January 27, 2007

Noise, birds, permit madness

The wind energy facility on Mars Hill in Maine is still under construction, but the 16 operating turbines are already causing noise problems:
the best way to describe it is you step outside and look up thinking there's an airplane. It's like a high-range jet, high-low roar, but with the windmills, there's a sort of on and off "phfoop ... phfoop ... phfoop" noise.
One of the turbines has even been shut down. Residents are understandably worried about what it will be like when all 28 turbines start running next month. This is a project of UPC Wind under the name Evergreen Wind Power. They (surprise!) said noise from the towers would not be an issue. But (surprise!) it is. People are already being kept from a good night's sleep and can no longer hear the gentle sounds of the natural environment.

Residents have also noticed a disappearance of wildlife and are dismayed by the how much the mountain has been destroyed. The story from the Bangor Daily News is archived at National Wind Watch. See a photograph of one of the turbine sites under construction at Vermonters With Vision (another UPC project for the Vermont town of Sheffield is currently in the permitting process).

Another story that makes the developers' lines harder to believe is that of another buzzard killed by turbine blades in Forss, Scotland. According to the Aberdeen Press and Journal, "The buzzard was one of a pair, with its local nest also including a nine-month fledgling." The report went on to state, "Work is under way to build a further four turbines at the site."

Finally, are wind energy developments held to unfairly prejudiced standards in the permitting process? Perhaps it's the other way around. (See a relevant piece in The Examiner by Tim Carney about big energy -- particularly wind turbine manufacturer GE (who bought the business from Enron) -- making sure the way is cleared for and taxpayers fund their predations.)

This comes from The Journal of Newcastle (again, via National Wind Watch):
Last July Tynedale Council refused permission for Ali Johnson's [paralysed from the neck down in a rugby accident in September 2004] father, Ken, to build a three-bed [specially-equipped] bungalow on the grounds of his own home at Wolf Hills Farm, Coanwood, near Haltwhistle in Northumberland, saying that regulations didn't allow for any new developments in open countryside because they wouldn't fit in with the surroundings. ...

But the same council has now decided those rules and regulations don't apply to a 165ft wind speed recording mast despite admitting in its own documents that it "would represent an intrusive feature" and be "alien and incongruous" -- because it would only be in place for three years.

Yet that same mast, according to Doncaster-based Harworth Power which applied for planning permission, could eventually be used to try to get the go ahead for up to 24 permanent giant wind turbines above rural Northumberland.
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, animal rights