Wiltshire Publications

Speaking out against wind farm

LOCALpeople need to take action if wind turbines are to be prevented from coming to West Ashton, says a local campaign group.

This was one of the messages to come out of a recent open meeting held by the ‘Stop Grange Farm Wind Farm’ (SGFWF) campaign group, which filled West Ashton Village Hall to capacity.

REG Windpower is proposing to install three wind turbines of up to 130m in height on Grange Farm, near West Ashton. The company has erected a 16 metre anemometry mast to measure wind conditions, and anticipate submitting a planning application for the wind farm in the autumn.

But the ‘Stop Grange Farm Wind Farm’ (SGFWF) campaign has raised concerns about the plans, saying that if Wiltshire’s first wind turbines are allowed to go ahead, more will follow. In addition, they are concerned about the visual, noise, and environmental impact, while questioning the efficiency of wind turbines.

Judy Glasson, of SGFWF, reports, “The meeting was chaired by Cate Mack of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

“The three wind turbines proposed for Grange Farm are 130 metres high – higher than Salisbury Cathedral spire and will dwarf the Westbury Lafarge chimney which can be seen from many miles away.

“Seb Chambers, presenting for SGFWF and Chris Langham of the Save our Silton campaign (Dorset) gave highly informative talks.  The meeting was then shown the ‘Ill Wind’ video produced to oppose the wind turbines at the Honda site in Swindon.  This was a hard-hitting production which emphasised the noise pollution, flickering shadows, and resulting sleep deprivation causing depression and other related complaints.

“The presentations pointed out that house values could drop by as much as 20%, and the inefficiency of wind turbines was also discussed.  It was pointed out that more renewable energy is necessary but that offshore wind farms are much more effective than onshore turbines.  There followed a lively question and answer session.

“MOD aircraft flying into Keevil Airfield for training purposes have a flight path coming in lower than the turbines. The SGFWF group is still waiting to hear what the MOD opinion is on this.

“A local fishing syndicate member raised the point that the fishing lake is only 200m from the turbines, and there are significant amounts of local wildlife, other than the fish (whose waters may well be troubled by the light disturbance caused by shadow flicker).  Issues of health, economics, and efficiency were raised, as well as the future viability of the turbines. As technology is developing so rapidly, if they are currently ineffective, how much point will they have in five years?  Never mind 10 or 25 years.

“Questions asked included who would benefit from the wind turbines, as the affected villagers won’t see any direct benefits.  The meeting was told that the landowner would get about £30,000 per turbine, per year, and that the developer had offered each of the three most local parish councils about £8,000 per year.    It was noted how strikingly this contrasted with the enormous annual  subsidy-income received by the developer, REG Windpower.  Subsidies coming from the tax payer, contributed in part by all our electricity bills (look at the added items at the bottom of yours!).    The developers give so much back to our economy; their parent companies are based in offshore tax havens like Jersey and Bermuda!

“The 140+ people present at the meeting all received information packs, inviting them to join SGFWF, and to write to their MP and  local councillor.  Contact your parish council – encourage them to support the views of your community .

“SGFWF stressed that people need to take action, and invited people to get involved – all help will be welcomed,  both practical and financial.    At the end of the meeting a number of people immediately came forward to offer their time to the campaign, and more assistance will be gladly received.”