Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spaldington Wind Farms Public Inquiry

As the Spaldington wind farms appeal public inquiry moves through its second week the pattern is becoming clear. It’s the Council and the ‘STOP’ Team* working on the side of the residents against the two wind farm developers, and each developer defending their position but going out of their way to rubbish the other. (*STOP is the Spaldington Turbine Opposition Project with its own barrister and expert witnesses all funded by the community)

Week one saw the opening exchanges with the Council’s expert landscape witness, the landscape witness employed by STOP, and the expert witnesses employed by the two developers taking the stand. They all presented evidence and were cross examined by the four barristers, with each trying to score points against the other. There is certainly an interesting atmosphere between the two appellant teams and their barristers, Mr David Hardy representing Falck Renewables and Mr Jeremy Pike representing Volkswind.

The evidence provided can come across as rather complicated and extremely detailed as it focuses on degrees of potential impact on the landscape, and how the landscape can be defined and compared with other areas. It also goes very deep into the potential theoretical impact on individual residences, the distances of turbines from the houses, likely views from different windows, and from what angle turbines are expected to be seen. There are photomontages provided by all parties showing views from near and far, from house windows and from gardens, from roads and footpaths. These are then challenged by the other parties for accuracy and consistency. Interestingly the most widely used and referred to photographs are the aerial shots provided by STOP, these taken from a helicopter hovering at the tip height of each of the 12 planned turbines. This being the first time this type of photograph has been used at any wind farm inquiry in the East Riding.

There are many references to planning inspector’s decisions at previous wind farm inquiries, and paragraphs from those decision documents quoted by all sides by the barristers and witnesses to back up their positions. However it has been frequently stated in the proceedings the the inspector will come to his own conclusions.

The Inquiry also saw 4 witnesses from Spaldington take the stand to give evidence and undergo varying degrees of cross examination; these included Parish Council Chair Kath Westin, local horse and rider trainer and businesswoman Janice Chadwick, Beryl Norris a medium at the Fir Tree Spiritualist Church, and local resident Ann Marie Jackson. All gave very passionate and emotional presentations, and stood up to the questioning extremely well.

As the Councillor on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee who moved the successful refusal of both wind farms before they were appealed and therefore some would say an ‘informed member’ of the public, I think the inquiry can be interesting if somewhat tedious at times. I keep saying to myself and others that the witnesses and the barristers don’t need to impress each other, me, or the public, they only have to impress the one person – and that is the Planning Inspector sitting on his own at the top table, who will ultimately make the decision to allow or refuse the appeals.

I am to give evidence on Friday 10th June 2011 !


John Jessop said...

Sadly the two appellants teams seem to be attempting to force numerical values on the impact of the proposed turbines on the community, with the intent of persuading the inspector that their own case is not going to cause significant impact upon the community. They seem to be blissfully unaware (or uncaring in the pursuit of money) that this particulr community find the prospect of having a windfarm at either end of the village so abhorrent they have raised close on £70,000 to employ their own barrister and team of experts to fight both proposals. If that doesn't tell the world how much they oppose the idea what will?

John said...

The phrase "considered in the round" is bandied about by the appellants expert witnesses. In simple terms this seems to say that all the relevant facts should be considered. If so why does no-one mention the unreliability of wind as a source of energy when it is most needed viz the long and intense cold spells during winter. Also consider the artificially high guaranteed price paid for the energy produced by a wind turbine, or the ridiculous tariff structure where wind farm operators are paid for power which could be generated in summer when the grid does not need it and they end up with money for power they didn't produce. The price paid per unit should be limited to be on a par with that paid to gas, oil or coal fired stations.
Even the "science of global warming" seems to be falling apart according to Lord Turnbull in a paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation published last week.
Finally how much CO2 is produced in creating the cement for the concrete, the metals and plastics for the towers and turbines, the transport of all these and the other ancillary items. How many years will it take to recover just this alone?
The 25 year planning permission life is certain to be extended possibly with refurbishment of the turbines so the decision is not for a 25 year structure but a permanent edifice or series of them.
In the round needs to take all this into proper consideration!

Anonymous said...

wildlife, wildlife, wildlife-swept under the carpet no one speaks for the rest of gods creatures on this one! put the propellors out at sea out of the way not on villagers doorsteps!....rude rude rude! and so greedy by these no doubt westminster backed(one way or another) arrogant developers!!!!!
enough is enough in east yorkshire!
ugly ugly ugly!!!!!

Anonymous said...

even archimedes and leodardo da vinci would be sickened by this obscene use of the airscrew in such a beautiful rural environment.
all they generate these turbines in money for a priveleged few, misery for the rest of the community!

Anonymous said...

As John said, let the price per unit generated by wind turbines be limited to the same cost as from coal. A level playing field for all!
Note - this is not saying the price of coal fired power should be increased to match wind before some bright spark gets fancy ideas!

observer said...

Trying to read the expression of the inspector is nigh on impossible. I'd hate to play poker with him.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting watching the aviators give their evidence and the windfarm barrister trying to challenge what they said when he was utterly outside his knowledge and comfort zone. Spiralling down in flames would be one description!

John said...

Sitting through the noise issues testimonies, it was quite worrying how the last witness acting for the common windfarm company was trying to defend using debatably faulty measuring techiques and a temporary windspeed mast which was not high enough to meet the defined methodology, had suffered a lightning strike during the period of measurement and on which the weather station was demonstrably frozen solid for some of the time.
I was not convinced he was at all credible, lets see what the inspector made of him.