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Majority of Lincolnshire residents back county council's tough stance against wind farms

By Barnaby_B  |  Posted: January 29, 2013

Wind turbines
Comments (21)

Almost 90 per cent of people have backed Lincolnshire County Council's tough stance against wind farms, according to a recent survey by the authority.

The council pledged to stop the "unrestrained invasion" of wind turbines across the county in June last year and the authority's executive moved to resist new wind farm developments.

Just under 4,000 people completed the survey, with 89 per cent of people agreeing with the council’s position.

Under the council's proposals, large wind farms, which can be more than 100 metres high, would not be allowed within 2km of people's homes. Turbines will also be resisted if they are within 10km of a village that has more than ten properties.

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Areas such as the Lincolnshire Wolds will have added protection and more emphasis will be put on the visual impact of developments. Smaller wind turbines, such as seen on farms, will have more support.

The survey also revealed that 63 per cent of people felt wind farms had no role to play in meeting our energy needs and 87 per cent said the county council’s guidelines should be taken into account when new wind farms are considered.

Council leader Martin Hill said: “Clearly our residents feel something has to be done about the unrestrained spread of wind turbines across the county. It also looks that, as far as our residents are concerned, the county council is on the right track.

“We understand the need for renewable energy. However, we can’t ignore the impact wind farms are having on our beautiful and historic countryside for what appears to be very limited gain.

“We need to make sure we balance our need for green energy against inappropriate developments that ruin the very environment we’re trying to protect. We’re confident our guidelines will bring that balance.”

The Lincolnshire Pro Wind Alliance have petitioned the council over claims that the authority has a "negative bias" against wind farms.

The group claims that some councillors are trying to impose their personal views about onshore turbines on the public and are not considering the benefits. It also suggests that creating a policy against wind farms is a waste of taxpayers' money because it is not up to the county council to approve wind farm planning applications.

Group member James Pocklington said: "We're not asking councillors to support wind farms, we just want them to be impartial. They are not engaging with the facts. Wind farms are intermittent but they are efficient and they are excellent at collecting wind energy.

"We disapprove strongly that the county council should spend taxpayers' money to promote councillors' own personal views. There is not going to be an 'unrestrained invasion'. The planning system is robust and we should let it do its job."

Dr Simon Hampton, a psychology lecturer, also claimed the survey did not give equal chances for people to show support for or reject an anti-wind farm stance. He added there was a risk of social desirability bias, where people choose answers they believe are most morally acceptable.

Cllr Hill said: "We can't understand why anybody would object to us asking residents for their views on what is an important issue unless they're worried the results will oppose their own agenda. People are free to disagree with any of our proposals, so any claims of bias are frankly ridiculous.

Our survey was a chance for people to offer their thoughts on wind farms. We were not telling them what to think, and there was no bias to it. We learned their views at no extra cost to the taxpayer."

A report will now be presented to the council’s executive members asking them to endorse a move to make the council’s current position official policy. If they agree, this will go before the full council on February 22 for approval.

View the full results of the survey here...

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21 comments

  • nigelsparky  |  February 01 2013, 3:37PM

    Graculas. I have to disagree with you where climate change is concerned. There is no evidence that mankind has had any effect on climate change, it is purely supposision and theories. You being a meteorlogist would know better than anyone that climatic change is constant. Being an electrical design engineer, I know all about loads and diversity factors etc. and where the governments figures are concerned, downtime is the main key factor they have taken into consideration when coming up with their 23.6%. If they decide to work the average out for a 7 day period and the turbine only generated electricity for one day, the figure would be an average for the 7 days. As I have said previously, figures can be read however you want them to read. In essence, wind turbines are not that practical, they cannot be "ramped" up to meet a surge in demand,they cannot generate a constant output of electricity, and with the astronomical cost of constructing them, not really financially viable. You say the three polls you have quoted show strong support for wind turbines, which if that is the case, then why are the renewable companies offering the communities directly affected by their construction, financial "sweetners"?

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  • Graculas  |  January 31 2013, 8:37PM

    Nigelsparky, I'm sorry for how you feel about what is happening to your area. I personally find wind turbines attractive not least because of the hope that I feel they represent. However beauty and ugliness are both in the eye of the beholder and I do appreciate that many people will not be happy to have them around. When I asked 'where are your polls' I was thinking of Vindpust who was claiming to know of many showing public opposition to windfarms. Regarding your 23.6%, initially you said this was how much time they generate electricity now you say 'efficiency'. I suspect you mean 'load factor' which is neither. I get my figures from work I have done for a community wind turbine outside my village. Our machine will generate electricity for 80% of the time but have a load factor of about 25%. All this means is that averaged over a year, including calms, light winds etc. we will get on average about 25% of what we would get if it blew a gale constantly. A load factor around 25% is fine. Efficiency for a wind turbine cannot be compared with efficiency of a gas fired station because the turbine uses no fuel. Where I am really coming from is concern over climate change. I am a meteorologist by profession and the more we learn about global warming the scarier it gets and I for one am not going to do nothing. It is not just a theory by the worlds scientists it is a threat to our children and grandchildren. It would be nice to think that Lincolnshire could lead the response to that threat.

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  • MagicJohnson  |  January 31 2013, 8:12AM

    Hi Nigel, the debate has moved on from whether climate change exists or not - the doubters tend to come now only from pressure groups like Nigel Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation (with links to the oil industry) rather serious scientists who have done proper research - and is now concentrated on how it can be tackled. Even if you don't believe this, the reality is the government is working on the premise that this scenario (all be it reluctantly). Even without the threat of climate change there is concern over how we can meet our future energy needs without over-relying on foreign supplies. For the UK this would appear to mean nuclear, renewables or combination of the 2. Neither are perfect. Given the choice both this and the previous government favoured nuclear as it offers a neat, one-off solution. But the public haven't bought into the nuclear industry's PR and ministers know they would never get away with a nuclear-only option. So even this less than green government (which is happy to hide behind the EU, to avoid the flack) is pushing the use of wind turbines.

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  • nigelsparky  |  January 30 2013, 11:21PM

    Magic I can see where you are coming from regarding polls and surveys, as they are never going to give a true picture, unless the whole populous has taken part of course. I agree an adult debate on the subject would be good, however that is why we have elections, as the politicians or councillors cannot go to the general public on every subject, hence they have manifestos. As for the "wind turbine" issue, this is a much wider debate really, like why do we need them? who says we need them? etc as I am not convinced at all about the climate change scenario, as it is only a consensus of theories by "some scientists". The last government signed us up to an agreement with our EU masters, meaning the closure of many of our efficient power stations, putting thousands of people out of work, with no viable and workable plan in place to meet the energy shortfall created by these closures, leading to offgem predicting power cuts and even more price rises to pay for the very expensive "renewables".

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  • MagicJohnson  |  January 30 2013, 10:25PM

    nigelsparky the difference between the polls quoted and the LCC one is that the Mori and NOP polls will have sought to have a cross section of the population to give a representative picture and their sample size will have been chosen to show that statistically it is a reliable result; the County poll simply asked anyone who had sight of it to complete it, meaning there was no check that a representative cross section of society was represented, plus the questions were loaded to encourage a negative attitude to wind farms - the upshot being that those with strong negative feelings on the subject were most likely to respond. I think there is a need for a grown up debate about the issue and the balance between local and national concerns. However I don't think that the Councils attitude is helping with this at all. Personally I think they are just playing politics - they know there is little they can do about it but don't want to get the blame come election day. My views I know are different to yours - from what I understand on the subject I think they can make a contribution to the countries energy requirements and dilute the requirements to use other, less desirable alternatives. Other countries, such as Germany agree. I also think there is no reason why Lincolnshire shouldn't play a major part in this - it has always been a working county with changing land use, not just a picture postcard landscape. However I respect your viewpoint and understand your concerns given your circumstances - I just don't think you are being well served by councillors playing politics.

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  • nigelsparky  |  January 30 2013, 9:28PM

    Graculas 38% "tend to be in favour" not exactly convincing one way or the other really is it! And how many people were "polled"? "I'm still waiting for your polls". I haven't commissioned any Graculas, I said to a previous poster, how does he know the headline is ridiculous? Has he surveyed everyone in the county? No he hasn't, so just like the headline being "ridiculous" so was his statement. Moving on, my statement of the 23% or so efficiency,is not only the governments official figures but also the renewable energy companies figures as stated within their "sales/marketing" pamphlets and turbine specification sheets (of which I am in possession of reams of their information). They can only generate electricity between two wind speed parameters which are between 5mph and 45mph. The lower the wind speed the lower the output. Where have you got 80% from? The reason I mention the concrete, steel, and copper etc. is that these turbines are marketed as being "environmentally friendly", yet the materials and building methods used in their construction, are far from being "environmentally friendly". I have carried out hours and hours of research on these developments, as the village I live in, is under serious threat of being surrounded by these developments. Within approximately 1 square mile of the boundaries of our village, we currently have 21 x turbines to the south with another 5 x due to be constructed shortly, 2 x turbines under construction to the north, with an application at planning for another 13 x turbines on land adjacent to these two, 3 x 135m high turbines at planning to the west, another 15 x at planning to the south east, and 75 x due to be constructed to the east, although these 75 are offshore, with the cabling and switchgear coming ashore on the edge of the village. I also find it strange that these developments that are either being constructed or have been constructed, had their planning applications initially turned down, then all of a sudden they are rushed through on appeal, and we as residents are powerless to challenge the appeal ruling, even though they were initially turned down! So as you can see by what has been going on around our "RURAL" village location which I chose to live in, is now slowly being "Industrialised", and to all of you who describe them as being "slender" and "elegant" you really do need to get yourselves to "specsavers", as they are very overpowering monstrosities, when they are as close to our village as these are. Like I have said previously, I have carried out hours and hours of research on this subject and in these posts, I have only scratched the surface, I could bang on all night with more info into why these are an expensive "folly".

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  • Graculas  |  January 30 2013, 6:37PM

    Vindpust, indeed these 2 polls took a representative sample of the whole UK population. If you need another sample the best I can think of is a GfK-NOP poll of post code GL5, a largely rural area polled because a wind farm was planned. That found 66% in favour 12% against. NigelSparky, the full IPSOS-MORI results were: - 28% Strongly in favour, 38% tend to favour, 22% neither favour nor oppose, 5% tend to oppose, 3% strongly oppose, 4% don't know. These 3 polls I have quoted are consistent and agree that support for wind power is strong. There really is no doubt about this. I'm still waiting for your polls. I looked at the results for the poll mentioned above. Quite apart from the complete lack of credibility the results are not quite as stated. The questions just asked if wind farm planning should consider other factors which is reasonable to say even for wind power supporters. Not sure what else you were saying, of course wind farms use concrete, steel, copper and concrete. These are all common materials not least in all forms of power production. Why is there only a problem when they're used in a wind farm? Why do you say wind turbines only generate 23% of the time? This is not even close, 80% would be better. Foreign owners? Some wind farms may belong to the same international companies that provide our imported gas generated power etc. but a lot are owned by UK companies such as RES, COOP etc or local community groups or even individuals. I would have thought wind power is the most British of electricity.

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  • Bill_Door  |  January 30 2013, 2:38PM

    I'd agree that you CAN make polls etc. read whatever you want them to read, but only up to a point. As I said earlier only about 3500 people out of more than a million felt strongly against wind turbines to say so. However you chose to interpret those numbers, you can't make them into a majority of Lincolnshire residents oppose wind turbines.

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  • nigelsparky  |  January 30 2013, 12:25PM

    "Vindpust, so far as I can see properly conducted opinion polls consistently show support for wind power. For example IPSOS MORI, asked the following: - "to what extent are you in favour of or opposed to wind energy in the UK?" - result strongly in favour 28%, strongly opposed 3%. Your example is not exactly convincing is it! What are the views on the remaining 69% of people polled? You can make polls etc. read whatever you want them to read. Most people that are not affected directly by these "industrial" machines springing up across the countryside, have very little,or in most cases, no knowledge of what these things are about. The "renewable energy companies" have the perfect marketing tool at their disposal, namely the impending doom of the planet, bought about by a body of scaremongering scientists, that is based on theories and not hard facts. Just look at their marketing termanology, we will construct lots of "wind farms" that will "harvest the wind", giving us "free, clean" energy,when really what they should be saying is, "we intend to construct giant propellers using thousands of tons of concrete and steel, plough up the countryside to bury thousands of miles of copper taken from the copper mines across the globe,give the land owner tens of thousands of pounds per year per turbine for the next 25 years, and for every £150,000 worth of energy we produce, we will receive £250,000 from the taxpayer! Oh and by the way, these machines will only work for 23.6% of the time which means for 76.4% of the time they will just stand there generating absolutely nothing! and whilst they are standing there, they will use 9.5Kw of electricity 24/7 . When the wind does blow, they will use their 16Kw electric motors to start the blades rotating up to a speed whereby the wind takes over. We will also give your community some of your money back too, as our way of saying thank you for allowing us to destroy your rural location for the next 25 years, and lining the pockets of our foriegn owners, with your money, it really is appreciated. That ladies and gentlemen is what these companies are really saying!

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  • Vindpust  |  January 30 2013, 10:47AM

    Graculas. Thank you. You make my point very well. The poll you reference was demographically weighted and therefore its respondents were overwhelmingly people living in urban centres of population with little or no personal experience or knowledge of wind turbine arrays (see the sampling data). Also the question you quote illustrates the problem with this sort of 'survey' - I am highly critical of wind power generation when, as now, it is carried to excess; I would not be "opposed to wind energy in the UK" per se. Ask people more discerning questions in areas being besieged by wind speculators and you will get a VERY different answer. Nor should you believe everything professional pollsters tell you. The same company were responsible for a major poll on attitudes to wind power in Scotland, commissioned by the Scottish Government to support their renewables policy. It was subject to withering criticism from professionals because of the way it confused its own sampling data. Because of the way they mixed polling data from different population groups and turbine arrays they ended up with more people complaining about turbine noise the further away they were from turbines!

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