wind power would appear to be the foundation of an industry producing wind mills", and, "Even if wind turbines can be less environmentally harmful than other forms of power production that does not mean they are positively environmental friendly" and, "Denmark's romance with wind power has not been the unqualified success claimed by the industry". The Danish Government removed all subsidies for wind power developments and scrapped 3 large developments in 2003.
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION : The European Union carried out a five year investigation into wind power, its report was published in 1996. The inquiry was required because:
"Over the last 5 years an enormous number of wind turbines have been installed in Europe, bringing wind energy into public awareness. However, its future development is restricted mainly by public complaints caused by visual impact and noise".
The noise complaints were found to be valid, and, more importantly, it was acknowledged that no mathematical model could accurately predict noise emissions at specific sites.
Recent research in Germany has indicated a health problem
associated with low frequency noise which can be emitted from turbines,
especially the larger turbines, affecting large areas surrounding a wind
power station site. Problems with predetermining the level of low frequency
noise output have now been publicly aknowledged by the British.
ACTION GROUP DARMSTADT MANIFESTO
With great anxiety many citizens in our country are observing
the progressive destruction of the countryside and the cultural-historically
grown phenotype in the environs of towns and villages through the constantly
increasing number of wind turbines.
In addition, there are unacceptable worries for human-beings as well as a heavy depreciation of immovables and a danger to the animal world.
With the exploitation of the wind energy a technology is being promoted which is completely insignificant for the power supply, the preservation of natural resources, and the protection of the climate. The public promotion funds could be far better spent on the increase in efficiency of the power stations, on the economical consumption of power, and on the scientific basic research in the field of energy.
We demand that all direct and indirect subsidies should be withdrawn from the wind energy technology. As we may not any longer pass this disastrous development over in silence, we wish to make a public appearance with the Darmstadt Manifesto on the Exploitation of Wind Energy in Germany and are first of all addressing politicians, upholders of civilisation, conservationists’ organisations, and media.
The steadily growing list of the signers already includes over a hundred professors and authors. This manifesto was presented at a press conference at the Bonn press club on September 1st, 1998.
We should appreciate your understanding and your support.
(Prof. Dr. Lothar Hoischen)
Darmstadt Manifesto on the Exploitation of Wind Energy in Germany
Our country is on the point of losing a precious asset.
The expansion of the industrial exploitation of wind energy has developed
such a driving force in just a few years that there is now great cause
for concern. A type of technology is being promoted before its effectiveness
and its consequences have been properly assessed. The industrial transformation
of cultural landscapes which have evolved over centuries and even of whole
regions is being allowed. Ecologically and economically useless wind
generators, some of which are as high as 120 metres and can be seen from
many kilometres away, are not only destroying the characteristic landscape
of our most valuable countryside and holiday areas, but are also having
an equally radical alienating effect on the historical appearance of our
towns and villages which until recently had churches, palaces and castles
as their outstanding features to give them character in a densely populated
landscape. More and more people are subjected to living unbearably close
to machines of oppressive dimensions. Young people are growing up into
a world in which natural landscapes are breaking up into tragic remnants.
The oil crisis in the 1970s made everyone very aware of the extent to which industrial societies are dependent on a guaranteed supply of energy. For the first time the general public became aware of the fact that the earth's fossil fuel resources are limited and could be exhausted in the not too distant future if they continue to be consumed without restraint. In addition arose the recognition of the damage which was caused to the environment by the production and consumption of energy. The loss of trees due to pollution, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident, the legacy of constantly accumulating pile of nuclear waste, the risks of a climatic catastrophe as a consequence of carbon dioxide emissions have all established themselves in the public consciousness as examples of the growing potential threat.
The real problem of population growth and above all the resultant phenomenon of escalating land use and consumption of drinking water supplies is however being pushed aside and being considered instead as a marginal phenomenon. With few exceptions it is not subject of any political action. On the contrary, the public interest is becoming even more limited, focusing less on energy consumption as a whole and concentrating its fears and criticisms predominantly on the generation of electricity.
Admittedly, nuclear risks do doubtless exist here. However, electrical energy plays more of a minor role in the balance sheet of energy sources. In Germany three quarters of the energy consumed consist of oil and gas. But it is precisely these energy sources whose resources will be exhausted the soonest. If it were really a matter of concern with regard to future generations, immediate, decisive action to protect supplies of oil and natural gas would be imperative. Instead petrol consumption continues unchanged, and the idea that we are living nothing for our great-grandchildren is dispelled with the vague presumption that there will one day be substitutes for fossil fuels. On the other hand, hard coal and brown coal, which are the main primary sources of electrical energy, are available in such abundance world-wide, and in many cases in deposits which are as yet unexploited, that electricity production is guaranteed, even with growing consumption, for centuries, possibly even for a period of over a thousands years. With regard to the exhaustion of energy sources of fossil fuels the development of electricity production using wind bypasses the problem.
Although Germany has taken the lead in the expansion of wind energy use, it has not been possible to date to replace one single nuclear or coal-fired power station. Even if Germany continues to push ahead with the expansion, it will still not be possible in the future. The electricity produced by wind power is not constant because it is dependent on meteorological conditions, but electricity supplies need to be in line with consumption at all times. For this reason wind energy cannot be used to any significant degree as a substitute for conventional power station capacities.
Insufficient attention is also being paid to pollutant levels. Whereas until a few years ago it was chiefly the coal-fired power stations' sulphur dioxide emissions due to poor filtering which caused problems, it is now mainly road traffic which is polluting the forests' ecosystems with nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide. Added to which, the effectiveness of power stations is improving with technological progress and as a result the level of pollutants given off per unit of energy is decreasing. The latter is also true of carbon dioxide emissions, with the result that electricity production in Germany is today responsible for only a fifth of the greenhouse gases emitted.
The energy capacity of wind is comparatively low. Modern wind turbines with rotor surface areas the size of a football field make only tiny fractions of the energy that is produced by conventional power stations. So with more than five thousand wind turbines in Germany less than one per cent of the electricity needed is produced, or only slightly more than one thousandth of the total energy produced. The pollutant figures are similar for the same reason. The contribution made (by the use of) wind energy to avoid greenhouse gases is somewhere between one and two thousandths. Wind energy is therefore of no significance whatever both in the statistics for energy and in those for pollutants and greenhouse gases.
At the same time we must take into account the fact that economic growth always involves, to a greater or lesser extent, an increasing energy requirement - despite all the efforts made by technology towards greater efficiency in the transformation and consumption of energy. This means that because it makes such a small contribution to the statistics, wind energy is running a race which is already lost in an economic order orientated towards growth: At present total energy consumption in Germany is growing about seventy times (!) faster than the production potential of wind energy.
The negative effects of wind energy use are as much underestimated as its contribution to the statistics is overestimated. Falling property values reflect the perceived deterioration in quality of life - not just in areas close to the turbines, but even all over Schleswig-Holstein. More and more people describe their lives as unbearable when they are directly exposed to the acoustic and optical effects of wind farms. There are reports of people being signed off sick and unfit for work, there is a growing number of complaints about symptoms such as pulse irregularities and states of anxiety, which are known from the effects of infrasound (sound of frequences below the normal audible limit). The animal world is also suffering at the hands of this technology. On the North Sea and Baltic coasts birds are being driven away from their breeding, roosting and feeding grounds. These displacement effects are being increasingly observed inland, too.
From the point of view of the national economy the development of wind energy is far from being the "success story" it is often claimed to be. On the contrary, it puts a strain on the economy as it is still unprofitable with a low energy yield on the one hand and high investment costs on the other. And yet, as a result of the legal framework conditions which have been set, private and public capital is being invested on a large scale - capital which is at least unavailable for important environmental protection measures, but also ties up purchasing power. This in turn leads to job losses in other areas. The only way in which the investors can realise their exceptionally high returns is by means of the level of payment for electricity produced by wind which has been determined by law, and which is several times its actual market value, and by taxation depreciation.
For more than twenty years now German politicians have been under pressure to react to urgent problems concerning the environment and preventative measures, and have been promoting a seriously erroneous evaluation of wind energy. This has allowed the use of wind energy to become established in the view of public opinion as some sort of total solution which supposedly makes a decisive contribution towards a clean environment and a guaranteed supply of energy for the future, and also towards the aversion of a climatic catastrophe and the avoidance of nuclear dangers. This false picture raises hopes and results in a general acceptance of the use of wind energy which is strengthened further by the fact that people are not expected to make any savings.
The negative effects of the wind energy industry in our densely populated country are suppressed, scientific knowledge is ignored and there is a taboo on criticism. Only a few people are willing to break away from these political and social trends. After fighting for decades with great commitment for the preservation of our countryside the majority of the large organisations for the protection of nature now stand idly by watching its destruction.
Together with groups of thoughtless operators, a policy orientated towards short term success was able to clear the way in the following manner: as a result of amendments to planning law and the law on nature conservation, our countryside is almost unprotected against the exploitation of wind energy and is therefore left at the mercy of material exploitation by capital investment. At the same time the people who are directly exposed to this technology which is hostile to man have to a large extent been deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a say in the matter of the shaping of the environment in which they live.
As all efforts to influence those with political responsibilities have been without success, the signatories of this manifesto see no other solution but to make their concerns public. In view of the serious harm threatening our countryside, which has evolved through history and which is the foundation of our cultural identity, we appeal for an end to the expansion of wind power technology which is pointless from both an ecological and an economical point of view.
In particular we are demanding the withdrawal of all direct and indirect subsidies to this technology. Instead public funds should be made available on a larger scale for the development of more efficient technology and for the kind of research into basic principles which is likely to provide real solutions to the problems of producing energy in a way which is environmentally friendly and lasting.
We issue an urgent warning against the uncritical promotion of technology which can in the long term have far-reaching adverse effects on the relationship between man and nature. We are particularly concerned about a change of attitude, which is more difficult to perceive as it is evolving slowly and which gives us less and less ability to recognise how important it is for man to live in an environment which is predominantly characterised by nature.
List of Signatories
Prof. Udo ACKERMANN (Design)
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Karl ALEWELL (Economics)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Rudolf ALLMANN (Mineralogy)
Prof. Wilhelm ANSER (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. Clemens ARKENSTETTE (Biology, Agricultural Science, Physiology)
Dr. paed. Joachim ARLT (Science of Art, Landscape Aesthetics)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Benno ARTMANN (Mathematics)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eckhard BARTSCH (Geodesy, Landmanagement)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Bruno BENTHIEN (Geography)
Dr. jur. Manfred BERNHARDT (District President)
Prof. Dr. jur. h.c. Karl August BETTERMANN (Jurisprudence)
Prof. Dr. agr. Dr. agr. h.c. mult. Eduard von BOGUSLAWSKI (Agronomy)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Reinhard BRANDT (Physical Chemistry)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Günter BRAUNSS (Mathematics)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan BRITZ (Mechanical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. Dr. phil. Harald BROST (Institute of Colour, Light and Space)
Prof. Dr. med. Joachim BRUCH (Industrial Medicine)
Günter de BRUYN (Writer)
Prof. Dr. phil. Dr. h.c. Hans-Günter BUCHHOLZ (Archeology)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Karl Heinz CLEMENS (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. phil. Dietrich DENECKE (Geoscience)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Dietrich von DENFFER (Botany)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank DÖRRSCHEIDT (Automatic Control, Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang DONSBACH (Science of Communication)
Prof. Thomas DUTTENHOEFER (Design)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rudolf ENGELHORN (Energy and Thermodynamic Science)
Dr. techn. Hans ERNST (Electrical Engineering, National Economy)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Horst ETTL (Mechanical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. Hermann FINK (English Philology, American Philology)
Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim FITTING (Physics)
Prof. Dr. med. Marianne FRITSCH (Internal Medicine, Rehabilitation)
Dr. Gertrud FUSSENEGGER (Writer)
Prof. Hans Jürgen GERHARDT (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Gerhard GERLICH (Physics)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernhard von GERSDORFF (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Ph.D. H. S. Robert GLASER (Biology)
Prof. Dr. Gerhard GÖHLER (Political Science)
Dietmar GRIESER (Writer)
Prof. Dr. theol. Hubertus HALBFAS (Religion)
Prof. Christa-Maria HARTMANN (Academy of Music and Theatre)
Prof. Dr. Erwin HARTMANN (Physics, Medical Optics)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Jürgen HASSE (Geography)
Dr. rer.nat. Günter HAUNGS (Technique of Precision Measurement)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Horst HENNERICI (Mechanical Engineering)
Prof. Ulrich HIRT (Mechatronics)
Prof. Wolfgang HOFFMANN (Economical Information)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Lothar HOISCHEN (Mathematics)
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. rer.nat. Hans HOMPESCH (Hygiene, Micro-Biology, Pathology)
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Rudolf HOPPE (Inorganic Chemistry)
Prof. Dr. Peter KÄFERSTEIN (Thermodynamic Science, Energy Economics)
Prof. Dr. Dipl. Phys. Günther KÄMPF (Physics)
Prof. Dr. phil. Thomas KÖVES-ZULAUF (Archeology)
Dr. Christoph KONRAD (MdEP - Member of European Parliament)
Prof. Erhard Ernst KORKISCH (Area Planning, Landscape Architecture)
Prof. Dr. Dietrich KÜHLKE (Physics)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bert KÜPPERS (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Josef LEITENBAUER (Mining Academy)
Prof. Dr. phil. Otto LENDLE (Archeology)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Wilfried LEX (Information Science, Logic)
Prof. Dr. Horst LINDE (Architecture)
Prof. Dr. techn. Wladimir LINZER (Thermodynamic Science)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Jörg LORBERTH (Chemistry)
Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Horst LOTTERMOSER (Mechanical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Manfred LÖWISCH (Industrial Law)
Prof. Uwe MACHENS (Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Heike MARCHAND (Physics)
Prof. Dr. sc.phys. Dr.-Ing. Herbert F. MATARÉ (Physics, Electronics)
Prof. Dr. Krista MERTENS (Science of Rehabilitation)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. MOLLENKAMP (Mechanics of Fluids)
Dr. Dieter MOLZAHN (Physical Chemistry)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Hans MÜLLER von der HAGEN (Chemical Technology)
Prof. Dr. jur. Reinhard MUßGNUG (Jurisprudence)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Kurt NIXDORFF (Mathematics)
Prof. Werner A. NÖFER (Design)
Prof. Dr.rer.nat. Wolfgang NOLTE (Mathematics)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Paul PATZELT (Chemistry)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Siegfried PETER (Technical Chemistry)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Nicolaus PETERS (Zoology)
Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans PFLUG (Applied Geosciences)
Prof. Dr. Thomas RAMI (Physics)
Prof. Dr. med. Ludwig RAUSCH (Human Medicine, Radio Biology, Radiation Protection)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Michael von RENTELN (Mathematics)
Dr. phil. Karl Heinrich REXROTH (History)
Prof. Dr. Hans Erich RIEDEL (Physics)
Prof. Wilhelm RUCKDESCHEL (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. med. Rolf SAMMECK (NeuroAnatomy)
Dr. phil. Monika SAMMECK (Psychology)
Prof. Dr. Hans SCHNEIDER (Jurisprudence)
Prof. Dr. Helmut SCHRÖCKE (Geosciences)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Herbert SCHULZ (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Kurt STAGUHN (Art Paedagogy)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus STEINBRÜCK (Mechanical Engineering)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rudolf STEINER (Technical Chemistry)
Dr. h.c. Horst STERN (Television Journalist, Ecologist)
Botho STRAUß (Writer)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Günter STRÜBEL (Geosciences)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Manfred THESENVITZ (Mechanical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Josef WEIGL (Botany)
Prof. Dr. med. Hans-Jobst WELLENSIEK (Medicine, Micro-Biology)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Herbert WILHELMI (Thermodynamic Science)
Prof. Dr. phil. Walter WIMMEL (Archeology)
Gabriele WOHMANN (Writer)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Jürgen WOLFRUM (Physics)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Otfried WOLFRUM (Geodesy)
Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Peter ZAHN (Mathematics)
A RESOLUTION HAS BEEN PASSED BY THE CITIZENS’ ACTION COMMITTEE AGAINST WIND TURBINES IN GERMANY. THEY STATE AS FOLLOWS:-
"As citizens directly affected we are defending ourselves against a faulty development badly and lastingly weighting on the environment:
1. Wind power plants with gigantic heights, visible as far as 30 kilometres, ruin and destroy the best there is in our very densely populated country: nature.They deprive animals of their living space, let people perceive the countryside only as a structure torn apart and transform our recreation - and nature areas into stereotype industrial sites. Wind power plants offend against the traditional time-tested principle of the separation of industrial and natural zones more ruthlessly than all other technical innovations.
4. Wind power plants reduce the value of immovables by up to 50 per cent. Losses up to that extent are also caused to hotels and boarding houses because wind power plants shorten the stay of guests and lead to a decline in reservations."
"Stoppage of the expansion of wind energy;
Suspension of the remuneration for the feeding of electricity into the mains as well as all subsidies and tax allowances for wind energy!"
"Instead of this, advancement of effective measures such as heightening of the efficiency through the coupling of power and heat, modern gas-and steam turbine power stations as well as sensible renewable energies and extensive energy economy measures!"
This Committee also states that in Germany, " There are
over 300 citizens’ action committees already formed and aiming at opening
the general public’s eyes to the unacceptable strain and the economic
and ecological uselessness of wind power."
THE FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE IN DEFENCE OF THE LANDSCAPE
AGAINST THE CONSTRUCTION OF WINDFARMS
This Conference was held at Burgos, in Spain, 28-29/10/01
Among other matters it made public statements as follows:
"The construction of windfarms modifies the landscape considerably, resulting in a major transformation of its physical features, changes in ecosystems and visual pollution, in addition to other types of impact."
"That the landscape belongs to everyone; it is the heritage of society as a whole."
"That landscape is a social, economic and cultural resource, and its proper management is essential for ensuring sustainable development so that the population can remain on the territory."
And it concluded, among other things that:
"..windfarms are essentially industrial installations, and should be treated as such in all respects."
PROFESSOR DAVID BELLAMY
WHAT PROFESSOR DAVID BELLAMY SAID AT UPPER HUTT IN
NEW ZEALAND ABOUT WIND ENERGY
Venue: Upper Hutt Science Festival Celebrity Dinner, 24 July 2000
Professor David Bellamy, the world-renowned Botanist and
Conservationist discussed the subject of Wind Power Stations before and
during his dinner speech. Whilst supporting various forms of renewable
energy he considered that wind turbines:
It was obvious from the rest of his speech and his past record that David is more aware than most of us the damage man has created on this planet. He says that many ecosystems in the World are in total disarray. It was obvious that he considered ill-sited wind power stations as adding to this disarray.
It is interesting that proponents of wind power have often
smeared Makara residents with the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) tag.
Professor Bellamy, at an earlier festival speech, said, "People are
sick of seeing what they hold as important disappearing from their own
backyards". He, like us, was quite clear that people taking responsibility
for their "backyard" environment is essential (and not selfish).
More recent comments from Professor Bellamy are found
in our "Whats New Section"
We should certainly take note of what this highly respected scientist said.
THE INTERNATIONAL WIND POWER MAGAZINE "WIND POWER MONTHLY"
In a 1998 edition, the editor states:
"Too often the public has felt duped into envisioning fairy tale "parks" in the countryside. The reality has been an abrupt awakening. Wind power stations are no parks."
The Danish government formerly embraced wind power "wholeheartedly", however:
IT WAS REPORTED FROM DENMARK ON 11 FEBRUARY 2003 THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED TO WITHDRAW ALL SUBSIDIES FOR WIND POWER STATIONS BY 2004. THE ECONOMY MINISTER HAS ALSO SCRAPPED THE PLANS FOR THREE WIND POWER STATIONS OF 150MW EACH WHICH WERE TO HAVE BEEN INSTALLED BY 2008.
The then Danish view was that:
"Windpower in Denmark is a BIG mistake. The greatest economical
and environmental disaster ever" see:
The Danish electricity prices are currently the highest
While the Danish government is now withdrawing subsidies for wind power stations in their own country and the US has reduced demand for Danish wind turbines, following a slow down in its wind power projects, it is only logical that Danish turbine manufacturers will now concentrate on benefiting from the UK subsidies which are still available.
The news in May 2002, that the US will expand wind power significantly below most analysts' estimates deflated shares in Danish wind turbine manufactures NEG Micon and Vestas. See more recent events in our "Whats New" section.
Norway has consistently refused to be influenced by the wind power "hype".
If wind power were such a beneficial form of renewable power generation, then you would expect Norway to be at the forefront in embracing this technology. It was Norway’s then Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Bruntland, who, as Chair of the World Commission on the Environment and Development, put forward the concept of "sustainable development" in a 1987 report entitled "Our Common Future", which in turn led to the adoption of Agenda 21 in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992.
Like all countries that are a party to "Agenda 21", Norway will be concerned about the environment, and will be keen to seek sensible solutions to achieve "sustainable development.
If wind power stations were acceptable to the general public, and they were truly "clean", "green" and "benign", then why has Norway steadfastly refused to wholeheartedly embrace this technology?
The Norwegians clearly understand that there are many negative effects of wind power, and they have not been "hoodwinked" by the "green" label that wind power developers themselves, place on their own products and developments.
Norway, like New Zealand, can enjoy the "fruits" of protecting its magnificent scenery from industrialisation by inefficient and unnecessary wind turbines.
We understand that in Norway, opposition to wind power
stations comes, not only from the public, generally, but also from environmental
groups that take an interest in nature, and also that the equivalent of
our Minister for the Environment takes the job of protection seriously.
In 2002, the Dutch parliament rejected cabinet-backed
plans for a 300MW wind power station on the grounds that it would spoil the
open character of the landscape and result in high numbers of BIRD DEATHS.
SEE ‘WIND Power Monthly" April 2002
PLANNING APPLICATIONS FOR WIND POWER STATIONS ON LAND
In 2002 almost 80% of applications were being turned
ENRON (An American company), around the seventh
largest in the USA has now (December 2001) gone into Bankruptcy, following
alleged fraudulent activity. Enron was heavily into wind power projects
in the UK (WHERE SUCH PROJECTS ARE HEAVILY SUBSIDISED), as well as in
SOME EXTRACTS FROM ARTICLES IN REPUTABLE BRITISH NEWSPAPERS THAT ACKNOWLEDGE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF WIND POWER STATIONS:
FROM AN ARTICLE IN THE TIMES WEDNESDAY MARCH 7 2001
How green are our turbine valleys?
"Tony Blair yesterday spoke on the environment in an overheated
hall in St James1s Square. He should have spoken somewhere else. He should
have spoken at Ordnance Survey reference SN828953, in the moorland north
of Dylife in Mid-Wales. There he could have seen his green policy in action.
He could have seen a spectacle of such appalling desecration that words
(almost) fail me."
"The landscape is among the most beautiful in upland Britain. It stretches from the borders of Snowdonia down the spine of the Cambrian Mountains to the Brecon Beacons. It was too little-known to be included in any national park and is ignored by the National Trust, which recently blew £3.5 million rescuing the perfectly safe Snowdon, largely because someone in London had heard of it.
From the wilderness above Dylife, Mr Blair would see perhaps 1,000 square miles of country that is now as turbine-infested as a Gulf oilfield."
"The scene is awful. Were these the South Downs, the nation would have apoplexy."
" The depredation is beyond belief."
"These machines are good for nothing but boasting at Earth Summit conferences." "..such ruined countryside is worthless for its one long-term use, recreation. The turbines generate footling amounts of energy. They cannot turn in light wind and must be switched off in a strong one, so that they operate at barely 25 per cent of their quoted output. The 160 turbines of the huge Carno and Llandinam fields yield the same energy in a year that a normal power station produces in four days. We could erect turbines in every park, cliff, bay and estuary; we could destroy every scenic vista in the land; and still not generate 2 per cent of Britain’s energy needs."
"In the name of the environment, the environment is destroyed."
"No sensible person regards wind energy as efficient. Their materials are alien to the landscape and their movement is visually distracting. It would be hard to design structures so hostile to the natural wildness and serenity of Britain’s uplands."
"Wind turbines are industrial machines and should be confined to sites where they intrude least on the natural environment. It is incredible that we must have this argument in the 21st century."
"But let us give politicians the benefit of the doubt. Let us assume that they act from ignorance rather than sin. Those who holiday in France and Italy can surely comprehend scenic beauty. Perhaps nobody has told Mr Blair and his court that Britain too has fine scenery. So let the famous motorcade head out to map reference SN828953, and see what this is all about."
WIND DEVELOPERS’ CLAIMS:
The figures given for power produced and CO2 pollution saved:
An article written by a British scientist explains with examples:
"Wind companies always overstate, in their planning applications, how much electricity will be produced and how much toxic gas will be eliminated. This is clear from reports that some companies produce showing how their wind farms are performing. Take Powergen’s most recent Corporate Responsibility Report and look at the figures for the Askam wind farm near Barrow-in-Furness. The planning application claimed that it would save 18,100 tons of carbon dioxide, 270 tons of sulphur dioxide and could supply 40,471 MWh of electricity. The actual figure in the company’s report show that the real figures achieved for 2002 were 5,384 tons of CO2, 47.7 tons of SO2 (29.7% and 17.6% of the amounts claimed) and just 12,240 MWh of electricity – just 30.2% of the theoretical maximum."
And further information from an American energy expert:
"Carbon savings could be much lower or even non-existent on occasion because the proportional embedded pollution costs of mining/quarrying, transporting and refining the basic components of wind turbines, concrete foundations, access roads, pylons and associated electrical plant, as well as the processes employed in their manufacture, deployment, operation, maintenance and replacement depend on their operational life span. Although the life expectancy of wind turbines is often stated to be 20-25 years, in Denmark many smaller on-shore machines have recently been replaced by larger ones after only 10 to 16 years of operation . A similar 10-15 year estimate has been suggested for the latest Danish off-shore turbines because of the harshness of their marine environment."
In New Zealand no one is sure what the usable life of a turbine will be. Turbines have been designed for European conditions, not for our gusty wind speeds Anyone who has travelled regularly over the Rimutaka Hill Road over the last few years would have noticed the regularity with which the wind turbine at the summit café is either broken (with pieces of blade missing), replaced, missing, or tied up so it cannot work. In January 2004, it was tied up.
Claims are also made that house prices will not fall for properties near wind turbines, in fact wind power developers claim they can increase, and also claim that tourism will be enhanced:
There is plenty of evidence available now that totally refutes the above claims.
Some recent comments:
Reported in the British newspaper Western Morning News, May 2003:
"Windfarms are intrusive and damage the industries and the lives of the people they are sited close to," he said. "The people living there can't sleep and the holiday park nearby has seen bookings drop. I know a house near the cluster at Bears Down which has gone down in value as a result." "We are not against renewable energies but we do not think that windfarms are effective and in fact they are ruining the countryside and the tourism industry here in Cornwall," he added.
Reporting in ‘the Independent’ about a proposed development near the Lake District (Whinash) 6 October 2003:
"Speaker after speaker at Tebay protested that the proposed development posed a serious threat to their landscape, to their amenity and to tourism, Cumbria's principal money earner, with minimal benefit to their community - and to the fight against climate change.
Prominent among them was a man as qualified as anyone to speak on wind farms and the environment - Sir Martin Holdgate, formerly the Government's top environmental civil servant, before becoming head of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Switzerland.
Sir Martin, now retired, was chairman of the Renewable Energy Advisory Group which in 1992 advised the Government to set out on an alternative energy path. He was strongly in favour of renewable technologies, he said - but in the right place, and on the right scale. He said he was attracted to the idea of solar panels on roofs.
"The trouble with wind farms is that they have a huge spatial footprint for a piddling little bit of electricity," he said. "You would need 800 turbines to replace the output of a coal-fired power station. "
Reports from Australia in 2003:
Following a development, with the new "state of the art’ "quiet’ turbines, a loss of 25% to 30% in value for adjoining residences and land occurred, and neighbours have suffered sleep deprivation because of the noise.
Evidence from Professor David Bellamy, November 2003:
Professor Bellamy of Britain continues to speak out against wind farms. In his most recent e-mail to Makara Guardians, November 2003, he says " Wind farms have a fundamental impact on landscape. Wind farms already blight some of the most scenic countryside of Britain. Recent research in Scotland has found that 15% of tourists would steer clear of an area with a wind farm development, and a further 10% said they would be less likely to return to the Scottish countryside if wind power increases there." Later in Australia he was quoted in the press as saying: " Windfarms ruin livelihoods in the tourism industry". He has years of experience, and has nothing to gain by speaking out.
Reported from the UK January 2004:
Plans for a new high-profile campaign against unsightly wind farms are being drawn up by the group that represents Scotland's walkers, the Ramblers' Association Scotland. It now regards the SPREAD OF LARGE TURBINES AS "THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE SCOTTISH LANDSCAPE IN DECADES".
Reported in an article in a British newspaper, published 9 January 2004, entitled "Windfarm blows house value away", it has been reported that a Furness couple have won a legal ruling proving that the value of their home has been "significantly diminished" by the construction of a windfarm nearby. When they bought in 1997, the couple were unaware the arrival of the windfarm was imminent. Previous owners failed to tell the prospective buyers in spite of the fact they had vigorously opposed the initial application for the windfarm in 1995 and objected at the subsequent public inquiry in March 1997.
The Judge decided that this amounted to "material misrepresentation" and ordered the defendant to pay compensation of 20 per cent of the market value of the house in 1997, £12,500, plus interest, because of damage to visual amenity, noise pollution and the "irritating flickering" caused by the sun going down behind the moving blades of the turbines 550 metres from the house.
He also made the defendant pay legal costs and a further £2,500 as compensation for "nuisance and distress".
The judge's ruling, defeats the claims of the windfarm industry that turbines do not damage property values.
The article quotes: "The windfarm industry is about one thing only and that is profit. People should know the facts for themselves rather than listen to the industry's claims that there is no impact on property values."
Kyle Blue from the No Whinash Windfarm group said he knew of two properties near the Whinash site where values were already being affected and said the judge's ruling would help the fight against the windfarm. He also said the industry's claims that tourism would be unaffected were as spurious as its claims about property prices.
Claims are made that overseas the majority of the population supports wind power.
But what were the questions asked? Sometimes people were simply asked if they supported renewable energy; or whether they supported wind power. Most New Zealanders would say they supported wind power, but they would expect that it would be carefully sited, and its negative effects to be taken into account, just like any other power station. Unfortunately most New Zealanders are unaware of the negative effects as they are constantly told by those with a vested interest in selling wind power, that it is benign.
Wind power developers were reporting that after a poll in Scotland, overwhelming support for wind power was found. This result seemed very much at odds with the reality. On checking it was found that the poll was faulty and it has been declared unreliable and withdrawn.
A subsequent poll conducted independently by the BBC and correctly assessed, in 2003, found that the majority of the British public is not in favour of a windfarm being constructed near their homes.
Reported in the Western Morning News in May 2003:
"Opposition to (windfarms) remains as visible as ever across the Westcountry despite the region being heralded as a leading light in the development of green power.
Tony Brewington, of BLOT, is convinced the case for windfarms has not been made.
"We will be giving evidence to the public inquiry and we are confident that we will prove our point that windfarms are just a big con," he said.
While resident groups have voiced their opposition to windfarms, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) also hit the headlines when it reacted with outrage at plans to site three 320ft turbines on farmland alongside the old Bampton Road near Tiverton.
Jim Woollcombe, chairman of the Devon branch of the CPRE, said: "Opposition to windfarms is certainly a frequent CPRE activity, but not because we are opposed to them in principle.
"Our opposition is to windfarms in the wrong place, and it is perhaps bad luck that in Devon most of the potential windfarm sites are in sensitive landscapes which would be destroyed by them."
Results of a survey conducted by the UK’s Country Life Magazine were published in November 2003. Its readers were asked to disclose their ‘worst eyesores’ in the British countryside:
THE NUMBER ONE WORST EYESORE (IN BRITAIN) (1) ‘WINDFARMS’
Reported in the British Outdoor Magazine January 2004, the author of an article about wind power in Britain, says "Something fine and precious is in danger of being lost in the rush to pour concrete and erect turbines and the benefits could very well be negligible" she quotes her interviewee, "wind farms are an expensive dead-end" and says , " I’m starting to agree with him".
Claims are made that there are no negative effects and that wind power is benign.
After standing back for some years, perhaps because it believed that wind power was benign, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Britain is now objecting to a large number of wind turbine applications. Clear evidence now exists that wind turbines have a devastating effect on birdlife. Legal action is likely to be filed in 2004 in respect of a number of wind ‘farms’, more correctly termed wind power stations, in the UK, by RSPB, as a result of damage to wild life by wind turbines.
In California in December 2003, a court action was filed against the turbine developers and others in respect of the devastation caused to bird populations, in the vicinity of wind farms. The court case is pending.
"The Observer" in Britain published an article Sunday 25 January 2004, entitled.
"Wind farms threaten the red kite".
It states that:
" (The death of a red kite, offered) the first proof that Britain's army of birdwatchers had been dreading: endangered species were being shredded in the 'killer blades' of huge turbines that can travel at up to 300kph.
Wind farms proven potentially to affect birdlife may have to be sited elsewhere or abandoned altogether according to legal experts.
In the US, just after Christmas US wildlife experts launched a lawsuit against a San Francisco wind farm known to kill 5,500 birds a year. Now Welsh campaigners, in a move to save the once-persecuted red kite, are preparing to follow with their own legal action.
In particular, they are targeting 39 massive turbines the size of a 40-storey office block to be constructed deep in the Cambrian mountains.
Earlier this year, the RSPB, which has two million members, condemned the proposed £600m siting of hundreds of wind turbines on the Isle of Lewis as illegal because of its standing as an internationally important bird sanctuary.
'There is also the very real possibility of legal action,' confirmed by an RSPB source, at other wind turbine sites in Britain.
So far, 27 major wind farms have been objected to by the RSPB.
Suspicion began to rise after an allegedly suppressed report claimed thousands of birds were being torn apart each year in the turbines' blades. The first major study into a potential problem, carried out in northern Spain, found 6,000 birds were killed by turbines in a year."
An article written for the Lake District magazine "Fells", January 2004:
entitled "WINDFARMS – RAPE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE OR
SALVATION OF THE WORLD?":
"This article goes to the heart of the debate about the role of wind energy in electricity generation. The question posed is the reason why groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who passionately believe in conserving the biosphere, often find themselves at loggerheads with organisations such as National Park Authorities, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, or Friends of the Lake District, who believe no less passionately in our landscape heritage. So how has this strange dichotomy arisen when we should all be playing the same tune?
Reminders of vanishing rain forests, poisoned rivers, melting ice caps and endangered species are constantly in the media, feeding the passion we all feel about the state of the natural world. We all agree that more needs to be done to put matters aright. The disagreements arise over what needs to be done and there is a particular argument over the role wind energy can play. This article examines this last issue as it applies to the UK. It draws on data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), from the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), the National Grid plc (NGplc), British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), the Meteorological Office, and some wind farm companies. It presents the case, using a critical analysis of the facts rather than any preconceived prejudice either for or against wind energy, against the destruction of Britain’s landscape by wind turbines.
To understand the role of wind we first need information about electricity generation and consumption. Table 1 shows the sources of our electricity as a percentage of the total from 1990 and gives projections until 2020. It clearly shows the effect of the run down of coal and nuclear power stations. These provided 84% of our electricity in 1990 but will provide only about 10% by 2020.
Table 1: Britain’s electricity sources in the recent past and estimates to 2020 (e = estimated)
[Based on data from the DTI web site]
ELECTRICITY SOURCE PERCENTAGE IN THE YEAR SHOWN
1990 2002 2010e 2020e
Coal 64 27 12 3.5
Nuclear 20 22 15.6 6.8
Oil 8 0.5 Nil Nil
Imported electricity 7 5.5 3.9 2.8
Renewables 1 3 9.9 11.9
Natural gas nil 42 58.6 75.0
Expressing these figures as a percentage, however, hides a vital factor, namely that electricity consumption is steadily rising. It rose throughout the 1990s at about 1.5% each year. The DTI expects it to go on rising at this rate until 2010 and then to slow down to about 0.7%. On this basis, by 2020 we will need about 26% more electricity compared with 2000 (Figure 1). The anticipated closure of most nuclear plants also means that about 20% of our current energy supply will vanish by then, giving a total shortfall of around 46%. This understates the true figure because also during this time most of the remaining coal-fired power stations are due to close.
Figure 1: Projected rise in electricity demand based on DTI data (red line) and the loss of electricity due to closure of nuclear power stations based on BNFL data (blue line) from 2000 to 2020.
So the real shortfall will be closer to 65%. The Government expects this difference to be largely made up by natural gas, mostly imported through pipelines from Russia, the Ukraine and the Middle East. Many authorities believe that this over-reliance on gas which must be transported thousands of miles through pipelines exposed to terrorist and political hazards, will put Britain’s whole future and security at risk and will lead to blackouts. But that is another story.
It is quite reasonable to ask whether harnessing wind can bridge this shortfall. To answer this we need to know something about current sources of electricity and how much they produce. In May 2003 we had 18 coal-fired, 29 gas-fired and 13 nuclear power stations (Table 2) each generating an average of 1,590, 681, and 927 megawatts (MW) respectively (i.e. between 681,000 and 1.59 million one-bar electric fires each). In stark contrast, there are about 69 hydroelectric schemes in Britain (excluding pumped storage) and some 84 wind farms. The former produce on average about 22 MW each and wind farms on average about 2.6 MW. Of course wind plants have a maximum possible output three times this (about 7.7 MW on average) but that could only be realised if the wind exceeded 30 mph all the time – which it clearly impossible. In fairness it should be pointed out, however, that all types of conventional power stations have shut-downs for maintenance and repairs. They rarely achieve 100% of their full capacity though 70 to 90% is quite normal.
Putting this into a local context, the turbines proposed for Whinash (which would be the largest onshore wind plant in England if built) can produce 2.5 MW each or 27 X 2.5 = 67.5 MW for the whole installation. However, that figure would only be reached if the wind blew at over 30 miles per hour all the time because it is only at wind speeds above this that the turbines are operating at maximum capacity. Above 55mph they shut down to prevent damage. Below 30 mph the amount of electricity produced drops sharply: in practice even the developer claims that Whinash will only deliver between 33 and 38% of its possible maximum output (i.e. about 25 MW).
In practice, wind companies always overstate, in their planning applications, how much electricity will be produced and how much toxic gas will be eliminated. This is clear from reports that some companies produce showing how their wind farms are performing. Take Powergen’s most recent Corporate Responsibility Report and look at the figures for the Askam wind farm near Barrow-in-Furness. The planning application claimed that it would save 18,100 tons of carbon dioxide, 270 tons of sulphur dioxide and could supply 40,471 MWh of electricity. The actual figure in the company’s report show that the real figures achieved for 2002 were 5,384 tons of CO2, 47.7 tons of SO2 (29.7% and 17.6% of the amounts claimed) and just 12,240 MWh of electricity – just 30.2% of the theoretical maximum.
Table 2: Number and average electricity generated by different types
of power station in the UK (DTI figure May 2003)
TYPE OF POWER STATION NUMBER IN UK AVERAGE OUTPUT IN MEGAWATTS TOTAL POWER (MW)
Coal 18 1,590 28,620
Nuclear 13 927 12,051
Gas 29 681 19,749
Hydroelectric 69 22 1,532
Wind 84 7.7 647
Table excludes energy imported from France, oil, other renewables (e.g. solar and wave power), Combined Heat & Power installations that are not connected to the National Grid, pumped storage, and other burned fuels (e.g. methane gas, waste). When all these are added in, the total UK electricity capacity is about 79,600 MW.
Taking all this data together it is easy to calculate the number of wind farms the size of Whinash that would be needed to generate the same amount of electricity as one average coal-fired or one average nuclear power station, namely 64 and 37 respectively (i.e. 1,728 and 999 wind turbines).
As it is we are in danger of submerging Cumbria with wind farms – a danger that will increase further is PPS22 is adopted without revision (Figure 2). Even if we covered the whole of the northern Howgill Fells and the Mallerstang ranges (say 400 wind turbines 400 feet high) we would not have replaced the capacity of a single nuclear power station but would have destroyed a superb, and unspoiled wilderness area which was recognised as of National Park quality 50 years ago. For each wind plant would have to have back-up capacity on standby, usually gas fired that produces CO2. According to the journal ‘Power UK’ every 6,000MW of wind-generated electrical energy would need 4,000MW of back-up in conventional power stations.
If wind cannot provide the solution to Britain’s growing energy crisis then what can? Technologies such as wave power, tidal barrages, biofuels, gases from household waste, small hydroelectric schemes, solar panels and photovoltaic cells are often mentioned. In 2002 two experimental tidal current turbines of different design were placed in the sea – but serious amounts of electricity from such sources are still a decade or more away. Solar heating is available but is expensive and still relatively inefficient. Even with the Government now offering a 50% grant towards installations the UK is only expected to have 3,000 solar roofs by 2005 compared to 370,000 in Japan and 140,000 in Germany. Biofuels and household waste gas have a place but the amount of power is likely to be small. Tidal barrages are expensive to construct and fraught with environmental problems of their own. Professor Ian Fells (Newcastle University), an acknowledged expert in this field and an advisor to the World Energy Council, believes that the UK needs to have a balanced portfolio of different electricity-generating methods. He advocates 30% clean coal, 30% gas, 30% nuclear and 10% renewables. The gas component is coming anyway, methods for cleaning coal to cut down on toxic emissions are actively being pursued, and the renewables target of 10% from all sources is probably realisable. At present no political party has been prepared to grasp the nuclear issue and the strong emotions attached to it. However, on a factual level, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd confirm that 10 new AP1000 nuclear reactors (replacing the aging ones on the same sites) could generate a quarter of our energy with minimal CO2 emissions.
(Figure deleted to reduce file size)
Figure 2. Figure showing how the LDNP is being ringed by wind farm applications and installations. Based on data in Planning Cumbria from CCC, known NFFO contracts, documents from wind farm developers and press reports
Improvements in energy efficiency can also make an important contribution. A report from the EU dated 26th April 2000 entitled, Action Plan to Improve Energy Efficiency in the European Community, found that efficiency savings amounting to more than 18% of current energy consumption could be achieved by 2020 using existing technology – if there was the political will to do it. This is enough to offset the closure of the UKs nuclear plants and, if applied throughout Europe would be the equivalent of saving the whole energy demand of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece and The Netherlands combined. Then we may be starting to have a global impact.
The information in this article has been discussed with several specialists in this field and confirmed to be broadly accurate. Consequently, and with the Government’s current approach, the numbers clearly just do not add up. Britain badly needs a more comprehensive, honest and realisable energy policy. Wind is an intermittent, additional source of a small amount of electricity, is not a serious alternative for an industrialised nation, and cannot make a significant impact at the global level. The Government has no mandate from the British people to destroy our upland heritage for virtually no gain and must be made to think again.
The author, Dr Mike Hall, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Institute of Biology. He is also Honourary Manager of Burns Beck Moss Nature Reserve (an SSSI owned by Cumbria Wildlife Trust) and a member of the committee of FELLS (Friends of Eden, Lakeland & Lunesdale Scenery), a voluntary organisation founded in 2000 to help local groups protect the North West landscape from unwarranted industrial development, especially wind farms. FELLS is funded entirely by membership. Details from the Secretary, Belinda Lancing, at Firbank House, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5EF. Phone: 015396-20465
Claims are made that the new turbine technology is not noisy and that there is no problem associated with low frequency noise.
At the New Zealand Wind Power Conference in Wellington October 2001, a consultant for Meridian Energy indicated to delegates that the noise issue had been resolved between our society and ECNZ (now Meridian Energy). That indication was incorrect.
Problems with noise from wind turbines have continued worldwide, and we have been following this since 1997. Power companies still say: "We will be using new turbines, there is no longer a noise problem", the same assurances given in 1997, (and earlier). Such promises are consistently broken, then it is too late for local residents to do anything about the problem, except to complain, as the wind power station has then been built. The developers move on, and the residents are left with no redress. The constant irritation of noise or even low frequency noise, generally will not fit into the current legal category of statutory nuisance. It is likely that this will be challenged shortly.
In 1997, we told ECNZ that there could well be a problem with low frequency noise. ECNZ ignored this, and said that there was no such thing associated with the ‘new, state of the art’ turbines.
We told ECNZ that there was a problem with the Enercon 40 turbines at Hau Nui in the Wairarapa. ECNZ told us in 1997 that this had been fixed, but it was not.
We submitted on the Noise Standard, which ECNZ helped to set, with valid arguments supported by one of the best acoustics experts in New Zealand, but we were virtually ignored.
One would expect that wind power companies and Government bodies, that state it is their intention to help the environment, would err on the side of caution when it appears likely that a form of environmental pollution will emanate from wind power developments. However, the opposite appears to be the case. Perhaps they genuinely do not know the facts. We are exposing them here.
Wind power companies consistently assert that mathematical models can be relied upon to assess noise levels from turbines, when clearly from experience, they cannot, and the same companies conveniently ignore that fact that in rural areas, background noise levels are generally extremely low. Our noise expert could not even measure the background noise level at one location, because it was too low to register on the meter.
Consistently, there are differences of opinion between expert witnesses where an application goes to a hearing. ISVR Consultancy Services, a self-supporting noise and vibration consultancy unit within the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton in the UK has indicated the reasons why:
Disagreement can happen where:
1. In the application, the company gives the manufacturer’s basic sound level of the WTG (wind turbine generator), but a different turbine is installed. This happened at the Tararua Wind Power Station. Different turbines, at greater heights were installed from those in the original application. Developers want the latest technology installed at construction date.
2. Although there is no absolutely reliable mathematical model to predict noise levels, especially in the case of hilly terrain, power companies will say that there is.
3. The power companies tend to "play-down" the subjective effect of noise from WTGs in terms of both aerodynamic noise and mechanical (tonal) noise.
4. The power companies assess the relevance of sleep disturbance criteria, based on absolute levels of noise rather than the exceedence over the background levels.
5. Assessments based on the loss of amenity including the enjoyment of gardens and other areas outside residential or rural / lifestyle properties, are often ignored and considered irrelevant by the power companies.
6. The applicability of Standards, as a means of assessing complaints due to noise from wind power stations.
Reported in Australia 2003, the new, "state of the art", "not noisy" turbines have caused noise nuisance for their human neighbours. They have caused sleep deprivation, mental anguish and annoyance. The noise can be heard a great distance from the turbines, despite the developers assurances that this would not happen.
The report comes too late for the communities affected.
One survey found that all but one of 14 people living near the Bears
Down wind farm at Padstow, Cornwall, where 16 turbines were put up two
years ago (the ‘new quiet turbines’), had experienced increased numbers
of headaches, and 10 said that they had problems sleeping and suffered
Other communities have also suffered medical problems in other parts of the country. We also have scientific evidence from other parts of Europe, which supports all these claims.
Unfortunately many in New Zealand, as in the UK, believe that wind power is ‘benign’, and as in the UK, as stated by one of the doctors, ""There is a public perception that wind power is 'green' and has no detrimental effect on the environment. However, these turbines make low-frequency noises that can be as damaging as high-frequency noises."
A fellow of the Institute of Physics and Institute of Acoustics, has endorsed the findings. "Low-frequency noise causes extreme distress to a number of people who are sensitive to its effects," it says.
The report goes on to say that:
"In Denmark, where wind turbines were introduced as long as 30 years ago, the government has responded to public demand and stopped erecting onshore turbines because of the noise hazard.
Dr Stephen Briggs, an archaeologist who lives in the village of Llangwryfron in West Wales, initially welcomed the news that 20 turbines were to be built in the hills behind his home.
He said: "I'm as green as the next man and the developers assured us that the windmills would cause hardly any disturbance, but once they began operating I couldn't work in my garden any more - the noise was unbearable. It was as if someone was mixing cement in the sky."
Two neighbours became ill from a lack of sleep and after four years of frustrated appeals, the Briggs family left their home of 17 years. House prices near to wind farms have also plummeted.
Mark Taplin, who has lived close to a wind farm near Truro in Cornwall for almost a decade, said: "It has been a miserable, horrible experience. They are 440 metres away but if I step outside and they are not generating I know immediately because I can hear the silence. They grind you down - you can't get away from them. They make you very depressed - the chomp and swoosh of the blades creates a noise that beggars belief."
We are aware of many noise problems and safety issues involving wind turbines in 2003 and 2004, too numerous to add. Our Comment:
New Zeand Standards are not statutory documents, yet local authorities appear to rely on them as if they are.
Claims are made that the wind power industry
is blossoming overseas:
The situation in Denmark, 2003 / 2004:
Recently reported in the a British newspaper, in January 2004 under the caption
‘DANISH LOVE STORY BLOWN OFF COURSE’, details of the decline in windpower in Denmark and the acknowledgement, (That) "there has been no fairytale ending to the story. The superficial impressions of boundless success masked a public disquiet about the financing and environmental impact of turbines. Many now feel that large areas of the landscape have been destroyed."
"In a country of 5.3 million people there were more than 600 representations to the Environmental Complaints Board about wind turbines between 1998 and 2000. And the headlines which had once depicted a story of unparalleled success were painting a less rosy picture: "Electricity users led by the nose"; "Local politicians benefit from wind projects" and also "Turbine swindle"".
Danish environmental journalist Pauli Anderson says "the situation had never been as clear and bright as presented". He told a British newspaper: "The opinion used to exist in Denmark that wind energy was the country's golden egg. But I think there has always been resistance to turbines, especially from the people living closest to them who complain about the noise and the effect on the environment."
"The changing mood has now been reflected by a steady shift in government policy. The government now has started to pull the plug on subsidies, including plans for three offshore windfarms".
"A lot of the subsidies in the mid-90s were quite large and there were a lot of turbines going up between 1993-98 because the prices for producing wind power were good. There were a lot of farmers who jumped in, and that was not wise from an environmental perspective," he said.
It has been clear for some time that wind power has not been the panacea the Danes envisaged.
Meanwhile, the Danish landscape has been changed beyond recognition. Very few new turbines are being erected, and the government has been reported as favouring biomass over wind power.
The two largest Danish wind power companies amalgamated at the end of 2003, a sign some Danes believe shows consolidation as a buffer against likely further contraction of the wind power industry.
Like Denmark there has been a downturn in the numbers of new turbines and the government has not given the incentives the industry had hoped it would. The "Wind Power Monthly" December 2003 reports "Bottom Taken Out of the German Market".
Wind Power Industry
The Wind Power Monthly magazine is predicting a significant decline for windpower for 2004, "With no US tax credits, rapid contraction of the German market, problems with the workings of the UK obligation, and Vestas-NEG Micon merging, uncertainty is running rife".
With Denmark, Germany and other European countries and the USA now appearing to be turning their backs to a certain extent on wind power, it would seem incongruous for New Zealand to start following a path that has not lead to significant reductions in CO2 emissions, but has lead to significant landscape degradation, destruction of wild life and caused nuisance and health problems for residents living nearby, especially when New Zealand already uses mainly renewable energy for its power supply.
New Zealand is in a very different position from Europe USA and Australia in its energy supply and population.
Australia burns coal for the vast majority of its electricity supply, for a far higher population than New Zealand.
The UK uses mainly nuclear and coal/gas, and with the same land area as New Zealand, has a population of 60 million. The population of New Zealand has just reached 4 million.
At present (2004), some 80% of New Zealand’s energy needs can be supplied from renewable energy, if companies do not spill water from the lakes, and use renewables over gas.
New Zealand should be extremely cautious when we can clearly avoid embracing wind power in inappropriate places. However, if wind power developers say wind power stations will only be economic if they are built near population bases, or in important landscapes, or lifestyle block areas, then there will be a greater benefit for the New Zealand environment if such windfarms are not constructed.
The majority of Makara residents live within 2km of ECNZ’s (possibly Meridian’s too) proposed wind power station, ( not really a ‘farm’). The public Makara Walkway enjoyed by thousands for its landscape and tranquillity, is also within 2km and sight of the whole proposal. This walkway features on the front cover of The Department of Conservation’s new ‘New Zealand Walkways’ booklet, published 2003. The many values associated with Quartz Hill have been well documented and acknowledged by many experts. This is a regionally significant area, an asset for Wellington City.
Several articles we have set out above, refer to solar initiatives.
New Zealand has a rich solar resource.
It has been reported overseas where there is a solar resource only around half of that of Wellington’s:
"Hi-tech methods for generating electricity or producing hot water have different economics to wind farms. This can be illustrated by Nieuwland, a new district of Amersfoort in the Netherlands, where every south-facing roof is photovoltaic (PV) with a total capacity of two megawatts, enough to provide all domestic power and a surplus for export. The local electricity company compared building a conventional power station with paying for solar roofs. The latter was more economic and sustainable."
In 2003, it was reported that the availability of solar initiatives for the German public since 1999, has resulted in an uptake in this technology 40% beyond expectation. The Government has a ‘100,000 solar roofs’ scheme, and by 2005, some 150,000 solar roofs will have been installed.
"Present PV technology has a low efficiency, converting only about 20% of solar energy into electricity. In the UK, during the year about 900kWh/m 2 falls. So, for a typical family consuming about 2,000kWh a year, there would have to be about 20m 2 of PV on the roof of each house. If all roofs in the UK had PVs then more electricity could be generated than is presently consumed. Another use of solar energy is in water heating. I installed solar water panels on my own house; they capture more energy and cost less than PVs. South-facing walls can also be used to capture solar power."
"In a new house, the cost of a PV roof is not very different from conventional slate or tile. With the long-term benefit of electricity generation it is surprising that all new houses are not being built with PV roofs."
Professor Lewis Lesley, Liverpool.
By 2005 Japan will have installed some 370,000 solar roofs.
Why is New Zealand, with its high solar resource, so far behind?
WHY NOT SOLAR FOR WELLINGTON CITY?
Solar is smart renewable energy alternative for an earthquake prone Capital City with an abundant solar resource and scenic landscape. There is no urgent need to supply all energy needs for the city, within the city. This was never essential in the past. We source our water from the Tararua Ranges, our gas comes from Taranaki; there is no compelling reason to be self sufficient in all needs.
THE CAPITAL CITY OF WELLINGTON ITSELF IS AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE FOR NEW ZEALAND, AND IT IS NOT RENEWABLE.
Wellington could become the solar city of New Zealand, and set an example to other cities. There is no reason why solar initiatives could not be built into the District Plan. Solar water heating has been viable for some considerable time, and it is now possible to install solar roofing and underfloor solar heating. Incentives could be provided by Wellington City Council or Government for such projects, rather than for wind power. Solar initiatives would result in less drawing of power from the grid, therefore less use of fossil based electricity generation, so reducing CO2 emissions.
It should be borne in mind that New Zealand’s main pollutants are transport and farm animals, not electricity generation, which accounts for only around 14% of the country’s total pollution figures. In other words, if you covered the country with turbines, less than 14% of our pollution would be saved. But what a loss for our country, its people, its scenic values and its tourism potential, if this should happen.
Using a combination of increased solar initiatives and energy efficiency, we could probably reach the same savings in CO2 as the wind power industry has boasted. This would happen sooner, rather than later, if the Government were to pay incentives to homeowners, rather than to the large generators; and would truly benefit New Zealand.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ ABOUT THE ISSUES, IT IS EXTREMEMLY IMPORTANT THAT WE DO NOT FOLLOW THE MISTAKES MADE OVERSEAS, IN THE BELIEF WE ARE HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT, WHEN WE WOULD IN FACT BE DOING THE OPPOSITE.
Visit these web sites for further information relating to the negative effects of wind turbine stations.
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