Reality: Walkway Wind Farm Sedgefield, not famous but infamous
The local group did not appear to have a fair hearing. Valid objections were not addressed. The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) was willing to pursue the case but the necessary funds could not be sourced at such short notice. The Council refused to wait for the results of the ongoing Noise Study by Dti, initially due Spring 2005. Later the developers sought to alter condition 20, relating to policy D10 of the local plan, in order to accommodate a 'de minimus' increase in the noise level. Again the Council refused to wait for the Dti study results which unfortunately are still not available though promised for mid April 2006!
- In a recent BBC programme the developer ,Wind Prospect, described Walkway as 7 turbines and with ?1000 a year to the community, conveniently omitted some pertinent facts:
- The turbines, each 3MW installed capacity (IC) would be 110 metres high. Walkway was originally proposed at 8 turbines each of IC 2MW. One was withdrawn as Wind Prospect (WP) conceded it would be too near to a dwelling. The result of removing one turbine WP said meant the 14MW remaining would not be commercially viable. To remedy this the developer changed to7 turbines of 3MW each, a total of 21MW!!!
- The Cumulative Effect of Wind Turbines (CEWT) was apparently sidelined. As well as the 21 MW at Walkway 11 turbines also 3MW were in a pre-planning/scoping state on a nearby Butterwick Moor (source NEREG) .Together the two will total 54MW (A single wind farm greater than 50 MW IC comes under a Section 36 application) With this and others it seems that unless permission has been granted the CEWT effect does not come into play as the pre-planning/scoping applications may not come to fruition.
- The Operator would expect to receive approximately ? million a year in hidden subsidy( i.e. ROCs). This is in addition to money for electricity generated (ROC prices fluctuate, hence an approximate figure. The wholesale price of electricity also changes and has increased considerably over the past two years) The RO system (devised it seems by an Einstein of the Financial World) must be explained clearly to those who pay for it, the consumers. To place the emphasis on 'obligation' as Government and developers have done is surely misleading
- It did not appear that noise, wind speeds nor effects on radar had been satisfactorily addressed. The applicant has since successfully applied to have a 'condition 20' altered to allow a 'de minimus' increases the noise limits
- The photomontage on the Environmental Statement is in my mind a total non-sense. What you see is not what you get.
- A member of NEREG supported the photomontage saying that was how most people see them on a grey day several kilometres away I understand Developers are supposed to provide good quality photographs, taken on a clear day. In any case it is the people who live there I am concerned about.
- Wind prospect leaflet on the proposal. sent to residents had the Greenpeace/ Foe /wwf website www.yes2wind.com advertised and asking for support for Walkway or any other projects!
Case Study 3E in PPS22 CG is "Member Training in the North East" and was to be piloted with Wear Valley District and Sedgefield Borough Councils. This gave guidance for Local Planning Authorities in taking forward Renewable Energy Developments. Produced on behalf of North East Renewable Energy Group (NEREG) June 2004 and commissioned by Government Office for the North East & Yorkshire and The Humber.
Was there a snowball's chance in Hell of a refusal for Walkway?