July 1, 2014: The Blimp survived the morning rain and flew proudly by the Ruby Way entrance on Runnon Moor Lane all day Sunday, attracting over 60 visitors. It was flown to show the height of the proposed Heane Farm Wind Turbine (PLANNING APPLICATION 00635/2014). It's presence was obvious from many places around Hatherleigh itself, especially from the churchyard. Street comments we got on the turbine proposal ranged from “it's a monstrosity” to “perhaps it could be a tourist attraction.” Another was: “For £1M I'd rent my land out too!”
There's a huge PR gap here. Ask David and Adela Thornton-Wood (pictured with the Blimp, along with son Ben and daughter Francesca) who live in North Cleave Farm, about 500 metres from the turbine site. They organised the Blimp to fly at 77 metres from neighbouring North Waterhouse Farm, to draw attention to the height of the machine and how it will impact the area, including Hatherleigh itself and the Ruby Way, one of Devon's most popular walks/rides, which passes right by. (See second picture)
David showed us the view they will have of the machine from their house. Part of the turbine tower will be hidden behind the crest of a hill but most of the 77m high structure will be in view. David said: "We've invested everything we have in building our business and the lives of our children in Hatherleigh. The peace and tranquillity of the setting in which we live is an essential part of our work life balance. The noise and close proximity of this turbine threaten to unpick the fabric of our life and the health of our children. As a family we are devastated!"
Height is not the only issue. Wind turbines rotate and that creates noise. As well as the whoosing you'd expect, all kinds of technical issues cause variations and thumps. (Check the Cotton Farm Action Group findings HERE). Low frequency infrasound, the effects of which are not properly understood, add to the problems. Shadow flicker, caused when the sun is behind the rotating turbine blades, can also be a menace (example HERE).
As well as North Cleave Farm, we understand that another 9 or 10 nearby properties could be affected. Houses in Moorview – not that far away – could be affected too.
How has this come about? Well, it starts with the EU; an energy agreement obliged the UK government to set certain targets for wind energy by 2020, which local government is mandated to meet. The planning system is pre-disposed to accept these industrial machines and commercial developers and land owners are offered substantial subsidies to collaborate - subsidies that you, I and the Thornton-Woods pay for!
Lessons are still being learned about wind turbines and their effectiveness, also their effects on people's health and the environment. Wind blows (and stops blowing) randomly, not necessarily when needed. Other countries are dropping on-shore turbines: why? Also, there are better places to locate them than in quiet rural areas.
Ironically, those 2020 targets have already been met so the need in UK has gone away. Yet Devon has 319 turbine applications (CPRE figures HERE ) in progress. In West Devon alone there are 38 outstanding applications, NOT including the one proposed for Jacobstowe!
Isn't there something wrong with a system that is steam-rollering these turbine applications through in the light of so many negatives?
(PS: In the interests of fairness, the planning application says that developers Mi-Grid offers to pay Hatherleigh an indexed £2500 p.a. for local projects.)