The press has been filled recently with the news that most new wind turbines are being called in by Mr Pickles, as Secretary of State, and refused and many seemed to think that the death knell was being sounded for wind power but it’s not so. Sure the bigger projects attract considerable opposition due to their widespread impact on the surrounding countryside but there is an increasing trend towards the smaller more locally sited turbines.
If you are a business that uses a lot of energy, (such as a dairy farm or running several holiday cottages), then one of the largest bills, not to mention headaches, that you annually face is the rising cost of that power. Also as many in the South West will know to their cost, power blackouts, or even brownouts, (that’s where power is reduced but not cut off), are happening with increasing frequency. The obvious solution is to produce your own power. Here in the South West unless you want to commit significant acreage to a solar installation, wind power still represents a cost effective and clean solution to a business power needs.
Modern smaller turbines such as the Endurance and Gaia’s can produce between 25,000 and 250,000 kWh’s per annum. This could represent an off-set of power costs of between £6,000 – £9,000 in any one year. The other advantage over their bigger more intrusive brothers is that these smaller turbines can be directly plugged into the local mains, thus avoiding any costly connection charges.
These smaller turbines vary in height between 15m and 36m and can therefore, if carefully sited, blend in with the local farm infrastructure, avoiding much local opposition. Indeed in a recent case the farmer having offered the excess power from his farm turbine to the local village hall as a benefit was hailed by the local residents as a hero! Such community benefit can also be gained where second turbines are co-sited or land can be made available for a community turbine.
Under the new Planning regime implemented by the National Planning Policy Framework such localised, sustainable projects should receive the backing of Local Authorities. Indeed in a recent Royal Town and Country Planning Institute conference local power provision, through smaller wind turbines for the communities benefit, was heralded as the next major contribution to tackling climate change.
Clearly some locations, such as A.O.N.B.’s and close to listed buildings may remain unsuitable but many more farmers and local businesses should be considering taking their power supply into their own hands; if not for financial reasons, then for ensuring a sustainable future for their families and their more importantly their businesses.
For those wanting more information on this please contact the author through his Chambers, (01392) 208484.