Wind farm developer taken to task over exaggerated claims

Thursday 23rd October 2014 10:00 pm
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THE Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints against Den Brook wind farm developer RES UK and Ireland Ltd.

Taw Turbine Action Group contested the developer's claims that the "nine turbine wind farm will be capable of generating up to 18 megawatts of renewable electricity" and that "this is sufficient to meet the annual average needs of approximately 9,425 homes; which, for comparison, is around 40 per cent of all the homes in West Devon".

Roland Smith of Taw Turbine Action Group, who made the initial complaint, says: "The claims made by RES are typical of those coming from the renewable energy industry.

"In nearly every planning application, consultation document and website for renewable energy proposals we see grossly exaggerated, unsubstantiated and misleading claims, not only as to the amount of electricity to be produced but also concerning the detrimental impacts on the landscape and historic environment, not forgetting the great damage done to peoples' homes and gardens in terms of outlook and noise.

"These claims are then innocently copied into media reports, misleading the general public into believing that wind turbines and solar farms will generate far more electricity than is physically possible and, at the same time, displace far less in terms of carbon dioxide emissions which, we are told, is the purpose of all renewable energy schemes.

"In future RES will have to be honest with the public and not make misleading and exaggerated claims. "It will have to take into account the capacity factor when making claims about how much electricity the controversial wind farm will produce, meaning that it will, on average, produce about 4.5MW – approximately a quarter of its installed capacity – not 18MW as has been claimed up to now.

"This is a trivially small amount of electricity from such a huge and environmentally damaging facility, which has been the subject of a four-part television series and is still the subject of a serious and unresolved noise issue."

RES has applied for nine 125-metre high wind turbines in the Den Brook Valley, between North Tawton, Bow and Spreyton.

The plan has been the subject of much debate, meetings and appeals and the unresolved noise issue relates to the amount of noise the turbines are expected to generate, an issue which RES has never sought to resolve.

The planning application for Den Brook Wind Farm was submitted to West Devon Borough Council in November 2005 after RES spent two years completing survey work, design and consultation with independent experts and the local community.

It was granted planning permission in February 2007, after a full public inquiry.

A legal challenge was lodged by opponents to the scheme in March 2007 and was dismissed in the High Court in February 2008.

Leave to appeal was granted and consent for the project was quashed in July 2008.

RES agreed not to continue with court proceedings, but rather to bring them to an end by consent and return to public inquiry to resolve the matter.

The second public inquiry was held in the autumn of 2009 and consent was granted in December 2009. A legal challenge was lodged in January 2010 and was dismissed in the High Court in July 2010.

Opponents of the Den Brook Wind Farm have, most recently, been protesting about changes RES wished to make, namely to Amplitude Modulation (AM) noise controls.

RES has not sought to resolve the noise issue, of late, and this has, effectively, held up the plan.

Meanwhile, RES has completed road improvements to the Whiddon Down junction and installed a wide entrance at Crooke Burnell, North Tawton, in anticipation of the approval of the scheme.

The road improvements were completed to enable the long turbines to be transported to the site using the highway.

RES, last summer, anticipated that the turbines will be delivered to the site in late 2014.

Doubts have now been cast over whether this scheme, and other large local renewable energy schemes, including the plan for a solar farm, the size of 80 football pitches, on land in the parishes of North Tawton and Exbourne, will ever take place.

The Government recently confirmed that state aid under the Renewable Obligation for developments over 5MW would end in 2015/16.

Saying this, there may be funding avenues through a new scheme, Contract for Difference, from the autumn of 2015.

Kinetica Solar Ltd of Manchester and Cardiff is seeking 30-year-permission for development of a 143-acre (58ha) "Eco-Park" comprising of a ground mounted solar photovoltaic system and associated infrastructure incorporating recreational facilities and an ecologically enhanced landscape on land adjacent to Taw Valley Creamery, North Tawton.

• Do you think the false claims made by RES will put pay to the Den Brook Wind Farm plan? Do you think government cuts will stop plans for the Den Brook Wind Farm or Eco-Park at North Tawton and Exbourne?

If you have a view you wish to share with fellow readers, please email a letter to: [email protected]">[email protected] .

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