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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Public meeting gives overwhelming support for wind turbines

The debate was chair by David Vincent on behalf of the Calder Civic Trust who called the public meeting.

Speaking in favour of wind turbines was Finn Jensen and speaking against was Dorothy Sutcliffe. The following discussion was good-natured. Finn and Dorothy told those present that they are friends and will remain so, in spite of the differing opinions.

Votes taken both at the beginning of the meeting and at the end showed overwhelming support for wind turbines by those present.

Finn Jensen spoke first. Although he was in favour of wind turbines he did not think that they should be placed just anywhere; a slide of Stonehenge appeared upon the screen. There needs to be planning and community involvement.

Where he and Dorothy could agree was the need to reduce our consumption of energy. However fossil fuels are finite and oil production has probably already peaked, meaning the price of oil will continue to rise. Much of our lifestyle is based on cheap oil.

We are going to be facing an energy gap as one third of existing power stations are to be decommissioned in the next 10 to 15 years.

Fossil fuels are also responsible for climate change, and the earth is heating up fastest at the poles. This means rising seawater as the ice caps melt and climate change accelerating.

There are 3 options; carbon capture and storage, nuclear or renewables. Neither carbon capture nor nuclear are going to be ready in time to fill the energy gap.

Opponents of wind turbines make various allegations. One of them is that it costs more to produce a turbine in energy than it will provide. But, Finn Jensen argued, studies have shown that a wind turbine will recoup cost of production within 2 to 12 months; this is far better than for nuclear or fossil fuel. In fact, onshore wind unit cost is the lowest of all energy production except, for the moment, gas.

Lack of wind is not an issue. If the wind isn't blowing in one area, it will be blowing somewhere else. Wind produced energy could be stored in car batteries.

Energy produced by wind turbines is the safest form of energy production; no member of the public has ever been killed by a wind turbine.

Finn acknowledged that noise could be a problem but as technology improves the turbines become quieter.

Some analysts think that renewable energy could eventually cover 80% of world energy needs.

Finn finished his opening remarks by saying that he was in favour of community turbines; that was what they are planning to do in Blackshaw Head.

Dorothy Sutcliffe started her contribution by saying that she was against wind turbines full stop.

Noise pollution was the top of her list. But we also needed to consider our historical heritage.

She said that those people advocating wind turbines don't live near them, or else have something to gain.

She said that for each wind turbine a hole the size of a 25 meter swimming pool needs to be dug. Sand, aggregate and cement are then used to fill the hole. These need to be transported, all of which is going to produce more carbon. New electricity lines and pylons will also be needed. The concrete industry is the biggest contributor to carbon emission on the planet.

Wind turbines aren't safe. There are notices at the entrance advising people that they enter at their own risk. There is a danger of ice falling from the blades. Many accidents are not reported. In Cornwall recently, part of the turbine wing fell off. Blade accidents are more common than they are telling us. There have even been instances of wind turbine collapse. Since 1970, there have been 945 reported accidents and 50 known deaths. Turbine fires are nearly as common as blade accidents.

Wind turbines should not be constructed near houses all roads. In Scotland, planning guidelines require them to be at least 2 km from buildings or roads.

The main thing Dorothy Sutcliffe is worried about in respect of wind turbines is the effect that they will have on the heritage of this area.

In Blackshaw Head, they are springing up like mushrooms. One bed-and-breakfast owner has to shut it down at night because of the noise.

There followed discussion from the floor.

Bear asked Dorothy Sutcliffe what she thought were the alternatives to wind turbines. Coal was her answer with the proviso that they should develop technologies for cleaner coal. When asked about coal's effect on climate change, Dorothy Sutcliffe replied that she didn't believe in climate change. Weather is a cycle, she explained.

John Butterworth, a Wadsworth councillor, referred to a Calderdale report which looked at different types of renewable energy. They found that the potential for wind turbines is great to hear than elsewhere. We have more wind resources because of where we are. That's why wind turbines are necessary. Not all applications are passed. Onshore wind is cheaper than nuclear.

Anthony Ray of Friends of the Earth agreed that it was important to look at a landscape. Wind turbines shouldn't just be put up anywhere. We need and mix of strategies if Calderdale is to achieve its target of reducing carbon emissions by 40% of the 2006 level by the year 2000.

Other points from the floor

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some think they spoil the countryside views while others think they are attractive.
  • We need to listen to the views of young people.
  • Many of the points which Dorothy made our solvable; don't put wind turbines near houses.
  • We have a very distinct and special countryside with its combination of words, moors and old industrial chimneys. This landscape is complemented by wind turbines with the difference that turbines aren't dirty.
  • Wind turbines are going at because of vested interests. There are plenty of other renewable forms of energy that these are ignored.
  • Planners won't refuse permission for wind turbines because of government instruction especially PPS 22
  • Wind turbines should not be put on the top of peat.
  • If we don't produce energy locally, then we need to import it.
  • Gas from shale in the northwest: the hydraulic fracturing ? "fracking" process by which the gas is unlocked from shale rock means that water reservoirs could be contaminated.
  • In Scandinavian countries, there is an interconnected grid. When the wind produces too much power in Denmark, water is pumped up in Norway and allowed down to run turbines as it is needed.
  • The main problem is capitalism so there is always a rigged market.
  • Climate change is something that nearly every scientist in the world agrees about. If you don't think climate change is happening, you need to produce the evidence so we can all examine it.
  • At the end of the debate, and the summing up by the 2 speakers, there was a vote. Only 2-3 people voted against wind turbines with a handful of people still undecided. 30 to 35 people voted in favour of wind turbines both in our area and nationally.

See also

HebWeb Forum - Wind Turbine Debate (Sept 2011)

HebWeb Forum - Turbine at Old Town (early 2011)

HebWeb Forum - Windmill in Hebden Bridge (Nov 2010)

HebWeb Forum - Wind Turbines (June 2010)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Methodist Hall, Market Street

Wednesday 28th September, 7.30 pm - 9.00pm

Calder Civic Trust are hosting a public meeting.

Hebden Bridge is aiming to be a green town and the issue of some local sitings of wind turbines has been the subject of constant exchanges on the HebWeb and in the local papers.

Wind Turbines

The meeting on Wednesday 28th September will see presentations by two main speakers ? one passionately for, and one passionately against, wind turbines.

Each will have up to 15 minutes to state their case. Then it will be open to members of the audience to give their views or ask questions.

The two main speakers will then have 5 minutes each to answer questions and sum up.

Calder Civc Trust Chair David Vincent will conduct the meeting.

David says "I have read with interest the articles from Sir Bernard Ingham followed by angry letters disagreeing the following week. Both sides argue so well but we do not know what the opinion of Hebden Bridge residents are on the issues.

There has been controversy regarding some local planning applications for wind turbines so to serve a public interest as well as a public information service I propose to take 2 votes of the audience before the resentations and debates then again after.

I will ask whether the audience is for or against wind turbines in general, and then whether they are for or against their siting in Calderdale.

Taking the votes before the debate and then again after, will show whether people are more for or against wind turbines after an informed debate. Of course the votes will only be a snapshot of opinion of those in the audience that night, hearing that particular debate - but it will be like a Hebden Bridge mini version of David Dimbleby's Question Time!

I hope the HB Times will then produce a report of the meeting in the next edition of HB Times as part of the emerging debate of how green people want HB to be!"

Admission is free but the Methodist Hall has a limit of 80 people so doors will open at 7.15pm ready for a 7.30 pm start. The meeting will finish no later than 9pm.

This looks to be Hebden Bridge's first public meeting to hear both sides of the argument on wind turbines.

Calder Civic Trust is an organisation of people who wish to preserve what is best about the physical buildings in Hebden Bridge, to try to keep a watching brief on planning applications to ensure a balance between conservation issues and the needs of businesses and residents.

The overall view of the audience present on the 28th may give a clear majority or closely balanced indication of what residents think about siting wind turbines in Calderdale whilst giving some useful information about wind turbines.

David says "I personally have an open mind on wind turbines at the moment and am looking forward to hearing both speakers and the audience. My role on the night will be to facilitate and ensure a balanced discussion!"

See also

HebWeb Forum - Turbine at Old Town (early 2011)

HebWeb Forum - Windmill in Hebden Bridge (Nov 2010)

HebWeb Forum - Wind Turbines (June 2010)

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