EcoStyle director speaks at Nun Wood Wind Farm Inquiry

Tuesday, 18 June 2013  |  Simon Hall

A wind farm at sunset

EcoStyle director Simon Hall spoke in favour of the proposed wind farm at Nun Wood in Central Bedfordshire at a public enquiry on 14 June 2013. The enquiry was held at Bedford Borough Council chambers, and was attended by representatives of RWE Npower (the wind farm developers), Bedford Borough Council, and a small group of anti-wind farm protesters. Simon's speech was as follows:

'I’m Simon Hall, treasurer of Luton and Bedfordshire Green Party and I stood as parliamentary candidate for the party in Luton North in the last general election.

'I work for a company which manufactures educational models to teach about renewable energy and water conservation in schools, colleges and universities, and I believe passionately in wind power as a vital contribution to our electricity supply.

'There are a lot of myths about wind turbines, and many of these are simply untrue:

Noise

'At a distance of 300 meters from a home, a turbine will have a sound pressure level of 43 decibels - most refrigerators run at around 40 decibels. At 500 meters (1/3 mile) away, the sound pressure level drops to 38 decibels. In most places, background noise ranges from 40 to 45 decibels, meaning that a turbine’s noise would be lost amongst it. For the quietest rural areas, background noise is 30 decibels. At that level, a turbine located about a mile away wouldn’t be heard.

Effectiveness

'There are rumours that wind power is inefficient, and is only made cost-effective by government subsidies. Well, look at Denmark which currently produces 25% of its electricity from wind turbines. Denmark has a national commitment to achieve all of its electricity production from renewables – with no nuclear – by 2050. If they are doing it, why can’t we?

Visual impact

'Some people say that wind turbines are a blight on the countryside. I think it’s important to remember that our countryside is already largely manmade through farming. We should also think back to the 17th and 18th century when our countryside was covered with tens of thousands of windmills for milling grain. We now look back on these windmills as being picturesque.

'I know that NRL have studied this site's suitability for a wind farm for several years and this is a project that they, and I, believe is right for the area.

'Even if we do everything we can now to slow climate change, it is still predicted that the UK temperature will increase by 4° by 2060-70. When this happens, the English countryside will have changed beyond all recognition due to this temperature increase.Also I think it’s important to ask if we would prefer to see a nuclear power station on the Nun Wood site.

'The other alternative to renewables is the ‘dash for gas’. Gas does produce less carbon than coal, and new gas-fired stations will be more efficient still. There are clear objections, however:

- Gas is still carbon producing, and we need to act extremely rapidly to decarbonise our energy sector completely - and this may actually be harder if we have invested so heavily in gas

- Gas will run out too

- We will have to import gas increasingly - with a cost to the balance of trade, plus energy insecurity

- And do we want a gas powered station at Nun Wood?

'If we don’t adopt wind power, there is a real danger that the UK will fall back on nuclear power stations to fill our energy gap. Nuclear power is not the answer – we only have about 100 years supply of uranium left, and then we will be left with the problem of where to obtain our electricity. We need to act now to put renewables in place – including wind power – that will guarantee security of electricity supply for the future.

'I think it is vital that we support this wind farm project and others like it. The decisions we make today will be our legacy to future generations. So, do we leave them with a clean, abundant source of renewable power from wind turbines, or huge quantities of highly toxic radioactive waste that we are still not able to safely store?'

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