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Tydd St. Mary Village

Most local residents will have recently received The Grange Wind Farm ‘Construction Newsletter No.1’ issued by RES (Renewable Energy Systems Ltd – the company behind the construction of the Wind Farm at the Tydd St. Mary’s Marsh site).

It is very unfortunate that during the Public Consultation period when meetings were held locally, very few residents of Sutton Bridge & Wingland turned out to listen to the arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ this development. Now, this could be because you are fully in favour of wind energy or, maybe some of you were not aware of the public meetings – or perhaps, the majority just do not care and do not think it will really affect them.

However, at the time, there was quite a bit of opposition to this development and the proposal became the subject of a Public Inquiry in October 2010, the result of which was that RES were successful in their application. It could be said that the success of the application at the Public Inquiry could be based on the seeming apathy of the general public, or, did the Panel look at all the facts in depth and then come to a fair and sensible decision. The answer to that will never be known, but suffice to say, the decision was arrived at, the Wind Farm is being built and we as locals, will have to learn to live with it.

The Newsletter referred to above, makes interesting reading and is presented in such a way as to give the reader a sense of wellbeing with its ‘friendly’ headings e.g., ‘Getting There’, ‘Making Tracks’, ‘Firm Foundations’ etc etc. It also tells you that these gigantic structures – and make no mistake, the turbines being installed at Tydd St. Mary’s Marsh (although not the largest this company build), are a whopping 127m (maximum tip height), and have an active life of (only) 25 years. Therefore, it does make one wonder how much profit there is going to be gushing back into the coffers of this energy company during the lifespan of these turbines. Under their heading of ‘Community Benefits’ they have committed themselves to ploughing back into the Community the sum of £28,000 every year – making a total donation to the local community of £700,000 over the life of the turbines.

For a company to make this kind of commitment, they must be entirely and utterly sure of the profits that they are going to be enjoying over this period of time, bearing in mind the income being paid to the landowner for the same period, and the total costs of development. No small wonder that wind farm developers are anxious to secure land for installation of these monsters – it is a money making venture. Also, a key factor to look at is how the subsidies are paid to these “alternative” or “green” energy companies and, more importantly who actually pays these subsidies. There are comments that these subsidies are NOT paid by the Government but financed entirely by increases in the prices paid by consumers (households and businesses) in their electricity bills.

The national press also carries regular stories on these subsidies (see Daily Telegraph of 25th January 2012 (available on-line) which has a story on the fact that ‘Wind Farm Subsidies top £1billion a year’). All these facts and figures are in the public domain and do not require in-depth searching on the internet to unearth them. The bottom line here is that nothing is as plain as the pictures painted by these new ‘green’ companies. That is not to say that they are dishonest – just economical with the truth.

We are informed that this particular wind farm will have an installed capacity of 14MW and it is suggested that this will power in the region of 10,000 houses (plus/minus). This of course, will not directly benefit Sutton Bridge and the local area in reduced energy costs – the question has to be asked “when will WE see the benefit of reduced energy bills in exchange for the pollution of our landscape by these monster turbines” – an eternal question with seemingly, no answer.

Looking at the sorry saga of the turbines installed at Deeping St. Nicholas (not a RES development) we can only hope that we will not suffer the same problems – the constant whooshing as the blades turn (this only seems to happen when the wind is in a particular direction – allegedly!!!) – the prospect of the value of homes in the vicinity being reduced – who would want to buy a house close to a wind farm? Apart from these obvious problems, one would imagine that there will be quite a bit of disruption during the building phases of this wind farm. How can the transportation of such large pieces of equipment on our small roads, not cause delay and disruption to the community?

And of course, we must not forget the environmental damage to our local flora and fauna. This is briefly touched upon in the Newsletter – a small paragraph under the heading ‘Making Tracks’. The first bullet point states:

  • Reducing disturbance to existing flora and fauna; QUESTION: How can you reduce the disturbance if it wasn’t there in first place?

The question of birds and bats being disorientated by turbines is not yet proven either way, but it stands to reason that the larger birds (geese and swans) that migrate to Britain and over-winter in our fens, could very easily get damaged in some way by the turbines – however, the jury is still out on this aspect of wind farm development, time will doubtless tell.

To date, over the last six months, planning permission has been sought by RES and approved for:

Flood Risk Assessment (H21-0921-11. Condition 17 of H21-0439-09) – Approved: 4/1/2012.

7 wind turbines to a max tip height of 127metres and associated works-approved under H21-0439-09. Amendments to include increase to area of hardstanding around control building compound and amendment to track configuration to permanent net mast. H21-0873-11 – Approved: 30/11/2011.

Erection of 7 wind turbines (approved under H21-0439-09). Amendment to crane hardstanding areas. H21-0733-11 – Approved: 19/10/2011.

Erect two temporary site calibration met masts. H21-0606-11 – Approved: 19/9/2011.

Details of scheme for improvements to North Road junction with A1101 and details of nominated representative (Conditions 20 and 26 of Appeal Decision to H21-0439-09). H21-06-7-11 – Approved: 19/9/2011.

The one known benefit of having these turbines on our doorstep is the annual fund from the Grange Wind Farm of £28,000. When the Community Benefit Fund is open, let’s make sure that it is accessed by local voluntary/charity groups etc., making application for funds for projects to benefit our communities.

Finally, there is to be a further public meeting, arranged by RES, at Tydd St. Mary Village Hall on Thursday, 2nd February 2012 at 7.00 pm. The organisers suggest that you check The Grange Wind Farm website nearer the date for confirmation as this may be subject to change.