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Premier Post - Bowden Doors Wind Farm?

oldlyham on 21 May 2012
premier post photo
How would you fancy nine 100m high wind turbines right next to one of Northumberland's finest crags? This map shows the planned location of the 9 tubines and is included in the scoping report recently submitted to Northumberland County Council by Energiekontour UK. The scoping report made no mention of the importance of the nearby crags at Bowden Doors, Back Bowden and Colour Heugh to the climbing community. We need to act quickly to make our opinions heard as the first planning application, for a 60m anemometer mast, is already in (Planning Application 12/01045/RENE).

To comment please write to Mrs Sue Birnie, Senior Planning Officer, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF, or email sue.birnie@northumberland.gov.uk

For more information about this proposal and for the other proposal by Air Farmers Ltd to build sixteen 125m turbines just to the north (between Back Bowden and Kyloe)see www.middletonburnactiongroup.co.uk

This post has no connection with the BMC but if you're a BMC member then maybe you could raise the issue at the BMC's North East Area Meeting at the Newcastle Climbing Centre on Wednesday 30th May at 7.30pm, or email the NE area rep Tom Parkin on tom@sharp-edge.co
EcoClimber - on 22 May 2012
As a climber I fully support these turbines and I would not be put off climbing with them in the vicinity. A slight hum would be fine & they beat a power station chimney any day.

Bring them on.
loopyone on 22 May 2012 - 10.7.86.161 [v2035.eth0.proxy03.pf3.sxgfl.ifl.net]
In reply to EcoClimber: Agreed, they've got to go somewhere.
CGlennie on 22 May 2012
Absolutley, I don't like the Not in My Back Yard Attitude, I think in terms of protecting the environment there should be some give and take. I Think they look rather elegant anyway.
iccle_bully - on 22 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

If they won't have any impact on access then I don't see a problem. As folk have said, better than a power station. If they will mean we can't climb there any more then that's a different issue... can anyone clarify?
mav - on 22 May 2012
In reply to iccle_bully:

So is access a problem? There are several windfarms proposed in my area and from what I've seen there, access during construction may well be a problem - the road from Belford would certainly be affected. One scheme near me proposes that the local common riding , which has followed the same route for 100 years, be diverted. There are also other factors to be aware of, excavation & noise issues.

Whether you are pro-wind factory or not, putting in a bad scheme should not be acceptable, access issues shouLD be avoided etc. and the local BMC should certainly be as a minimum looking to get re-assurances on access etc.
franksnb - on 22 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham: wind farming IS pointless. do some research.
Grumble - on 22 May 2012
In reply to franksnb: if it IS pointless why do so many companies still want to build them?
sew77 on 22 May 2012 - cpc12-newc15-2-0-cust211.16-2.cable.virginmedia.com
Because the generous government subsidies make it financially viable. Google Renewables Obligation Cetificate subsidy scheme for some eye opening figures...

Build this rather than a power stataion...mmm... Bowden doors 9 turbines will have max capacity of 22.5MW but most farms run at an average of about a quarter their max i.e. 5-6MW. The average power station puts out 2000MW (Ferrybridge).

The NIMBY point is interesting I guess none of us know how we would react until we face it personally - like good health, I guess, we don't really consider it until it is threatened.

The application concerns me,as you can tell!
CGlennie on 23 May 2012
It's not entirely pointless, I realise it's not a consistant form of energy but small windfarms well placed are not a bad thing and when used in conjunction with other types of renewable energy that it is part of a better bigger picture.
highclimber - on 23 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham: I can't believe someone would pay for a premier post to highlight this obviously contentious issue. I for one couldn't give two hoots about said proposals.
The Ex-Engineer - on 23 May 2012
In reply to various: Glad to see that at least some climbers have a sense of perspective and are not jumping on the NIMBY bandwagon.

In the grand scheme of things it seems to me a pretty sensible place for wind turbines, and the turbines are still hundreds of metres away from the actual crag.

Quite frankly as far as my participation in rock climbing goes, they can build them on the top of pretty much any outcrop and I wouldn't be overly bothered. I go cragging and/or bouldering to climb good rock with great moves. I don't do it to have piece and quiet, and I don't do it to enjoy great vistas. That is a bonus at many crags but it doesn't influence one iota whether a f7b or V6 has superb climbing on it or whether a VS or E4 is worth 3 stars.

I feel that bringing 'climbing' into this discussion is actually rather irrelevant. After all, the rock at Bowden will remain exactly the same and the ethos of the routes is unaffected. The fact it might not be such a quiet and picturesque spot for picknicking or spending time chilling out, that is an entirely valid issue, but hardly one that gives 'climbers' any particular right of veto over development near crags.

Let us keep, where possible, development of wind farms sufficiently far away from our most popular beauty spots that are enjoyed by a wide range of people, locals and visitors, for a variety of activities. However, that is a completely different premise from the very narrow one the OP and others seem to be promoting which is that we have a 'climbing venue' that is somehow going to be ruined (which it blatantly is not).
In reply to sew77:
>
> Build this rather than a power stataion...mmm... Bowden doors 9 turbines will have max capacity of 22.5MW but most farms run at an average of about a quarter their max i.e. 5-6MW. The average power station puts out 2000MW (Ferrybridge).
>
>

If they build a Ferrybridge at Belford then you will have cause to complain!


Chris
Run_Ross_Run - on 24 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

I find it acceptable. Better turbines than a power station any day.
geordiepie - on 24 May 2012
In reply to sew77:
> Because the generous government subsidies make it financially viable.

Of course they do.....

Markets will find the cheapest way of doing things. The cheapest way of generating electricity at the minute is burning fossil fuels however this is becoming less acceptable for a number of reasons.

Governments can either subsidise clean means of generation or ban polluting means. Either way moaning about subsidies is pointless because you'll still have to pay through your taxes or through your energy bils (or both).

On the Bowden issue....climbing doesn't come into it it's strictly about whether the plan is a good one or not, and I can't see any reason not to site turbines there. Anyway, we can take them down and there'll be very little trace in 50 years time. The same can't be said of coal/gas/nuclear plants.
bz - on 24 May 2012
Much prefer the windfarms to nuclear - imagine Sizewell B over the top of the crag!
oldlyham on 24 May 2012
In reply to all: well, it seems I have mis-read the mood completely....

I agree the key question is whether this is an appropriate spot for a wind farm, not the merits of wind energy versus fossil/nuclear. I'm actually quite pro wind farms, when well placed. I'm just not sure this is a good spot from a landscape point of view; although I take the point that it is temporary blot on the landscape (25 years), and maybe we should just take one for the team.

It was interesting how little the surrounding landscape counts to some of the posters, I guess there is a range of value people put on these things, and fair enough. Out of interst the land is offically an "Area of high landscape value" because of it's position overlooking the Till Valley on one side and the AONB coastline on the other. No doubt the Planning Dept will include this in their decision making, and time will tell, no doubt.

I'm off to think what I should have spent the 25 on!
CGlennie on 25 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham: I'm not entirely convinced these things are ugly anyway. To me they look much more graceful then other structures.
johnpuddephatt - on 26 May 2012
In reply to CGlennie: I always think the obvious thing to compare them with is electricity pylons, which are dotted across many landscapes. I'd take wind turbines over pylons any day.
MikeYouCanClimb - on 26 May 2012
In reply to johnpuddephatt:
> (In reply to CGlennie) I always think the obvious thing to compare them with is electricity pylons, which are dotted across many landscapes. I'd take wind turbines over pylons any day.

I must be missing your point, is it not obvious that pylons are used to transport electricity, rather than to generate it.

You still need pylons irrespective of the type of generation unless you go underground. Much of the fuss around wind farms involves construction of huge new pylons as well as the wind turbines.


Trangia - on 27 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

What's the problem? Wind turbines look graceful, they are fulfilling a useful function and there is no access problem to the crag.

Stop being a NIMBY

And for the record I can see the Romney Marsh wind farm of 24 turbines from my home town - they look much nicer than Dungeness nuclear power station which is also visible, and also serves an important function.
oldlyham on 27 May 2012
In reply to Trangia:

I guess the problem is that I don't agree they look graceful and personally find them industrial in an otherwise rural landscape. I accept this is a personal view though, and that others will differ.

The OP wasn't about comparing wind power with nuclear but as you mention it....I'm not sure it is fair to compare the landscape impact of 24 turbines with Dungeness, without acknowledging they are in different leagues in terms of production. Romney Marsh produces up to 60MW which is only 5% of Dungeness. Would 480 turbines still "look much nicer"? I prefer cycling but if I needed to get to London in 3 hours, I'd take the train. :-)
In reply to Trangia: I find the 'better A than B' argument a bit of a red herring. After all, you'd need about 100 Romney Marsh wind farms to equal the output of one Dungeness (give or take). However graceful one windmill may be, how nice would it look if most of East Sussex (or is it Kent?) were covered in them? And you'd still need Dungeness as base load generator too of course.

To the OP: I agree, it's daft to muck up a really nice corner of Northumberland for the measly output this scheme would offer. Given how much better the big offshore windfarms are in comparison to these piddly onshore projects, I can't see much justification for our support of onshore wind any longer - especially those sited in particularly 'unspoilt' areas.
davidoldfart - on 28 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham: I am gobsmacked by the lack of concern shown by many of those who have replied to this post. There is, to be sure, a very big and serious macro argument to be had about the viability of wind energy, and the fact that by far the most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions in the short to medium term is to generate power using modern, dual cycle gas plants. Because the wind does not blow hard enough most of the time, turbines need back-up capacity that can be turned on and off, and unfortunately, efficient gas plants of this type have to be kept running all the time: that means that the back-up capacity will be much dirtier . Each turbine also requires several hundred kg of rare earth elements for the magnets, and mining and refining them in NE China (the source of 90 per cent of the world's supply) is and continues to be an environmental disaster of the first order, with the production of huge quantities of toxic and radioactive waste, and strong evidence of a high level of birth defects and cancers in the surrounding locality. But I guess China truly is not in my back yard, so who cares, right?

But this is not currently the point. The Northumbria moors are a priceless and irreplaceable natural asset, and siting a wind farm there that will produce, in relative terms, a piddling quantity of power is an outrage. It's not that important that climbers happen to use Bowden Doors. The issue is protecting the landscape in general. Onshore wind power is hard to defend anywhere. Here it would be a crime.
payney1973 - on 28 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham: Are the gonna be close enough to use as belay points? bet theyre BOMBER!!!!!
bagger on 28 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

I spent last thursday evening in the sunshine at Bowden, it was beautiful and peaceful. I was there to climb, but there are lots of people that go there to walk, picnic, holiday etc. There is no doubt in my mind that a windfarm in this location would negatively impact the area. This is such a small farm, which will have a big visual impact, is it really necessary?




JDal - on 29 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

This has got nothing to do with the BMC, IMHO. Access to climbing will not be affected. There is a similar farm to this under development at Great Wanney (the nearest turbine is less than 500 metres from the end of the crag) and access isn't affected.

The BMC is not the CPRE. As can be seen to the responses to this post, it's highly likely that many BMC members would be in favour of this development.

oldlyham on 29 May 2012
In reply to JDal: I can see that now, although I am a little surprised - the "great outdoors" and all that - perhaps I shouldn't be.
Robert Durran - on 30 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

I like wind turbines. I've tried to hate them but failed. There are certainly some places I wouldn't like to see them, but I have not yet seen one which bothers me. As man made structures they are hard to beat for functional beauty. And they make carbon neutral electricity.
Fraser on 31 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham:

> How would you fancy nine 100m high wind turbines right next to one of Northumberland's finest crags?

Sorry, the proposal doesn't really bother me that much and I quite like the aesthetics of turbines. Not your point I'm sure, but you won't see them at all when climbing or walking along the base of the crag, only (in part)when topping out.
Stuart Hurworth - on 31 May 2012
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com: The problem with offshore wind is the cost - both in terms of maintenance and installation. They are more reliable but the cost is several times higher - therefore you can get many more onshore wind turbines - and hence more generating capacity (even taking into account the lower reliability) with onshore wind.

The main way in which turbines could be useful on a large scale would be when combined with many pumped storage schemes such as dinorwig (electric mountain) at Llanberis. Provided we had enough of these we could use as many turbines as we wished without wasting energy or needing backup.

The problem with this is obviously the creation and flooding of large areas of upland and valley areas (the bigger the height difference between reservoirs the better), and a lack of suitable sites.

As a result I think wind power can only make a measured contribution to our energy generation - maybe 20-40%, with the remainder to be produced by Nuclear, Carbon Capture & Storage and Biomass burning. (Plus a Severn barrage!)
Nicholas Livesey on 31 May 2012
In reply to oldlyham: How terribly sad that most folk on this thread appear to be philistines. That so called lovers of the outdoors back this type of thing beggars belief!
Colin Wells - on 31 May 2012
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

All those folk in this thread who seem to think that wind turbines could replace power stations (not that turbine arrays aren't actually power stations - just extemely intrusive ones with inordinately large footprints), should take 6 mins to watch this highly illuminating segment from a recent BBC Horizon programme.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xoi5c5_renewable-energy-and-the-future-some-calculations_tech

It certainly puts the current renewables mania into proper perspective. The summary: even wind power industry advocates accept that even if consensus was reached on limiting future energy usage it would still require a full-sized 3MW turbine to be built every three minutes starting right now for 25 years. About 2% of the entire land surface of the world would end up being covered with wind turbines. And yet this would still provide barely a sixth of energy requirements - intermittently...

Any rational person has to conclude that turbines are a dead end as far as a realistic low-carbon source.

The well-intentioned but misguided EU Renewables Obligation has merely promoted a rush to build these things by big business who are taking advantage of an environmental excuse to undertake some very lucrative vandalism.
JDal - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Colin Wells:
+1

All I would add is that it isn't just big business. If landowners didn't offer their land, in return for large rental agreements of course, then there wouldn't be any onshore windfarms. They aren't sufficiently important to warrant compulsory purchase schemes.
wibb20 - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to davidoldfart:

David - you need to do some research yorself, and stop quote generic NIMBY type argumeents.

Fact 1: Not all turbines use huge amounts of rare earth metals. Those that do tend to be the 'direct drive' type turbines. So you know, the rare earth materials are used int he genarators, and regular power plant generators often use the same technology.
Fact 2: Turbines are very suitable for immediate power needs, ie you say you need gas turbines to back up the wind, well actually it is more the other way around. Wind can be started remotely (assumign there is wind!), and making full power within less than 1 minutes - not something that can be said for most other power plant types.
Fact 3: Oil and gas are more subsidised by the UK government than wind power.... furthermore, most sources agree that onshore wind is actually cheaper (/MWh) than oil/gas.. Offshore is much more expensive, due to the challenging environemntal issues.

How is onshore wind hard to defend anywhere? It is hard to defend as the UK is full of NIMBY numpties pedalling arguments that have had little relavance int he last 20 years. Stop pedalling the same tired arguments - they are widely untrue!

Some intersting reading for you:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/27/wind-power-subsidy-fossil-fuels


wibb20 - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

No how sad that a minority on this forum want to move back to living in the 19th century... Take some responsibilty for the energy you use, or stop using it!

If you want to use energy, and all of the wonnderful things that brings us, then stop clinging onto some ideal about what you think the UK landscape should look like.... I would prefer our rural areas to be covered in wind turbines, than nuclear plants, or nuclear waste storage facilties.
wibb20 - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Colin Wells:

Not much chance of building a turbine every 3 minutes for the next 25 years, as we have too many obstacles like yourself to negotiate, particularly in the UK.

The problem with the very simple 'Brian agenda' is that it assumes all technology remains the same for the next 25 years as it is today. Yes, they considered nuclear fusion, but all other technology was as it is today. If you look back 25 years ago at the solar, wind, nuclear etc, they were so different and less efficient back then. Taking wind as an example, over the last 25 years, the turbines have grown from 15m diamter, to more than 160m diameter today, with an equivalent scaling of the power output, and a major reduction in start up wind speed (ie greater wind range) - the efficiency and effectiveness is just completey different to what they once were...

So if the rationale person would 'conclude that turbines are dead...', what would a non-rationale person such as yoursefl concude? How would you deal with the increasing gap between supply and demand?
Andy Stephenson - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to wibb20:
> If you want to use energy, and all of the wonnderful things that brings us, then stop clinging onto some ideal about what you think the UK landscape should look like.... I would prefer our rural areas to be covered in wind turbines, than nuclear plants, or nuclear waste storage facilties.

Point is that you will need 3000-4000 100m wind turbines at Bowden Doors to replace one Ferrybridge (you don't need to cover the countryside with nuclear stations either; I'd guess that just one will replace all the wind turbines in the country). So to compare like with like, these are the numbers to use. That's ignoring the variable nature of wind power, and assuming that some sort of cleanish power storage is in use (such as new dams and reservoirs for pumping water into, converting the wind power into hydro).
Would you honestly be happy with 3000+ 100m whirling towers at Bowden Doors? What's the cost of materials and fuel when manufacturing and installing such a huge structure? If you can build a vast industrial complex like that in the countryside, then surely there's room for lots of other industrial units as well?

OK, they aren't proposing 3000+ (yet), but when comparing this impact with the impact of a coal-fired station then it would be unfair to compare something that produces a tiny trickle of energy with something that provides serious amounts.
abarro81 - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:
> (In reply to oldlyham) How terribly sad that most folk on this thread appear to be philistines. That so called lovers of the outdoors back this type of thing beggars belief!

I always think of it as exactly the opposite: that it's absurd that lovers of the outdoors could not want to help minimise the damage/changes that global warming is likely to cause


In reply to Andy Stephenson:
> Would you honestly be happy with 3000+ 100m whirling towers at Bowden Doors?

What would you rather? We bury our heads in the sand with regards to future energy costs and security, not to mention global warming?


In reply to Colin Wells:
> Any rational person has to conclude that turbines are a dead end as far as a realistic low-carbon source.

Realistically, fusion, solar or possibly thorium based fission are the only likely long term solutions which might generate anywhere near enough energy from one single source. Unless you're optimistic or very rich I'd say it's worth getting started with cheaper, currently available, options even if they wont be dominant in the world's energy mix in 50 years time.
Andy Stephenson - on 05 Jun 2012
In reply to abarro81:
> In reply to Andy Stephenson:
> [...]
>
> What would you rather? We bury our heads in the sand with regards to future energy costs and security, not to mention global warming?
>
It's not either/or though, is it? Would you really support 3000+ wind turbines in one part of Northumberland? If the energy company's shareholders were to accept smaller profits then the turbines could be built at sea.
Remember that at present we have under 1400 land-based turbines in the whole of the UK (including under construction), effectively generating in total about half what the rather ancient Ferrybridge C power station produces.
Or more realistically, about the same as the very old Hartlepool power station; or about a quarter of the capacity of the proposed new Hartlepool station. The latter is to provide renewable energy for its designed lifespan of 60 years, whereas the equivalent wind station of 12000 turbines has to be rebuilt every 25 years. And that's only the equivalent of one small nuclear facility.
I'd support a small wind farm of (say) 10000 turbines in the North Sea; even though I don't think that it makes sense economically I think we can afford it as a luxury form of power. To encourage other rich countries to do the same.
But when you spoil a significant amount of landscape for a measly 9 turbines, producing negligible power, in my view the overall environmental impact is too high. Note that a typical small old-fashioned nuclear facility will supply electricity to power 1.5 million homes, whereas with a wind farm with similar footprint (like the one in question) will be supplying 1000 homes per turbine at best.
mav - on 05 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Stephenson:
"Note that a typical small old-fashioned nuclear facility will supply electricity to power 1.5 million homes, whereas with a wind farm with similar footprint (like the one in question) will be supplying 1000 homes per turbine at best"

Also, that power can be relied upon, and even boosted up at peak times, while that turbines output is entirely unpredicatable, and is capabal of dropping from maximum output to zero in a matter of minutes.
wibb20 - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Stephenson: Check your sums again Andy. :)
The proposal is for a 22.5MW wind farm. At roughly 2kW per household, that would equate to 11250 homes. Ok, this is optimistic, so let use the pessimistic numbers quoted earlier in this thread, of a 5-6MW output. That would still equate to 2500-3000 homes...

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