Miss Nicola Yates North Shropshire District Council Edinburgh

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Miss Nicola Yates North Shropshire District Council Edinburgh Powered By Docstoc
					Miss Nicola Yates
North Shropshire District Council
Edinburgh House
New Street
Wem
Shropshire SY4 5DB

4th June 2008




NSDC ref: 08/00831/EIA

Thank you for the letter dated 16th May, inviting me to participate in your
consultation on the formation of a Wind Farm at Bearstone, Market
Drayton. As you know, I have always tried to leave planning matters to
the locally elected bodies in North Shropshire. I have made rare
exceptions where an issue had to be taken up at national level either
because a national body had overruled the local process or because
national policy had an overwhelming impact on my constituents.

Several years ago I opposed a proposal to build a large wind farm on the
Berwyn Hills straddling the Welsh/Shropshire border above Oswestry.
This would have had severely damaged the environment and a number of
businesses above Oswestry; the local campaign saw the application
withdrawn.

Currently, North Shropshire District Council is faced with an application
for a wind farm at Bearstone on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border. I
believe that this wind farm is only being proposed because of national
policy and state subsidy. I further believe that the national policy is
fundamentally flawed. It would have a disastrous impact on the
environment and economy of North East Shropshire. I am writing to you
to lodge my formal objection to the application on behalf of my
constituents.
                                                                                     2




In writing to you, however, I am aware that a flawed national policy is
not sufficient or indeed admissible grounds for rejecting a planning
application. The actual, legally admissible grounds for rejecting an
application are constrained by Planning Laws. However, I would suggest
that, where there is doubt as to the validity of the broader policy issues,
this could and should influence the weight given to admissible objections,
with the “ benefit of doubt” favouring those who oppose the application.

I have framed this letter to include both a critique of the national policy
issues and a review of the lack of utility of wind power generation, as
well as the local planning issues, as matters which I trust will be taken
into account in determining this application. The issues are set out below.

   1. Environmental Impact –loss of amenity

The presence of wind turbines in rural areas constitutes a major
degradation of the visual environment, therefore adversely affecting the
amenity value of the countryside. A wind farm is an industrial site of
vast proportions and a turbine is a huge and noisy machine. Tourism is
growing in importance in North Shropshire and would be choked off by
wind farms.

These wind turbines represent a loss of visual amenity, detracting from
the beauty and unspoiled nature of the countryside. Visual amenity is a
key factor in attracting tourists to Shropshire, the latter being a core part
of the strategic vision for the County, as set out in its statement on
“Strategic Vision and Development Principles. In particular, it states:

   The Vision is to establish Shropshire as a high quality rural tourism
                                     s
   destination that uses the area’ distinctive landscape, environment and
   heritage assets to provide unique opportunities for relaxing, short leisure
   breaks for couples and activity focused family holidays. At the same time
   Shropshire will continue to take full advantage of its proximity to key markets
   for the continued expansion of business tourism as well as day visitor
   facilities.

The establishment of wind turbines introduces an industrial plant to a
rural area; this is inconsistent with the aims of the strategic vision and
handicaps its implementation.
                                                                              3




As to details in terms of environmental degradation, there are also such
effects as “flicker” which can exacerbate the adverse visual effect. In
situations where low sun is behind wind turbines near sunrise and sunset
the blades cast shadows which may cause serious irritation and in some
sensitive individuals, physiological responses. The flicker rate is low –
one ‘ flash’every second or two with large turbines and in hilly areas with
large arrays of machines some properties may be exposed to flicker for
substantial periods during the day.

The consequences of shadow and reflective flicker are also apparent at
greater distances, making wind turbines much more obtrusive than static
                                                          s
structures of similar height. For this reason the industry’repeated
attempts to compare them with transmission towers (‘          )
                                                        pylons’are
deceitful – pylons do not move and are of a half or even a third of the
height of big turbines.

Audible noise is significant and considered to be highly distressing by
those affected by it. Keele University reports that sub-audible noise
(infra-sound) is considerable and can be perceived at a distance of many
miles.

   2. Wildlife

Shropshire is famed for the diversity of its wildlife and in particular the
variety of bird species, which are able to prosper in an agricultural
environment which has a high proportion of livestock farming and
supports such diversity. Apart from the ecological and environmental
benefits, this has an economic benefit as Shropshire now supports a
growing number of clubs and activity centres which rely on the presence
of a healthy and diverse wild bird population.

This development would have an adverse effect on the bird population.
Early in the development of wind power it was reported from various
parts of the world that birds were likely to be killed by rotor blades

Wind turbines are so gigantic that, though the rotor appears to be
travelling quite slowly, the blade tip velocity of a big machine often
exceeds 150 mph. Anyone who has struck a bird with a car will know that
even a 30 mph collision is lethal.
                                                                            4




A bird which just avoids a blade tip has only 1.2 to 1.3 seconds to dodge
the next blade, approaching from about 80 yards to 90 yards away on a
strongly curved path and probably outside the range at which many birds
would be aware of a moving hazard, even in good visibility.

A study was published in 2003 by Joris Everaert, Scientific Attaché,
Scientific Institute of the Flemish Community, Brussels. He reported
"The mean number in 2002 was 24, 35 and 18 birds per wind turbine per
year [at three locations]. It is important to know that the mentioned
numbers of victims have to be regarded as a strict minimum." and "The
number of collisions on the three studied locations seems to be dependent
on the number of passing birds, and in less degree with the size of the
wind turbine. Most of the victims were abundant present birds like gulls,
ducks and pigeons but we also found rarer species as Grey Heron,
Peregrine Falcon, Redshank, Common Tern, Little Tern and Stonechat."

In addition to Everaert's convincing figures for bird deaths we now have a
growing record of kills throughout Germany with its huge deployment of
turbines. Data from Archiv Staatliche Vogelschutzwarte, LUA
Brandenburg, T. Dürr, 11.09.2003 shows examples to date of red kite
deaths 28, kestrels 10, barnacle geese 6, mute swans 7 and in Spain,
griffon vultures 133.

Given this data and the positioning of the wind farm at Bearstone, no
development should be permitted.

   3. Equestrian Activities

In recent years a variety of horse related activities have developed in
North Shropshire. These now provide significant economic and leisure
activity which would be put in jeopardy by a wind farm. I am
particularly concerned about the Bearstone Stud which has built up a
significant national reputation and is a growing local employer. A wind
farm would deter quality mares from being sent to this stud.

   4. Imbalance of benefits
                                                                            5




Planning law, in principle, addresses the relative merits of an application
and the value of the development to the proposer, against the
disadvantages and potential advantages to the local community. There is
a general assumption that where there is a balance of advantage in
permitting a development, it should be approved.

However, there are no advantages to the community in this development.
Wind Energy is unsustainable without massive subsidy but the subsidy
goes to the land-owner and developer. The community does not gain
                                 s
from the development. At Nuon’exhibition in Woore, I asked one of
       s
Nuon’directors to list the specific benefits that this application would
bring to my constituents in North Shropshire; he was unable to name one.

Currently, an operator for a single 2 MW wind turbine operating at a 30
percent load factor will receive an annual subsidy of £235,000. The
Government took powers through the Utilities Act 2000 to impose an
obligation on licensed suppliers in Great Britain to source specified
amounts of electricity from renewable sources.

The Renewables Obligation places an obligation on electricity suppliers
to purchase a percentage of qualifying renewably generated electricity but
it also forces a consumer-sourced 'subsidy' to be paid to the renewable
generator. During the year 2004-5 the obligation stood at 4.9 percent of
qualifying electricity, rising to 10 percent by 2010.

The mechanism of payment results in an increase in electricity price to all
consumers, whether or not they subscribe to a 'green tariff'. Few
consumers are aware of this fact and neither government nor wind power
developers apprise them of it. The complexity of this system is
deliberately obscure in an attempt to conceal the fact that the RO is
effectively a hidden tax on all electricity consumers and a huge hidden
“          to
 subsidy” providers of renewable energy - larger indeed than any
subsidy in history.

It is only this cleverly sourced covert “ subsidy”  which allows wind
turbines to be built at all. Paul Golby, the chief executive of E.ON UK
(formerly Powergen), said: “    Without the renewable obligation certificates
nobody would be building wind farms.”       (Daily Telegraph 26 March
2005).
                                                                          6




In addition to the huge “ for-life”operating subsidy on electricity income,
substantial capital subsidy is available for some wind power projects. A
recent question in the House of Commons revealed that the taxpayer
supported a total capital subsidy to offshore wind farms of £34.7 million
pounds in 2004-2005 (Hansard 23 Jan 2006: Column 1770W).

As if there was not enough public money being funnelled into the pockets
of wind developers, the Lottery fund has also been raided to provide yet
more. The Burbo Bank 90 MW offshore station due to be completed in
2010 has been awarded a “ Lottery”
                          Big           grant of £10.4 million.

   5. Cost to the Community

The cost per KWh of electricity generation for various systems is: gas
fired 2.2p, nuclear power (including cost of decommissioning) 2.3p, coal
fired 2.5-3.2p, onshore wind 5.4p and offshore wind 7.2p (the latter two
figures include costs of standby generation). In other words, the cheapest
form of wind power is 2½ times the cost of nuclear or gas power.
Source: Royal Academy of Engineering, 10 March 2004.

The imbalance of costs is highlighted by the chief executive of E.ON, Mr
Paul Golby (Daily Telegraph, 4 June 2008) who has criticised the
“quality of debate”                   s
                    about the country’energy future, highlighting the
flawed notion that moving towards renewables was cheaper. “ must
                                                               We
dispel the myth that renewables are cheap. Because we have been silent
                            t
on this, people think it won’cost anything.”

In effect, the community is being asked to pay a premium for their energy
costs and suffer a degradation of their environment, for no overall benefit
and without an open or adequate debate. This means that the debate must
be carried out at a local level, in the context of specific planning
applications.

   6. Unreliability, with illusory CO2 savings

The particular benefit claimed by the Government is CO2 saving, an
                                               s
objective required in pursuit of the Government’policy of tackling
climate change. However, the claimed benefits for wind energy are
                                                                             7




illusory. Because the wind blows sufficiently to generate useful
electricity, typically, only 30 percent of the time, there must be back-up
capacity available to make up the shortfall for when the wind is not
blowing.

For instance, in the last two days of May and the first two days of June
this year, there was no wind in the UK appreciably above 2 knots. It was,
therefore, unlikely that the system was producing enough power to pay-
back transmission loss. Most probably, the yaw motors were absorbing
more electricity than was produced.

Typically, anticyclonic conditions which produce periods of calm
coincide with the hottest periods in the summer and the coldest periods in
winter, when electricity demand is likely to be at its highest. The
installation of wind farms, therefore, is an investment in a system which
produces no appreciable benefit when the need is greatest, despite the
significant economic and other costs borne by the community.

Further, it is generally and widely acknowledged that the National Grid is
fragile and overstretched, no more so in the aftermath of multiple power
cuts on 27 May of this year, after the failure of two major power stations
and a number of generation units.

The provision of small packets of energy, widely distributed in areas not
previously power centres –   producing intermittent and highly variable
energy levels, risks destabilising the Grid, precipitating power cuts –as
happened in Germany in 2006, when a local disruption of the power
supply triggered a cascade failure blacking out large areas of Europe.

Against this, the effects of savings on greenhouse emissions are vastly
                               s
overstated. The Government’own figure of 9.2 million tons CO2
savings (from the totality of renewable energy) by 2010 is less than the
emission from one medium-sized coal-fired station –  less than four ten-
thousandths of global emissions. Thus, even if we reach our targets, this
has no chance of affecting climate change.

Up to 90 percent of the capacity must be permanently online to guarantee
power supplies at all times and to avoid destabilising the grid. This effect
                                                                            8




reduces potential savings by the same factor – percent. It also destroys
                                              90
any economic argument.

As opposed to nuclear power, the reliance on wind power would actually
lead to an increase in emissions. Back-up must be immediately
responsive –  which is not possible from nuclear plants which must be
operated continuously. Therefore, the back-up must itself be equipment
which emits CO2.

Yet advocates of wind power even argue that wind power is essential to
“ the threat of nuclear power, which would leave a legacy of nuclear
 end
waste that will remain a threat to our health and the environment for
hundreds of thousands of years.”(Yes2Wind website)

This is untrue. The variable nature of wind power prevents it from
displacing nuclear generation which provides continuous peak output and
is best suited to “
                  base-load”  supply. Wind power is irrelevant to any
discussion of nuclear as it cannot provide such uninterrupted generation.

The experience of the Swaffham wind turbine, according to Tom L.
Kendall, Registered Geophysicist and trained Electrical Engineer is that:

The meters at the base of the tower showed that, in the first 26 months of
operation, 7.5 million kilowatt hours of energy were sold into the grid
system during an operational period of 17,000 hours. The nominal
maximum power output is 1.5 megawatts (1500 kilowatts) but, from the
figures above, the average output was only 440 kilowatts, just about
enough to boil 200 kettles.

This means that the largest wind turbine in the UK, described as “  the
        s
world’most efficient wind turbine”     (Kentish Express, July 2002)
delivers an average of less than half of one megawatt. This provides a
                                            s
pitifully unreliable contribution to the UK’requirement which is an
average of 45,000 MW of secure, controllable supply of electricity.

                                                              More
Niels Sandøe, in his article "Flere Vindmøller Skaber Kaos", (“
                               ).
Wind Turbines Cause Chaos” published by Jyllands Posten 4th June
2003 shows that there are chronic problems in Denmark with balancing
supply.
                                                                             9




The problem for Western Denmark lies in balancing the supply of
electricity with demand. Electrical power supplied must balance the
power demand plus transmission losses at every second of the day. If this
balance is not achieved there will be an automatic disconnection of either
supply (to prevent physical damage to generating plant) or of loads
(blackouts).

Conventional plant has to be run in conjunction with the unpredictable
wind generators and their output varied in order to provide a cushioning
effect. When large changes in wind power occur beyond the capability of
such conventional plant to compensate, then the assistance of
neighbouring systems has to be called upon.

In windy conditions the surplus of Danish wind power has to be dumped
somehow. Help is secured from Germany, Sweden or Norway who
accommodate Denmark by accepting low or zero priced electrical energy.
Germany has, at times, the same problem as Denmark because of its own
wind turbine concentration in the same region.

There are frequent large falls in price. Both countries need to get rid of
their uncontrollable excess of wind electricity at whatever price they can
get. When the supply of electricity from wind is suddenly reduced by a
deficiency of wind, the coal and gas fired generator companies must be
online to take up the demand and for this service they charge a premium.

The whole system is crazy and can only operate because Denmark has
neighbours who are only too keen to receive cheap electricity and because
the previous "green" government was willing to support the vast costs
involved. The present Danish government is trying to sort out the mess.

Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries said “ green terms
                                                          In
windmills are a mistake and economically they make no sense. Many of
us thought wind was the 100 percent solution for the future but we were
                                                        s
wrong. In fact, taking all energy needs into account, it’only a three
percent solution.” Aase Madsen, the MP who chairs energy policy in the
Danish parliament said “ our industry it has been a terribly expensive
                          For
disaster.”
                                                                           10




The Danish experience supports the message that the Royal Academy of
Engineering has been trying in vain to put across to our government. The
Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Institution of Chemical
Engineers have also been forecasting an energy crisis and potential
blackouts if their warnings go unheeded.

Unless the UK learns from the Danish experience we shall be landed with
a far greater problem than that of Western Denmark. Comparatively, the
UK has very limited options for disposing of surplus electricity and the
more intermittent wind power we use in the UK, the more fossil fuel is
needed for back-up; this increases the CO² emissions and the financial
cost.

   7. Impractical

The Bearstone proposed development, is framed in the context of it being
necessary in assisting the government to meet its renewable target for
2020.

In support of this contention, Professor Ian Fells, Chairman of the New
and Renewable Centre (NaREC) has calculated that to meet the
             s
government’target for 2020, we would have to install 20 x 2MW wind
turbines every week from now until 2020.

It has been announced that these will be mostly offshore, but also onshore
installations – with leases for 25GW capacity announced on 3 June.
There is no certainty as to where all these wind turbines will go or what
they will cost to install along with the enormous cost of the new
transmission lines (additional huge pylons marching over the countryside)
needed to deliver the intermittent supply of electricity to the national grid.
The grid itself will have to be reconfigured at further great cost –
estimated at over £10 billion, for which no financial provision has been
made. It is designed to transport power from large central power stations
to the periphery; wind power will require it to do exactly the opposite.

Investors and insurers are proving extremely reluctant to back such a high
risk enterprise. Hence the wind industry is lobbying the government to
underwrite investment to the tune of £12 billion. In other words, if the
whole experiment fails, the taxpayer will have to bail them out. In
                                                                         11




addition to the huge extra cost of windpower and its transmission
consumers will have to bear the cost of the back-up supply.

This is the main reason that Danish consumers are burdened with the
highest electricity prices in Europe –nearly double those of the UK.

Germany has over 14,000 wind turbines which have not caused the
closure of one nuclear power station. Helmut Alt, science engineer at
RWE, one of Germany's largest utility companies has said that most of
Europe can lie under high-pressure with not a breath of wind for days. In
winter these conditions bring frost and fog, so demand for heat and light
soars. The only thing power companies can do is bring conventional
systems back into play. "Even if the wind fails to blow for no more than
one hour a year," Alt says, "we can't afford to shut down existing plants."
A blackout of just one millisecond causes chaos in computers and timing
devices. Without power, hospital patients can die, central heating stops,
freezers thaw out, TV and videos go haywire.

   8. Building Works

In addition to the wind turbines themselves, environmental impact is
created by the foundations, the access roads and transmission lines.

The hole excavated for a turbine's foundation has a volume of 200 - 800
m3 depending on site conditions. This would need a maximum of about
1700 tonnes of concrete and aggregate for a gravity base. Only a quarter
or less of the concrete will be cement - the energy intensive component
which emits CO2 in manufacture.

An average gravity base for a 2.5 MW turbine requires about 40
truckloads of concrete - up to about 250 m3 compared with only 40 m3
for the smaller 250 kW turbines, common a few years ago (Civil
Engineering, November 2005).

In respect of the Bearstone proposal, this is a known rainwater catchment
area, and the installation of large masses of concrete into the subsoil
structure will have an unknown effect on the hydrology. Small changes
can have unforeseen effects and these are not small changes.
                                                                         12




It is appropriate here to note that, by contrast, a one gigawatt of
generation by a large power station is a very different matter from a
          s
gigawatt’worth electricity from 1666 two-megawatt turbines spread
over perhaps 500 square km of countryside needed. The large network of
low voltage transmission lines results in substantial line losses compared
with that of the single high voltage super-grid line linking a power station
to often nearby industry.

Construction of the power lines raises another problem. There is as much
opposition to power lines in open country as there is to wind turbines.
The two are of course interdependent and numerous low power wind
generators will inevitably create many miles more power line.

   9. House Prices

A valuer in mid-Wales has suggested a probable 25 percent reduction in
house value caused by a proposed windfarm (Remax E.A. 2005) and at
Lethbridge in Devon, two independent valuers predicted that a farm
property will similarly lose £165,000 in value (Sunday Telegraph January
2005).

   10.Telecommunication and Television

Wind turbines can interfere with telecommunications signals including
TV and radio, mainly by the multi-path effect, where there is corruption
or distortion of the received signal by the secondary signal. Uniquely with
wind turbines this may “  chop” signal causing variable “
                                 the                          ghosting”or
“           on
 jittering” the TV picture.

The effects of wind power fall into two main categories: effects on
broadcast television and effects on fixed radio links, mostly at microwave
frequencies. Wind turbine effects on television reception are generally
found where the TV is situated between a wind farm and the TV
transmitter. Modern composite blades have less effect than older metal
rotors but embedded lightning conductor strips may negate the advantage.

Reception solutions may require the use of a more sensitive aerial or
aiming it at a different transmitter. More expensive remediation may need
a re-broadcasting mast, satellite or cable supply to affected householders.
                                                                          13




   11. Aviation

Aviation and radar issues have long been a major source of complaint for
the wind industry. This is because wind turbines can interfere with radar
systems and be a collision risk for low-flying aircraft. These concerns
have resulted in a significant number of planning objections, particularly
from the Ministry of Defence.

The main effect of wind turbines on air-traffic control radar is due to the
rotation of the blades. The radar may “            one
                                       illuminate” turbine on one
sweep, then a different one on the next sweep, producing shifting radar
returns sometimes referred to as “            on
                                   twinkling” the radar screen.

Interference with radar and remote sensing is not the only problem for
military aircraft. Wind generators are now reaching 140m (500 feet)
above ground level. This is not high compared to the normal flying height
of most aircraft but for some it is. RAF Shawbury plays a vital, national,
strategic role training helicopter pilots for all three services. Shawbury
sustains 1500 jobs and puts £20 million into the local economy. I would
not want to see any projects in North Shropshire that would create
problems for trainee pilots.

The last Station Commander at RAF Shawbury expressed grave concerns
about the development which resulted in my letter to the Secretary of
State for Defence and his response, a copy of which I attach. I have
written to the Secretary of State again and spoke to him in person last
night to confirm the concerns that have already been detailed.

   12. Conservation

The cost to the consumer of wind energy is huge. The Energy White
Paper (DTI, 2003) says that by 2010, the renewables industry will receive
£1 billion per year from the Renewables Obligation and Climate Change
Levy and all consumers will pay this.

Energy saving bulbs can be bought for £2 - £3. A lamp rated at 20W is of
equivalent brightness to a 100W incandescent lamp and so each one in
use saves the consumption of 80W. If we spent a third of the £1billion
                                                                          14




per year to give a free energy-saving lamp to all UK Householders we
would save more energy at less cost.

   13.Alternatives

I am a strong believer in renewable energy but I do not believe that it
needs to be subsidised or that it should damage the environment. Local
                                                      s
campaigners have told me that 10 percent of France’electricity is
generated by the river Rhone. The river Severn and a number of its
tributaries flow through Shropshire 24 hours a day. I am a keen supporter
of rebuilding the 18th Century weirs to help control flooding, make the
river navigable again but above all generate renewable energy in an
entirely reliable and unobtrusive manner.

   14. Conclusion

It is exceptional for me to send a letter of this nature to North Shropshire
District Council but I feel strongly that planning authorities such as
NSDC are being put under intolerable pressure by the Government to
force through its misguided policy on wind energy.

As I have made clear above, I am opposed emphatically to this national
policy which is flawed at every level. I would be grateful if you could
pass on my unremitting opposition to this proposed scheme to your
planning committee. Should your council be pressured by Government
agencies, I would be more than happy to take this up at ministerial level.

I believe that this planning proposal would cause lasting damage to my
constituents, to the local economy and environment. I would be grateful
if you would confirm your receipt of this letter which represents my
formal objections to this proposal.

Yours sincerely




Owen Paterson MP

				
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