Looking forward to Fullabrook

I’m looking forward to visiting the Fullabrook Down wind farm. It should be ready by 2010, provided the plans don’t get scrapped.

The site in North Devon received the go ahead from the government last Tuesday – 22 wind turbines generating around a third of North Devon’s electricity.

Local views

I think most of us will agree that wind farms are no magic bullet. I’ve always considered them to be just part of a larger solution. But wind farms have caused quite a stir in North Devon, as can be seen by the last time I wrote about wind energy.

North Devon is such a beautiful area. It’s my homeland and I love it. I’d hate to see anything ruin it. However, I just can’t relate to the more vocal locals who write in to the papers to spout on about the devastating, horrific things that will happen due to wind turbines. It’s as if these wind turbines getting the green light means the world is going to end.

The letters in the local papers often seem hyperbolic, even vitriolic. They instil an inherent cynicism in me, so I have grown tired of the debates. Of course, that’s my problem and I expect people will pick me out on that. Anyway, I don’t necessarily think the people who write in are stupid, ignorant or even wrong. But I see figures buzzing about their comments that are never backed up with solid sources. I see letters of opinion quoted as evidence. I don’t question the legitimacy of the feelings such letters express, but their weight as factual evidence. Just as I don’t expect my opinions in this very entry to change anybody else’s view, none of what I read against wind farms sways my opinion.

Something I find odd (and frustrating) about the whole wind debate is how seemingly outnumbered I am by people who are strongly against wind energy. The local anti-wind groups seem far more impassioned and more vocal than those of us that are pro-wind energy.

Local consequences

One of the main concerns of locals is the impact of the wind farm on our primary industry; tourism. Quoting Nick Harvey, our local MP, via the North Devon Journal:

Mr Harvey added that the tourist industry is worth £500 million to North Devon and Torridge and any decrease in income would create a whole [sic] in the local economy.

I wish I had the power of foresight to be able to support or play down those concerns, but I don’t. I don’t propone to have the answers.

I’ve commented before that I stop and watch wind turbines if I get the chance. I can remember a few specific times I’ve stopped or wanted to stop when passing a wind farm: there was one farm we passed in Cumbria (Lambrigg); the lone turbine just off the M25 near junction 20 (the Renewable Energy Systems office at Kings Langley); the one at Green Park off the M4 near Reading; the three turbines at Forest Moor; the new farm at Avonmouth, Bristol. Am I the only person who finds wind farms calming and beautiful to watch?

In a previous entry about Batsworthy Cross, I wrote:

At the EcoTech Centre in Swaffham, they have a turbine that you can go up in and see the view from their viewing platform. […] I think such a viewing platform would be a fantastic addition to the area, for example, at a good viewpoint such as Batsworthy Cross.

Viewing platforms could be a great feature at Fullabrook too. One or more turbines with viewing platforms. I’m sure that the views across North Devon would be astounding, and even the most ardent NIMBY would begrudgingly have to take a trip up to the top of one.

How about a centre to teach visitors about leading a more sustainable lifestyle? I think an “eco-centre” would fit well into the ethos and essence of the area. (One of the things I love about North Devon is how localised some things are, especially food. You can get fresh produce from local sources daily and many of the restaurants and pubs are locally sourced.)

Perhaps the Fullabrook Community Fund could contribute towards such developments or help boost tourism in the area in other ways?

I can understand that the development period of the turbines will entail problems for the people who live nearby. I can’t understand people getting put off their annual pilgrimages to North Devon because of a wind farm.

Further reading

Your views

Having experienced a barrage of comments about wind energy the last time I blogged about it, I’m tempted to turn comments off for this one – it’s only my opinion after all – but sod it… let the comments flow freely!