Land agents and the farming press tell you about the financial benefits. Development companies tell you of enormous, risk free rewards.
So why have the the vast majority of landowners in areas of search in Northumberland, from the biggest to the smallest, refused repeated offers of large windfall profits from development companies?
Wind developers will tell you that turbines have a very small footprint and no long term effects on the land.
This is misleading:
Turbine foundations are usually 15-20 metres in diameter and a minimum of 5 metres in depth. The foundation is a minimum of 750-1,000 cubic metres or more of concrete and steel reinforcement (see Powergen's PDF document on The Construction Story - High Volts, Hare Hill and Holmside Wind Farms).
The foundations are not removed at the end of the turbine's life.
A turbine and its foundations can affect drainage and groundwater over a surprisingly large area. You are advised to seek expert independent advice from a hydrologist before signing a contract.
Each turbine needs an adjacent area of hard standing for crane operations. This may be partially reinstated.
There will normally be a need for the construction of additional farm roads or tracks to construct and access turbines. Some land will also be taken for 'borrow pits' (quarries), control building(s) and, possibly, for power lines to connect the site to the grid. for most wind arrays, "1-2% of the landowner's total holding is used." (NPower Renewables).
"Entering into an agreement to allow a company to build such a large capital intensive scheme on your land, and then to manage it with total professionalism for the next 25 years is an important decision." (NPower Renewables).
Many small speculative developers in the wind business have no experience or expertise in power engineering or, indeed, in management of large industrial projects. The wind business, like property speculation, needs nothing more than a line of credit and a thick skin. Many of these companies have no income stream, but are riding the wind bubble, kept afloat by the same investment hysteria that was experienced during the dot-com boom. Many of them will go the same way as dot-com companies when the UK follows Denmark , Germany and other countries in cutting the subsidies which are fuelling the wind rush.
You, however, if you agree to hosting a turbine park, will be left with the turbines and a legal liability for their safety, whatever happens to the limited liability company that first built or operated them.
Landowners in other countries have been left with responsibility for large numbers of inoperative, rusting turbines when operating companies have failed.
You may be thinking only of your land and your right to exploit its resources. But you should be aware that impacts of 350-500 foot high turbines go way beyond your boundaries and are likely, in an area such as Berwick, to impact on tourist businesses, including other landowners' diversification enterprises.
We have firm evidence of the effects the 'Moorsyde' proposal has already had in blighting investment in tourist enerprises.
Whatever the industry might claim from its very partial tourism 'studies', be aware that North Northumberland's USP has always been its quiet, unspoilt nature. This is epitomised by the 'Secret Kingdom' campaign which is still recognised as a key identifier for the area.
Mr Dakin, 46, said agreeing to the turbines would be "selling the soul" of the farm.
He said: "We don't blame those people who have gone for the wind farms - we were sorely tempted ourselves. But it is an issue of how it effects the wider community and the whole landscape. It is the effect that the turbines would have on people living here that concerns us.
"The visual effect would be to spoil what is a special and splendid piece of land."
Among the reasons for them rejecting the offers were the presence of two ancient sites - the Duddo Five Stones and the Duddo Tower - on their land.
They say the turbines would have a detrimental effect on the tourism attracted by these monuments.
Mrs Dakin, 45, said: "The financial incentives are clearly way out of proportion with any other use of the land.
"But we feel that we are so privileged to have custody of such special things. For us it was a fairly easy decision not to get involved.
"Almost everybody is against the turbines - people just can't believe that they are going to do it."
(See full story in the Journal, 8 May 2007. The Dakins were the main story on BBC Look North and were also featured in the Telegraph and Express on 9 May).
Do you care about neighbours who will end up living close to turbines?
Property close to a projected turbine array will:
Be blighted for the period of scoping, planning and construction. This may be several years, during which people cannot sell their property without taking a large (usually 20-25%) cut in its value.
Be blighted for years when the scheme is operating.
Properties experiencing noise problems may be rendered unsaleable and therefore worthless. People in this position at present have no legal recourse.
How would you react if your house or business suffered a 20-25% loss in value or was made unsaleable due to a neighbour's actions?
'Steve Ellsmoor was approached by energy firm Nuon Renewables about allowing part of a wind farm on the Staffordshire-Shropshire border to be built on his land.
'The 49-year-old, who lives at Dorrington Hall Farm, said he initially considered the proposal, but later pulled out when he began to have doubts about the project.
'His comments come ahead of a meeting this week to consider the first part of the plan.
'He said: “I showed interest as I didn’t know what was involved. Then people started to worry about property prices and I decided it wasn’t for me."
'“I don’t want to make money out of someone else losing money on their property. I have still got to live here.” He said he also had concerns about how Nuon Renewables was going about the scheme.
'He said he had been told by a Scottish wind farm developer who visited the site that it was best practice to make sure the turbines were at least 1,000 metres away from any houses.
'Nuon Renewables wants to erect nine wind turbines on land near Knighton and Bearstone and if the plan goes ahead some will be closer than 1,000 metres.
'Mr Ellsmoor said: “If you measure 1km from where the turbines will be, there are many houses in that circumference.” And he said his own farm would be just 800 metres from the turbines. He said: “I think it’s a scandal that these wind farms can come in so close to people’s houses.
'“We could have problems with noise, which could make our property unsaleable.
'“I had a valuation done on the farm and if this proposal goes ahead, our property could be worth 15 to 20 per cent less than it is now.
'“If you equate that to all the properties in the area there will be millions of pounds knocked off property prices. I am very disturbed about the whole thing.”
'He said the landowners who had decided to allow the turbines on their land were under a lot of pressure from villagers who were worried about the scheme.
'Mr Ellsmoor said: “They have been offered a lot of money if it goes ahead, and I’m not sure it will.
'“At first I thought if it was going to go ahead I might as well look at having them.
'“But I wouldn’t like to think anyone else was losing money because of my actions.”
'Mr Ellsmoor’s farm, which has sheep, cows and cereals, has been in his family since 1920. It regularly hosts visits for children, including many from schools in the Potteries. He said: “This puts everything into uncertainty. The wind farm could destroy the area. I’ve been having sleepless nights about it.”
(See article in The Sentinal, Staffordshire).
Contrary to what the developers tell you, there are numerous, and growing, numbers of cases where turbines have caused a severe nuisance to people living nearby with consequent effects on their physical and mental health.
(See our section on noise on the Wind Power page which has references to other sources of information).
© Daily Mail
'On a sunny spring morning, Deeping St Nicholas provides a perfect snapshot of English country life. The only buildings that break the flat horizon of the Lincolnshire fens are silver-grey church spires and neat red-brick farmhouses, around which are clustered barns and silos. A covey of wood pigeons clap their wings as they take off from the black, loamy, fertile soil striped with green lines of oilseed rape. And then you hear it. "Whoompf ... whoompf ... whoompf ..."
Like the sound of an approaching train that never comes, the thumps that break the still air are not overpoweringly loud - at about 65 decibels, they're the level of a lorry going by at 30 miles an hour 100 yards away.
But what is so menacing is the regularity and the scope of the noise, which feels like a giant heartbeat shaking the earth.
When you see the culprits - the eight mammoth wind turbines installed just outside Deeping St Nicholas last May - you're actually surprised that the noise isn't louder.
These aren't the little propellers that David Cameron nails to his roof to warm his cocoa and heat his children's baths. They're veritable behemoths - 100 metres high, as tall as Big Ben's tower.
The turbines hove into view from the Peterborough to Deeping St Nicholas road several miles before you reach the little village, and they dominate the skies from here to the North Sea, 15 miles away.
Five of these monsters are set in a straight line heading away from Deeping St Nicholas. And if you trace that line onwards for half-a-mile on the map, your finger slams slap-bang into the middle of Grays Farm.
And there, in the farmhouse sitting room, with its wood-burning stove and its bookshelves jammed with family photos, are Julian and Jane Davis - wan, sleepless and very angry indeed.
Three generations of the Davis family have farmed these 300 acres of tenanted land for wheat, sugarbeet, beans, oilseed rape and - ironically, given the green glow of windpower - the new generation of biofuel crops. Mr Davis's elderly parents live in a bungalow a few yards away along a gravel track.
For the first time in a decade, agricultural prices are looking rosy - and so were the Davises' finances, until recently. But now their chances of enjoying a comfortable future are in jeopardy because of the whirring brutes next door, erected on land owned by two neighbouring farmers.
The Davises' three-bedroom house, valued at £170,000 before the turbines arrived, is now essentially worthless because no one will grant a mortgage on a house blighted by noise pollution.
For the past eight months, the Davises have lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling, driven to distraction by the thump of the blades and feeling the whole house resonating around them.
During the odd moment of silence when the wind is in the right direction, they lie awake, still, dreading the inevitable return of the whoompfs.
Ever since the Davises were first woken from their sleep three days after the turbines were installed, they have kept a log of the noise. Of those 243 days, 231 have been disturbed.
Sometimes, the noise has been so bad that they have fled the house for friends' sofas, and once for the comfort of the local Travelodge. It is on the busy Helpringham roundabout but, for the first time in weeks, they slept through until 7.20am.
Noise generated by a constant flow of traffic is easier to ignore than a repetitive thump that seems to go right through the body. "It's just that little bit faster than the noise of a heartbeat," says Mr Davis, aged 42. "So your body is constantly racing to catch up."
As well as the thump-thumpthump - which makes the television flicker - there is a low-level hum from the electric motor housed in the turbines' main shaft, which gets the blades going and controls the mechanism's air-conditioning.
This noise often mutates into what the Davises call the WD-40 noise - a grating sound similar to that produced by an engine that needs oiling.
"It drives you mad," says Mr Davis. "Your whole body becomes sensitive to it. It draws you to it. Your mind is constantly looking for the noise. I can be farming half-amile away or watching telly, and then suddenly you'll hear it. It's destroyed our lives."
Things have now become so bad that the Davises have been forced to rent out what they call a "sleeping house" in the village for £600 a month.
Now, every night at around 10pm, they take a look at the weather and decide if they should abandon ship for the evening. The noise is particularly irksome if the wind comes from the south along the line of the turbines, whipping them up in unison, so their individual noises are harmonised and amplified.
The list of disasters goes on and on, all recorded in the Davises' scrupulously kept logbook. Last July, reads the book, "we tried to have a BBQ and had to go inside due to noise and vibration - felt by guests also. Difficult to get to sleep. Wind SSE, SSW.
"Whoosh - yes. Pulse - yes. Hum - yes. We are so tired today that the simplest things - following a recipe, assembling a cupboard - seem impossible. Everyone very tired and totally exhausted. This is not living any more."
At the moment, there are more than 120 applications pending all over the country to erect windfarms close to houses - ranging from plans for just a pair of turbines to great clumps of 80 whirring away on the Humberhead Levels in Yorkshire.
If these applications go through, the number of windfarms in the country will double - even though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of windpower, which is completely dependent on the whim of the weather.
Meanwhile, the complaints keep pouring in, particularly from rural beauty spots: from Bears Down in North Cornwall to Askham in Cumbria, prospective neighbours of mega-turbines are up in arms.
Of the 126 windfarms erected in Britain so far - most of which are far from human habitation - 5 per cent have engendered complaints about the overwhelming noise.
The next tranche of building is likely to attract far more outrage because the power companies are simply running out of wilderness.
As for the Davises, they don't even have the consolation that the turbines are providing power for their own home.
"They're making electricity for other people," says Jane. "One night, our power was hit by a lightning strike. So we had the worst of both worlds - nothing working inside the house, and then that noise going on and on outside. Whoompf ... whoompf ... whoompf."'
(By Harry Mount, Daily Mail, 10th March 2007. See full article).
You will be responsible, with any turbine operator, for any nuisance, damage or injury caused by turbines on your land.
So far, in the very few years that turbines have been built in lowland, settled areas, operators have escaped legal action for the nuisance and injury caused by turbines.
The lawyers tell us that this can, and probably will, change.
UK civil law is based on tort and on precedent, and it will only take a couple of successful actions to open the floodgates for civil actions from the close neighbours to wind power schemes who are suffering health effects or who have suffered damage to the value of their property.
If you go into the power generation business, you are advised to take expert legal advice on possible future liabilities and the consequent level of liability insurance that your business should carry.
© Laurie Campbell
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