Debate rages over wind farm plans

As negotiations that would help bring in the new nuclear era drag on, wind farm developers say their schemes are vital to “keep the lights on”.

The argument could have a major impact on Somerset.

In the flat lands along the M5 corridor, farming and tourism are major industries, but the landscape that attracts thousands of visitors has also attracted the eye of green energy companies. Two companies, whose proposals for four-turbine farms were rejected by local councillors are each appealing the decisions. A planning enquiry into Ecotricity’s proposal at Black Ditch, West Huntspill, resumes in Burnham-on-Sea tomorrow. Last week, Broadview Energy announced that it is appealing the decision to reject its scheme at Pilrow between Mark and Rooksbridge.

Both schemes, and a third by EDF Energy, aroused fierce local opposition, with objectors claiming the turbines would ruin views and blight tourism as well as harm the bird population using internationally-designated wildlife sites on the Levels and in the Severn Estuary.

Announcing its decision to appeal last week, Broadview Energy said due weight must be given to the need to “keep the lights on”, and wind farms can do it while reducing carbon emissions.

Just a few miles away on the West Somerset coast, the site that may one day be Hinkley C nuclear power station gives silent testimony to the need for new energy. A Government decision for the price to be paid for the electricity generated is needed urgently. Until it is decided, Frenchbased developer EDF Energy cannot decide whether it will go ahead.

The NoPilrow action committee say wind farms’ efficiency has been exaggerated. Committee member David Maund said: “We are buying from the French nuclear industry twice as much as that supplied by wind turbines at inflated prices.”

The Huntspill Wind Farm Action Group is calling on all who feel strongly about “industrial-scale” wind farms to attend the planning enquiry at the Princess Hall tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that a total of 1,146,614 has been handed out to the operators of 13 Scottish wind farms to compensate them for not producing power during periods of high generation and low demand, so as not to overload the National Grid.

One of the largest beneficiaries was the Fallago Rig Wind Farm run by EDF. A company spokesman said: “All generators are required to have commercial agreements in place with the National Grid. These cover periods when the Grid instructs generators to decrease the power they generate.”

The contract, said to be worth R$1.8bn, involves installation of 207 units of the US manufacturer’s 1.7MW model across 13 wind farms near the town of Paulino Neves. The deal also includes a pre-agreement for a further 170 turbines to be deployed later at projects yet to secure a power purchase agreement.

The transaction will ensure GE is compliant with Finame, a new set of wind turbine local content rules being implemented in Brazil, according to a press release from Bioenergy.

Bioenergy president Sergio Marques said: “We gave priority to GE because we already operate 18 of their turbines in our wind farms in Rio Grande do Norte and the results have been very positive.”

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