Consultants Amazed At Islands’ Wind Power Potential, Says ISREC

Tuesday's AGM in the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Scilly is one of the windiest locations in the UK.

And that message was driven home at the Isles of Scilly Renewable Energy Co-operative AGM at the Wesleyan Chapel last night. It was written on a banner display.

Members heard that wind turbine consultants, Sykamore, were ‘amazed‘ at how viable wind power is in Scilly.

The group has had access to over 20 years’ worth of wind data from St Mary’s airport.

Their report says feedback has been positive. A tiny minority have directly stated opposition to a small wind turbine but the majority of respondents have expressed support for a project, subject to it being sited in a properly considered and appropriate location.

Their £8,000 study earlier this year has now indentified 20 suitable sites for turbines on all the islands.

Small sites have been selected for Porthellick on St Mary’s, Middle Town on St Martin’s and Carters Lane, St Agnes.

The larger sites aren’t being made public because residents haven’t been consulted yet, but sites around Telegraph and the airport, where there is already visual intrusive from existing installations, are being considered.

Jonathan Smith, who was re-elected to the Chairmanship of the group, confirmed that any turbines could not go on Wildlife Trust land or near any archaeological sites

Member Mike Gurr was worried about how turbines could affect bats and birds. Those concerns would be taken seriously.

And Jonathan said the special landscape of Scilly would be considered in any plans.

From Radio Scilly

Mark Prebble

Mark Prebble talks to Radio Scilly about wind power

He feels it is hard to gauge visitors opinion but he quoted a Scottish survey which claimed 93% of visitors to areas with turbines wouldn’t be dissuaded from returning.

Jonathan gave the example of a wind farm in Swaffham, which had become a tourist attraction.

He says that many visitors would wish to see that sustainable power was being generated here.

Penny Rogers felt that the consultants were dismissive when questioned about noise but Jonathan said a Cornish farming colleague has a turbine that’s inaudible 100m away and rules prevent their placement near to housing.

A Cornish acoustic company has offered to advise islanders living near to any planned turbines. Noise would be measured against the local ambient sound level.

The figures suggest that the bigger the installation, the better the return.

The smallest, 18m-high tower would generate 5kW, enough to power up to 6 houses. It would pay back the £36,000 cost in 4.3 years.

With a smaller model, the electricity unit price would be 18p. The cheapest mains tariff is currently around 12p per unit but the meeting heard that price will likely rise in the future.

A 20m-high, 20kW turbine would cost £111,000 and would generate power at 11p a unit and be in the black in 3.25 years.

There’s no clear plan for funding yet but Local Action Group or public subscription could raise the cash.

There is support for the local community benefiting from reduced prices and some locals could fund schemes.

ISREC also shared their recent survey findings. 117 people responded and 80% were local.

91% felt solar or PV power generation would be appropriate for Scilly while 79% felt the same for wave power and 65% backed tidal sources, although the meeting heard that the technology isn’t there yet.

63% of those polled felt wind power was appropriate.

That ties in with a national IPSOS survey, which claimed that 67% of British people back wind power. Nationally 3% are strongly opposed.

ISREC will continue to consult locals. Mark Prebble said they would “take it stage by stage” and present the community with options.

Their consultants have advised getting the public on board.

There’ll be more discussion with the Duchy, Wildlife Trust and Council too.

Jonathan said the Council’s Planning Policy document doesn’t make much mention of wind power and he personally feels that’s a political decision.

Chief Planning Officer, Craig Dryden, who wasn’t at the meeting, says his team would determine any application for a wind turbine on its individual merits and in accordance with the Council’s Development Plan.

The potential benefits of renewable energy would be weighed against any visual impact of a proposal on the character and appearance of the AONB and Conservation Area by reason of its design, scale and siting.

A trial installation could be one of their next options although the previous Mount Todden turbine trial has been dismissed due to the inefficiency of earlier technologies.


13 Responses to Consultants Amazed At Islands’ Wind Power Potential, Says ISREC

  1. william May 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I agree with Adam Morton.
    There are sites which could hardly be described as pristine in the Scillies and it is hypocritical to have communication masts and object to wind turbine masts.

    People will not be put off visiting.

    PV has a role to play but does require subsidy – much higher than wind ROCs or FITs. PV arrays cover large areas if they are to generate useful energy (only in the day and mostly in summer when there is less demand for electricity) They are not pretty – a solar array is not a green field.

    Do involve as many of the local population as you can. Most people are in favour of wind power especially community schemes, but most people are also slow to speak up in favour. The British disease is that we are good at complaining about energy generation of almost any flavour – but we still want cheap available electricity.

  2. Adam Morton,St.Martins April 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I disagree with most of the above comments entirely.
    I live and work here and care very much about our scenery.
    Tourism is widely reported to be failing here as well as in the west country as a whole and not linked to the proliferation of wind turbines.
    Perhaps some power generation could support Scillies economy to prop up tourism by subsidising travel ( a real and common complaint)
    supporting wave /tide power is an easy get out clause and a way of dodging the issue without signing yourself up as a Jeremy Clarkson. It will never happen, the installation costs of submarine cable alone prohibit it, let alone mantainence vessels etc, and further more involve exclusion zones ruining the fishing industry. the list is endless.
    PV panels are great. low maintenance and unobtrusive, the only problem is they need government FITS to make them viable as the amount of electricity they generate is still pitifully small.
    Wind turbines have nearly everything going for them; low tec .low priced, low maintainence,low installation and no fuel & transport detracting from their power and a relatively high power output. The only problem is the visual one and that is in the eye of the beholder.I think that those of us that live here can be trusted to get the balance right and decide if any ,where and what is put up.
    I don’t know St Marys as well as those that live there but I don’t think its impossible to find a site that wouldn’t look too out of place for instance the old Decca masts were only recently taken down and hadn’t ruined too many peoples lives ,perhaps those sites could be reused? The TV & phone mast seems to have evaded all criticism and is very prominent .Also we have a kiddies pirate ship on the Garrison noticeable from most places which hasn’t caused an outcry, perhaps there are a couple of sites on old installations that would be acceptable? Or even the end of the new quay extension? you could hardly say that any of these sites were untouched by human hand.Im sick and tired of people jumping on the bandwagon trying to vilify any project that comes up. If they spent half the energy trying to find some mutually agreeable site or solution, we’d all be a lot better off.
    I feel that its hypocritical to use power without doing your bit to generate some of it, ruining someone else’s scenery with your PowerStation is not acceptable. Being dependant on Russia and wars in the far east for all our power isn’t an option that will be available to us forever either so sometime we will have to bite the bullet and get on with it in the most efficient way we can. We have the best position in the UK for wind and solar projects so it makes sense to use at least some of it so we could at least discuss the feasibility in a mature way .
    I think that ISREC could do more, if you want a community project it helps to involve the community rather than discussing it amongst yourselves .There are people out there with the means ,knowledge and objectivity to assist and get a project on the move. If people feel part of something they don’t tend to object so much as they do if they think that an agenda has been dreamed up by a few and foisted upon them. Few people know of its existence fewer still what their up to and less that have the time to investigate by travelling to the town hall and back if they knew there was a meeting .

  3. Jackie Brinsley April 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    PLEASE do not even consider erecting any of these ugly monstrosities in your beautiful islands (no matter what seductive and spurious temptations are offered, remember what they say about statistics!). Were you to allow any to appear in your unique, amazingly stunning landscape I can guarantee your tourist industry would plummet into decline.Visitors come for your vast blue skies, your rugged empty hills and exceptional views of turquoise seas, if we want to look at wind turbines we need only go down the road.Your planning committee seems to have extremely stringent rules for development, even the most modest, so to consider wind turbines would seem incredible. I have visited all my life and the escape from our ever-urbanised mainland is the whole reason we come, so few places can offer what you still have. Cherish it! Nurture it and for goodness sake do not ruin it!

  4. Dave April 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Wind turbines are the original blot on the landscape and have no place here! I’m heartily fed up of yet another attempt by some quango to change all our lives. Am I the only one to be depressed to hear of the setting up of another steering group, committee, feasibility study and consultation-will it never end over here? Just enjoy your life on the islands, and stop trying to make me feel better by imposing something on me I don’t want!

  5. olive April 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I have lived near wind turbines in the past and believe me you do not want them on Scilly. They are noisy, ugly and do not work half as efficiently as they would have you believe. Maybe they have a place but that place is not Scilly.

  6. Todd Stevens April 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    It seems that those who are pushing for this are blinkered to other ways. If there will be land given over here to wind turbines then that same land can be given over to solar energy. (or desperately needed social housing) Cattle being able to graze beneath wind turbines does not make them less obtrusive visually or audibally. Solar is being proven that it works very well on Scilly and it is SILENT. As is tidal generated power. Those blinkered by wind energy will keep telling you that wind is more efficient here but wheres the proof? It was tried before and failed. And even if it is more efficent today than solar, the turbines are still a blot on the landscape. My parents live out near clacton where these ugly things are now prolific just off shore. Even though they cant be heard they look awful. Very few residents there like them. As with there- one or two lead to many more. We all want sustainable (hate that word) energy but solar or tidal is the way to go here not wind.

  7. Natalie Sitch April 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    There has to be a better solution for the Islands to choose for renewable energy? The visual impact of wind turbines on the Islands will be detrimental to tourism, on which the Islands rely so heavily. I have seen what they have done to the Scottish Highlands and it ruins the landscape which people travel so far to see. The spread of industrial installations in unspoiled locations must be tackled. Hugh town has so much roof space that can be used to capture solar energy- work with what you have, don’t destroy the natural beauty of Scilly.

  8. Ian Ward April 26, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Please do not spoil the islands with destructive renewable energy technology.
    Wind turbines will kill birds, bats and the tourist industry.

    Solar panels also generate renewable energy and will not.

    It is not rocket science!!

  9. Todd Stevens April 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    We have some really great places here where the ever constant tide can be captured. Some places that I know of are in really quite calm areas where the sea doesnt get that rough either. They are also very silty places where there is little sea life but deep enough to not be a hindrence to surface traffic. We should be looking into tide power here it is strong and ever present-not those unsightly, noisy, wind turbines- which seem a great idea until you find one is on your doorstep. NO THANK YOU.

  10. Ian Sant April 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    For god’s sake don’t let them ruin Scilly with these inefficient things. Read John Etherington’s book ‘The Windfarm Scam” to see what a confidence trick they are. !8% efficiency at most. Developers are ruining our mid-Wales landscape with them. I certainly would be put off visiting again if the land/seascape became industrialised. Solar on the other hand, would be a far better bet and less obtrusive.

  11. Ray Wornes April 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    ISREC doesn’t represent this IOS community as it is a self-appointed body voted in by a small number of interested people. Opposition to wind turbines is growing across Britain because they industrialise the natural landscape and downgrade the scenic value of the countryside for visitors and residents. Scilly’s tourism is bound to be damaged by placing a number of these noisy and monstrously large machines across our small and precious islands when what we trade on is an unspoilt and tranquil natural landscape rather than the busy and noisy industrial landscape of mainland tourism. I believe that wind turbines are no longer popular and will soon become obsolete.

    According to ISREC, 63% of on-line respondents to their survey felt wind power was appropriate. This is only 74 individuals out of around 2000 islanders. Conclusions based on small samples of the population are often misleading. ISREC’s plan sounds more like an opportunistic business venture and not a scheme led by the application of sound environmental principles. There are a number of better alternatives to wind turbines that would never be seen or heard and some that would blend in with the built environment or sea environment. Some would generate 24/7 or for most of each day and would not be as unreliable as wind power. These alternatives are already working in other places. The energy self-sufficient house is a reality therefore no more energy is needed once energy conservation materials have been installed. Indeed, together with other installations those houses have a surplus of energy which is sold to the Grid. This means that wind turbines are already unnecessary.

    What all IOS residents are entitled to expect is a fair share of the benefits of any renewable energy generation scheme and access to various forms of energy conservation should come way before energy generation or we will be wasting much of the energy we generate. Just watch Germany over the next few years as they dump nuclear power and go for energy conservation and renewable energy.

    This ISREC scheme has started off with a hard-nosed business plan to sell wind power rather than an environmental protection plan and is therefore already out of date and not credible. Scilly must go forwards and not continue to go backwards. Please don’t waste our time and money.

  12. Richard April 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    As correctly stated in your article, size is what matters. One large or 4-5 medium sized turbines can generate so much more than a scattering of semi-domestic or farm scale turbines. The larger turbines, although visible from further away are more elegant looking than the small 5, 20, 50 kilowatt machines. (rather in the same way as a lighthouse, airport or helicopter is visible from far away) Modern direct drive machines can easily be quiet enough to stay within sound limits and at high wind speeds the control on rotation speed keeps the sound level low.

    Why not go for a decent sized one straight away – since your previous correspondent has assured us of the inevitability of upsizing. Incidentally, I love the landscape of the Scillies and would not be put off visiting, living there if I could, alongside wind turbines. It would be a badge of honour for the Scillies to be carbon neutral! Well done.

  13. Bill April 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Jonathan should get his facts right. The original 1 wind turbine at Swaffham had a rarity value and locals put up with a second being built, but when more turbines were proposed (by German speculators) at North Pickenham, near Swaffham, the Town Council objected saying that the area had had enough. (They got them anyway).

    The visitor centre at Swaffham is far from popular now that everybody has seen too much of industrial turbines in much loved landscapes from Lands end to John o’ Groats.

    Similarly, the wind industry always quotes figures from the early days of the visitor centre at the UK’s first commercial turbine array at Delabole. They NEVER mention the closure of the £5m Gaia Energy Centre at Delabole in 2004. It was supposed to attract 150,000 visitors a year, only a tenth of that number actually visited the centre.

    The CEO of the company which tried to rescue the site told the BBC: “We put a lot of work in and and a lot of investment over the last few months to see if the centre could be salvaged as an a exhibition on renewable energy.

    “But, sadly, just like many eco-attractions, they’re just not sustainable, there’s just not enough interest.” (‘Energy tourist attraction shuts’, BBC News, 30 September, 2004).

    Building turbines on the Scillies would be an act of gross stupidity: your USP is the opposite of what the wind industry stands for – the industrialisation of landscapes. You will just be joining the areas of Cornwall where landscapes are marred by turbines.

    Also, build one or two and you will be opening the door to the wind speculators and greedy landowners whop will argue that the landscape is already compromised so a few more (always much bigger!) won’t hurt.