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GREEN OR GREED?

Make no mistake about it, this is a commercial development which seeks to profit from the industrialisation of our rural areas - and Northumberland has replaced Scotland as an easy target.

The financial incentives offered by the current government's panic to meet its European renewable quota has led to a massive increase in planning applications for wind farms. But will it help actually meet our renewable energy needs?

In engineering terms, referring to air-driven propellers in open flow as turbines is misleading as they do not compare at all well with steam, gas or water-driven turbines, which are designed to operate at high speed, under pressure and with a contained flow. Air-driven propellers, on the other hand, are one of the oldest and most ineffective technologies known to man. They work on average one hour in four, hence the 25% effective generation of electricity only, use only 60% of the passing air with a power coefficient of less than 20%.

Turbines are hugely inefficient: their carbon footprint far exceeds any environmental savings. They can only operate within narrow margins: if it is too windy, they have to be switched off. For example, on December 20th 2010, the total output from the 3,500 installed turbines in the UK produced only 2.43% of their capacity and little more than 0.2% of the nation’s electricity needs*. For every megawatt of wind farm generating capacity, a matching back-up supply from high CO2 emitting fossil-fuel gas or coal-fired plants would be needed*.

In April 2011, six wind farms in Scotland were paid £900,000 to switch off their turbines for one night to avoid overloading the grid. And on 13 September 2011, the National Grid stopped a number of Scottish wind turbines for a third consecutive night for the same reason, as high output and low demand causes network congestion (Reuters, London).

They don't produce any power below around 9 mph (4 m/s) -- although the blades may be turning and appear to be functioning.

They will produce power ideally between approx 18-22 mph  (8-10 m/s).

If the wind speed reaches about 45 mph (20 m/s) the turbine is likely to be damaged, and the operators have to feather the blades to stop them turning. In practice, wind is rarely constant, so a lower wind speed with gusts over 45 mph would obviously also trigger a shut down.

It is proven in studies throughout the UK, Europe and the USA that actual energy output is substantially lower than all the claims made, is intermittent and needs to be backed up by more traditional power stations.

Wind power is seen as "Free Energy" by many; however It's hardly free because we are all paying for it through our taxes and increased electricity bills, self-replenishing only if the wind blows and not very strongly at that, and non-polluting is stretching the truth because of the way the land is going to be trashed by obvious pollutants during construction and through seepage thereafter.

Regardless of the lack of efficiency, the lucrative opportunities offered by ROCs (Renewable Energy Certificates) and the Feed-In Tarif has produced a whole new breed of speculative developers whose sole aim is to secure planning for a wind farm on a piece of land - without any intention at all to execute the plan. They can then sell this on for huge profits to a larger developer to execute the plan - and crucially - may not be encumbered by any promises or guarantees made by the original developers such as:

The Community Fund!
An obvious source of speculation and discussion. Middle Hill Renewables Ltd has offered to establish a Community Fund of £54,000 per year for the parishes affected by the development - which numbers 4. So we know the price of it but what is the cost?

We hope you will take a look around the rest of the site, particularly the Links page discover the cost of this proposal for us all.