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An unusual small estate on the edge of the Highlands

Wind farm

The decision has been made.  The Bamff wind farm application has been turned down by the Reporter. We respect the democratic process that reached this conclusion.    But the good news is that 7 turbines are to be built at neighbouring Tullymurdoch.  We warmly congratulate our neighbours on their planning permission being granted and look forward to seeing their turbines go up.

5th September 2014

 

Scottish Power Renewables has an application for seven turbines on our hill here at Bamff. A final decision will be made on this in some months time, perhaps early 2014 .

Bamff is an estate with a strongly environment-focused management policy. Thanks to our neighbour Andrew Mitchell, the farming at Bamff is organic and Paul has devoted more than thirty years to restoring native woodlands and wetlands, including of course our introduction of wild boar and beavers, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we are big supporters of renewable energy. We already have a small 20 kw turbine which supplies electricity to the house and the grid. And Bamff house and its flats are heated by a biomass (woodchip) boiler. We have installed integrated log-burning systems in two of the houses and hope to extend this approach to other houses on the estate. Most of the houses already have wood burning stoves.

Small is beautiful. But renewable energy can’t be just on a small scale if it is going to have a meaningful effect on displacing dirty, polluting coal. When a 34 megawatt development went up on nearby Drumderg we campaigned in favour. So we are proud and excited that Bamff may also be home to a small piece of the big fight against climate change, and for a more sustainable energy economy. If the wind turbines at Bamff do get built, they will supply the grid with the energy to power not just one small highland estate. They are  predicted to supply approximately 7,000 households. That’s pretty much the whole all of Alyth, Blairgowrie, Coupar Angus, Meigle and Kirriemuir.  And if this proves over optimistic – even half that number would make a very significant contribution.

If the wind farm is built, the income we receive will also help us to make Bamff even better for the people who live here, and the people who come to visit. We will be able to make improvements to the seven houses and two flats that are let to local families, and to the rest of the house, the drive and farm road. We’ll be in a position to extend the woodlands, wetlands, bee friendly wild flower meadows and to undertake other environmental projects. One of the projects that is currently under discussion is a Scottish wildcat breeding programme at Bamff.   This native species is close to extinction as a result of persecution and hybridisation, and efforts are being made to run captive breeding programmes with a view to releasing more pure bred wildcats back into the countryside.  We also have hopes of restoring two semi-ruined  buildings on the estate in a way that is compatible with our broad social and environmental aims, with an emphasis on providing amenity to our local community. We will also aim to improve access and develop a better network of paths. It goes without saying that this, if it all goes ahead, will mean increasing our usual support of local businesses, especially tradesmen in Alyth, Blairgowrie and Kirriemuir.

Scottish Power Renewables will also create a fund for the local area if the wind farm goes ahead. It is not up to us to consider how this should be spent, but just imagine the possibilities! What about a fund to pay for:

  • Specialist sports facilities for local schools?
  • A skateboarding park?
  • Scholarships?
  • Community minibuses? A local cinema?
  • Instruments and private music lesson for local school children?
  • Literature, Arts and Theatre projects?
  • Wildlife Education ?

We are aware that some of our neighbours do not share our views.

We have no desire to cause them pain but feel that the wind farm, if it goes ahead, will bring many more benefits than problems to the area and to the wider world.

 

Here are some FAQs from the British Wind Energy Authority which we found on a St Andrews University PDF. We found this very informative and helpful in answering some of the questions and concerns that are raised by the building of new wind farms and recommend you read this if you have questions in your mind. We hope you find it helpful. It is difficult to find authoritative and unbiassed information in the heated debate about wind farms, but it is worth noting that  St. Andrews University clearly endorses the BWEA as a reputable source of information.

FAQs

Many people make many claims about wind turbines and the effects that they allegedly have. The British Wind Energy Association has collated some common issues.

1. Myth: Wind farms won’t help climate change

Fact: Wind power is a clean, renewable source of energy which produces no greenhouse gas emissions or waste products. The UK currently emits 560 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the key greenhouse gas culprit, every year and the Government target is to cut this by 80% by 20501 (original target was 60% but Scottish Government target is 80%). Power stations are the largest contributor tocarbon emissions, producing 170 million tonnes of CO2 each year2. We need to switch to forms of energy that do not produce CO2. Just one modern wind turbine will save over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually3.

2. Myth: Building a wind farm takes more energy than it ever makes

Fact: The average wind farm will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within 3-5 months of operation4. This compares favourably with coal or nuclear power stations, which take about six months. A modern wind turbine is designed to operatefor more than 20 years and at the end of its working life, the area can be restored at low financial and environmental costs. Wind energy is a form of development which is essentially reversible – in contrast to fossil fuel or nuclear power stations.

3. Myth: Wind farms are inefficient and only work 30% of the time

Fact: A modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time, but it generates different outputs depending on the wind speed. Over the course of a year, it will typically generate about 30% of the theoretical maximum output. This is known as its load factor. The load factor of conventional power stations is on average 50%5. A modern wind turbine will generate enough to meet the electricity demands of more than a thousand homes over the course of a year.

4. Myth: Wind energy needs back-up to work

Fact: All forms of power generation require back up and no energy technology can be relied upon 100%. The UK’s transmission system already operates with enough backup to manage the instantaneous loss of a large power station. Variations in the output from wind farms are barely noticeable over and above the normal fluctuation in supply and demand, seen when the nation’s workforce goes home, or if lightning brings down a high-voltage transmission line. Therefore, at present there is no need for additional back-up because of wind energy. Even for wind power to provide 10% of our nation’s electricity needs, only a small amount of additional conventional back-up would be required, in the region of 300-500 megawatts (MW). This would add only 0.2 pence per kilowatt hour to the generation cost of wind energy and would not in any way threaten the security of our grid. In fact, this is unlikely to become a significant issue until wind generates over 20% of total electricity supply.

5. Myth: Installing wind farms will never shut down power stations

Fact: The simple fact is that power plants in the UK are being shut down, either through European legislation on emissions or sheer old age. We need to act now to find replacement power sources: wind is an abundant resource, indigenous to the UK and therefore has a vital role to play in the new energy portfolio.

6. Myth: Wind power is expensive

Fact: The cost of generating electricity from wind has fallen dramatically over the past few years. Between 1990 and 2002, world wind energy capacity doubled every three years and with every doubling prices fell by 15%7. Wind energy is competitive with new coal and new nuclear capacity, even before any environmental costs of fossil fuel and nuclear generation8 are taken into account. The average cost of generating electricity from onshore wind is now around 3-4p per kilowatt hour, competitive with new coal (2.5-4.5p) and cheaper than new nuclear (4-7p)9. As gas prices increase and wind power costs fall – both of which are very likely – wind becomes even more competitive, so much so that some time after 2010 wind should challenge gas as the lowest cost power source.

Furthermore, the wind is a free and widely available fuel source, therefore once the wind farm is in place, there are no fuel or waste related costs.

7. Myth: The UK should invest in other renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency instead of wind power

Fact: Wind energy’s role in combating climate change is not a matter of either/or. The UK will need a mix of new and existing renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures, and as quickly as possible. Significant amounts of investment have been allocated for wave and tidal energy development, and these technologies, along with solar and biomass energy, will have an important role in the UK’s future energy mix. However, wind energy is the most cost effective renewable energy technology available to generate clean electricity and help combat climate change right now. Furthermore, developing a strong wind industry will facilitate other renewable technologies which have not reached commercialisation yet, accumulating valuable experience in dealing with issues such as grid connection, supply chain and finance.

8. Myth: Wind farms should all be put out at sea

Fact: We will need a mix of both onshore and offshore wind energy to meet the UK’s challenging targets on climate change. At present, onshore wind is more economical than development offshore. However, more offshore wind farms are now under construction, with the first of the large-scale projects operational at the end of 2003, and prices will fall as the industry gains more experience. Furthermore, offshore wind farms take longer to develop, as the sea is inherently a more hostile environment. To expect offshore to be the only form of wind generation allowed would therefore be to condemn us to missing our renewable energy targets and commitment to tackle climate change.

9. Myth: Wind farms are ugly and unpopular

Fact: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and whether you think a wind turbine is attractive or not will always be your personal opinion. However, studies regularly show that most people find turbines an interesting feature of the landscape10. On average 80% of the public support wind energy, less than 10% are against it, with the remainder undecided. Surveys conducted since the early 1990’s across the country near existing wind farms have consistently found that most people are in favour of wind energy , with support increasing among those living closer to the wind farms.

10. Myth: Wind farms negatively affect tourism

Fact: There is no evidence to suggest this. The UK’s first commercial wind farm at Delabole received 350,000 visitors in its first ten years of operation, while 10,000 visitors a year come to take the turbine tour at the EcoTech Centre in Swaffham,

Norfolk. A MORI poll in Scotland showed that 80% of tourists would be interested in visiting a wind farm. Wind farm developers are often asked to provide visitor centres, viewing platforms and rights of way to their sites.

11. Myth: Wind farms harm property prices

Fact: There is currently no evidence in the UK showing that wind farms impact house prices. However, there is evidence following a comprehensive study by the Scottish Executive that those living nearest to wind farms are their strongest advocates.

12. Myth: Wind farms kill birds

Fact: The RSPB stated in its 2004 information leaflet Wind farms and birds13, that “in the UK, we have not so far witnessed any major adverse effects on birds associated with wind farms”. Wind farms are always subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment and

BWEA members follow the industry’s Best Practice Guidelines and work closely with organisations such as English Nature and the RSPB to ensure that wind farm design and layout does not interfere with sensitive species or wildlife designated sites.

Moreover, a recent report published in the journal Nature confirmed that the greatest threat to bird populations in the UK is climate change.

13. Myth: Wind farms are dangerous to humans

Fact: Wind energy is a benign technology with no associated emissions, harmful pollutants or waste products. In over 25 years and with more than 68,000 machines installed around the world15, no member of the public has ever been harmed by the normal operation of wind turbines. In response to recent unscientific accusations that wind turbines emit infrasound and cause associated health problems, Dr Geoff Leventhall, Consultant in Noise Vibration and Acoustics and author of the Defra Report on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects, says: “I can state quite categorically that there is no significant infrasound from current designs of wind turbines. To say thatthere is an infrasound problem is one of the hares which objectors to wind farms like to run.

There will not be any effects from infrasound from the turbines.”

14. Myth: Wind farms are noisy

Fact: The evolution of wind farm technology over the past decade has rendered mechanical noise from turbines almost undetectable with the main sound being the aerodynamic swoosh of the blades passing the tower. There are strict guidelines on wind turbines and noise emissions to ensure the protection of residential amenity.

These are contained in the scientifically informed ETSU Working Group guidelines 199617 and must be followed by wind farm developers, as referenced in national planning policy for renewables18. The best advice for any doubter is to go and hearfor yourself!

Note The ‘average modern wind turbine’ referred to in this document has a rated capacity of 1.8 megawatts (MW) onshore. Data on consented projects and applications currently being progressed shows that this will increase to over 2 MW in the near future. Offshore, turbines currently being installed are rated at 3 MW, and it is expected that this will rise to a typical 5 MW per machine by 2010.

References

1 Energy White Paper (2003), Our Energy Future – Creating a Low Carbon Economy, available online at

http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/whitepaper/ourenergyfuture.pdf.

2 DTI (2004), DUKES, Annex E – Energy and the environment, available at

www.dti.gov.uk/energy/inform/dukes/dukes2004/annexe.pdf.

3 See BWEA calculations.

4 Milborrow, Dispelling the Myths of Energy Payback Time, as published in Windstats, vol 11, no 2 (Spring

1998).

5 DTI (2004), Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2004, Table 5.10 Plant loads, demand and efficiency,

available online at http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/inform/energy_stats/electricity/dukes5_10.xls.

6 See The Carbon Trust and DTI (2004), Renewables Network Impact Study, available online at

http://www.carbontrust.org.uk/carbontrust/about/publications/Renewables Network Impact Study Final.pdf and

National Grid (2004), Seven Year Statement, available online at

http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/library/documents/sys_04/default.asp?sNode=SYS&action=&Exp=Y

7 Milborrow (2003), The Economics of Wind Energy, WREN International Seminar.

8 ExternE (2003) External Costs, Research Results on Socio-Environmental Damages due to Electricity and

Transport, available online at http://www.externe.info/externpr.pdf.

9 See PIU (2002), Renewables Innovation Review, available online at

http://www.dti.gov.uk/renewables/policy/oxeraresults.pdf;

Hansard, 21 June 2004, Column 1225W, available online at http://www.parliament.the-stationeryoffice.

co.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/cm040621/text/40621w14.htm;

Oxera (2003), The Non-market value of Generation Technologies; Oxera (2004), Results Of Renewables Market

Modelling; DTI (2003), Economics Paper No 4; and Milborrow D, Becoming Respectable in Serious Circles,

Windpower Monthly, Jan 2004.

4

10 RBA (1998), Stroud District Residents Survey, RBA for Triodos Bank, The Gloucestershire Water & Energy

Forum, BWEA and Western Windpower.

11 For latest national study, please see TNS (2003), Attitudes and Knowledge of Renewable Energy amongst the

General Public, On behalf of: Department of Trade and Industry, Scottish Executive, National Assembly for Wales

and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland.

12 Mori (2003), Public Attitudes to Windfarms a Survey of Local Residents in Scotland, Scottish Executive Social

Research.

13 RSPB (2004), Information leaflet on Wind Farms and Birds.

14 Extinction risk from climate change, Nature 427, 145 – 148 (08 January 2004).

15 EWEA: 68,000 turbines installed worldwide by the end of 2003.

16 Defra (2003), A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects, Report for Defra by Dr

Geoff Leventhall Assisted by Dr Peter Pelmear and Dr Stephen Benton. Available online at

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/noise/lowfrequency/pdf/lowfreqnoise.pdf.

17 The Working Group on Wind Turbine Noise, The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms,

September 1996. ETSU-R-97.

18 For a copy of PPS22, see http://www.odpm.gov.uk.