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Page last updated at 09:52 GMT, Monday, 15 November 2010
Fears wind farm would ruin Somerset Levels
Wind farm (generic)
About 60 people attended a meeting in East Huntspill to discuss the plans

Plans to put 14 turbines on the Somerset Levels have been met with stiff opposition at a public meeting.

Energy firms EDF Energy and Ecotricity have begun an initial consultation to build the turbines although no planning application has yet been submitted.

Campaigners against the proposals say the Levels are an area of outstanding natural beauty and that it should be protected from "man-made" objects.

Ecotricity said the wind turbines would have little environmental impact.

Spokesman Mike Cheshire said in the right location, wind farms have "no negative impact on wildlife".

He added that the company would like to build the turbines in Brent Knoll because it was a "windy spot".

"We have done our research and even before these proposals went in we had a full-time ecologist looking at environmental impact and one thing you can't mitigate against is what they look like - you can't hide them.

"It really boils down to whether people like the look of them or not and surveys show 80-90% of people like the look of them.

"It is just the few people who don't or don't want them in their backyard who tend to form themselves into pressure groups and create a lot of noise."

'Pay in someway'

Some of the people creating noise include Brian Davey-Crosby from East Huntspill who said turbines were "inefficient".

Although he is not against them, he says there is "a place for them and that isn't on public's back doorstep".

Mark Newton, an expert in wind power, said the turbines should be placed in areas where they were not going to cause damage to wildlife, particularly migrating birds.

However, placing them in locations such as offshore farms cost twice as much to build as onshore ones.

Although Ecotricity have had numerous attempts to build wind farms, including one at Cucklington, near Wincanton turned down, that has not put them off.

Mr Cheshire said: "We all have to take responsibility for where our energy comes from in the future, it has to come from somewhere and we all have to pay for it in someway."


What do you think? Is it irresponsible to future generations for us not to invest in alternative energy or would it forever blight this natural area?

Let us know by filling the form in below and we'll publish a selection of your comments here.

I have lived in the area for 21 years and have put up with the noise from the M5 which in the summer prevents conversation in the garden, the now closed explosives factory, whose tannoy could be heard for miles (not to mention the detonations), farm machinery to mention a few.

The turbines will only make a noise when it is windy and it will be drowned out by the noise from the trees. This is a feeble reason.

Unsightly, well the fact that they live there means that the area has already been spoiled. I am not talking about farmers but the incomers who can afford to pay more than young locals for cottages so they can get away from the city where they made their money.

Most of the other reasons given are fabricated to support their feeble objections.

The fact is that the country is running out of power. There haven't been any significant new coal fired power stations built for 30 years. Over 70% of our energy comes from coal and most of the stations were built when T Rex were top of the charts and before. There are not going to be any built without CCS; a technology still in the lab so don't bank that as an option. It takes more than 10 years to complete a nuclear power station and they only provide 20% when they are all running (which seldom happens).

The only option left is for all of us to reduce our consumption drastically (50-70%) and install local renewable power. If we don't, soon, we will be up to our necks in sea water in the dark. Seriously, business as usual is not an option so get your head out of the sand and think about your grandchildren.

If the survey shows that the site is suitable get building, that goes for solar, sustainable bio and heat pumps.

The trouble is our collective nature is to leave it until we reach crisis point then panic. You NIMBYs will be the first and loudest to complain that you have no power, how will that affect your house price?
Bill, Puriton

I cannot comment on your situation directly as I live in a beautiful peninsula/island in Lake Ontario, Canada called Prince Edward County/Quinte Isle, which is being torn apart by various proposed industrial wind farms. Our provincial government has legislated away the rights of municipalities to decide for themselves if and where Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) can be located. Many concerned groups have arisen in Ontario and this weekend Prince Edward County is hosting the First International Symposium on adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines. Hosted by The Society for Wind Vigilance which was formed in response to the growing number of health complaints arising internationally with the arrival of industrial wind developments near homes. Other speakers from UK, US and Canada. We are fighting to preserve our right to live in a safe environment and as part of a major North American bird migratory route we are also fighting to protect thousands of birds that are threatened by these massive (150m) structures.
Lori Smith, Picton, Ontario, Canada

Put them out at sea we don't want them spoiling our landscape and what about all the wild life which must be affected i.e swans herons buzzards,and even the starlings we don't need the wind farms let them build another power station at hinkley point where it doesn't spoil the landscape.
Jeff and Sandy, West Huntspill

Moving wind turbines can cause radar blackout zones were airplanes diseaper from radar screens. Given the Somersetlevels are used by the military for high and low levelflying ,will these turbines pose an unacceptable risk to training, testing,and national security and the local population with the high risk of an air accident. What other risks will this wind farm produce for civil avation air traffic using Bristol and Cardiff airports.
David Morgan, Woolavington, Somerset

The Wind turbines planned in the West Huntspill area will not impact me at my home from what I can make out, but I object to my taxes being used in the subsidies given to the companies putting them up from the UK and the EU being used in this way.

They are extremely inefficient in the way they make electricity which means that only the companies and landowners actually benefit.

Who can remember fog horns? They were of a low pitch frequency because low pitches travel further - the noise made from wind turbines is low in frequency and therefore will impact all the villages around them.

The 'flicker' is a problem and if you just do a little research you can see this for yourself.

Having read some of the other posts there seems to be an assumption that it will be either the wind turbines or a conventional power station (gas, coal or nuclear). Unfortunately, where ever this is a wind farm there will be a power station of some description near by - why? The wind is unreliable.

Unreliability, the National Grid apparently pays wind farms at times not to have their electricity because of their unreliability of producing electricity when it is actually needed.

Many countries have restrictions as to how far away wind turbines should be away from dwellings. It is extremely sad that the UK has nothing. This means that EDF, a French company who are planning to put up 9 of these turbines will put in planning permission knowing full well that they would be unable to do so in law if this were France. This just shows this is all about money and nothing to do with 'saving the planet'.

I am not a 'sheep' and therefore I have never just followed the crowd. This means that I have made it my business to do the research and make my own mind up. There is so much evidence out there and therefore, I am appalled that the public is not getting all the facts.

Did you know that there is a test case going through the courts at the moment in Lincolnshire and being paid by a home insurance company? Would large insurance companies take the time and in particular money to fight such a test case to fight the effects of a wind farm on one of their customers and their property if they did not feel it was worth while?

Need I say anymore? Except, if the UK and EU subsidies were used to install solar panels to all the residents in the villages that would be directly affected it would generate far more electricity than if these planned wind turbines could ever hope to generate even at full capacity. Would that not be a much better use for the money?
Caroline King, West Huntspill

A quick analysis of the comments would seem to show that if you don't live in the Huntspill area then you are in favour of Wind Farms. Now there's a surprise!! Where does Mr Ecotricity live? I am in favour of alternative technologies for power generation but these are monstrous. I am not that close and don't believe they will affect us. No one here wants them, including me.
Steve, West Huntspill

I am probably the worst person to ask anything about green energy and how it's implemented. Quite frankly it makes me and it seems the average person see red!!!

Stop kidding yourself we are going to change. stop harping on about the need to live that eden life style. Stop and realise the majority of the uk it appears lives for energy no matter how it's made or where it comes from. We all have daily battles of our own like family, health, money. So i conclude to your reddish green energy campaigners/instigators, by the comments below you are turning our fair green lands into a war zone? unsettling communities by disturbing the village beasts that have layed quiet for centuries.

I can tell you de-value their homes for the sake of your piece of mind. The homes that villages have worked so hard to build and keep together. Then wind farms will become just that......a load of hot and cold air. Which is a shame for everyone taking part! In this penalty shoot out as history dictates England always loses.
David Trotham, Bristol and West Huntspill

Some valid points made by people for both sides of the debate. However i would like to suggest the comments from people miles away from these proposed wind farms are made from an idealistic view point with no regard to the lives of thousands of people who will be living within the area, which is well documented, can cause very real effects to peoples health and lives. These effects are being reported all over the world with differing responses from the authorities.

The costs (again tax payers money) of the numerous appeals could be saved, and many people's lives being blighted could be prevented if the government adopted a sensible policy on this matter, aligned itself with the many European countries who set minimum distances from occupied dwellings. Instead they chose to bury their heads in the sand and be dictated to by energy companies, "green lobbyists" and wind turbine manufacturers.

Then they can be sited in harmony with the environment and local people. Thus meeting everybody's needs including the these developers who continue to make money of of this issue while we all pay.
Phil, East Huntspill

EDF Energy and Ecotricity propose 9 & 5 wind turbines respectively, to be sited on the Somerset Levels close to the Huntspill River National Nature Reserve.

We have lived in West Huntspill for many years and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the village and surrounding countryside. This will be completely destroyed by the imposition of these huge industrial machines.

The potential impacts of the installation of these monstrous machines regarding noise, shadow flicker and, perhaps most importantly the visual impact such huge structures will have to the detriment of the character of the area need to be seriously considered by the planning authorities.

We are not against green energy providing it is in the right place, preferably at sea or in an industrial area such as Avonmouth.

Why is a safe distance of at least 2 kilometres from any occupied dwelling not imposed in this country as is the case in many European countries?

The nearest homes to the proposed Wind Turbines will be only just over 500 meters away. This is far too close and will significantly affect local resident's quality of life.

Wildlife also suffers as was demonstrated by an article in the Telegraph only last month. Despite being told by the power company that they could expect one bird death in twelve months, a staggering 14 have been killed in six months. This small turbine at a primary school in Portland, Dorset has now been switched off to avoid further distress to the children.

If you take away the indirect subsidies that are paid in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC's) from which the companies installing them and the landowners stand to make huge financial gain and are paid for from 'our', the tax payers money, then they wouldn't even be considering installing them in the first place as they are simply not cost effective.

This is all about greed and has nothing at all to do with creating green energy.
Julie Trott & John Wakefield, West Huntspill Action Group

I think Wind Turbines are wonderful and having grandchildren I do worry about their future and what will happen to their environment. But I do wonder about what will happen to the Somerset levels which are outstanding. Anything higher than a church steeple sticks out like a sore thumb so what with the plans to put huge electricity pylons and now wind turbines there, it will begin to look like an industrial estate. The 'Levels' are also home to thousands of migrating birds. Areas like Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall as well as Slimbridge should be considered. I used to live in North Devon on the top of a hill and our local council tried to put windmills on the top of there but it was blocked as damaging the skyline. I have been to many windfarms and they are beautiful and there is not a lot of noise But if they are to go on the Levels due consideration must be given to surrounding areas. I do wonder about the distraction to drivers on the M5 as well.
Diana, Bridgwater

They are our energy salvation, could be painted in Camouflage. Do not object except for distance from residential properties. They do look better than Burnham on sea!
Al, Huntspill

I find these 2CV driving Green Vegetarians to be totally out of touch with reality. Quote "Birds sitting in the country watching wind turbines"?? Yes the levels are evolving. Removal of the scars from peat workings and the development of nature reserves and the reintroduction of species. Somewhere of peace and tranquillity that should not be blighted by High Voltage over ground cables and row upon row of concrete and steel.
David, Weston-super-Mare

Am I a nimby?
If I am ,then I would like to put my point across within all of these comments.
After my visit to the meeting I knew nothing about turbines except that when I drove past them on the way to Cornwall I thought - what wonderful looking things - big- and probably doing a good job!

Facts are;----
1 . They never earn in energy what they cost to build and run with energy used now and are lifed for 20 years.
2.They only run at 25% of rated value because of the wind.
3.They will be paid for by the tax payer-(you)-- a extension on local nuclear plant is paid for by power company.
4.They cannot produce power when needed; when there is a demand surge the wind cannot be turned up and power cannot be stored.
5.They are built, installed, operated by non uk workers.
6. Eyesore and kill scores of birds.
So, here we have industrial turbines planted in the middle of a wonderful area of nature and beauty, they don`t pay for themselves, don't cost power company anything, they cost us, generate power when it's not needed, giving jobs to foreigners.
Put them on high moor land where there are no houses to see them and there is more wind ?
As I say to the pro greens--- would you want to buy my 75% recently devalued house at full price so you can invite your friends around to view the industrial site from the lounge window?
I think not! You prefer to campaign from a safe distance in your nice house.

I have to tell my son in years to come--- Here`s your inheritance son , sorry it`s not worth much but you've been sacrificed for the political common con? Green!
Ian, Woolavington

A number of European countries are insisting that Wind Farms can only be located at least 2km from any human habitation and France imposes a no go area of 500 meters around wind farms.
Many of the properties set within the immediate area to the wind turbines proposed by Ecotricity for Black Ditch, West Huntspill and EDF Energy for Withy Grove, East Huntspill, will be situated much closer to the proposed Wind Turbines than is recommended and considered safe by many European countries.
As more turbines are built, more accidents occur and recorded statistics prove this with a general upwards trend in accident numbers over the past 10 years.
By far the biggest numbers of incidents found are due to blade failure. "Blade Failure" can arise from a number of possible sources and result in either whole blades or pieces of blade being thrown from the turbine.
Pieces of blade are documented as travelling over 1300m in Germany; blade pieces have gone through roofs and walls of nearby buildings.
Why is the safety of the British Public of so little importance that regulations regarding the safe distance of Turbines are ignored?
Quote National Wind Watch-05-01-09
"On Saturday night an Ecotricity wind turbine at their Fen Farm site in Conisholme, North Lincolnshire, suffered catastrophic failure in freezing conditions. Two huge blades were severely damaged after apparently making contact with the tower. One blade fell to the ground, only after shedding large pieces of debris from height over a wide area."
These issues around Wind Turbine safety in cold weather are not new.
Please consider carefully the real problems over safety that Wind Turbines have, when sited too close to houses to be safe.
Are UK lives and quality of life really so inferior to other parts of Europe?
Julie and Brian, West and East Huntspill

When people complain about alternatives to fossil fuel energies, and the impact it will have on the prettiness of the landscape, don't they realise that these pretty landscapes won't exist for much longer? The Somerset Levels will be one of the first environments to disappear under water - houses, businesses, the lot! Is this what it will take before people realise that we no longer have the luxury to be blinkered about global warming? Alternative energy sources are one of our few chances of delaying the effects. Personal opinions on aesthetics are no longer relevant I'm afraid. Who doesn't want the natural landscape to remain untouched? Too late for all that now, though. Humans need to wake up and take some responsibility for the planetary mess we're in. We have to think as global citizens and make some tough decisions. We have no choice.
Maya, Puriton

This reaction seems to be universal amongst the local population of any new development. These turbines will provide low carbon energy and jobs in an economically troublesome time. Furthermore this area is likely to flood in with a minimal sea level rise. This would radically alter the levels in a far more profound manner than wind turbines.
Tom Johnston, Abergavenny

@ Julie Trott - It's depressingly obvious that your experience with Wind turbines is limited to hearsay. Having stood directly underneath one of the 3 turbines at Bristol Port, driven past the turbine @ Reading and been in the field across from another turbine I can honestly say there is little to no sound.
As previously mentioned, Shadow Flicker is a very rare occurrence, but it is taken extremely seriously and there are measures taken to ensure it does not occur (such as turning the turbine off automatically when/if the sun be bright enough & in the right position to cause it).
I'm pretty sure access to sites is seriously considered before even applying for permission to build turbines. Roads are extremely expensive and no company wants to take on extra, and unnecessary costs.
@ H. J. - So it's next to a beautiful site?? Where would that logic end? Could a wind turbine be placed somewhere that's next to somewhere that's next to a beautiful site?. Plus, I would argue that steam trains are the very symbol of industrialism (considering their role in the "revolution") so surely these turbines would be well placed.
I also liked the comment "The Mainline train track is not at all intrusive and is in fact a feature"... that's something that's strikingly similar to comments about Wind turbines throughout the country, by both locals and passer-bys. If anything they're a feature, just as much as any train track and certainly more than any alternative method of electricity generation.
TR, Stroud

I live in the local area and regularly visit and walk near to the proposed `Black Ditch` wind farm site. I find the post by Mike Cheshire from Ecotricity misleading, painting a very negative picture of the lovely area, in which I have lived all of my life. Next to the proposed `Black Ditch` site is the beautiful Huntspill river which is in fact a National Nature reserve.
The landfill site is being landscaped and returned to green fields over the next few years. The Mainline train track is not at all intrusive and is in fact a feature, with four steam trains passing through every weekend during the summer. Ecotricity's Wind Turbines at Avonmouth are within an industrial site and are therefore in keeping with the area within which they are sited.
I am not opposed to wind turbines, but do feel that they need to be considerately positioned where they will have little impact on the area and wildlife.
The proposed Wind Turbines on the `Black Ditch site will be 400ft high. Sited within the Somerset levels they will be totally out of character with the natural surroundings of the area and buildings within it.
H. J. Highbridge

I'm afraid that many of the claims made in a previous post are either misinformed, wildly exaggerated or simply untrue.

New roads (they won't be any), shadow flicker (an uncommon condition in a particular combination of circumstances which we plan against as much as is possible, not "the whole summer"), noise (turbines are quiet enough to hold a normal conversation directly under, not "horrific"), illness-causing vibrations (simply not true) and threats to "a beautiful area being destroyed forever" (the site is beside a landfill site, and sandwiched between the M5 motorway, A38 and main train line).

Those wanting to make their own mind up can come along to a public exhibition in late April/early May, and Ecotricity is also planning a visit to an existing turbine so people can see (and hear) what they're really like up-close for themselves.
Mike Cheshire, Ecotricity

Extensive access road construction will be needed before the turbines are brought to the site. Roads will have to be built across green fields to allow the site to be developed. 1,000 tons of cement and steel are needed to erect EACH Turbine.

The villages will then be left with five turbines for the next 25 years. They cause shadow flicker. Imagine how distressing it would be living the whole summer with a light flickering on and off all the time, as the sun shines through the Wind Turbines moving blades, not unlike the annoyance of the persistent dripping of a tap.

They will have lights on the top to protect against aircraft strike, which will mean we will have to endure blinking red lights all night.

They will make a noise - some types of turbines themselves are relatively quiet, it is the blades moving through the air that make an horrific noise. The vibration caused by the turbines can make people physically ill. The visual impact of this wonderful part of Somerset, within the proposed Somerset Levels World Heritage Site, will be totally destroyed.

Taking all into consideration, five turbines sited in an unsuitable site will not solve global warming or have little effect on the country's need for electricity. The only people to benefit from this are the landowners and Ecotricity, the energy company. They both stand to make a large financial gain. The majority of this is from Government subsidies, which are paid for from our taxes. This is all about money and nothing to do with making green electricity.

We have to stop this development and make people aware of all the drawbacks of such a scheme. Wind turbines belong offshore.

We would have no problem at all in seeing a group of Wind Turbines working away at sea or in the estuary, having no immediate impact on the area or the people living within it. What we do object to, is looking out of our windows, across the beautiful Somerset Levels towards the Quantocks and Exmoor beyond, only to be confronted by a group of enormous 120 meter high Industrial Machines.

We live in a beautiful area which is in danger of being destroyed forever. Please think carefully before allowing these people to destroy it.
Julie Trott, West Huntspill, Somerset

Living in the middle of the Levels, I cannot believe that we haven't had wind farms here for years. The majority of the agricultural land is now redundant. It would seem the ideal location as there are large tracts of land well away from habitation.
Martin Hornby, Othery, Somerset

I'm sick of people complaining about turbines spoiling their view. So what? There are things that spoil my view of the Bristol Estuary - giant industrial sites on the opposite side, Hinkley Point, men running around topless, etc... But I will accept all these things, as it doesn't actually affect me in any way. NIMBYs need to grow up and stop thinking about their own selfish wishes.
Tony A, Minehead, Somerset

I've walked on the Somerset Hills for years, and always thought they would make a good spot for generating electricity in the windy areas. I'd have no objection to turbines being placed there, and would in fact encourage it.
Chris, Taunton

I'm fed up of these Nimbys making a fuss. If Hinckley Point went up their whole lifestyle would be gone forever, but if we end up not needing windmills they can just be taken down. Are they going to protest about the pylons planned across the Levels? Wind power can be locally based and supply the area around the turbines, so no need for huge pylon runs - if it was allowed to develop and not be constantly blocked by these whinging fossils. They are an embarrassment to the county.
Jane Walker, Coxley

Give me Hinkley Point any day over onshore wind turbines. Build wind farms far out at sea, even if thee financial cost is higher. Better wind conditions, turbines can be larger, and the British landscape is not cluttered with these devices that occasionally will produce power. At least Hinkley Point provides constant power.
John Atkins, Bridgwater

Put them up.... I'm fed up with these nimbys, they tend to be the same people who'll get their knickers in a twist when they see a 4x4... and the first to complain if their had to endure a power cut! I've lived on the levels all my life - the place is evolving all the time - you can't stop it simply because it'll "spoil" your view!
Mac, Kingsbury Episcopi, Somerset

wind mills are very beautiful near hill side and when i go past them i see bird sitting there enjoying them and i think its nice to put a new spin on an old technology an the energy they save stop us from having to destroy forests looking for bloody coal not to mention all the jobs that these create and its a cheaper form of power generation coal so the public saves money
Sam Ottaway, Harlow

It seems that our world is facing a 3.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature, within our children's lifetimes, possibly within our lifetimes. Unless we act, which includes getting all 'alternative' energy sources working asap, I wonder how much beauty there will be left in the Somerset Levels to worry about.
Jane, Dorset

@ Nigel Pearson - It's sad to see yet another person who has either misunderstood a statistic or is misusing it to try to force a false point.
Turbines being '30% efficient' comes from their maximum potential. People calculate how much electricity they would generate if they were at their maximum 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a whole year... That's then put against what they actually generate. If people did similar calculations for other things we use they'd come off a lot worse than turbines (For example, cars. Most have maximum speeds of over 100mph but spend the vast majority of the year doing absolutely nothing. So their efficiency would be close to zero.)
To be honest, with such awful "journalism" as this it's not surprising people end up either missing the actual facts or misinterpreting them. This isn't the "public's back doorstep" it's in the middle of the country, and turbines ARE placed in areas where they aren't going to cause damage to wildlife. Any turbine site now has to meet strict rules & regulations... do people honestly think that companies like Ecotricity just pluck locations out of thin air?!?!
TR, Stroud

Put them up. I think they are aesthetically pleasing, relaxing to look at, and far better than the planned monstrosity at Hinkley Point. Andy Lock, Somerset

Each wind turbine receives a huge subsidies each year and as was pointed out they are only 30% efficient, so there will be a need to have some other way of generating electricity as backup. I can't see the point of putting up wind turbines in this area that are going to need electricity to back them up which will be generated at the new, nearby nuclear power plant.
Nigel Pearson, Chard

I think that it is a good idea to use this spot , there has been the use of windmills on the levels and other rural areas for years (all be it on a smaller scale) in order to provide a power source. I live in an AONB, I grew up in an AONB in my opinion Wind Turbines are not offensive to the eye. If we look to Europe most villages or towns have them. Nature and animals in general are very good at adapting to new environments; it is a shame that people in general often are not so adaptable. I think that it is time that people realised how important renewable energy resources are and in terms of AONB's beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and yes I would have one in my back yard (literally) if asked or rather permitted by the local planning authority. This is my opinion, I hope I am entitled to that as far as I know we still live in a democracy. Kate, Taunton




SEE ALSO
'Green light' for more wind farms
10 Aug 04 |  Politics
Consultation on wind farm plans
04 Jul 05 |  Somerset
Wind turbine plans are submitted
02 Aug 04 |  Somerset
'Impact' fears halt turbines plan
09 Mar 04 |  Bristol
West: In whose back yard?
23 Jan 04 |  Politics Show
Green electricity target in doubt
17 Apr 07 |  England
West: Power posers
15 Jul 05 |  Politics Show


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