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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Residents air grievances over turbine

A BID to increase the height of a controversial wind turbine at Drigg by a further 11.5 metres has brought a renewed protest from villagers.

Fifty people attended a public consultation on an anticipated planning application in respect of Stephen Shepherd’s Moorside Farm, at Drigg, where it is proposed to erect a 57m turbine, in place of 45.5m one, already approved.

The gathering was held in Drigg Village Hall last Wednesday. Most of the audience opposed the proposal.

Jim Harley, for SternWind Ltd, spoke on behalf of the company and Mr Shepherd was present, but made no comment.

Mr Harley said the electricity distribution grid in this area is weak and fluctuations in power could cause wind turbines to ‘trip out’. Electricity North West had to be informed before the turbine could be restarted.

The Turbowinds T-400 which had been approved is now obsolete; the proposed Enercon E-44 turbine can cope, and would be quieter, but its hub height needed to be 6.52m higher than the T-400; blade tip height would increase by 11.5m.

Members of the audience wanted to know if SternWind would go ahead with the smaller turbine if the application for a higher one was refused.

Mr Harley could not answer; he could advise the company but not make its business decisions for it.

Secretary of Ravenglass Village Forum, Mike Harrington, spoke of proposals to increase the offshore wind farm off Walney Island and a new nuclear power station near Sellafield. There was already a large wind farm in the Solway Firth – the contribution of this turbine to green energy output would be infinitesimal.

Drigg resident Susan White said SternWind had arranged the Drigg meeting after residents complained.

“The reason they give for the change of turbine is that the smaller one will be incompatible, the gearbox mechanism is outdated and cannot adapt to grid fluctuation.

“We suspect SternWind would have known about this when making the first application and are now using that approval to pave the way for a higher turbine. Once permission is granted, it is harder to oppose any follow up applications.”

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