Sunday, 10 May 2009

Letter in support of Wind farms at Toft Hill, Moorsyde and Barmoor

You can send your own letter to Ruth MacKenzie, the Planning Inspector via

Dear Mrs MacKenzie,

APP/V2913/A/08/2079520 Appeal by Moorsyde Wind Farm Limited for site at Felkington, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 2NR
APP/V2913/A/08/2078347 Appeal by Catamount Energy Limited for site at Barmoor between Ford and Lowick
APP/V2913/A/08/2077474 Appeal by NPower Renewables Limited for site at Toft Hill, south west of Grindon.

I write in support of wind farm at all of the above locations. I am in favour of wind turbines in any location where:

  • it is economic to place them
  • where fragile ecosystems, which might, for instance be covered by allocating status of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), are not placed at risk.
  • where there are appropriate mitigations for interference with radar systems
  • where there is not collateral damage to the wider economy

None of the criteria above are met by the 3 applications, and it is therefore my view that all should go ahead.

On the economics of wind turbine location - previous views have already identified these areas as UK locations with well above average wind speeds, and the fact that several energy companies have already sought to make applications, and have persisted despite 5 years of blinkered opposition from a minority of well-connected residents indicates their commitment.

Nobody has, to my knowledge, claimed that these or any of the other locations being proposed in Northumberland, are host to threatened species or ecosystems, and none of them are in SSSIs.

On the subject of radar, the Ministry of Defence have offered up inconsistent positions, as shown at Wandylaw, where evidence was presented indicating that the MoD had previously accepted that the wind turbines would not cause problems to neighbouring radar stations, whilst the MoD representative himself appeared to oppose the development on the grounds that they would. In the light of this contradictory stance, I would suggest that the UK's future energy needs are not delayed by such prevarications. The recommendation should be to go ahead with the development, subject to certification that radar facilities can be modified, and upgraded if required, to eliminate this concern, which has been hyped up by anti-wind farm protesters who have as little understanding of radar technology as wind turbine technology, the national grid, or threats to bird life.

Finally, on the damage to the wider economy, I have rarely heard more disingenuous rubbish published as fact than on the subject of the impact of wind turbines on tourism. At no point has any reliable evidence been presented that tourism will suffer as a result of wind (a loaded questionnaire on people's intent to travel to an area once a demonic vision of hideous turbines has been presented does not constitute evidence). The south-west of England and Cumbria have both seen increases in tourism following installation of wind farms. Whilst this cannot be attributed to wind farms, no evidence suggests that areas with similar reliance on tourism which have not installed wind energy facilities have received greater numbers.

The final objection thrown at wind farms, about the aesthetics of them. Surveys continue to show that a large majority of people actually find wind turbines attractive. We should not let a vocal majority obscure this fact. I would like to see a longer-term view of aesthetics which considers the option of extreme weather events with ever-increasing frequencies, coastal settlements turned into ghost towns by encroaching seas, and food shortages in the developing world which leads to mass migrations of desperate, hungry people. Now that is aesthetically displeasing.

David Farrar


Clare Dakin said...

Dear Mr Farrar, have you ever visited the site of a 120m turbine and considered how you might feel if it and several like it were located 700 to 1000 metres from your home? I am one of the allegedly well connected objectors you refer to. I would like to invite you to see the Duddo Stone Circle 1.5 km from Toft Hill and the 50 homes within 700 to 1000m from Toft Hill. I would invite you to then visit Aikengall Wind Farm near Cockburnspath (as I have done) and consider the effect on residential amenity that will be suffered both in visual intrusion and noise effect at this site. I dont believe, if you have a soul, you have considered what this means for local people unless you yourself live as close as they will to turbines 112m high.

Regards Clare Dakin,, 07711 710436, Duddo Farm

William said...

"previous views have already identified these areas as UK locations with well above average wind speeds"

Mr Farrar

I do suggest that you check your facts (or the BERR wind speed database).

Even the Moorsyde developer acknowledges that:
”The fact [that] Felkington is on a low lying plateau means the wind conditions are relatively low”. (Bill Richmond, Your Energy Chairman. Berwick Advertiser, 20 October 2004).

It seems from this rant that you know very little about the area or the arguments.

Geoff Sample said...

Dear David

You say in your piece “Nobody has, to my knowledge, claimed that these or any of the other locations being proposed in Northumberland, are host to threatened species or ecosystems, and none of them are in SSSIs.” You might be interested to know that the proposed windfarm at Barmoor runs adjacent to an SSSI and other areas of semi-natural habitat, that provide for a whole range of species of conservation concern, including schedule 1 bird species and several known to be susceptible to collision with turbine blades. This as well as sites of prehistoric interest and associated cultutral history. It’s a vibrant landscape.

The system of outpost heaths stretching from Doddington North Moor, through Barmoor, Broomy Ridge and Ford Moss up to Etal Moor, are closer to lowland heath than upland moor. Lowland Heath is a UK BAP priority habitat. The reason it has not been recognised with any designation is more to do with the overstretched resources of Natural England (which all are taken up in protecting sites already designated) and the fact that this area is not very well known and little visited by conservation organisations based in the southern limit of the county.

I think I can claim to know the ecological communities of the Barmoor area as well as anyone and can produce for you a long list of threatened species that use the the area for breeding and wintering (please get in touch, if you’re interested - I’d prefer not reveal details of sensitive species in a public forum). Furthermore it provides an important link between the coastal habitats of Budle Bay to Lindisfarne, and the Till valley and more upland areas further inland. It is also one of the most reliable areas for my wildlife and ambient sound recording work. It encompasses a rich range of species and moasaic of habitats; it’s also very quiet, since it’s far enough from both the A1 and the A697 to escape the almost constant background noise from these roads. Such quiet is now very hard to find in lowland areas of Britain.

If you are basing your claims on the ornithological and ecological reports in the developer’s Environmental Statement, this suffered from omissions, incomplete surveys and misinterpretation of referenced articles. Some have said that this is only to be expected in a report paid for by the developer and produced by a consultant regularly employed by windfarm developers.

I agree with you, wind turbines are elegant structures. But like any massive man-made structures they are an intrusion in landscapes high in natural qualities. If these were the only areas available, then fair enough; but the vast majority of our land is already under urban or industrial development, intensive agriculture or some other utilitarian management system, where such large structures would not be out of place.

I have always held Friends of the Earth in great respect and felt that we aimed for the same goal, but I’m surprised by your naivety in trying to canvas support for such an inappropriately-sited industrial development. If you, and Friends of the Earth as an organisation, hope to maintain the spirit of the name with integrity, you should lobby the government to take its environmental responsibility more seriously and develop a strategy that identifies potential windfarm locations that don’t degrade the best of our remaining natural areas. Current sites are the product of political weakness and financial greed. And it’s the lack of respect for the natural environment that has got us into this mess in the first place.

Geoff Sample, Wooler.