The Central Fife Times has this week reported that Little Raith Wind Farm is now operational. Now that the wind farm is officially open, the area will be open to the public as the site crosses a public right of way.
However, be warned that if you do plan on visiting the wind farm, the area will not be the quiet tranquility which the wind energy industry promises, claiming that ‘wind turbines are no noisier than your fridge‘.
Below is a video we captured of the turbine noise on 27th November 2012, on a very calm and non windy day.
We have been visiting the wind farm on a daily basis, and the noise remains, except on windier days the noise is much louder and includes higher frequency sounds, as well as the swish and thump of the turbine blades passing the tower.
Kennedy Renewables have highlighted that they will continue to monitor benzene and other pollutant levels from the Mossmorran complex, but failed to mention that SEPA have already stated that this testing, while useful, is not fully adequate;
SEPA recommended a monitoring strategy that would use a time based automatic monitor that would be able to detect subtle changes in hydrocarbons; these data would then be used to see if the wake from the wind turbines was having an impact on the dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere. However the developer appealed the planning condition stating that the condition was too onerous and the appeal was upheld. The Council then introduced a planning requirement for the applicant to monitor benzene using passive diffusion tubes before and after the construction of the wind farm. Whilst these data would show changes in the annual mean concentrations, they cannot show the subtle changes that we would need to fully asses the effect on emissions.
We have contacted the Community Councils regarding Air Quality, Lochgelly Community Council and two local Councillors (Mark Hood and Linda Erskine) have taken a pro-active approach, by conducting their own campaigns for the Air Quality levels to be monitored in the local area as a precautionary approach.
Cowdenbeath Community Council listened to our concerns, and those of the Lochgelly Community Council, and stated that they will seek feedback from the local community of Cowdenbeath before deciding on what action to take.
Lumphinanns Community Council have not responded.
Kennedy Renewabes have also made claims about how much power will be generated, enough for 14,500 homes. This figure is arrived at by calculating power generation at 30% of the rated capacity of the industrial wind turbines.
The reality is that industrial wind turbines are lucky to even reach 20% of their rated capacity. A twenty-six month study by the John Muir Trust; ‘Analysis of UK Wind Power Generation November 2008 to December 2010‘ found that during the study period, wind generation was;
- below 20% of capacity more than half the time
- below 10% of capacity over one third of the time
- below 2.5% capacity for the equivalent of one day in twelve
- below 1.25% capacity for the equivalent of just under one day a month
It is very doubtful that Little Raith Wind Farm will reach 30% of their rated capacity, and it is also important to note that industrial wind turbines draw power from the grid, which is never taken into account when calculating power generated.
Kennedy Renewables also mentions the ‘Community Benefit’ which it is claimed that £50,000 will be made available every year to the local communities of Lochgelly, Cowdenbeath, Lumphinnans and Auchtertool.
However the figure quoted has been rounded up, and the actual figure is £49,500. Another thing that was not mentioned about the Community Benefit is that (a) most community benefits are calculated at a standard rate of £4000 per MW, but our communities were only offered £2000 per MW, and (b) £49,500 will not be fully made available to the local communities.
Firstly the annual running costs of the 4 Winds Development Trust have to be taken into consideration.
Costs such as room hire for private and public meetings, any IT costs, paper costs, and since there is hardly any information known about the trust (how they operate, who can apply, etc.) it looks likely the trust will have to conduct an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the trust.
For easier calculation of how much Community Benefit will be left over for the communities to tap into, we are going to assume that £9,500 will cover annual running costs and publicity materials. It may be more, it may be less, but let’s just say there will be £40,000 left for the local communities.
According to the General Register of Scotland, the four communities have a total population of 15,279. If the community benefit was to be split equally amongst every resident, we would all receive an extra £2.62 (rounded up) every year, if there is only £40,000 available each year. If the full £49,500 is available each year and the monies was split equally between each resident, then each resident would receive £3.24 each year.
However, we can sympathise with the Trust as they have been put in a difficult position, whereby they are from the local areas, and have been giving the responsibility of distributing monies from a controversial wind farm project, from which our polls have shown, that many people are against. We also understand that the Trust needs time to work out it’s remit etc. and have this filtered through to the local communities.