Cornwall – Roughtor, Brown Willy and Bodmin Moor AONB v Community Windpower Ltd Cheshire

Help Rescue Roughtor, Brown Willy and The Bodmin Moor AONB from ‘Davidstow’ ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd Cheshire Wind Turbine Domination and Desecration…

First off, it should be  noted that this misleadingly self-styled company – Community Windpower Ltd from Cheshire – that seeks to profiteer at the expense of our environment, landscape and wildlife has nothing to do with Davidstow and the Davidstow community and very little to do with the principles of community participation in ‘green’ technologies. Indeed, such was their persistence with describing themselves as ‘Davidstow Community Windfarms’  and lying to everyone about their mad proposal and the misleading and extensively fraudulent contents of their planning submission that Davidstow Parish Council, who vigorously oppose the proposal, felt it necessary to publish a distancing disclaimer HERE :

DAVIDSTOW COMMUNITY WINDFARMS is not a local community project.
It is run solely by Community Windpower Ltd, a profit making business.
The ‘project’ has no connection with any group or individual in Davidstow.’

Roughtor, Brown Willy and the surrounding moorland constitute the Bodmin Moor Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Images  HERE) – the only landlocked highland moorland part of Cornwall’s AONB designated landscapes. As such it is the closest Cornwall has to wilderness area and should be protected and maintained as such. Such special places provide space for adventure, solace, contemplation and renewal comparatively uncluttered by the complications of modern life. Massive wind turbines dominating the area would wreck that unique character.

Below is the full text of a letter recently submitted to and kindly published in various edited versions by The North Cornwall Advertiser, West Briton, Cornish Guardian and Western Morning News . Those who empathise with the views expressed and wish to see the Bodmin Moor AONB respected and protected might wish to support the tenacious, steady and determined efforts of the local group doing most of the work by visiting their site at Facebook  HERE and supporting their efforts in whatever way you can.

Here is my picture from the summit of Roughtor – which I suggest is as important an iconic presence in Cornwall’s landscape as Ayers Rock in Australia – which The North Cornwall Advertiser, West Briton, Cornish Guardian and Western Morning News kindly published alongside my recent letter:

Cornwall's Ayers Rock

Cornwall's Ayers Rock

Here is the full text of the letter which was necessarily compressed for space reasons when it appeared in The North Cornwall Advertiser, West Briton, Cornish Guardian and Western Morning News:

‘Roughtor, Brown Willy and Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the only inland moorland part of Cornwall’s AONB – continue to be under threat of massive intrusion by 20 x 420 feet high wind turbines extending higher than Roughtor and domineering the entire area for miles around. Back in October 2009 just a third of Cornwall Council Strategic Planning Committee at a just-quorate SPC meeting, and to the shock of many, gave conditional approval for this outrageous planning application by self-styled ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd based in Cheshire. The conditional approval ignored the AONB status of Bodmin Moor and went against the clear recommendation of refusal by Cornwall’s Planning Officers and the clear position of refusal expressed previously by a majority of the East Cornwall Planning Committee local elected members.

Outstanding conditions that have not yet been met relate to the threat to the starling population posed by the turbine blades – which projected collision impact calculations indicate would result in the death of upwards of 20,000 starlings per year – and air traffic radar and communications that would be disrupted by the presence of such massive wind turbines in that location. Cornwall Council’s Planning Officers are now preparing a report which will be considered at the next available meeting of Cornwall Council Strategic Planning Committee – possibly July 22nd if the report is completed by then.

The latest shocking proposal by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd is to get rid of the starlings by – in collusion with the Forestry Commission – chopping down 28,000 trees at Davidstow Woods, thereby denying the starlings their overwintering roost and eliminating their spectacular and world famous murmurations at that location. So here we have so-called ‘green’ energy in direct conflict not only with our landscape and environment but also with established wildlife and carbon sequestering forestry.

The shocking truths don’t stop there. In their planning application and supplementary documentation ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd have repeatedly distorted facts and presented misleading and, in some cases, fraudulent figures to Cornwall Council.

Here are some examples:

1. False and unproven claim for displacement of 113,000 tonnes of CO2 by wind generation per annum. Double what British Wind Energy Association methods of calculation produce.

2. The turbines ‘would power 28,000 homes’. Industrial scale wind turbines only generate power for around 30% of the year at best. They are plugged into the national grid and there is no telling what their intermittent electricity will power.

3. Unreliable and false data in environmental statement (ES). The Environmental Impact Statement (ES), published in May 2008 (V1) was considered by the local ornithological community to be inaccurate, incomplete, contradictory and to under-represent the presence of starlings during the winter months. A new version of the ES, issued in June 2009 (V2), had substantial alterations to the data for birds including increases to many of the records of bird numbers. This data is evidentially false. That important areas frequently used by golden plover within 500m of turbines have not been identified calls into further question the validity of the EIS and therefore any conclusions that have been based upon it. The survey visits, having been only at dawn and dusk, have resulted in many bird movements on the site being unrecorded. Large movements of herring gulls (Red list of Birds of Conservation Concern) have been totally overlooked. Black-headed, lesser black-backed and greater black-backed gulls (Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern) likewise fly to and fro during the day across the site.

4. Unreliable and false noise data. A protocol in consultation with the planning authority on the siting of the noise-measuring equipment was not followed. All the noise data that was used to measure the impact on local residences is therefore unreliable.

5. Visualisations. Photographs used by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd sought to minimise landscape impact. One photograph taken from Wilsey Down using a wide angle lens even made a straight road appear like a sharp bend while rendering the massive proposed turbines almost invisible in the landscape!

At a recent Renewable Energy conference on June 4th at Bodelva Pit, I asked Tim German, head of Cornwall Council’s ‘Low Carbon Cornwall’ initiative this question : ‘Tim – Wouldn’t you agree that there are some places in The Duchy Of Cornwall that are too important in cultural, landscape and wildlife terms to spoil with massive industrial scale turbines and that Roughtor, Brown Willy and The Bodmin Moor AONB is one of those special places? ‘

Mr German replied: ‘I am aware that not all agree with wind generated electricity but always make it very clear that for Cornwall we have a wide variety of natural resources for the production of renewable and low carbon electricity. The appropriate balance between the natural habitat and the use of renewable energy is always a consideration for Cornwall Council’

In view of the fact that Cornwall has such a broad range of elemental energy sources yet to be exploited it is surely premature, inappropriate and insensitive to consider spoiling Cornwall’s only inland moorland AONB, disrupting and threatening established and spectacular wildlife, dominating the landscape around Cornwall’s world famous iconic twin peaks Roughtor and Brown Willy, and overwhelming such an important area of Cornwall’s cultural heritage landscape in this way. In many people’s eyes Roughtor is as important to Cornwall as Ayers Rock to Australia. It should be respected as such and Cornwall Council should kick this anti-environment, anti-wildlife and anti-landscape proposal by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd into the long grass for good.

If they don’t we can be certain the fight will go on by all possible means to stop this travesty right next to Roughtor and the Bodmin Moor AONB that brings renewable energy into disrepute and profoundly offends those who wish to see the responsible and sensitive deployment of renewable technologies that properly demonstrate the levels of care and sensitivity so often claimed by their proponents and that this particular proposal so fundamentally undermines, contradicts and negates.

The following organisations, notably including Friends Of The Earth, have all vigorously opposed this disgraceful proposed intrusion on Cornwall’s moorland AONB: Advent Parish Council, Altarnun Parish Council, Camelford Town Council, Forrabury & Minster Parish Council, Lesnewth Parish Council, St Breward Parish Council, Friends Of The Earth, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, RSPB, CPRE, Cornwall Council’s Environment Protection Officer, NATS, Cornwall Council Living Environment, The Ramblers Association, Cornwall AONB Partnership, The National Trust, Open Spaces Society, Camel Valley and Bodmin Moor Protection Society, Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society, Cornwall Countryside Access Forum, Cornwall Council’s Own Planning Officers, East Cornwall Planning Committee, STINC.

Their wise opposition to this proposal should be respected and supported by all who care for Cornwall’s precious landscape, environment and wildlife – including Cornwall Council Strategic Planning Committee.

Yours etc

July 13th 2010. Letter to Cornwall Council Planning Department.

Some of the things I will be grateful to know now are:

1.Was the prospect of the removal of Davidstow Woods ever discussed at any previous Planning Committee meeting, form part of any global, complete and integrated independent Environmental Impact Assessment and subjected to test by debate prior to the strange and perverse decision of conditional approval passed by a minority of only 7 members of a near inquorate CC SPC meeting back in October 2009? Is there any mention of such a huge scale of anti-environment and anti-wildlife tree removal described as so-called ‘mitigation’ as an idea being put forward in any part of such an independent Environmental Impact Assessment previously submitted by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd as an element in an array of speculative options within the original proposal that was presented to planners and elected members prior to October 2009?

2.Has the landscape scar that would then appear in the form of the revealed concrete runways of the redundant Davidstow airfield right next to the Bodmin Moor AONB been considered and addressed by both Planning Officers and elected members as an implicit element in any so-called ‘mitigation’ strategy and set out and budgeted for by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd as part of that so-called ‘mitigation’?
3.Are Natural England truly aware and attuned to the reality of the impact of wind turbines on bat populations, causing as they do tens of thousands of bat deaths worldwide per year? HERE are some references that help us understand how much jeopardy the protected bat populations that frequent the area in and around Roughtor would be in ALL of the ‘mitigation’ scenarios you describe. HERE is a detailed article. HERE is a collection of academic writings and studies on the subject. HERE is a video on the dynamics of bat deaths by wind turbines. In the UK it is illegal to cause harm to protected bat species. Please send me the part of the ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd Environmental Impact Assessment that addresses the issue along with your commentary.
4.Many years ago the slopes of Roughtor were populated by stunted oaks and other native deciduous trees. The coniferous plantations around the former airfield offer ideal windbreaks in the lea of which native deciduous, more random and varied and wildlife rich woodland could be allowed and encouraged to re-emerge for the benefit of all and to the benefit of the reputations of The Forestry Commission AND Natural England. Natural England are right now causing consternation in Penwith by their obsession with imposing a Cumbrian model blank space moorland aesthetic, deploying diversity diminishing imported Longhorn cattle grazing at Penwith Moors to the distress of many. You can see the scale of damage they have been causing at the SAVE PENWITH MOORS campaign web site. Natural England’s landscape aesthetic cannot be trusted here in Cornwall. Nor can their dictatorial, anti-social and community interest disregarding, dismissing and insulting approach to landscape ‘stewardship’ as evidenced by the damage they have perpetrated upon Penwith Moors and the methods they have deployed to justify it.
5.Carbon Saving v Carbon Capture. How much carbon is captured year-on-year through forestry operations at Davidstow Woods. How many tonnes of carbon are embodied by the existing trees and how much more would be sequesterd in future years through the continuation, diversification and expansion of forestry operations in more diverse ways there and in the surrounding area? I understand starlings favour trees in the 10-25 year age range for winter roosting. This means, in practice, that the Woods could never be allowed to grow older than ten years. That would be nonsensical, particularly when effective carbon capture appears to be a high strategic goal to deliver Cornwall Council’s much touted ‘low carbon economy’.
If these turbines were ever installed in that location (which they should definitely not) they would have caused and would continue to cause a level of instant and future carbon debt which they would be hard pressed to ever pay back at the typical annual power generation rate of less than 30% load factor! How ridiculous is that? The turbines would be forever working off the carbon debt their installation incurred!
Please provide me with reliable calculations of immediate and projected arboreal carbon capture tonneage lost V wind turbine carbon tonneage offset at that location within the terms of the current forestry operations and cropping regime. Presumably these calculations have been provided with any recent Enviromental Impact Assessment update accompanying this ‘mitigation’ charade? Where is the projected carbon balance sheet for ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd’s proposal that includes loss of arboreal carbon sequestration ? Please send it to me.
I have expressed this in a slightly different but still challenging way at ‘One For The Birds (and Google!) HERE :
‘3.How many years of futile and ineffectual whirling would it take for such turbines to make up for the loss of all that carbon sequestering forestry and the carbon debt incurred by inappropriate felling? It is doubtful that they would EVER compete with the efficiency of carbon removal from the atmosphere by ongoing forestry at Davidstow Woods nor EVER acquire a positive balance sheet of carbon saving against the huge proposed loss of active arboreal carbon capture. The trees themselves are most likely already doing a far better, more constant job of it than fickle and ineffectual wind turbines ever could! Where are Cornwall Council’s Planning Officers’ authoritative, independent, reliable, scientific comparative calculations of Davidstow Woods living arboreal carbon capture versus any REALISTIC as opposed to speculatively claimed carbon saving potential of ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd’s sterile, mechanical and fickle anti-bird/anti-environment/anti-skyline/anti-AONB landscape high carbon production, installation and maintenance cost turbines?
28,000 trees v 20 turbines. Who wins?

6.Wessex Infantry Memorial. The 360° outview panorama over Cornwall experienced when visiting this memorial plaque next to the summit of Roughtor ( Roughtor itself was ‘GIVEN TO THE NATION IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES WHILE SERVING IN THE 43RD (WESSEX) DIVISION IN THE NORTH-WEST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN 1944/45′) is, I suggest, part and parcel of the meaning, significance and intent of that memorial. The foreshortening of the horizon in the direction of the North Coast that would be caused by these inefficient and monstrous turbines with blades extending higher than Roughtor would seriously impinge upon and degrade the current all embracing and spectacular vista that so appropriately expresses and fulfills the spiritual function of that memorial. That, to anyone with heart, is surely unacceptable. Apparently NO member of the CC SPC attending the site meeting last autumn went to the summit of Roughtor to evaluate impact upon that extremely important aspect of Cornwall’s cultural heritage . Why not?

7. In the opinion of many people Community Windpower Ltd should be counselled, in everyone’s best interests including theirs, to wisely withdraw this absurd, ignorant, anti-social, heartless and profoundly misjudged proposal.
Please consider this: At the moment this disgraceful anti-wildlife, anti-environment, anti Cornish cultural heritage landscape and anti Cornish landscape and skyline intrusion on Cornwall’s inland moorland heartland AONB is opposed by (among  many others) –
Friends Of The Earth, Advent Parish Council, Altarnun Parish Council, Camelford Town Council, Forrabury & Minster Parish Council, Lesnewth Parish Council, St Breward Parish Council, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, RSPB, CPRE, Cornwall Council’s Environment Protection Officer, NATS, Cornwall Council Living Environment, The Ramblers Association, Cornwall AONB Partnership, The National Trust, Open Spaces Society, Camel Valley and Bodmin Moor Protection Society, Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society, Cornwall Countryside Access Forum, Cornwall Council’s Own Planning Officers, East Cornwall Planning Committee, STINC.
Is it credible to imagine that this proposal will not be rightly rejected by CC SPC and, if not, by The Secretary Of State and, if not by the Secretary Of State via judicial review where such a chain of events would inevitably lead. In any of those scenarios is it credible to believe that Community Windpower Ltd would ever dare to go to appeal or try to resurrect such idiocy standing virtually alone in the face of that queueing up opposition or dare to show up in Cornwall touting such madness again? No. This clearly absurd proposal, cooked up without feeling for Cornwall’s most important landscapes, character and features brings renewable/elemental energy systems, technologies, installations and their agents of delivery into disrepute. Community Windpower Ltd’s best long term interests are served by a massive rethink on their part, withdrawal of this particular scheme and a return to a drawing board that leaves Cornwall’s most precious inland moorland heartland Bodmin Moor AONB and the iconic twin peaks of Roughtor and Brown Willy undisturbed and undiminished.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, others have found the wisdom and dignity to withdraw ill-judged proposals – the RNLI’s misjudged proposal to put a permanent lifeguard hut on the edge of the dunes towards the middle of the beach at Constantine Bay being one and, also significantly and more directly relevantly, Tim Smit’s unwise proposal to erect a single 420ft turbine looming over St Austell Bay. The proposed location of that SINGLE turbine was not even in or next to a designated sensitive landscape or part of the Cornwall AONB. Such a wiser approach of withdrawal to think again can prove to rebound to the longer term benefit of those who find a badly thought up idea is not being well received and can help to restore their credibility and standing in and around the communities their initial folly disturbed and in the wider world.
Will you please convey that thought to Community Windpower Ltd the next time they call you or counsel them to go down that route as a far better way forward in any case? As things stand this particular proposal is going to be opposed at every turn by all manner of concerned parties and by all manner of means. That would be a huge diversion and displacement of energy and effort by all involved that would be far better expended on far more positive ways forward that respect the wildlife, the land, the air, the sky and the people and that benefit all.
I look forward to receiving your replies to my questions above.
Yours sincerely
Angus Lamond’
July 15th. Follow up letter to CC Planning Department :
Further to my e-mail to you both of July 13th I wish to convey these additional points.

1. I learned yesterday that Paul McNie of South West Water has confirmed there are pipistrelle bats roosting and foraging at Crowdy reservoir and that SWW are incorporating a special roof in the hide on the edge of the reservoir to accommodate them. This bat population were brought to your attention by Arthur Boyt in a previous submission to you. It appears there may be insufficient grasp of the full scope of hazard to protected bat species represented by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd’s proposal. I suggest that Mr Boyt’s authoritative and knowledgeable reports and letters to your department should be studied in depth and given the fullest weight.

2. 43RD (WESSEX)DIVISION Memorial. In the course of a discussion with a Cornwall Council Councillor I was reminded that the plaque at the summit of Roughtor is the mark of the memorial represented by the gift of Roughtor itself to the nation. It reads:
May I suggest to you and the SPC that the fact that Roughtor itself was gifted to the nation in memory of those of the 43rd Wessex Division who lost their lives in 1944/45 adds yet another dimension to the importance of protecting Roughtor and its surroundings from such a massive and diminishing intrusion represented by ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd’s supremely insensitive and ignorant proposal?

3. I am aware that Mr King is under extreme pressure to complete his report on this proposal by July 22nd. I am therefore prepared to forego immediate answers to my questions in my letter to you of July 13th until after July 22nd and will only be wanting them should they prove necessary in the light of the outcome of that meeting. I hope that is helpful. I trust that the points raised in that letter and the new information and perspectives provided above are also given due consideration and incorporated into the final report as appropriate.

You may wonder why I and others are so vehemently and determinedly opposed to this proposal. I can tell you that Roughtor and its surroundings have enriched the life of my family immeasurably and in so many joyful and other ways over many years and proved a source of deep and profound healing and comfort during difficult times. I feel duty bound to respect and honour that. I also know that we are not unique in that respect and that many, many people draw strength, comfort and inspiration from that very special place when they make their private, personal or social pilgrimages at all times of the day and the year.

I trust the above in conjuction with previous submissions and those of many others assist you to make the right decision on this particular application if ‘Community’ Windpower Ltd don’t display sufficient wisdom to withdraw it before July 22nd – absolute and enequivocal refusal.

Yours sincerely
Angus Lamond
Roughtor, Brown Willy and Bodmin Moor AONB v Community Windpower Ltd Cheshire

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