Posted by: dorsetcpre | September 30, 2011

Dorset Renewable Energy Stratagy

Wind TurbinesDorset is faced with potentially the gravest threat ever to its beautiful landscapes. Dorset County, Poole and Bournemouth Councils have published a draft Renewable Energy Strategy evaluating how our county can contribute to the Government’s questionable legal target of achieving 15% of our electricity from Renewable Energy by 2020. At the moment only just under 1% of Dorset’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

A number of different methods of increasing renewable electricity are evaluated, but the main scenario considered is the erection of up to 180 giant industrial turbines across the County – excluding the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which total over half of rural Dorset. These turbines would be taller than Salisbury Cathedral – over 400 feet tall !

The strategy is written by outside consultants, not council officers, and assumes that these turbines would not be erected in the Green Belt, SSSIs or other environmental designations – but could be as close as 600 metres from homes. We have had six applications for on-shore windfarms in Dorset so far, and ALL of them have been rejected by democratic planning committees or withdrawn because of the visual impact and dominance of the countryside and noise impact on local homes – they would be twice the height of the Cornish turbines, if you have seen them.

Dorset CPRE is strongly in favour of renewable energy, but we advocate some of the other 14 methods, rather than on-shore wind, because wind is unreliable and intermittent, so you always have to have a conventional power station operating as a stand-by backup thus not saving much CO2. Do you remember last Christmas when we had 2 weeks of bitter cold with a High Pressure over the country ? There was no wind just at a time when we needed maximum energy. A trial is going to be conducted of a tidal generator at the South of Bill – have you seen the tidal rip there ? This is a much more predictable and reliant source of power.

Since the the publication of the county Strategy, the Department of Energy have published the new UK Renewable Energy Roadmap which indicates that we probably do not need all these on-shore turbines. The problem is that the planned shore windfarm in Poole is not being credited to Dorset, and there is additional potential from a biomass plant dealing with imported materials. So we have recommended that the Strategy should be re-written since the Strategy has been overtaken by the Roadmap. The consultation deadline for the strategy was at the end of September but we still urge you to write to your MP and councillors to demand that no 400 feet high turbines are erected in Dorset.

Marsden Gate

Marsden Gate

At a local level we have been highly successful in fighting off windfarms. The second application for four turbines at Silton, near Gillingham, was rejected unanimously by the area planning committee with massive public Marsden Gate attendance. The Alaska Windfarm near Wool was more difficult. Last November the Planning Committee voted that they were “mindful to approve” subject to overcoming the problems of the visual impact on the Purbeck AONB and the noise impact on the year-round Dorset Scout Camp in the next field at Buddens Farm. I – on behalf of DART and CPRE – submitted medical reports to Purbeck Council showing that turbine noise can damage human health – and the Scout tents would be only 250 metres from a turbine. On the Continent and in Scotland the guideline is that no turbine should be nearer than 2km from a house. For instance, one farmer’s family in Norfolk were forced out of their farm because they could not sleep at night – and now the farm is unsaleable. The planning committee accepted our arguments and rejected the Alaska Windfarm.

A major Action Group in Bournemouth has been fighting the proposed off-shore windfarm in Poole Bay, but Dorset’s CPRE Mission is to protect our landscapes – not seascapes – so we have not objected. We have also not objected to the large Solar Farm at Slepe, because it is not very visible. We evaluate each application on its merits. One factor we are very concerned about is the proposal to erect lines of giant pylons across the country to link up the windfarms to the National Grid. I did a TV interview against the pylons on Canford Heath to stress the message.

Terry Stewart

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