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PaulS's picture

Cornwall Council rejecting almost all turbine applications

The Cornwall Council Planning department has been rejecting all kinds of perfectly acceptable wind turbine applications, be they for small wind farms or individual farm-size turbines. They are using as an excuse a report by Natural England, which concludes that wind turbines should be sited 50m away from hedges - but specifically excludes smaller wind turbines. Undaunted, the department is applying this rule to every farm size turbine, pointing to the precautionary approach as an excuse.

It is a terrible approach for several reasons:

1. It is dangerous. Having a 5-20kW wind turbine sited in the middle of a field, rather than in the hedge, will sooner or later kill a farmer. Farmers do occasionally clip corners and posts as I know only too well from personal experience, by if it is a tower with a spinning turbine above the tractor, the result will not be pretty.

Turbine towers for the 5-20kW range are rigid, with deep and extensive concrete foundations, so the tower itself will not fall. But the vibrations following a heavy collision will transfer upwards, increase in frequency as the tower narrows and may well dislodge the turbine from its top mounting or one of its two axes. The result is very likely to be fatal. None of that applies in the case of power pylons or telegraph poles.

2. It is irrational. Typical farm will have several miles of hedges (about 5 miles in our case, more typically 10-15 miles on average sized farms). Making a 100 m section 'dangerous' for bats still leaves 4.9 (or 14.9) miles of hedges where the flying bats can feed and multiply. Thus their 'hedge habitat' is normally reduced by estimated 0.5 - 2%.

Of course bats are actually perfectly capable of avoiding the turbine blades, so even that 100m is not actually dangerous for them.

3. It is short-sighted. I suppose it does not occur to the department officers, that unless we switch to renewable energy, all these bats are going to die out anyway. Stopping wind turbines to protect bats is like stopping inoculations to protect the skin.

My conclusion is that the department head and/or some of its officers are simply prejudiced against wind turbines and are using whatever snippets of evidence they can to stop or delay their installations.

I think we should start a campaign for the Councillors to set a policy to make wind turbine installation much easier anywhere on the North coast, where they are likely to be most effective. I would like to see the A39 renamed from the 'Atlantic Highway' to the Windy Highway and the A30 as the Energy Highway in the sense that when you drive along it, you should almost never be out of sight of a wind farm. That would give the people of Cornwall a pretty good start in ensuring home grown and resilient energy for Cornwall regardless of how scarce and expensive fossil fuels get in the near and the far future.