THE collapse of a 35-metre wind turbine near Bradworthy in North Devon serves to further highlight a growing need for more stringent regulations to better control wind turbine developments.

Fortunately, no-one was injured but had this happened with either of the Den Brook turbines, proposed to be sited within fall-over distance of the Dartmoor railway line between Bow and North Tawton, it may well have been a different story.

Corporate wind farm developer Renewable Energy Systems (RES) proposes to build two of its nine 120-metre high Den Brook wind turbines less than 120 metres from the popular tourist railway line.

No health and safety survey was ever undertaken and it is only as a result of pressure from concerned locals, acting through the Den Brook Community Liaison Group, that RES agreed to carry out an assessment.

The resulting report, promised more than six months ago, remains to be published, although in a letter to the Crediton Country Courier last September, RES sought to defend the dubiously close proximity of the turbines to the railway line by comparing the turbines – considerably taller than Big Ben and almost the size of the London Eye - with the many bridges, buildings and all sorts of other structures built closer and sometimes over busy railway lines.

But RES, buildings don't have blade tips slicing through the air at close on two hundred miles per hour, do they?

Planning permission for the Den Brook turbines was granted in December 2009 and yet just two weeks ago RES officially informed West Devon Borough Council of its latest twist in the long-running saga. RES intends to submit a further planning application seeking permission to "amend" the noise control conditions that were fundamental to the granting of planning permission.

Despite its consistent claims of no noise nuisance from the proposed turbines, RES has notified the Local Planning Authority that it wishes to increase the amount of permissible noise pollution by more than 30 per cent: presumably so that the multinational developer can maintain projected profit margins rather than have to turn off offending turbines due to excessive noise emissions.

However, at the same time RES has also advised West Devon Borough Council that the application would not contain any changes to the development previously permitted!

If a 30 per cent increase in noise pollution is not a change, just what is? Little wonder then that those living and working around the proposed wind turbines at Den Brook are sceptical of RES' motives.

This latest twist is clearly aimed to drastically reduce the reasonable noise controls specifically imposed for regulating excessive noise pollution from the proposed wind turbines.

Is that green and clean, as RES would have us believe?

Mike Hulme

Den Brook Judicial Review Group

by email