Environmental arguments for wind farm published

A view of the future? A photo montage of how the wind farm would look from Stronchulin Hill

More details of what would be the UK’s largest community wind farm have been revealed today (Thursday).

A draft version of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which was not available at last Saturday’s public meeting, has now been posted online.

And the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust has also posted 16 photo montages of the five turbines on its website.

Prepared for the trust by Logan Project Management at a cost of £183,000, the EIA argues that the project would produce ‘no significant impact’ in terms of noise, tourism and recreation, aviation and radar, archaeology, hydrology or shadow flicker.

It also states that the development would have ‘no significant impact’ on ornithology – although protected species such as hen harriers and black grouse are in the area.

The report proposes measures which it says mean that protected wildlife such as bats, otters and moths would not be affected by the operation and construction of the wind farm.

It argues that visual and landscape impact will be reduced by slower rotation speeds and a ‘balanced composition’.

“Generally with wind farm developments, some significant adverse landscape and visual impacts are inevitable owing to their nature,” it adds.

“In this case, these impacts would be essentially restricted to the western side of Loch Long, where the development would be visible to tourist users of the ferry routes from Gourock to Dunoon, the Waverley steamer passengers, who cruise in close proximity to the site of the proposed wind farm, and on users of the coastal road between Toward Point and Glen Finart.”

Governed by planning regulations – and still only in draft form – the EIA will be a key factor in whether the plan, which could generate millions for local communities, is approved by Argyll and Bute Council.

It states that the capacity of 11.5 megawatts would be enough to power 5,000 homes – this would not lead to cheap electricity locally though, despite some confusion on this issue in the area.

Trust convener Murdo MacDonald confirmed the situation at last Saturday’s public meeting, with the problem perhaps stemming from a statement on the trust’s website referring to the initial community survey: “Nine respondents commented on the benefits that renewable energy could bring to the Peninsula West area including keeping fuel costs low and improving the appearance of the area.”

Meanwhile trust representatives have spoken to neighbouring community councils in areas which would be affected by the plan, with a website in Ardentinny reporting: “The intention was for the RPWDT to amend its constitution to allow communities outwith the area to benefit.

“As the shore villages of Ardentinny, Blairmore and Strone  would be the most visually impacted by the location of the wind turbines, they would also stand to benefit by an estimated £30k per annum.”

A ballot of residents in Cove, Kilcreggan, Portkil and Peaton is currently being conducted, asking if they are in favour of the scheme; it closes this weekend.

26 Comments

  1. The stated capacity of 11.5 megawatts is somewhat misleading when actual output is unlikely to reach 30 percent of that figure – more realistically 3.5 megawatts or 1500 homes.

    And I worry about the use of the the term “no significant impact”

  2. As with most of these things, most people are not really in favour of putting up wind turbines in our landscape. This development is a means to an end, it’s a trade off. We need this to benefit our & nearby communities. For years the government and our cash strapped council, have been doing less and less for us. We have had to takeover from the council the Football Pavilion, bowling club, tennis club, Rainbow centre, burgh hall, what’s next? We need the cash from this NOW and at the end of life of the farm, hopefully we will have invested our cash in some other money generating scheme to continue to keep our community alive.

    I am totally in favour of this and hope everyone can see the bigger picture and give support to our cause?

  3. The misconception is spreading. In this week’s Helensburgh Advertiser it is stated that the wind farm will generate 11.5 megawatts of power. Please RPWCDT take steps to clear up this misconception and spread more realistic statistics.

  4. SF,

    This is cleared up in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Trust’s webpage (www.rosneathpeninsulawest.com) which states ‘The proposed wind farm has a total capacity of 11.5MW however all of the calculations take account of variable wind speed, and the periods when there is no wind. Financial estimates have been based on an assumed turbine efficiency of 30%, in line with the standard national methodology.’

    Thanks for highlighting this as it is a very important point.

    • This was taken from the Renewable Energy Foundation website. When you state that the calculations have been made on 30%, if you check the details of UK wind farm fleet load factors over the last 9 years the highest percentage achieved has been 29% and an average of just 23%. So if this is true and there is a shortfall in production and therfore a shortfall in revenue how dov the loans etc get paid back.
      Quote from the REF
      Wind power output is significantly variable and difficult to predict over several timescales, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years.

      Variability over short time scales has been much discussed, and it is now well known that low wind conditions can prevail at times of peak load over very large areas. For example, at 17.30 on the 7th of December 2010, when the 4th highest United Kingdom load of 60,050 MW was recorded, the UK wind fleet of approximately 5,200 MW was producing about 300 MW (i.e. it had a Load Factor of 5.8%). One of the largest wind farms in the United Kingdom, the 322 MW Whitelee Wind Farm was producing approximately 5 MW (i.e. Load Factor 1.6%).

      Load factor in other European countries at exactly this time was also low. The Irish wind fleet was recording a load factor of approximately 18% (261 MW/1,425 MW), Germany 3% (830MW/25,777 MW), and Denmark 4% (142 MW / 3,500 MW).4

      Such figures confirm theoretical arguments that regardless of the size of the wind fleet the United Kingdom will never be able to reduce its conventional generation fleet below peak load plus a margin of approximately 10%.5

      They also suggest that while widespread interconnection via the widely discussed European Supergrid, may assist in managing variability, its contribution will not on its own be sufficient to solve the problems, since wind output is approximately synchronised across very large geographical areas.

      Conventional generators acting in the support role and guaranteeing that load is met will be faced with operating in a market that is physically and economically volatile.

      The now emerging fact that wind power can be highly variable year on year adds further layers of complication to this problem. Conventional generators will not only have uncertain income over shorter timescales, but will face significant year on year variations.

      • Graham,

        The Community Development Trust, its advisors, and most importantly its bankers are comfortable with the figures being used in the wind farm’s operational model. There is a difference between UK average wind speed and that found in Scotland.

      • But what if for some reason there is a shortfall in production and the loan is unable to be paid. Where does this leave the CDT?, this is possible if the turbines are switched off due to to much wind.

  5. Laurence,

    It would appear that the Ardentinny folk have been given the same incorrect information (as, presumably, have all the other communities to which the presentation was given). Their blog states that the farm WILL generate 11.5mw. RPWCDT really must stop quoting maximum design capacity. The CDT should not be seen to be attempting to hoodwink people intentionally or otherwise into supporting the scheme by glossing over the facts and presenting the wrong figures.

    The result of the wind farm poll currently underway will be largely influenced the information presented in the CDT wind farm leaflet, which many if not most voters will take on face value, this must undermine the validity of the result.

    As a supporter of alternative energy and a peninsula resident would like to support this project but am very skeptical of the figures presented thus far.

    • The Trust’s FAQ page says “The proposed wind farm has a total capacity of 11.5MW however all of the calculations take account of variable wind speed, and the periods when there is no wind. Financial estimates have been based on an assumed turbine efficiency of 30%, in line with the standard national methodology.”

      Perhaps they should have done the arithmetic and had the 3.45MW average output figure included, but it doesn’t strike me as an attempt at obfuscation, just brevity. The Trust’s convener was asked about the information on the leaflet at the public meeting; he pointed out that there was limited space on it and that it included the Trust’s website address, which could provide further answers and an email contact for specific queries.

      Windfarm developments everywhere, including overseas, are defined by their total generating capacity; the media lap up numbers and total capacities provide suitably big and eyecatching headlines. The same applies to tidal, solar and probably wave power, they are all identified by their maximum outputs; as an engineer it irritates me too, but it’s just how the media and publicity works.

  6. I find it concerning that in the Lochside press report and also the EIA that no mention of Ospreys has been noted. Over the last 16 years I have been a member of Cove and Kilcreggan angling club and have fished many times at Lindowen. I can assure you that I have sighted these protected birds of prey many times. This year alone on more than 5 occasions, so therefore I don’t understand why they have not been included in the report. Only a couple of years ago the animal protection officer from RNAD Coulport commented on breeding pairs within the area. Their direct flight path from RNAD Coulport to Lindowen is via the proposed wind farm site. Also land adjacent to the site was closed for farming a couple of years back because of the presence of breeding Black Grouse. Therefore why has this not been mentioned and recorded in the EIA and if it was unsuitable to use this land then why is it ok to use the land now?

  7. The ornithology report of the Environmental Impact Assessment was prepared by expert consultants in this area. They spent a year compiling their study. The Community Development Trust recognises and understands the local concerns on this matter, but believes it must accept and follow the findings and conclusions of the specialists involved.

  8. I have spoken to several members of the fishing club today and they have also confirmed sightings a several occasions of Ospreys. A member has also indicated that he has several videos date stameped of Osprey taking fish from the loch. I will obtain copies of these and pass them on to the experts if required.

    • Hi again Graham,

      Apologies for the slight delay getting back to you on this query and your other regarding black grouse. Thanks for the query on both.

      The former are covered extensively on the ornithology section of the Environmental Statement, which is published on the Community Development Trust website (www.rosneathpeninsulawest.com). On checking why ospreys are not mentioned in the report, we have been told that the ospreys which have been seen locally are transient immature birds who will occasionally rove and feed away from their normal territory. This happens all over Scotland. Osprey nests and feeding grounds are well known to the RSPB, SNH, and raptor groups. There are none within the area of sensitivity of the proposed wind farm. The experts believe that we should not be worried about the wind farm’s effect on ospreys. We hope this allays your concerns.

      Kind regards
      Laurence

  9. In response to Graham’s query copy and pasted below (apologies I couldn’t reply to it to make the response appear underneath)

    “QUERY – But what if for some reason there is a shortfall in production and the loan is unable to be paid. Where does this leave the CDT?, this is possible if the turbines are switched off due to to much wind.”

    This is a risk the Trust is aware of through discussions with other community organisations. Measures are being put in place by the Trust to ringfence funds each month to provide a reserve which will be used to cover any shortfall in the event of a month where income is below liabilities. This is more likely in a month where there is low wind rather than excess wind. In the event that an amount from this reserve is required it will then be topped up by ongoing contributions to it from revenue.

  10. I find it amazing that a report by ‘experts’, costing more than 100k of public and charitable money, didn’t mention this. Ospreys are perhaps the most famous – and endangered – birds in Scotland.

  11. After reading through the report it looks like there were several birds of prey not mentioned. I made 53 visits this year to Lindowen dam for angling activities and i can confirm that on at least five occasions i spotted both ospreys and also Sparrow hawks of which these are not mentioned either.
    With regards to the black grouse, i can’t believe that a few years ago farming was stopped on land close to the wind farm area and this has not been mentioned in the report. I would also like to see comments and records from the RNAD Coulport wild life officer to see how many times this year osprey’s have been noted and also to hear his view on the subject.

    • Graham – I’m sure you are correct – black grouse lecks were noted in the vicinity last year at the time of the planning application for the anemometer.
      Due to their presence, I believe RSPB required bird deflectors to be fitted to the anemometer as a condition for granting the planning application.
      There do seem to be some gaping holes in these reports – one would have expected better for that level of public money expenditure.

    • Hi Graham,

      We can confirm that all relevant bird species were considered by our consultant ornithologists. Those such as ospreys and sparrow hawks, which they considered to be completely unaffected by Cove Community Wind Farm are not mentioned in the report. The RNAD Coulport wild life officer was fully involved in the gathering of evidence.

      Cheers
      Laurence

  12. I would like to reccomend a very good link i have come across and also a reccomended book titled
    “Windfarm Visualisation” it gives some interesting reading and images. Take a look for yourself and please feel free to comment. Don’t just believe everything the pictures say!!!

    http://www.no-tiree-array.org.uk/?p=2837

    Regards GW

  13. Well I will try this blog after trying 3 and emailing the trust on numerous occasions!!!! NOTHING why is the TRUST ignoring perfectly good questions relating to the proposed WF. When i said it was closed doors and secretive I was told by someone “You will be talking aliens next” probably more chance than getting a reply from them. Guess what I’m a member of the trust but still nothing!!! If anyone has any ideas where they have gone let me know.

    G Walker

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Griff Rhys Jones joins debate as date fixed for wind farm meeting | The Lochside Press

Leave a Reply