Britain’s National Trust objects to huge offshore wind farm: views to be ruined forever

Opponents, including the National Trust and the South Downs National Park, say the view from landmarks such as Beachy Head (above) and the Seven Sisters cliffs will be spoiled for ever

The views from the white cliffs of the Sussex coast have remained unchanged for millions of years.

But visitors to the South Downs, drawn there for the unbroken vista of rolling hills and choppy seas, could soon be faced with the sight of scores of wind turbines towering above the waves.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has approved a £2billion project to build 175 turbines nine miles out to sea, each standing nearly 700 feet tall.

He insists the Rampion wind farm, set for completion in 2018, is essential because it will power 450,000 homes with green energy.

Mr Davey, a Liberal Democrat, said: ‘This project is great news for Sussex, providing green jobs as well as driving business opportunities right across the country in a sector with a clear roadmap for long-term growth.’

But opponents, including the National Trust and the South Downs National Park, say the view from landmarks such as Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters cliffs, and towns including Brighton and Eastbourne, will be spoiled for ever.

Depending on the terms of the contract that German developer E.on signs with the Government, it can be expected to receive up to £200million a year in subsidies, critics say.

The National Trust, which owns sections of the Sussex coast, has formally objected to the project.

In a letter to the Government’s planning inspectorate, the Trust said: ‘The beauty of the coastline matters to the nation.

‘The impact of the proposal on the designated assets of the National Park and heritage coast, on the landscape and seascape character of the area, on important visual receptors and on key National Trust sites is considered to be major.’

The decision was handled by Mr Davey and his energy department because it is considered a major infrastructure project, providing a large chunk of the nation’s electricity needs.

“Turbines trump culture, nature in Ontario” Nor’Wester on endangered list

Nor’Wester Mountain Range and Loch Lomond Watershed Reserve

Nor’Wester Mountain Range and Loch Lomond Watershed Reserve – Blake Township, Neebing, ON –  WIND TURBINES TRUMP CULTURE AND NATURE

This pristine cultural and natural landscape is the site of a proposed industrial wind turbine development—another potential victim of the provincial government’s crusade for renewable energy projects at any cost.   

Why it matters

The ancient Nor’Wester Mountain Range rises dramatically above Lake Superior and extends southward from the city of Thunder Bay toward the Ontario-Minnesota border. It defines the city’s setting and skyline, and is immensely important to the Anishinabe community of the Fort William First Nation (FWFN).  Mount McKay (“Thunder Mountain” or Animikii-wajiw in Ojibwe) has been a landmark gathering place by the Ojibwe Anishinabeg for many generations. Their presence at this locale long predates the arrival of European traders who established trading posts nearby, first in 1684 during the New France era and again in 1803 with the construction of the North West Company’s Fort William.  The range provides habitat that is essential to moose, Eastern cougar, and other flora and fauna unique to this provincially important ecosystem, and the Loch Lomond watershed is an important freshwater resource for the region.

The range remains important for cultural, ecological and aesthetic reasons and plays a vital role in the area’s recreational and tourism economy.

Why it’s endangered

Horizon Wind Inc. is proposing the development of an industrial wind turbine installation called Big Thunder Wind Farm on a portion of the Nor’Wester Mountain Range land owned by the City of Thunder Bay (located between and on the Loch Lomond Watershed, First Nation Traditional Territory and the provincially declared Area of Natural and Scientific Interest), a project that would see sixteen 139-metre-high, 32-megawatt wind turbines erected on the Nor’Wester’s skyline south of Mount McKay.

FWFN believes the wind farm project will have a deleterious effect on the watershed, on the long-standing cultural heritage values of its people, and on essential habitat.

Where things stand

The Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee (NMEPC) was created in 2009 with the mission to “protect the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment from development that has the potential to harm the natural environment and the health of the residents.”

Although the project was first conceived in 2005, members of FWFN and Signatories of the Robinson Superior Treaty have expressed concern that the “duty to consult” was not undertaken to their satisfaction by either the proponent company or the Crown.

Despite FWFN’s objections, the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process (established under the Environmental Protection Act) proceeded, with the comment period ending in June 2013.

In May 2014, Horizon Wind Inc. filed an application for a judicial review in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice with the aim of compelling the Ministry of the Environment to issue the REA, but the court declined to intervene in the project.

In June 2014, FWFN filed for an injunction against the Ministry of the Environment and other provincial ministries to prevent the Province from allowing activity on their Treaty Lands and from issuing a REA for the Big Thunder Wind Project until a commitment is made to protect their Treaty Rights. Meanwhile, it is reported that Ontario’s legal counsel continues to oppose delaying the final approval process or disclosing requested project information on the grounds that it would impede the final project approval decision-making process.

Read the full posting here.

Wind farm issues hit the country fairs

ListowelFairFloat

Country fair season is beginning and with it, opportunities for rural communities to make known their dissatisfaction with the Green Energy Act in Ontario, and the invasion of wind power developers.

Yesterday, a float at the Listowel Fair demonstrated community concerns about hydro bills, health and property values, as a result of a proposed wind power project in North Perth. The Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens group also launched a weather balloon* to show fairgoers the actual height of the turbines proposed for their community.

A weather balloon is worth 1,000 words
A weather balloon is worth 1,000 words

*Need a weather balloon for an event? We may be able to help. Email us at windconcerns@gmail.com

 

Wind farm accident report released: blade failure number 1 cause

Image result for photo burning wind turbine

Photo UK Daily Mail

2 km setback recommended for safety

The accident report for wind ‘farms’ around the world prepared to mid-2014 by Caithness Wind Farm Information Forum has just been released.

The information may be found here.

Blade failure is the number one cause of incidents reported, with fire listed as the second cause. The nature of the blade failure incidents has caused the Caithness Forum to confirm its recommendation that the setback between any wind turbine and human habitation should be 2 km as a minimum for safety.

Letter to WCO from Premier Wynne

Received by email today, a response to our letter of June 19.:

Thank you for taking the time to share your kind words of congratulation. It is an honour and a privilege to continue serving this great province as Premier.

I have noted your comments on behalf of Wind Concerns Ontario and have shared a copy of your correspondence with my colleague the Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, for his information.

My colleagues and I are committed to building a brighter future for all the people of Ontario. We understand that being fiscally responsible is fundamental to our future, and that building a fair and inclusive society is at the heart of a more prosperous Ontario. These are the principles that will guide us as we work with you, and all our partners, to make Ontario a better place to live, work and raise a family.

When it comes to building opportunity for the people of Ontario and securing our province’s future and well-being, my colleagues and I want to hear everyone’s voice and listen to everyone’s input. That is why I am grateful for your ideas and suggestions.

Thank you again for your kind words. Please accept my best wishes.

 

Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario

Bluewater defends citizens against wind farm health risk

2,500 homes within 2 km of Grand Bend wind 'farm'
2,500 homes within 2 km of Grand Bend wind ‘farm’

Bluewater says health at risk

John Miner, London Free Press, July 16, 2014

The battle to stop the Grand Bend Wind Farm from proceeding will be fought with claims industrial wind turbines harm human health.

The Municipality of Bluewater is asking that approval of the $380-million project north of Grand Bend be revoked in a filing published Tuesday on the Ontario Environmental Registry.

A joint project of Northland Power and two First Nations, the Grand Bend Wind Farm would consist of 40 industrial wind turbines located about a kilometre from the popular Lake Huron shoreline in a 15-kilometre stretch.

In its appeal of the approval, Bluewater asserts industrial wind farms are known to cause a range of health effects in five to 30% of the population, including sleep disturbance, headaches, dizziness, nausea and visual blurring.​

The wind farm also is being challenged by an individual who is arguing the approval violates his right to security of the person as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Though the appeals are expected to take about six months to be dealt with, previous wind farm challenges on the grounds of health concerns have failed, including objections to the Bornish Wind Farm constructed south of Parkhill in Middlesex County.

Northland Power has said it will not undertake major construction work on the Grand Bend Wind Farm until the appeals have been settled.

Read the full story and comments here.

CanWEA execs tour E Ontario wind ‘farm’

Taking a little jaunt out of their downtown Ottawa offices, executives from the wind power corporate lobby group the Canadian Wind Energy Association/CanWEA, travelled to see the 30-megawatt South Branch wind power project at Brinston recently. Brinston is about 35 minutes south-east of Ottawa.

South Branch is where the first 3-megawatt turbines in Ontario are operating (for now—planned projects at Bluewater and in Niagara for example, will also feature the larger capacity turbines).

Here is a report from CanWEA-funded spin-off group Friends of Wind.

CanWEA Staff Tours South Branch Wind Farm

On June 25, several EDPR employees led a tour of the South Branch wind farm for staff members of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) , including CanWEA’s president, Robert Hornung, who had this to say about the visit:  The siting characteristics of South Branch and how well the wind farm blends with the natural landscape are truly impressive, said Mr. Hornung. We were equally impressed by the care and attention that EDPR has taken in building a high level of enduring community acceptance.
The tour of the wind farm, located near Brinston, Ontario, included stops in the O&M building as well as the inside of the base of a tower and the substation building. After an informative tour, CanWEA expressed interest in working with EDPR to improve its information packages for farmers.  Several CanWEA representatives also said they planned to stop by the upcoming South Branch Kid Wind Day, which will be held on Thursday, July 24, and attended by 150 kids.

“Enduring community acceptance” is an interesting way of describing the community: there was a very active citizens’ group in South Branch operating until the project was approved and constructed (excess funds donated were given to the local hospital). More recently, community members have been working to inform the community of the telephone numbers to use to report excessive noise as, somehow, this information has not been made readily available to the community.

 

Wind farms in Ireland’s scenic, historic Cork County: no environmental analysis

David and Elizabeth Ross

David and Elizabeth Ross of West Cork, Ireland: will the tourists still come after the turbines go up?

Wind Concerns Ontario has been adamant in repeating the Auditor-General of Ontario’s recommendation of 2011 that a cost-benefit analysis should be done for “renewable” sources of power generation; many Ontario municipalities asked for financial analysis or “impact” analysis prior to the Green Energy Act in 2009—none of this has EVER been done in Ontario.

Now, here is a story from Ireland, where the wind power fantasy is about to be visited upon the scenic landscapes of Cork—again, no analysis of the impact on tourism, of the benefits to the environment…nothing. Because plowing ahead with a “green” venture such as wind power–high impact, low benefit–just makes sense.

Scenic West Cork routes may be considered for wind farming

Catherine Ketch, The Southern Star

CORK County’s energy policy could result in wind farms directly above Castletownshend or along the scenic route above Skibbereen and Leap, a submission to the Draft Cork County Development Plan (DCCDP) claims.

Newly elected councillors have already begun discussions on the Plan and will agree the final draft over the coming weeks.

Over half of Cork county is now available for wind-farming, according to West Cork architect Mr Cohu. Two areas likely to be developed in West Cork are a wedge between Dunmanway, Bantry, Skibbereen and Leap, and south of the Gearagh including the upper Lee Valley and Shehy mountains – an important habitat area.

‘Permitting the one at Shehy will really transform that landscape,” said Mr Cohu. Four wind farms visible from tourist routes approaching Ballingeary have already been permitted, he explains.

The landscape designation hasn’t been reformed or looked at seriously since 1996, he believes. ‘We’ve been through three development plans and they haven’t used field data surveys to re-examine in detail with communities the landscape designation,’ he adds.

Some of the most dramatic landscapes of the county including Borlin, Coomhola and Mealagh valleys, have neither been designated scenic routes nor as high value landscapes, he says. ‘Yet you go across to Kealkil and that has, and it’s such an anomaly,’ he adds.

Mr Cohu proposes protection for the river Ilen Basin and south of the Gearagh Conservation area, and suggests the Borlin, Coomhola and Mealagh valleys be designated High Value Landscapes, from source to sea.

Ireland, like other EU member States, is committed to a National Renewable Energy Plan (NREAP) to limit CO2 emissions.

No environmental assessment

Yet, says Mr Cohu, at no stage have the alleged benefits of renewable energy and wind-generated electricity on climate change been comprehensively or accurately assessed, either at EU level, National Programme level or by Cork County Council.

Mr Cohu claims there has been no cost-benefit analysis – a key legally binding principle of environmental protection – no alternatives assessed, no public consultation, no monitoring of impacts and no verification of emissions savings and examination of other sources of CO2.

‘What is most disturbing is that no Strategic Environmental Assessment for Ireland’s NREAP has ever been carried out,’ he says. …

Read the full story here.

For more information on these spectacular landscapes in Ireland, go here and watch the video on the Sheepshead Peninsula.

UPDATE July 22: the planning board has refused the application. See the story here.

What the Ontario Budget means for electricity ratepayers: Parker Gallant

Finance Minister Sousa: you didn't really think it would HELP you, did you?
Finance Minister Sousa: you didn’t really think it would HELP you, did you?

If Ontario’s electricity customers were expecting relief in the 2014 Ontario budget their hopes are dashed — rates will continue to rise.

Average ratepayers will continue to be punished as the Ontario Liberal government forces them to pay for the growth of expensive, unreliable renewable energy in the form of wind, solar and biomass.

Relief measures are few in the drive to maintain Ontario’s lead as the most expensive electricity sector in Canada.  The only true relief measure announced in the budget is the cessation of the Debt Retirement Charge on December 31, 2015. That will benefit the average ratepayer $70 a year but with the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB) of about $160 a year falling away on the same day, the net cost to ratepayers is $90 per year, not including the HST — the total cost is $100.  Gross savings to ratepayers from the DRC is about $315 million (4.5 million ratepayers X $70) and the loss to ratepayers of the OCEB will cost $720 million (4.5 million ratepayers X $160).

Now the bad news: the additional $100 in annual costs will be augmented by the following budget  items.  And that doesn’t include the additional cost of solar, wind and biomass that will come on stream.

Read the full comment from Parker Gallant here: Ontario2014Budget

News story on the Budget here: