June 13, 2011

Windfarm War

In episode 4 of the recent BBC2 series Windfarm Wars, one John Vincent (apparently of Pershore in Worcestershire) speaks at the new appeal hearing against the West Devon Borough Council's denial of planning permission for the Den Brook wind energy facility. Alas, you must imagine the scene, because BBC allows only U.K. residents to watch their shows and then only for a week. Also, for that reason, some of the dialog and narration in the following may be confusing as to who is speaking.
Mr [John] Vincent, are you a supporter or an objector?

I'm a supporter.


Perhaps it's the word "developer" which creates the sort of animosity which will lead to the level of aggressive protest, to bring us to new debate, and these developers are actually caring scientists and engineers, wanting to help us and our world with clean energy.

To the point - now, this debate is supposedly based on what? Important new evidence? Do you know what the important new evidence was? It was an error. I asked a scientist, "How will this error in the sound figures affect the local populace?" "It is unmeasurable scientifically. It's inaudible to any creature." Yet to many people here today, it's an excuse to abuse our taxpayer in order to thrust forward a small group's own protests. It in no way reflects the will of the majority of people who would never believe that they would have to protest FOR wind. "Who would protest against it?" they might well ask.

Rather than try and persuade people who were already persuaded, the best thing is to talk to the people who I think don't understand the situation, so I made my mind up that I would have a quiet word with them, so I turned round and introduced myself to them and told them what I'd done and it just developed into something really quite bizarre.

And he knows Rachel [the developer's rep].

As soon as we got talking about it, he said, "Do you mind if I go over and bring the acousticians over from the developers?" I said, "No, great."

I'm stunned to see people objecting.

I generally agree with you, but there are specific times when these problems can arise, under certain conditions. So normally if you're standing a kilometre away, 800 metres or any distance, you can't hear them?

Absolutely. More than likely the case.

We have identified from the data that Rachel has provided us that there are specific conditions, atmospheric conditions that apply to the Den Brook area...

We would disagree with that identification. We've analysed our data as well.

If you can prove us wrong, that's fine, but you're refusing to respond to us.

We have responded in evidence.

You won't address amplitude modulation.

We have our meteorological witness...

Rachel, I got a letter from your solicitor, saying you will not be addressing amplitude modulation and you won't be addressing that in the noise conditions. It's like a denial that this stuff happens.

So the High Court case costs how much? How much has it cost you?

It's cost me a fortune. It's cost me £70,000 personally.

Couldn't you have spent that money on double glazing?

If double glazing sorted the issue...

When I stand by one of these turbines, I can't hear anything. Can I just finish?

There is a problem out there. I've been there. I've experienced it.

It can be irritating and noisy, so a great solution would be to put it somewhere quiet where it won't upset too many people. They've found that place, haven't they?

Just a minute. What are you saying?

I've just said, "Sod you, there aren't many people around it. Go ahead."

If it was going to affect thousands of people...

You are joking!

What makes you think you're so important? You've got to be joking. I don't believe you're so important.

You believe that all the people who live near windfarms aren't important, they're sacrificial?

I believe some things are good on this planet and some things are bad. A bit of noise pollution from a wind turbine... People live near motorways, they live in cities. They live in blocks of flats. You've got a lovely, ideal life set in the heart of Devon in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Enjoy it and stop whinging. The only people here today were from near Little Whinging or whatever it's called. Not all the people in the rest of the planet saying, "Build us some renewable energy."
I imagine the poor man had to be shot with a tranquilizer dart and is now held safely in a cage somewhere.

Further on in the same episode, the developer, Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, represented throughout by Rachel Ruffle, reveals their concern about "amplitude modulation', the characteristic pulsing noise from large wind turbines, presumably caused by the different air conditions at the top and bottom of the blades' sweep area:
As promised, the following Monday, RES put in their response to Mike's team's AM noise condition.

They argue that a condition is unnecessary as excessive AM is rare and it's not recommended in ETSU guidelines.

They also say stable atmospheric conditions at the appeal site are rare too, and in their view, conditioning AM would cause profound damage to the UK wind industry.
In other words, AM won't occur, but if you place conditions to prevent it, the wind industry will collapse.

Or in yet other words, AM is obviously a very serious problem, and there is no way to avoid it.

And the industry's message for those who will be adversely affected (in amenity at least and likely in health as well)?

Call in John Vincent.

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