There has been a very interesting development on our remote and beautiful West Wales farm over the last 48 hours. On Wednesday, I attended the Ashden awards for renewable energy in London, presented this year by Kevin McCloud of grand designs fame and Anna Ford. One of this year’s winners was Adam Twine’s community wind farm near Swindon.
This project interested me, as it combined the production of renewable energy on quite a large scale with community involvement. This was, I understand in Adam’s case, a key factor in overcoming local community opposition to the installation of a structure which would have such a major visual impact on the surrounding landscape.
The very next day my wife Becky rang and told me that our neighbours have just submitted a planning application for the installation of two 400 kW wind turbines on the hill immediately opposite our farmhouse. We already knew about their possible intentions, as they had approached us several years ago and asked if we would be interested in some kind of joint initiative but we had heard no more and thought that they had given up on the idea.
Now suddenly the thing has gone very live indeed, with an application having already been submitted to the local council, it’s the talk of the village! But what is really interesting is that although many people will be marginally affected we will be far closer than anyone else to these turbines – so close in fact that they would completely dominate our view from the farm house.
Now I am really put to the test! It is all very well being in favour of renewable energy generally and windfarms in particular so long as they are on the M4 or on someone else’s doorstep and affecting someone else’s view, but in this case we will be the principal affected party, and not in a small way!
Not only would the turbines form an ever present feature in the view from our farmhouse windows, but their erection could even negatively affect the value of the farm, not that we had any intention of selling.
But how could I possibly object when it has been my publicly stated position that I am in favour for many years and my stated intention that at some point I plan to erect a turbine on our own land?
All this has been going through my mind for the last 48 hours, but last night it suddenly occurred to me that the obvious way of reconciling these various tensions was to propose that instead of an installation where only two parties benefited – my neighbours and the power company, who I believe are going to pay a ground rent and will therefore take most of the profits, instead this could be the first community windfarm in our area, hopefully setting an example for others to follow.
At this stage these thoughts are just in my imagination since there is a long and complex route ahead, no doubt involving newspaper campaigns, public meetings, plenty of nimbyism and more developments that I can’t even imagine at this stage.
But a very interesting state of affairs indeed. I shall keep you posted!
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