MOORSYDE ACTION GROUP
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Thought for the week

"this site ['Moorsyde'] would not be supported were the proposal to be located within the Scottish Borders, primarily by virtue of its landscape character"

Alistair Lorimer, Assistant Head of iq option review Development Control, Scottish Borders Council. Consultation response, 22 February 2005.

THREE MORE 'MOORSYDE' TURBINES AXED


In a last ditch attempt to rescue their scheme after it fell foul of the recent Arup and Scott Wilson reports (see below), Your Energy have axed 3 turbines from their scheme.

They have advertised a public consultation on the revision, which now comprises the 7 turbines seen in our photomontage from the Plough:

Turbines straddling B6354 road.

View South from the B6354 at The Plough Inn, West Allerdean.
2005 Don Brownlow Photography.

(Photomontage made with single background image, taken with 6 x 7 cm SLR camera using standard 105mm f/2.4 lens with a 46 angle of view. The 110 metre (360 ft.) turbines are scaled to measured landscape features.)

PLEASE WRITE NOW


WRITE AND OBJECT TO THE NEW 'MOORSYDE' PROPOSAL

It is absolutely vital that everyone now writes again to the planning authority to express their objection to this latest botched revision of the 'Moorsyde' proposal.

The deadline is FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER 2007.


Your letter should be addressed to:


Head of Development Services
Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council Offices
Wallace Green
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Northumberland
TD15 1ED

Moorsyde Wind Farm - Ref. No. 04/B/1107.

If you have previously objected, say so and say that you still object to the revised scheme.

Give your personal reasons for objecting on planning grounds.

These may include many key areas which were criticised in the independent Audit Report and which have not been addressed in the applicant's Addendum or in subsequent revisions of the application:

  • Key views to the Cheviots: would be severely affected, contrary to planning policy.

  • Nearby Settlements and businesses would be badly affected. Protection of amenity is key to planning policy.

  • Cost/benefit: the applicants have failed to demonstrate that the minimal environmental benefits of the proposal would outweigh the costs of damage to local communities, to local tourist businesses and to property values.

  • Duddo Tower, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and Duddo Church, a Grade 2 Listed building would both have their settings badly affected, contrary to planning policy.

  • Birds: the independent Audit Report asked for new bird surveys or a justification of the survey methodology. Neither has been done.

  • Noise: the independent Audit Report asked for new noise modelling or a justification of the fact that the original information in the Environmental Statement was based on 'best case' data from a redundant turbine at its lowest power and noise setting. Neither has been done.

    The Borough have set noise conditions which have been shown to be difficult to monitor and legally unenforceable at other sites.

  • Grid connection and impact assessment: the applicants have still failed to supply details as requested in the Audit Report and required by planning guidance.

  • Water supplies: the potential impacts on public water supplies (including Berwick's) remain unexamined.

  • Choice of site: the applicants have never justified their choice of the 'Moorsyde' site, as required by planning guidance.

  • Consultation: the applicants have failed to properly consult with local communities, as required by planning guidance.

Be sure to date your letter and to include your full name and address.

Please write now and let the Members know the truth about local support for this application.

PLEASE WRITE BEFORE FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER


YOUR ENERGY'S 'DIRTY TRICKS'.

YEL have been exposed in the Journal as paying a professional activist to harvest signatures on pre-written letters at 'Yes to Wind' street stalls in Berwick where signatories have been told they are showing support for renewables and voting against nuclear power rather than merely supporting a bad planning application. (See below).

The Officer's Report that was given to the Planning Committee prior to December's abortive planning meeting entirely failed to differentiate between MAG's detailed planning response documents, formal responses from bodies such as the North Northumberland Tourist Association, over 200 individual detailed responses from individuals and businesses and pre-written forms with illegible signatures gathered by Your Energy's Yorkshire activists at street stalls.

This is contrary to normal practice in most planning authorities which discount organised attempts by the applicants to pack response files with pro forma responses.



We will be bringing you more news in the coming days:

CHECK THIS PAGE FOR NEWS.

MISLEADING THE PUBLIC, AGAIN


With a further reduction in turbine numbers, Your Energy Ltd (YEL) have produced some more figures for the revised 'Moorsyde' scheme. We will be analysing them when we manage to get some details from the company or the Case Officer on what capacity turbines they are now supposed to refer to.

Meanwhile, in an article in the Berwick Advertiser about the Advertising Standards Authority finding against YEL for their “misleading“ claims about carbon reduction, their spokesperson claimed that, “the output of the ['Moorsyde'] wind farm is not in dispute” (Berwick Advertiser. 'Your Energy's 'misleading' claims ...', 13 September).

That statement is extraordinary because YEL published an advertisement on the same day, in the same edition of the Advertiser, announcing a public consultation on YEL's revised application for 7 rather than 10 turbines.

The output figure quoted by Ms Hood was for the old 10 turbine scheme. The new 7 turbine scheme claims an output that is up to 27.5% lower than the 10 turbine figure quoted by the company.

This means that YEL's spokesperson knowingly – or in total ignorance of the facts – grossly exaggerated the projected output of the proposal. Total ignorance seems the likelier explanation, in that she also managed to get the number of turbines wrong, talking of 9 turbines when the old scheme was for 10 turbines. Additionally, the revised application reveals that YEL had agreed the cut to 7 turbines with the Borough on 16 August, 3 weeks before they talked to the paper.

You would think that YEL would be more careful: not only have they been been taken to task recently by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading the public about potential carbon savings (see below), but the same spokesperson was heard on BBC Radio Four's 'Costing the Earth' programme on 30 August desperately trying to find excuses for the under-performance of the company's only working wind power station at Burton Wold, near Kettering. It only managed to produce an average of 18.34% of its capacity during its first 11 months of operation when the company had told everyone (and are still claiming) that it would average 26.8% a year.

Michael Jefferson, policies chairman of the World Renewable Energy Network (Wren), said on the Radio Four programme: “What I have a problem with is people pushing developments in areas of low [wind] speed where the load factor will be, if you are lucky, 20 per cent.”

Your Energy's proposed 'Moorsyde' site, between Duddo and Felkington, is also acknowledged to have poor wind figures; as a previous MD of Your Energy admitted in the Berwick Advertiser, “The fact that Felkington is on a low lying plateau means the wind conditions are relatively low ...”.

By comparison, the modern 100 metre high Crystal Rig turbines that we can see 30 kilometres to the north of us, are on a windswept, unpopulated moor in the Lammermuirs that is 150 metres higher than the proposed 'Moorsyde' site. Even they only managed a load factor of 25.2% in 2006.

YEL will not reveal the wind speeds that ATCO, the original developer, recorded nearly 2 kilometres from the new 7 turbine scheme, but their claimed output figures reveal a load/capacity factor for 'Moorsyde' as low as 22 to 23%.

Going by YEL's claims in their application for Burton Wold and the real world performance of their turbines, it is very likely that their 'Moorsyde' scheme, if ever built, would be another highly subsidised lame duck, producing only small amounts of intermittent power.

Local communities have now suffered nearly 3 years of planning blight caused by the 'Moorsyde' proposal. Much of this delay has been caused by the bad design of the proposal and the poor quality of the planning application.

After a highly critical independent Audit Report on the original application, YEL submitted an Addendum and there were further delays while more information was produced. Then, last summer, YEL were forced to axe 4 turbines in response to criticism from the County Archaeologist. This summer, the scheme has fallen foul of not one, but two independent consultants' reports, from Ove Arup and Scott Wilson, which has now resulted in the removal of 3 more turbines from the application. But, information that should have been provided in the original application is still lacking.

Instead of cobbling together yet another ad hoc revision that they think will allow them to squeeze under the planning bar, the company should now be reconsidering the basic design of their 'Moorsyde' scheme and its disproportionate visual impacts on communities, protected heritage sites and views to the Cheviots. This is before we even start to examine the environmental problems that remain after this latest revision.

Wrecking our local landscape and damaging the local economy for a negligible amount of intermittent power and even lower carbon savings makes no sense. The potential cost of the 'Moorsyde' scheme to the Borough and local communities remains high, while its supposed benefits to the environment are increasingly exposed as insignificant.

ASA adjudication.
Costing the Earth' BBC Radio 4, 30 August 2007.

REALITY CHECK


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North Pickenham, nr. Swaffham, Norfolk
125m. Vestas V90 Turbines

(35mm camera, 35mm wide-angle lens).
2007 Don Brownlow Photography.

A MAG Committee member recently had an abusive phone call from somebody who was ranting about us exaggerating the size of wind turbines on this website. If anything, we err on the side of caution. The SNH guidelines would allow us to use longer lenses for photomontages, we don't; and our graphics use a 100 metre turbine. All our images are carefully scaled and captioned in order to avoid any suspicion of exaggeration by the more rational viewers of this site.

Anybody who has seen YEL's photomontage of the view from the Plough - reluctantly produced in November 2006, over 2 years after the proposal was unveiled - will have been able to compare it with our's, produced over a year before. Note that YEL would not produce a photomontage from the single most important viewpoint in the area until they were forced to do so by the request of an independent consultant.

People have frequently remarked on the very poor quality of YEL's images that, invariably, fail to show either their turbines or the Cheviots with the clarity that MAG's photographer has no difficulty in attaining. Surprisingly YEL have made some of their photomontages available as PDF downloads, see the YEL website). Check out our Gallery page to see how they break the guidelines.

For any other doubters, the picture above shows some recently built turbines in Norfolk. Note that they are 125 metres high compared to the proposed 110 metre 'Moorsyde' turbines. They are Vestas V90 turbines, one of the models favoured by Your Energy Ltd. Please note the white van next to the closest turbine, this gives an idea of the size. The technically minded will know that the moderate wide-angle lens that was used actually understates the relative size of objects in the landscape.

There are more images of turbines on our Gallery page.

SCOTT WILSON REPORTS PUBLISHED


Berwick Borough Council have released the final version of a report from consultants Scott Wilson that is titled, 'Moorsyde Wind Farm - Addendum: Issue Report'.* Commissioned by the Borough, this was originally announced as a cumulative impact assessment of the 'Moorsyde' proposal.

We are investigating the status of the original 'Ferguson McIlveen Report' ('FerMac') which is titled a 'planning and visual impact appraisal' of 'Moorsyde' and its relationship to the new report. (Ferguson McIlveen are now part of Scott Wilson LLP).

MAG will be carrying out a detailed analysis of both Fermac/Scott Wilson reports in due course.

The Borough has also issued more coherent and detailed work by Scott Wilson on the Barmoor and Toft Hill proposals. These reports cover the planning context, review the respective Environmental Statements, carry out a 'visual impact audit' and attempt to predict the cumulative effects of the schemes.

* Download a copy of the Moorsyde Report (PDF File).
The final version of the Ferguson McIlveen Report ('FerMac') is also available for download here (PDF file).
The Toft Hill report is available for download here (PDF file).
The Barmoor Report is available for download on the SOUL website.

MAG RESPONDS TO THE ARUP REPORT


MAG has carried out a detailed analysis of Ove Arup's 'Wind Farm Development and Landscape Capacity Studies: South and West Berwick upon Tweed (May 2007)'.

While welcoming the report, we have identified some errors, omissions and inconsistencies in the study which, we believe, substantially affect its conclusions, especially as they affect the area of the 'Moorsyde' application.

We have submitted this paper to the consultants from Ove Arup who carried out the study, and to Berwick Borough Council and the other bodies who were involved in commissioning it.

Our response is available in its entirety on the 'Planning Response' page. It is also available as a PDF download. The full Berwick Arup Report is available for download from the North East Assembly website.

SIZE MATTERS



2005 Don Brownlow Photography.
'Moorsyde' Turbine scaled to Berwick Town Hall.

Berwick Town Hall is 150 ft.(46 metres) high .
The 10 turbines would be 360 ft. (110 metres) high.


Moorsyde Turbines - Size Comparison

A.S.A. RULE AGAINST YOUR ENERGY LTD.


The Advertising Standards Agency has upheld a complaint about a leaflet produced by Your Energy Ltd. which contained misleading claims about the emissions of CO2 that would be saved by their proposed scheme for 9 turbines at West Hinkley, in Somerset.

Your Energy are having a difficult time in Somerset. The Secretary of State for Local Government recently ordered West Hinkley Wind Farm Ltd [Your Energy's shell company] to repay West Somerset Council the costs it incurred during YEL's appeal after their original planning application for 12 turbines, mast, and substation was thrown out.

Planning appeal costs are usually borne by the relevant parties, regardless of outcome. However, the Secretary of State can award costs on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour resulting in wasted expense.

YEL's appeal was lodged on December 1, 2005, and was not withdrawn until more than a year later, by which time the council had paid out thousands of pounds in preparation costs.

See: ASA adjudication.
See appeal story: Western Daily Press. 4 July, 2007.

CLAXTON WATCH

Our correspondent in Angus sends news of Richard Claxton, the professional activist employed by Your Energy, and his sidekick Jeff MacDonald 'organising' the public response to a planning application for a wind development company. See below.

BBC PROGRAMME EXPOSES THE GREAT ONSHORE WIND SWINDLE


'Costing the Earth' BBC Radio 4, 30 August 2007.

This programme goes right to the heart of the onshore wind problem, looking at the Renewables Obligation subsidy that has fuelled the frenzy of onshore wind development and the basic failure of onshore wind to perform to the forecasts that the industry sold to Government prior to the 2003 Energy White Paper.

A Your Energy spokesperson makes an inglorious appearance, trying to explain why their only working wind power station has a capacity factor of only a little over 18%, while trying desperately to avoid telling the interviewer what the measured wind speeds on the site are (having just told her that they have been monitored for years and justified the choice of site).

The broadcast also features Malcolm Wickes, the Energy Minister, telling us how the subsidy system is now "more sophisticated" although Ofgem, the industry regulator, and the Carbon Trust have condemned it as ineffectual and a huge waste of consumer's money (see the Wind Power page). The Minister also delivers the most blatant whopper that has been heard on Radio 4 in many a year: "In the UK we have achieved average load factors of 40 to 46% in terms of wind turbines." (Check the Government's own load factor figures on the Wind Power page!)

Essential listening - tell your friends.

THE THREAT TO OUR LANDSCAPE



Crown copyright 2005.

Reproduced from OS 1:250 000 mapping (Licence No. 100044197).

1 grid square = 10 kilometres.

OUR HERITAGE UNDER THREAT


Our concerns regarding the visual impacts of arrays of massive industrial turbines on iconic sites such as Duddo Five Stones, Duddo Tower and the Flodden battlefield site are also shared by many of the professionals working for the bodies charged with their protection.

The County Conservation Team still have serious concerns at the visual impacts of both 'Moorsyde' and Toft Hill on these sites:

'As currently proposed, the construction of all three proposed wind farms in the Duddo area will introduce up to 26 turbines [now 23] and associated infrastructure (including anemometers) into the setting of the monument [Duddo Five Stones]. The cumulative impact of these developments therefore has the potential to significantly and adversely impact the setting of the Scheduled Monument.

National guidance contained within PPG16: Archeology and Planning (specifically paragraphs 8 and 27) emphasises that there should be a presumption in favour of the physical preservation of nationally important monuments, and their settings, when determining planning applications.' [our emphasis]

(Letter from Nick Best, Assistant County Archeologist, in 'Moorsyde' case file).

The Conservation Team were still waiting on additional visualisations before offering, "detailed advice regarding the potential indirect impact of each development both as 'stand-alone' proposals and as components of any cumulative visual impact."


Duddo Five Stones

Like most local people, MAG considers that the cumulative impacts of 'Moorsyde' and Toft Hill on Duddo Five Stones would wreck the landscape setting of this iconic monument which has been described as, "... undoubtedly the most complete and dramatically situated" [of Northumbrian stone circles]. (Roger Miket, Duddo Stones, Archaeology in Northumberland, Vol. 15, 2005, Northumberland County Council).

Duddo Tower

YEL and the planners continue to ignore the serious visual impact of the 'Moorsyde' scheme on Duddo Tower. YEL were asked to produce photomontages to show the impact of their turbines on views to this monument from the B6354 to the south of the site. These have never been produced. Viewed from this road from Ford and Etal, the skyline would no longer be dominated by the rugged outline of this Scheduled Monument, which has recently been restored and is now floodlit, but by an industrial clutter of turbine blades, towering above it on either side.


Duddo Tower 2007 Don Brownlow Photography.

Flodden

As if the effects on these ancient monuments was not enough, even Arup's preferred 'Scenario C' would have 'major' adverse visual effects on the Flodden battlefield viewpoint.


Flodden Monument at Dawn 2000 Don Brownlow Photography.

What you can do

If you have a concern for these monuments, try and visit the archaeological offices at County Hall in Morpeth, see the data and let the the Conservation Team know of your concerns. Or write to: The Conservation Team, Environment Directorate, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF - Tel. 01670 534 060.

DANES PLAN TO COMPENSATE TURBINE VICTIMS


The Danish Government is reported to be preparing a proposition to compensate people when property values are damaged by proximity to large wind turbines.

There has been considerable resistance in Denmark to the replacement of older arrays of small turbines with modern 125 to 150 metre monsters. Connie Hedegaard, the Liberal Environmental Minister, is quoted in Weekendavisen newspaper as saying: "If you live near a new wind turbine, you should be able to receive economic compensation from the state. But note that it is only if one can document that they've suffered a financial loss from the placement - in the same way as those who live close to a new motorway."

Hedegaard has called together the mayors of 22 cities to discuss the issue in August and to work out the details of such a plan.

(See full story in Copenhagen Post online, 30 July 2007).



Here, the British Wind Energy Association is still pretending that turbines don't affect property prices. Lately, they have been claiming that, "A new report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Oxford Brookes University has blown away another myth about wind farms – their impact on house prices."

The facts - as usual with the BWEA - are somewhat different:

This very limited study looked at two Cornish sites with turbines half the size of the ‘Moorsyde’ variety, and actually found that: “Terraced houses sited within 1 mile of a wind farm were observed to be 54 per cent lower in value and semi detached houses within 1 mile of the nearest turbine were 35 per cent lower than similar houses at a distance of four miles.” Losing a third to half the value of your house because you are near an array of small wind turbines is hardly proof that property values are not affected!

Admittedly, this study found that the picture at greater distance was more confused. Much of this confusion was, as the authors admit, caused by their choice of study area.

The BWEA choose not to mention the highly qualified conclusions of this study: "Because of the limited data available the findings require a degree of caution. ... The study itself may be seen as inconclusive as there was limited linear relationship between house prices and distance. ... this is only one study, and as more wind farms are built, more property will become proximate. Therefore, a cautious approach should be adopted until a larger and more in-depth study can be undertaken."

(Report is available as a PDF download from the RICS site).

TOURISM CHIEF ASKS FOR NORTHUMBRIAN COUNTRYSIDE TO BE PROTECTED


We need to locate turbines in suitable settings and locations.


'CONGRATULATIONS to The Journal on their extensive coverage of the issue of wind farms.

'There seems to be a clear majority of opinion against wind farms in rural areas, particularly among local residents, community groups, countryside lovers and organisations such as ours, which wish to promote Northumberland as a place to visit.

'Those in favour include some farmers and commercial companies who stand to make substantial commercial gains from the erection of wind farms (particularly under the current high subsidy regime), and some environmentalists.

'Research done by a variety of organisations among visitors supports the “antis” in suggesting that visitors are less likely to visit areas of natural beauty if they are covered in wind farms and therefore the visitor economy, which is extremely important to Northumberland, will suffer.

'Of course, in some areas we have huge structures that already destroy what would otherwise be beautiful views. I am not talking about factories such as Egger, which blots the approach to my local market town of Hexham, but the miles of electric pylons linking various grids to towns and cities across the North-East.

'Bill Bryson, the recently nominated president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, quite rightly said that the Government missed a trick when electricity was privatised in the 1980s by not insisting that electricity companies pay a small proportion of their turnover towards burying cables.

'There is, I think, an opportunity for the North-East to use the fact that we have some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain, the most tranquil spots in which to chill out and relax, and the best night skies (with the least ambient light) to promote the region as being not only the greenest (including cleanest air, less traffic and so on), but also the region that has the greatest concentration of research and development companies developing green technology and practice (the centre for renewable energy at Blyth is a good example).

'If we are to be the greenest region, then this needs to become a key focus of the regional development agency and the North-East should become one of the main trial areas for new technology, such as wave energy.

'To do this we can’t have a blanket view that wind turbines are bad, but what we need to do is to locate them in suitable settings and locations (so that they enhance the area or provide an exciting panorama, as I believe they do in Blyth) and avoid destroying beautiful vistas in Northumberland.

'MICHAEL J PARKER,
Chairman, Northumberland Tourism Ltd,
Micklewood House, Longhirst Hall,
Morpeth,
Northumberland NE61 3LL'

(The Journal, Letters, 23 July 2007).

'Tourism board chief voices wind farm opposition

'The local tourism board for Northumberland has come out strongly against windfarm development which could impact on Northumberland as a top holiday destination and has called for an urgent independent study.

'The plea from Northumberland Tourism comes in the wake of a rush of renewable energy applications across the county. There are currently eight 'live' applications with another 17 in the pipeline – totalling nearly 300 turbines. Campaigners said that plans for 24 turbines near Haltwhistle would be seen from the World Heritage Site of Hadrian's Wall.

'"Most people come here because of the wonderful natural environment and this is in danger of being blighted by so many windfarms," said Northumberland Tourism Chairman Mike Parker.

'Recent research by VisitScotland revealed that 38% of visitors said that windfarms "spoiled the scenery" and 26% said they would be less likely to visit an area if wind farms were developed. Tourism businesses said they must not be near areas of historic value, tourist spots, view points, wildlife areas and places of natural beauty. "These are alarming findings," said Mike Parker. "They show the potential damage they could cause. We want more visitors to come here – not less. We need the impact on tourism to be an integral part of the planning process."'

(Berwick Advertiser, 14 September 2006


MP Echoes Concerns

In a recent adjournment debate on the effects of the Regional spatial strategy in the North East, Alan Beith warned of the effects that the RSS was having on our area:

'One other element of the regional spatial strategy that is causing anxiety to many of my constituents is the vast number of wind farm applications. The reason that we are getting so many in the beautiful area that lies between the area of outstanding natural beauty and the Northumberland national park is that it is an area of least constraint in relation to wind farm applications. That is not simply a bit of gentle guidance to planning authorities to consider each case on its merits, but is having the effect of funnelling lots of applications into the area. Local planning authorities do not have the capacity to cope with those applications—they do not have the staff to deal with them, still less the large developers that they face. One of the effects of the strategy has therefore been to place an unreasonable burden on giving proper consideration to wind farm planning applications in a beautiful area where each case must be considered extremely carefully. The risk of harm to the landscape, the environment and tourism must be placed against the objective to expand our renewable energy generation.'

(See: They work for you site, 14 June 2007.)
Rural economy already blighted by wind power proposals.

While people argue over percentages and numbers of visitors that would be lost when wind power stations are operating, nobody mentions the two years of planning blight that has already been caused by wind power proposals in this area.

MAG has seen numerous examples of people postponing or abandoning plans for investment in tourist businesses in this area because they have no confidence that a business venture will thrive or even survive in the vicinity of one or more arrays of 360 ft. high turbines.

Unlike the wind industry's dodgy opinion polls, this loss of investor confidence in the area is a demonstrable fact. Wind power planning blight has already cost the rural economy of North Northumberland dear and has damaged the already slow recovery from foot and mouth disease.

The economy in Berwick borough was already struggling:

A study published by the Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne on the fifth anniversary of the foot and mouth disease outbreak (see below), reported that household incomes in remoter rural areas have continued to lag behind the national average. The worst affected counties (Cumbria and Devon) are falling ever further behind national economic growth rates. Even more worryingly, rates of new business registrations are declining in remoter rural areas for the first time in a decade.

We have seen no evidence that the North East Assembly, the strategic planning body with direct responsibility for the present policy of large scale, onshore wind development or One NorthEast, the agency with specific responsibility for regeneration and tourism, have undertaken any economic analysis of the effects of wind power on tourism and the regeneration of rural Northumberland.


'Moorsyde'

It seems that even Your Energy, the 'Moorsyde' developers, recognise the possible economic impacts - but not in Northumberland where they have refused to address the issue:

"The presence of wind turbines in cherished environments is a sensitive issue and evaluating the public perceptions of wind farms is important in order to identify the anticipated effects on tourism, local prices of property and housing and the general perceived effect on lifestyle and quality of life. These elements will be addressed in the Environmental Statement using research conducted on similar schemes in representative locations that are comparable to the Isle of Wight [our emphasis]."
(Your Energy Ltd, updated Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report, West Wight Project, Isle of Wight. March 2006)

'Moorsyde' case officer dismisses effects on tourist economy

The detached case officer for the 'Moorsyde' application, who is based in Darlington, dismissed the issue of the effects of the 'Moorsyde' turbine array on local tourism in just three sentences in his Officer's Report to the abortive planning meeting of 12 December 2006. He devoted more than twice as much space to its effects on TV reception!

'Impact on tourism
No response has been received from the Northumbrian Tourist Board [sic]. Arguments from some objectors that the wind farm would will harm tourism within the Borough have been countered by submissions from some supporters that the wind farm would not stop them visiting the area and some have indicated it would be an attraction. No empirical evidence has been submitted to support either argument.

Accordingly, it can only be concluded that there is no evidence that the proposed wind farm would harm tourism within the Borough or the wider area.'

Comment: 'NTB' should of course be 'Northumberland Tourism'. They did submit a highly critical response but it was misfiled, as was a submission from the CPRE.

An equally critical response from the North Northumberland Tourism Association was lumped in with objection letters from the public and ignored, as were the many reasoned letters of objection from tourist businesses expressing the views of their customers.

There were hardly any mentions of tourism in the few letters of support (as opposed to pro forma, pre-written 'letters' submitted from the 'Yes-to-Wind' street stalls run by Your Energy's undercover agent, Richard Claxton), but the officer diligently searched for them while ignoring the many detailed submissions from tourist businesses in the Borough.

Even more disturbingly, the officer has replied to a question on the Council's views on the effects on tourism by forwarding four pages of highly selective wind industry propaganda copied from the Wandylaw Environmental Statement which can be summarised by its opening sentence: "There is no evidence to suggest that the presence of wind turbines affects tourism." (Email from Rod Hepplewhite, Blackett Hart & Pratt LLP, Darlington; 10 May 2007. Copy in 'Moorsyde' case file).

He then forwarded some British Wind Energy Association propaganda material on the subject from Your Energy Ltd. to the same correspondent with the comment:

'As regards the information provided in my e-mail of 10 May and in particular the applicant's response to some of the questions previously raised by yourself, I would inform you that my view does not differ to the answers provided ...'

(Email from Rod Hepplewhite, Blackett Hart & Pratt LLP, Darlington; 16 May 2007. Copy in 'Moorsyde' case file).

OUR STORY MATTERS

We would like to thank The Journal for their coverage of the Klondike wind rush in this area. In a series of major articles from (9-14 July), they have exposed the likely effects of massive wind power stations on people, communities and businesses here in the Berwick area.

This should form part of an ongoing debate about sustainable rural development. From our perspective, it seems that this has not been sufficiently addressed by the regional planners and politicians. The North East Assembly and Government Office North East, who are driving forward renewable energy policy, do not seem to have analysed the economic consequences of large wind power stations in areas such as ours.

Nor does One NorthEast, the body with responsibility for rural regeneration, seem to be involved.

We would have expected them to be working with the likes of the Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne [See below] on these issues.

TURBINES STOP INVESTMENT IN RURAL COMMUNITIES


Journal 14 July 2007

The Journal, 14 July 2007

'Alastair Gilmour talks to one couple who risk watching their dreams being shattered by giant white wind turbines.

'It may look like a dilapidated farm steading at the moment, but an unremarkable group of buildings represents an enterprising future for Reg and Tamsin Watson.

The huddled settlement the couple are planning to restore is, in countryside measurements, two fields away from a proposed wind turbine that will, with its eight 'sisters' [correction - 9] at Moorsyde, dominate their view of north Northumberland and the Borders. Metric measurements come in at 600 metres, but when the mast and blades also take up 110 metres of sky, the structure will appear very close indeed.

[...]

"We hoped to invest in the area, to work here, to attract visitors to the cottages and develop other tourism opportunities. If we can't, it means the whole lot will collapse.

"It blights us directly. There has been no noise measurement done here at Southmoor. We're unusually in the prevailing wind from the West - eight houses in total - and we're completely downwind of a clutch of six turbines where there's much more chance of overlapping noise levels, plus vibration.

"The Moorsyde site can't meet the 35-decibel noise limit that the Environmental Statement demands and if they can't meet it, surely they should go away and think again. It all gets terribly technical.

The proposals at Felkington (the nearby farm which has agreed to host the turbines) are horrendous; they're far too close and if they followed planning guidelines, they'd be much further away."

[...]

"We're very 'green', we've got solar panels and ground-source heating planned; we eat organic food; my mother is a member of Greenpeace and I'm proud to stand up and say I'm a complete Nimby."

Reg is in complete agreement. "The council can meet its renewable targets in other ways without blighting so many people and destroying so much. The developers haven't done their homework; the landscape hasn't got the capacity to support wind turbines - and it's just not the right landscape to put them in. It's detrimental to the people who live here and to the people who visit."

[...]

Reg concludes: "We've got barn owls and merlins here. Planning permission requires us to put a bat loft in, but they don't seem fussed about huge turbines 600 metres away."

(See Journal article by Jane Hall - 'Wind of change blows too fast', 14 July 2007).


'NORTHUMBERLAND'S BIGGEST OWN GOAL?'


Journal 13 July 2007

The Journal, 13 July 2007

More stories about real people and the real local economy.

Why should we sabotage local enterprises just so that a Bahamas-registered, speculative developer such as Your Energy Ltd can cream off a huge income from subsidies by trashing our landscape with turbines?

Their so-called 'community fund' promises only 30,000 per year limited to 'energy efficiency and education' projects, with funds for appropriate projects being administered by the Berwick Borough Council. This is risible. The damage to investment in local tourist businesses already amounts to more than the entire package promised by Your Energy Ltd over 25 years!

(See Journal article by Alistair Gilmour - 'Northumberland's biggest own goal?', 13 July 2007).


'WIND FARMS MAY AFFECT LOCAL BUSINESSES'


Journal 12July 2007

The Journal, 12 July 2007

'One couple's plans on hold because of wind farms. How many more local businesses are affected? Businesses heavily reliant on tourism are dismayed at proposals to erect giant wind turbines in north Northumberland.'

(See Journal article By John Lowdon - 'Wind farms may affect local businesses', 12 July 2007).


'TURBINES AND TOURISM DON'T MIX'


Journal article, 11 July

The Journal, 11 July 2007

'The Plough Inn at West Allerdean is a country pub "with views to die for", according to landlord Trevor McArdle.

But those same views will lose much of their charm if a cluster of seven, 125-metre wind turbines [correction: ten 110 metre turbines] are allowed to march across the magnificent landscape that unfolds between the pub and the Cheviot Hills."

[...]'

(See Journal article by Alistair Gilmour - 'If the wind farms come, the tourists won't', 11 July 2007).


'OTHER OPTIONS OPEN TO NORTHUMBERLAND'


Journal 10July 2007

The Journal, 10 July 2007

'There is a better range of energy options for Northumberland than 71 giant wind turbines planned around Alnwick and Berwick. So says Dr John Constable, director of policy and research at the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) and one of the country's leading authorities on renewable energy.'

(See Journal article By Jane Hall - 'A future blowing in two directions', 10 July 2007).


PRO LOBBY PAIR SNUB DEBATE


Journal 9 July 2007

The Journal, 9 July 2007

(See Journal article by Alistair Gilmour - 'Pro lobby pair snub debate', 9 July 2007).

YOUR ENERGY HIT WITH COUNCIL'S APPEAL COSTS


'A Wind farm company has been told to pay 10,000 to the council that refused its plans to set up a site in Somerset. The Secretary of State for Local Government ordered West Hinkley Wind Farm Ltd [Your Energy's shell company] to repay West Somerset Council the costs it incurred during an appeal against a planning decision.

'The company appealed after proposals for 12 wind generators, mast, and substation on land near Hinkley Point Power Station were turned down.

'Planning appeal costs are usually borne by the relevant parties, regardless of outcome. However, the Secretary of State can award costs on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour resulting in wasted expense.

'The appeal was lodged on December 1, 2005, and was not withdrawn until more than a year later, after which time the council had stumped up thousands of pounds worth of preparation costs.'

(See full story: Western Daily Press. 4 July, 2007).

New research shows that wind turbines increase the value of your house!

'... in Scotland, recent research from the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre (ESPC) focusing on property sales near Crystal Rig wind farm in the Scottish Borders found no evidence of a negative impact on the price of property in nearby areas. The ESPC study found that prices in the village of Dunbar ['town', please!] had risen from below to above the regional average over the past four years, during which time the wind farm was built, and that since the wind farm began operating, property price inflation in Dunbar has continued to exceed that achieved across East Lothian."

'[Chris] Tomlinson [Director of Programme Strategy at British Wind Energy Association] concluded: “This new research is yet another nail in the coffin of some of the exaggerated myths peddled by opponents of wind power.”'
(BWEA, New research blows away myths on wind farms', 28 March 2007)

Local readers will know that the failure of the Crystal Rig turbines to affect house prices in Dunbar might have something to do with the fact that, as the 'survey' admits, the existing turbines are 7.5 miles away in the Lammermuir Hills. They are not visible from the town.

The increase in house prices in Dunbar might also have something to do with 'the Edinburgh effect': property in Dunbar is especially sought after by Edinburgh commuters. You would have thought that the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre might know that!

A Dunbar resident answered the BWEA in Power Engineer Magazine (4th letter down):


House price wind up
I read your Editorial 'House price wind-up?' in April/May Power Engineer with interest.
As a resident of Dunbar for almost 20 years, I can assure you that the Crystal Rig wind farm (deep in the Lammermuir Hills) is completely hidden from view from any part of Dunbar. Indeed most Dunbar residents are completely oblivious to its existence. To link house prices in Dunbar, which has become increasingly a commuter base for Edinburgh, to Crystal Rig is therefore a rather specious argument.

However, what can be seen from parts of Dunbar, and is in fact much closer to the town, is British Energy's Torness Nuclear Power Station - I wonder if the real message to be taken from the dramatic expansion of Dunbar is public acceptance of a nuclear site as a neighbour?

David Bell C.Eng, MIET

(Report is available as a PDF download - click here).

Crystal Rig 1 Crystal Rig I . 2005 Don Brownlow Photography.

(Crystal Rig I, twenty 96 metre turbines. Viewpoint: B6355, SW of site [6 x 7 cm. camera, 200mm lens]. The nearest turbine is almost exactly 5 miles from the camera).

The above photo shows the densely settled nature of the Crystal Rig site area! It also shows the ridge of hills to the east of the site which masks the site from Dunbar and other low level settlements on the coast.

"Another nail in the coffin ..."?


The BWEA has also been claiming that, "A new report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Oxford Brookes University has blown away another myth about wind farms – their impact on house prices."

The truth - as is usual when it comes to the BWEA - is somewhat different:

This very limited study looked at two Cornish sites with turbines half the size of the ‘Moorsyde’ variety, and actually found that: “Terraced houses sited within 1 mile of a wind farm were observed to be 54 per cent lower in value and semi detached houses within 1 mile of the nearest turbine were 35 per cent lower than similar houses at a distance of four miles.” Losing a third to half the value of your house because you are near an array of small wind turbines is hardly proof that property values are not affected!

Admittedly, this study found that the picture at greater distance was more confused. Much of this confusion was, as the authors admit, caused by their choice of study area.

The BWEA choose not to mention the highly qualified conclusions of this study: "Because of the limited data available the findings require a degree of caution. ... The study itself may be seen as inconclusive as there was limited linear relationship between house prices and distance. ... this is only one study, and as more wind farms are built, more property will become proximate. Therefore, a cautious approach should be adopted until a larger and more in-depth study can be undertaken."

(Report is available as a PDF download from the RICS site).

THE 'SILENT MAJORITY' SAY NO


The leader of Alnwick District Council, Heather Cairns, was defeated in the local elections by Robert Thorp, who has been leading the fight against the Middlemoor and Wandylaw proposals.

Mr Thorp's campaign was centred on the wind farm issue and obviously struck a chord with voters.

Mrs Cairns had voted in favour of the Middlemoor and other wind proposals, going against the views of most local people and most of her council colleagues.

New Scottish Planning Guidance requires 1.5 km separation distance from housing.


Even though the Scottish Executive has a reputation for uncritical support for large scale wind power development, its latest revision of planning guidance is looking at setting more realistic separation distances for wind power developments than are presently in force in England and Wales. We quote from the Draft of SPP6 which is currently out to consultation:

Scottish Planning Policy SPP 6: Renewable Energy: Consultation Draft, July 2006.

Communities

28. When preparing development plans, planning authorities may judge that zones around communities should be introduced as a mechanism to steer developments to sites where impacts on local communities are likely to be considered acceptable. If doing so, planning authorities should take account of local topography and ensure that distances do not impose unreasonable restrictions on development. Any such zone will also need to recognise the differing scale and impacts of renewable energy developments and should not prevent small scale developments close to, or within, communities, including those in an urban setting. As a general rule, the Scottish Ministers would support a separation distance of 1.5 km between the edge of a town or village and large-scale wind farm developments so long as policies recognise that specific proposals may still be acceptable within specified distances if sited and designed so as to avoid unacceptable impacts on communities.

Consultation question: The Scottish Executive is minded to specify in the finalised policy that "large-scale wind farms" in this context are all wind farm developments over 20 megawatts. Views are sought on whether this is the most appropriate level and what distance from communities would be acceptable for spatial policies in development plans.

(Available on Scottish Executive site.)

UK Noise Association Calls for 1 Mile Separation distance


A report by the Noise Association reveals that badly-sited wind turbines can cause real noise problems for local communities. 1

In compiling its report, the Noise Association carried out a comprehensive review of the research done into wind farm noise. The report states that wind turbine noise can be a particular problem in rural areas, where many of the wind farms are sited, because of low background noise levels.

John Stewart, the author of the report, said, “It would be a mistake to see this as an anti-wind farm report. But there is a real danger that, in the enthusiasm to embrace clean technology, legitimate concerns about noise are being brushed aside.”

The report recommends that:

1 The UK Noise Association, 'Location, Location, Location', 26 July 2006. (You can download the PDF file).

See our Windpower Page for more information on noise.

NO SHOW BY WINDY SPEAKERS


But Your Energy's undercover activist turns up.


The debate on 'the right renewable for this area' at the Border Green Festival in Tweedmouth on Sunday, 8 July went ahead without the speakers who were listed to speak on behalf of the wind developers.

Joe Lannon, Your Energy's local representative and spokesman for the secretive 'www@Moorsyde' group, and David Sanders of BREWS, the Barmoor supporters group sponsored by Pendragon PR for Force 9 Energy, both failed to show up. They seem as averse to public debate as their groups are to public meetings.

In their absence, Bill Short of the Kirkwhelpington Renewable Energy Forum, generously volunteered to step in and speak in favour of community wind power.

Though Your Energy's local representative didn't show up, Richard Claxton, the Yorkshire activist and former Hull and E. Yorkshire Greenpeace organiser who works for Your Energy, was there. As ever, he was willing to talk to the press but not to the public. (See below for more on Richard Claxton's 'work' for Your Energy).


Your Energy's Undercover Organiser

Richard Claxton, former Greenpeace Area Networker, Hull and East Yorkshire.
Your Energy's 'secret agent'.

A local debate on local issues?

While confirming that he was still working for Your Energy, Mr Claxton told us it was his day off. He then spoilt the effect by sidling up to the Journal's reporter and giving him a statement on why Messrs Sanders and Lannon had failed to appear.

He told the Journal that they had cried off because: "The local pro-group expected a local debate on local issues".

There is a certain irony in Mr Claxton, a Yorkshire activist employed by Your Energy, a Bahamas-registered, London-based speculative wind developer speaking for Joe Lannon and David Sanders who are protesting about non-locals being involved in a debate!

There is an additional irony in Mr Claxton being so 'active' in our area when the Greenpeace 'Active Supporters' website page for the East Yorkshire group, of which he was formerly listed as area organiser, was recently telling us that it "is no longer active"!

Of course, Mr Claxton has been a professional activist since 03/05/2005 when he incorporated his limited company, 'Green Campaigns'. He is currently being hired by a number of less scrupulous wind developers who want to undermine legitimate local objections to their planning applications.

There is also some surprise that Your Energy are employing someone with a criminal conviction for aggravated trespass. NPower, their neighbouring developers at Toft Hill, cannot be too amused that Your Energy are paying someone who was involved in the occupation of their Didcot power station. This is estimated to have cost the company 690,000. (See local press).


Richard Claxton's Business site

Richard Claxton's business site.


Stopping rational debate.

Mr Claxton was with (but carefully kept his distance from) a gang of Yorkshire activists who had travelled up specifically to hound Dr John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) who was speaking in the debate.

One of their number, Jeff MacDonald, of the Yorkshire group 'East Riding Action 4 Wind', did try shouting down Dr Constable, but was soon dissuaded from disrupting the debate by the event organisers, the Chair and members of the audience who wanted to hear the speakers.

Jeff MacDonald

Jeff MacDonald (with microphone) of 'East Riding Action 4 Wind'
in action.

Mr MacDonald was later given the opportunity to address a question to the panel but then proceeded to deliver an incomprehensible tirade of abuse directed at Dr John Constable. Much of this attack seemed to be based on his confusion of Dr John Constable, who is a well known former academic at Cambridge University and who is now Policy and Research Director of REF, with another John Constable who is senior UK economist for Exxon Mobil!

An attempt to discuss wind issues with Jeff MacDonald afterwards confirmed not only his lack of research skills but also a surprising ignorance of the basic facts of wind power generation.

MAG has long attempted to involve local environmental activists - and even 'foreign' activists such as Richard Claxton and Jeff MacDonald - in an open, public debate on renewables and the sustainable development of this area of Northumberland.

Sadly, we have discovered that some so-called environmental activists are much more interested in activism than in boring stuff like the realities of energy production, transmission and consumption and how they relate to questions of regeneration and sustainability in rural areas.

(See Journal article by Alistair Gilmour - 'Pro lobby pair snub debate', 9 July 2007).

CLAXTON WATCH - LATEST NEWS

Our correspondent in Angus sends news of yet another attempt to stuff the response files with pre-written letters:

"Jeff Macdonald and Richard Claxton came to Angus to support the Novera/West Coast Energy proposal at the Mountboy site, Rossie Moor, on the edge of the Montrose Basin wild bird reserve. The site is on the edge of an SSSI.

They were collecting signed pre-printed letters of support from people in Brechin, Montrose and Arbroath.

"They set up an attractive stall in busy parts of Arbroath, Montrose and Brechin. People were encouraged to look at an array of colourful leaflets and information displayed on their stall, which also had literature publicising Greenpeace.

"At the end of their conversation, they then asked people to sign-up to show their support. A clipboard was put in front of them with pre-printed letters of support, addressed to Angus planners, for the Novera/West Coast Energy - Rossie Moor turbine development. People, by then ready to move away, were willingly signing-up.

"They were also allowing children to sign-up. I noticed children signing and confronted Jeff. His defence was that the children wanted to do it. Jeff MacDonald admitted he did not know where the proposed turbine site was in relation to his stall in Montrose - He could not even point to the site's direction. When trying to counter our claims that the site was unsuitable all he did was refer people to the Novera brochure which he was handing out, with the comment that this would answer their queries. When we pointed out the omissions and errors in the brochure he was silenced. He appeared to know nothing about the site and we only heard him arguing that wind turbines (presumably anywhere) were important to stop global warming.

Richard Claxton said very little and seemed to be merely supporting Jeff."

(See posts above and below for more about Mr Claxton's work for Your Energy Ltd.)
The Journal, 18 December

The Journal.
'Windfarm company calls in eco-warrior'. Robert Brooks, 18 December 2006

YOUR ENERGY'S 'SILENT MAJORITY' SCAM.

Your Energy now uses a standard set of rather grubby PR tactics in the attempt to show support for their turbine schemes. These include a dodgy 'Your View' reply-paid, response card that is sent out with a so-called 'community update' to people in a wide area around a scheme, stating that, "This information will be used solely for consultation purposes" (see below). Any returns are used to turn well-meaning expressions of support for renewables into 'evidence' of support for a planning application. They also work with eco-activists to run 'Yes to Wind' stalls in nearby towns and even locations such as motorway service areas and the Glastonbury Festival. The spiel invariably involves presenting people with a cynically dishonest "nukes/renewables choice" and asking people to sign in favour of wind/renewables (see below).

Local Opposition

MAG was launched at an open public meeting where supporters of the 'Moorsyde' scheme were asked by the Chair to speak. The major landowner involved in the scheme did so (at length), as did one other supporter. That was the level of support at a packed open meeting.

When the 'Moorsyde' application was advertised for representations to be made it produced 12 letters of support to the planners: 3 from the landowners involved and 4 from outside Northumberland. These 12 letters remained the grand total of expressions of support for the 'Moorsyde' scheme from January 2005 to September 2006. By contrast, well over 200 detailed letters of objection were sent.

MAG organised a petition against the scheme: 756 people signed, supplying their addresses, and the petition was lodged with the Council. MAG carried out a door-to-door survey with the petition which showed that 81.2% of households within 2.5km objected (see the Petition page); Duddo Parish Council carried out a door-to-door survey of all residents in the Parish which obtained similar results. Shoresdean Parish Council held a public consultation which again showed overwhelming opposition.

Your Energy's CONsultation
YEL's CONsultation card

YEL's 'CONsultation' card.
Note: "This information will be used solely for consultation purposes".

Your Energy has formally apologised to a Planning Inspector in Cambridgeshire for their lack of consultation with local people (story on the YEL News page). They have behaved in exactly the same manner here: very few people contacted with an initial letter; solitary 'exhibition' that was not properly advertised; total failure to meet with local people since 21 October 2004.

Many people will remember Your Energy's distribution of 8,300 freepost 'Your View' cards Last summer. These had 3 dodgy 'questions' designed to show the support of 'the silent majority' for the scheme. This evoked such an underwhelming response that YEL have been reduced to doing a rather silly analysis of the tiny number of returns and quietly submitting it to the Planning Department (without the evidence of the original cards, so that names, addresses and responses can be examined, this should not be admissable as a representation to the planning authority). As an example of how the company interpreted responses, they took the many cards that refused to tick the box supporting 'Moorsyde' while supporting renewables and wind power in general as signifying support for their scheme. In the Isle of Wight they press-released the results of a similar exercise (their Welland scheme was rejected soon afterwards).

The Kelly Gang

On November 15 2006, Matt Kelly of Your Energy asked the planners whether he could see the response file. The company subsequently hired Richard Claxton, a Greenpeace activist from Yorkshire and helped found a secretive 'pro-Moorsyde' group ("about 8 members" a spokesperson told the Press). The aim of all this was to generate a large number of pre-written letters of support that could be magically produced at the December Planning Committee as evidence of support from 'the silent majority'. Unfortunately (for YEL) the meeting was deferred and MAG talked to Richard Claxton.

The scam

Richard Claxton used a scam that had worked very successfully in Yorkshire: using teams of activists to run 'Yes to Wind' street stalls where people were asked to show their support for wind by signing pre-written letters. We understand from witnesses that passers-by were told that signing was a vote for renewable energy and against nuclear power.

We doubt whether any of the signatories knew that even the most rabidly pro-wind report to date, which is invariably referenced by the BWEA, Greenpeace and FOE, states: "It would be unrealistic to assume that wind energy would displace any nuclear capacity," ('Wind Power in the UK', Sustainable Development Commission. 2005. p35).

The Nuclear Scam

" ... the plan for the next visit to Selby is to illustrate the nukes/renewables choice with radiation suits and wind-turbine headgear. Many members of the public were quick to identify this choice ... In three days of communications work, only one person expressed a preference for nuclear power."
'Richard Claxton, Greenpeace Area Networker, Hull and East Yorkshire'. (Greenpeace Active Supporter Website).

From the scribbled comments on pre-written letters signed in Berwick, there is also some doubt as to whether many people knew that they were actually signing letters supporting an individual planning application. We hear that similar tactics have been used at West Hinkley, another YEL scheme in the West Country, with signatures being harvested at the Glastonbury Festival and from holiday makers stopping at service areas on the M5.

The company have even stooped to using children at Berwick High School in an attempt to show support for their scheme. We understand that a representative of YEL's secretive pro-'Moorsyde' group was responsible for a one-sided 'poll' of senior pupils. Needless to say, MAG was not invited to present the counterbalancing argument.

A meeting with Richard

The small group of young men, obviously not locals and all wearing 'Yes to Wind' stickers, stood out at the packed Planning Meeting on 12 December 2006 where, yet again, YEL's 'silent majority' had failed to turn up. The few supporters present were mainly landowners involved in 'Moorsyde' and a neighbouring project and YEL's undercover team from Yorkshire. The 'Moorsyde' part of the business was deferred at the last moment by the Borough Council and we all trooped outside. With a colleague, I talked for some time to a young man in a black beanie who, with a friend, was rather vaguely, "visiting friends" and "on the way to Scotland". We now discover from the Press that he is actually working under cover for Your Energy.

While Richard and his friend were amiable enough (we were on the point of inviting them along to the pub to continue the discussion), it soon became apparent that they knew absolutely nothing about the area, local wind power schemes or the 'Moorsyde' proposal.

As we stood talking outside Ancroft Village Hall, Richard was agreeing with nearly everything we said about the sensible deployment of renewable technologies, including wind, in the area, so it is a particular disappointment to discover what he was really up to.

If 'Moorsyde' had been approved in December, it might have benefited one foreign-registered, speculative development company, but it would have sabotaged Arup's independent study into windfarm development in the area. Interestingly, the YEL's local pro-Moorsyde group has continued to parrot an anti-Arup line that manages to contradict national, regional and local planning guidance on the deployment of wind energy.

It is to be hoped that Richard and his friends will find the time to visit the site area, talk to us (we have repeatedly attempted to talk to pro-wind activists) and discover the facts of the case. It is easy to get masses of signatures on pro forma letters which people think are expressing support for renewables and their opposition to global warming, but real-world planning applications are slightly more complicated.

We understand that Richard deals in simplistic messages. I would happily wear a 'Yes to Wind' badge if there was room on it for 'but not inappropriate schemes in inappropriate locations'. MAG has always expressed support for small, embedded wind power, but we do not think that a large array of turbines in this location - a lowland, settled area with a particularly poor wind resource and a local economy that is overwhelmingly reliant on tourist business - makes any sense. This is particularly the case when the proposal clearly contravenes planning guidance as expressed in the Regional Renewable Energy Strategy, the Regional Spatial Strategy and the Local Plan.

See 'Windfarm company calls in eco-warrior'. Robert Brooks, The Journal. 18 December 2006

DECIDE FOR YOURSELF


After 5 written requests and a Freedom of Information Act submission, the Berwick Borough solicitor has eventually allowed MAG to have a copy of the final draft of the Ferguson McIlveen Report ('FERMAC') which the Council claims provides sufficient information on landscape capacity and cumulation of wind farms for them to ignore the forthcoming Arup report in the Berwick area (due at the end of February).

We are making the final draft of ''FERMAC' available as a PDF download so the public can judge this report for themselves and compare it with Arup's work.

Incidentally, probably due to the confusion within the Planning Department and the outsourcing of Berwick's planning work under the direction of the Planning Advisory Service (the standards authority for development control performance) to a company in Darlington, the Council have been repeatedly assuring us (even in written responses) that the Draft copy of this report from October 2006 in the public case file was the final and only copy of this report. This report was riddled with major errors, including reference thoughout to the proposal as it was prior to the revision of turbine numbers and layout that took place in July 2006. This was only noticed in November 2006. The Borough have now discovered a 'Revised Draft' from November 2006 which has not been available to MAG or the public until now. It is still littered with errors: for example, it gets something as basic as the date of the planning application wrong. The Borough Solicitor assures us that this is the definitive and final draft.

We suggest that you look at the introduction, which contains the only reference to cumulation and '3.7 Summary of Visual Impact Audit', which, after the author's entirely subjective and unsupported opinion on the landscape's capacity for wind farm development, based on a single site visit on 15th/16th August 2006 and a review of some of the photomontages (not the most important, which this report actually recommended) says: "Further assessment will be necessary of the wider landscape context to confirm these initial thoughts."

Surprisingly, the Council has been unable to produce any briefing document which sets out the scope and purpose of Ferguson McIlveen's work, but they have produced the letter "inviting expressions of interest" for the study from Berwick's Principal Planning Officer. This letter clearly states that any work, "will need to address the issue of cumulative impact." 'FERMAC' entirely fails to do so.

Finally, have a look at Arup's work. We have made their latest report (Kiln Pit Hill in Tynedale, January 2007) available as a PDF download so you can compare and contrast the methodology with 'FERMAC'. This is a report on a single wind farm and its landscape. The Berwick report will have much more work on both capacity and cumulation. If you wish to look at Arup's previous report in Tynedale, which looks at situation with multiple wind farm applications in the Knowesgate/Harwood Forest area, there is a link below to the NEA download page.

Would you base a decision on the future of the Borough's landscape, local tourist industry and communities on 'FERMAC'? Our Borough Council states that it is going to do so on 6 February, three weeks before our local Arup report is due.

--------------------------

1. 'Fermac' Report. (PDF download).

2. Arup/White associates, 'Kiln Pit Hill report'. (PDF download). NB. 3.03MB - will take substantially longer to download than 'FERMAC'!

3. NEA Download page for Arup/White Associates 'Wind capacity Study' for Knowesgate & Harwood Forest, June 2006. (Zipped PDF file for download, main file 2.81MB).

Opposition to the Onshore Windrush Grows


As well as tourist agencies, the major landscape conservation bodies are united in opposition to the current onshore windrush.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has recently highlighted the growing threat from wind turbines to some of our supposedly most protected landscapes.

The CPRE believes that:

large wind turbines can be a form of pollution which damages the landscape. Decisions on the scale and location of wind power development and other forms of energy generation should therefore avoid damaging valued rural landscapes – not only those that are designated as National Parks or AONBs.
(Policy Position Statement, 'Onshore Wind Turbines', February 2006.)

The John Muir Trust, Scotland's premier conservation body, recently conducted a campaign which stated:

The National Trust has been implementing rather than talking about micro and embedded renewables technologies as well as energy conservation measures. They oppose the destructive impact of onshore, industrial wind power stations:

We are particularly concerned about wind turbines, as the present UK Government targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are predicated on a rapid expansion of wind energy. The most favourable areas for commercial exploitation of wind energy are some of the wildest parts of Britain.

We believe that the pressure on planning authorities to approve proposals for new wind turbines will grow. These pressures should be resisted: Britain's wild coast and countryside is an asset, valued by people here and across the world. We firmly believe in the need to contain the global environmental crisis of accelerating climate change, but we argue here that the modest benefits of wind turbines must be carefully measured against their environmental and social costs.

The Ramblers Association has long been campaigning against the damage from uncontrolled onshore wind power development. Their current campaign identifies the weakness of the recent energy review, which is allowing the wind industry to continue harvesting excessive subsidies while higher value alternatives are sidelined:

'Ramblers’ Association Calls For Renewables Rethink

[18 September 2006]

'The Ramblers’ Association today called for an urgent reform of the subsidy which supports renewable energy developments on the UK, including a massive reduction in the funding given to large scale land based windfarms. The call comes after the RA’s Chief Executive, Christine Elliott, examined the impact of new windfarm developments in the Scottish Highlands.

'Christine Elliott said: “Across large swathes of upland Britain our world famous landscapes are under assault. From the Cairngorms to the Welsh moorlands to the hills of Devon and Cornwall, giant wind turbines are on the march. This is entirely due to a government scheme, the Renewables Obligation, which pays huge financial rewards to large scale windfarm developers. This scheme is the direct responsibility of UK Energy Ministers. They must be persuaded, as a matter of urgency, to agree to its radical reform.”

“The real obligation lies with the UK Government to pay less attention to the commercial aspirations of multinational energy companies and far more to the real energy needs of local communities, local industries and local people. UK Ministers need to wake up to the reality that tourism, outdoor recreation, farming and forestry are the cornerstones of life in the uplands – not industrial power stations planted in the middle of peat bogs. The carbon benefit is questionable and the only clear dividend is to investors.”

[...]

LOW POWER, HIGH FARCE:
YOUR ENERGY FUDGE THE FIGURES


"If you fudge an issue to get the result you want you will be exposing yourself to acute professional embarassment, and if people find you have fudged one issue they anticipate you have fudged everything." (Bill Richmond, then YEL MD. Berwick Advertiser, 11 November 2004).

'Moorsyde' Mk. II

Over a year after they submitted their planning application, Your Energy/Mistral started claiming that they would use powerful, 3 MW, offshore turbines on the 'Moorsyde' site. This gave a peak theoretical capacity of 42 MW (14 x 3 MW turbines) rather than the 38.5 MW (14 x 2.75 MW) that appeared in their planning application (the 2.75 MW turbine they had used in those figures was already out of production before they made their application). At the same time, they stated that the more powerful turbines would supply nearly 10% less power than stated in their original specification.

Very strange - an increase of 3.5 MW and the power output goes down by 10%!

Using their new figures, it appeared that the capacity factor of the proposal had mysteriously shrunk from 27% to nearly 22%. The wind industry likes to claim that appropriately sited wind turbines have a capacity factor of at least 30%. A capacity factor of 22% would be very poor indeed and would reflect what the then MD of Your Energy admitted in the Berwick Advertiser in October 2004: "The fact that Felkington is on a low lying plateau means the wind conditions are relatively low ...". It would also mirror the fact that the DTI's measured capacity factors for the North East are the lowest in the country (see 'Turbine Efficiency - the Facts'). A good wind resource, and hence capacity factor, is the basic justification for building a wind power station in a particular location.

As far as we can see, the only 3MW turbine that the company might use on this site is described by its manufacturers as a "high wind and offshore turbine". It would clearly be unsuitable for the wind conditions on this site.

'Moorsyde' Mk. III

The company subsequently (March, 2006) submitted an Addendum to its original Environmental Statement [ES] which forms the core of the planning application.

In this document, the company produced their third variation on the figures. This version did not bring any clarification or precision to the figures. On the contrary, it made them so vague as to be almost meaningless.

It stated that the scheme would have a capacity of, "between 28 and 42 megawatts", that the individual turbines would have a rating, "of between 2 and 3 MW" and that "the capacity factor may be between 23% and 30%". Yet even though they claimed to have no idea of the capacity or efficiency of the scheme, they were claiming an output equivalent figure with an additional 500 homes and 4% more of Alnwick District than on their then website calculation which used the 42MW capacity figure!


Yet Another Change (August 2006)

Hard though it is to believe, after axing four turbines from the scheme, Your Energy changed their collective mind yet again.

Apparently, they now could (contrary to their previous arguments) foresee what capacity turbines they would use. The company changed the figures on its website from those submitted to the planning authority in their Addendum to the Environmental Statement. They were now specifying a 3MW turbine, giving an overall capacity of 30MW.

And Another! (October 2006)

YEL have now changed the figures on their website yet again, it has now reverted to being undecided about the capacity of their turbines (2-3MW) in line with the Addendum to the planning application and has (eventually) recognised our arguments on the inaccuracy of their power output equivalents: they now state, "Berwick 100% approx" (they have now 'lost' the equivalent 43% of Alnwick district that they were previously claiming!).

November 2006

But YEL now show 20MW headline capacity for 'Moorsyde' on recent exhibition materials at Sixpenny Wood published on their website.

Yet Another! (December 2006)

YEL have produced yet another (and we hope, final) set of figures to go with their belated December consultation on the July revision of the 'Moorsyde' scheme. Presented as an update to the Environmental Statement they claim that, "the Proposal will generate on average 49,600 to 58,800 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually, equivalent to the average annual needs of 10,500 to 12,500 households - between 91% and 107% of the total number of households in Berwick Borough."

YEL have reverted to using a range of predictions supposedly based on 2MW or 3MW turbine models. As ever, their figures are wildly at variance with the facts on the ground. They claim that, "generation forecasts are based on actual field measurements from June 2003 to June 2005 correlated to long term data at Boulmer (30 miles away) by independent consultants, Garrad Hassan." However applying the bottom end figure to a 2MW turbine gives a capacity factor for the site of 28%. This is wildly unrealistic, considering the wind resource on the site.

Some of their previous calculations which give a factor of 22% bear more relation to reality and the top end figure applied to a 3MW turbine does give a figure of 22%. It should be noted that NPower, at the Toft Hill site next to 'Moorsyde' (with a similar height and topography), are working to a 21% figure which is based on the Met Office wind speed figures for the site. 'Correlating' figures to Boulmer is laughable, it is an exposed coastal site which, as YEL admit, is 30 miles from 'Moorsyde'. We might point out that weather records at Letham Shank weather station, at a similar height to the 'Moorsyde' site and only 7 km. to the north show average wind speeds of under 6 metres per second for the years mentioned above. This figure correlates to the DTI wind speed database figure for 'Moorsyde' and is on the margin of what is normally regarded as viable for development.

Crystal Rig, 330 metres above sea level on an exposed site in the Lammermuirs had a recorded average capacity factor of 27.5% in 2005. (See Data from Ofgem website.) Even Your Energy must agree that 'Moorsyde', on a lowland site only 60-80 metres above sea level, is not likely to outperform Crystal Rig! Even Your Energy's MD has admitted that, "The fact that Felkington is on a low lying plateau means the wind conditions are relatively low ..." (Berwick Advertiser, October 2004).

YEL have also produced some figures on projected carbon savings. They estimate that, "a wind farm of the capacity proposed at Moorsyde would annually displace 42,000 to 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (C02)". As usual the figures are based on the British Wind Energy Association's formula for carbon saving which, uniquely, does not recognise that significant wind power generation requires, according to National Grid and others, ca. 65% 'hot' backup from fossil fuelled plant and that any power saved will not substitute solely for coal-fired plant.

The DTI, Carbon Trust, DEFRA and Ofgem all state that any substitution should be based on a 'grid average' carbon saving; this immediately halves the figure claimed by YEL. this is before any calculation is made for the enormous amounts of concrete used in turbine foundations - cement production emits large amounts of CO2 (this figure would be even worse for 'Moorsyde' with grouting of old mine workings in the attempt to provide secure foundations).

You might think that even 20,000 tonnes of CO2 sounds like a lot. However, we each generate ca. 0.33 tonnes of CO2 per year merely by breathing. A single jumbo jet, flying from London to Miami and back every day, releases the climate-change equivalent of 520,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. 'Moorsyde', even accepting YEL's dodgy output figures and without making any allowance for 65% standby or building emissions, would save a maximum of 4% of the emissions of a single 747 jet (using DTI/Carbon Trust/DEFRA/Ofgem recommended figure of 0.43kg CO2 per kWh saved).

Before this proposal is submitted to the Planning Committee, we would ask that Your Energy submits evidenced figures for their application. There has to be a limit to playing games with the figures and the public.

POSTSCRIPT - MORE FALSE FIGURES

With a further reduction in turbine numbers, YEL have produced some more figures. We will be analysing them when we manage to get some more detail from the company or the Case Officer.

Alison Hood of Your Energy Ltd (YEL), the 'Moorsyde' developer, recently claimed in the Berwick Advertiser that, “the output of the wind farm is not in dispute” ('Your Energy's 'misleading' claims ...', 13 September).

The most extraordinary aspect of that statement is that it was published on the same day that the Advertiser also published an advertisement announcing public consultation on YEL's revised application for 7 rather than 10 turbines.

The output figure quoted by Ms Hood was for the old 10 turbine scheme. The new 7 turbine scheme claims an output that is up to 27.5% lower than the 10 turbine figure quoted by the company.

This means that YEL's spokesperson knowingly – or in total ignorance of the facts – grossly exaggerated the projected output of the proposal. Total ignorance seems the likelier explanation, in that she also managed to get the number of turbines wrong, talking of 9 turbines when the old scheme was for 10 turbines. Additionally, the revised application reveals that YEL had agreed the cut to 7 turbines with the Borough on 16 August, over 3 weeks before they talked to the reporter.

CUMULATION - A CROSS-BORDER PROBLEM


Cumulation Map

Crown copyright 2005.

Reproduced from OS 1:250 000 mapping (Licence No. 100044197).

Wind power schemes in North Northumberland and South East Scotland.

While we are focused on what is going on in Northumberland, we tend to ignore what is going on just over the border. In the Lammermuirs alone 99 turbines have already been built or consented with another 70 applied for. Throughout the Scottish Borders and E Lothian, another 119 turbines have been built or consented. Another 45 have been applied for and companies are scoping proposals for at least another 150 as of June 2007. There is no sign that the present Klondike rush to get proposals into the system is moderating.*

Proposals in Northumberland will be part of this problem, adding to to the large surges of intermittent wind power production in the region that, in the experience of other countries, will only be managed by 'curtailment', i.e. Shutting down wind power stations when their power is destabilising the grid.

The Scottish grid is being strengthened - at great public expense - to cope with some of this power generation, but nobody has yet confirmed whether the transmission system in Northumberland will be able to cope with the potential power surges from north of the border when all this wind power is built and very occasionally hits peak output.

Meanwhile, Longannet Power Station at Kincardine-on-Forth, the second largest coal-fired power station in the UK and one of the largest in Europe is due to close in 2015. It has installed capacity of four 600 MW units and, operating at full load, can produce enough electricity to meet the needs of two million people. Cockenzie Power Station, at Prestonpans, East Lothian, is another coal-fired station that is due to close by 2015. It has a capacity of 1,200 MW and is used to to guarantee security of electricity supply by balancing load on the system. Torness, with a capacity of 1,364 MW, provides nearly a quarter of Scotland's electricity and is due for closure or uprating by 2023.

The absolute maximum, 100%, theoretical peak capacity of well over 400 built, consented, proposed and outline wind turbines in the Scottish Borders and Lothians would still be considerably less than Torness' output and, of course, Ofgem's measured capacity factor for onshore wind turbines in this area averages between 21 and 28% of their headline capacity. Because of the need for backup at the rate of 65-80% of capacity when wind becomes a significant generator, all the hugely subsidised wind power stations in the region will not substitute for a single conventional power station which is needed to guarantee our electricity supplies.

* Visit our sister website at www.windbyte.co.uk for larger maps and detailed information on all the wind power schemes in North East England and South East Scotland.

NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND UNDER SIEGE


There are now six proposals for a total of 50 massive wind turbines within the Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed, with another 18 just over the borough border at Middlemoor. Other sites are being investigated, one immediately next to 'Moorsyde'.


Moorsyde, Toft Hill and Barmoor

Crown copyright 2005.

Reproduced from OS 1:250 000 mapping (Licence No. 100044197).

Apart from Your Energy's 'Moorsyde' proposal for seven 110 metre (360 ft.) turbines, NPower have applied for an array of seven 112 metre (367 ft.) turbines at Toft Hill (see our Toft Hill page), only 2.5 km from the 'Moorsyde' site, while Catamount/Force 9 Energy are proposing to build nine 110.5 metre (362 ft.) turbines at Barmoor, only 4 km. from the 'Moorsyde' site (see our Barmoor page).

There is a further application by Ridge Wind for ten 125 metre (410 ft.) turbines at Wandylaw, near Ellingham, which the company is laughably attempting to represent as a "small, unobtrusive wind farm" (project brochure). Another 18 turbines of the same size have been applied for by NPower on an adjacent site at Middlemoor (see company website) just over the borough border.

This is by no means the sum of the madness. RES are scoping another proposal for 10 turbines at Murton, together with another scheme for 7 turbines just to the north of Halidon Hill. Both are very close to Berwick. The Spanish company EHN (see our Bird Page) is scoping two sites on the glorious heather moorland above Chillingham and Old Bewick. Coronation Power has just abandoned a proposal for 6 turbines at West Moneylaws, near Mindrum, on the edge of the National Park. In other areas in the Borough, developers are still approaching landowners with monotonous regularity.

It is absolutely certain that there will be a succession of further applications for large turbine arrays until government and the regional planners stop encouraging the industrialisation of the countryside with turbines.

There is still considerable uncertainty as to whether the Ove Arup capacity study will be applied with sufficient rigour to save the landscape of North Northumberland from major damage.

It is worth noting that Arup found that, in just 2 other potential 'areas of search' in Northumberland, there are at least 31 places in which wind farms would cause less visual blight than in the South and West Berwick area. In their North/South Charlton study, Arup specifically excluded settled Open Rolling Farmland (ORF) because, "...it has an even distribution of scattered settlement. Visual amenity and noise considerations make it highly unlikely that wind farm development of any scale would come forward (or be appropriate) in this part of the landscape character area." However, almost the entire area in the South/West Berwick study is comprised of settled ORF, which, if treated in the same way as in the North/South Charlton study, clearly means that almost all the South and West Berwick area is unsuitable for wind farm development.

Scottish Borders Council, when formally consulted on the 'Moorsyde' proposal, said: "this site would not be supported were the proposal to be located within the Scottish Borders, primarily by virtue of its landscape character" (Alistair Lorimer, Assistant Head of Development Control, Scottish Borders Council. Consultation response, 22 February 2005).

North Northumberland Proposals


Name Location Company No. Height Status
Barmoor Barmoor
/Brackenside
Catamount
/Force 9
9 110.5m.
(362ft.)
Applied
Berw. Co.
(03/06)
Bewick
Moor 1
nr. Chillingham EHN ? ? Scoping
Anem. Mast
Bewick
Moor 2
nr. Old Bewick EHN ? ? Scoping
Anem. Mast
Middlemoor N/S Charlton NPower 18 125m.
(410ft.)
Applied [DTI]
(12/05)
Moneylaws Hill nr. Mindrum Coronation Power 6 125m.
(410ft.)
Now withdrawn (02/07)
'Moorsyde' Shoreswood
/Felkington
Your Energy
(Mistral)
7 110m.
(360ft.)
Applied
Berw. Co.
(01/05)
Murton Murton, nr. Berwick RES 10 120m.
(394ft.)
Scoping
Toft Hill Grindon
/Shellacres
NPower 7 112m
(367ft.)
Applied
Berw. Co.
(11/06)
Wandylaw nr. Ellingham RidgeWind 10 125m.
(410ft.)
Applied
Berw. Co.
(09/06)

Rural Economy Failed by Government


'Measures to boost the rural economy after the UK's devastating Foot and Mouth crisis have failed, according to new research.

A study published by the Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne on the fifth anniversary of the disease outbreak, reports that household incomes in remoter rural areas continue to lag behind the national average.

The worst affected counties (Cumbria and Devon) are falling ever further behind national economic growth rates. Even more worryingly, rates of new business registrations are declining in remoter rural areas for the first time in a decade.
[...]'

(See Press Release), 17 February 2006.

Comment:
The huge numbers of turbines planned for rural Northumberland will exacerbate the failure of rural regeneration after the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak. We have already experienced 3 years of planning blight and economic stagnation in the area of the 'Moorsyde' proposal and are still waiting for a planning decision. And now the Barmoor, Toft Hill and Wandylaw applications have also entered into the picture.

The prospect is for successive applications over the coming years, followed by possible appeals against refusal with further submissions and enquiries. During all this, local businesses and the housing market are blighted. This is before a single turbine is built.

When they are built, surveys that haven't been commissioned by the wind industry suggest that we will experience a decline in tourist visits of between 20 and 30%.* This will severely damage many local tourist businesses.

'Moorsyde', meanwhile, were it ever to be built, would bring no employment or economic benefit to the area beyond some low grade contract work during construction and a paltry annual payment to a fund for 'energy efficiency and education' administered by the Council. This works out at much less than the cost of a single low energy lightbulb per household (a far more effective carbon saving measure than building wind turbine generators).

Meanwhile, if the regional and local planning authorities (or their consultants) are so set on trashing our landscape, we would suggest that they also ought to be negotiating a minimum payment of 5,000 per MW capacity per annum for independent and local community regeneration funds as partial compensation for the damage they will cause to our rural economy.

* See Scottish research, linked from Views of Scotland website.

Site design, graphics & photography:
Don Brownlow - Borders Photography