Wind Farm Protestors Need Your Help

St Nectan's, Stoke

St Nectan’s, Stoke

If you live in Bude or the surrounding villages, your neighbours just over the border in Meddon need your help and support, for they are fighting a wind turbine campaign against five 126 metre turbines. This is higher than Fullabrook at Barnstaple (visible from miles around). The plans include a permanent 80m meteorological mast, a substation building, access tracks and hardstanding, underground power telecommunications cabling and a temporary construction and decommissioning compound. The site is Harbour Cross, Meddon, just over the border near to Welcombe.

The currently tallest structure in the area is ‘North Devon Cathedral’,  St Nectan’ Church at Stoke which is just over 39 metres tall (or 128 feet). The location chosen for the development is an area of unspoilt natural beauty close to Bursdon Moor and the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is an area which is a haven for bats, birds and wildlife. Rare culm grass attracts endangered species including Hen Harriers and Marsh Fritillary butterflies. You can see how visible St Nectan’s is from the photo, so imagine these turbines almost three times as high…….

The Stopit Meddon campaign group has produced a leaflet highlighting the issues. Of course, wind farms, some say, are ecologically friendly, but the group claim that wind ‘farm’ developers stand to make a pretty penny with up to £7million in Government subsidies for each turbine. The John Muir Trust also claims that last year, turbines only produced 21% of their installed capacity, so they are inefficient. When the wind stops, power stations step in. Apparently, on 110 days a year (or thereabouts) there is too much or too little wind. These turbines will be viewable from Higher Clovelly, Woolsery, Bursdon Moor and the SW Coastal Path.

So, why should people in Bude be bothered? Well, there’s the practical aspects. For example, use of the A39. Construction will involve over 500 heavy goods vehicles transporting huge loads (some over 40m long) through Kilkhampton and on local roads. During construction, hedgerows will be removed and soils disturbed. Between 220-420 cubic metres of concrete will be laid per turbine, unlikely ever to be removed. There will also be 5387m of track, half a metre deep, with lorries bringing in track materials through the forestry.

Maybe there is an element of nimbyism in relation to turbines – after all, does anyone actully want 5 turbines right next to them? –  but at the recent Hartland Parish Council meeting, one of the key concerns was the cumulative effects of rising numbers of turbines which could change the landscape from rural to industrial. People visit Cornwall and North Devon for its rural tranquillity, not its turbines, although they do seem to be springing up all over the place. So, there is likely to be an adverse effect on tourism (and associated villages) and the natural beauty of the area. Indeed, one speaker noted that there are very few turbines in Dorset and Hampshire (I certainly noticed none in Dorset when I went there in February).

At the meeting, there were claims that the A39 road closures would continue for 9 months, causing huge problems for Kilkhampton. Also, that turbines affect helicopters, putting the Air Ambulance and Coastguard services, so vital around these parts, at risk. The Stopit group met with Geoffrey Cox, MP, who pledged to put in a letter of objection. The Parish Council also decided to vote against the development. My understanding is that CPRE, AONB, National Trust and Natural England are also against the proposals. To add your comments, letters of objection need to be sent to arrive by 9th October. The Head of Planning is Kate Long. You may email your views planningsupport@torridge.gov.uk or add directly to the website. Quote ref: 1/0506/2012/FULM and you need to include the phrase “I oject to….” if you do. Petitions only count as one objection but children may also object so a family of four could effectively send in 4 objections…..you can view objections already raised here.

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