Chairmans Talk – Milton Abbot – 17th Feb 2014

MABRAKE talk for meeting on 17th February 2014


Good Evening. My name is Gary Vanstone and I am Chairman of MABRAKE. We set up this organisation in 2008 to respond to any environmental concerns within our area. Although MABRAKE organised this meeting there are representatives here from MAGPC and also our local district councillor Bob Baldwin.

Firstly can I  emphasise that we do believe in reducing our CO2 emissions and there have a number of renewable energy applications that we have supported including the solar arrays at Sherril Farm and Lifton Farm Shop We have also proposed to West Devon Borough Council several times ways in which we can reduce our CO2 emissions in our area without destroying our environment and our villages by building large Wind Turbines and large solar farms. This includes:

  • A programme of investment to get all houses in West Devon up to a high insulation standard
  • Insisting that all new builds, public buildings and warehouses have roofs with solar tiles
  • Encouraging hydroelectric installations on our many streams
  • Small solar arrays such as that at Sherrill Farm (<1 acre) that can be well screened

There are alternatives to large turbines and solar arrays.

Tredown Turbine

To turn to the Tredown Turbine you might remember that in 2011 the company MUREX proposed with the landowner of Tredown Farm to construct two turbines, one above Milton Abbot and one at Borough Cross. We held a meeting here with MUREX and the majority at the meeting made it very clear that they were strongly against the siting of these Turbines. We also collected 350 signatories in protest against the proposal. MUREX went away but now they have come back with a new proposal. MUREX was invited to this meeting to participate but declined saying that they did their public consultation in 2011. They feel their distribution of leaflets is sufficient to meet their legal obligation to consult the public. We disagree and will make that clear to West Devon Borough Council.

This latest MUREX proposal is for a Turbine 250 feet high and sighted just 700m above Milton Abbot. In fact it is just 40m away from the last proposal. You can see here from this photo mock-up that it will be very visible and tower over the village and its listed buildings. We believe this is a realistic depiction.

There are a number of things that concern us about this proposal:

  • It will have a significant impact on property values and the ability of people to sell properties. There was an estate agent here at our last meeting a month ago who said that is happening, properties are not selling close to Turbines.
  • It will affect our tourist industry, people come to this area because of its outstanding beauty. This will not be the only Turbine if it goes ahead, already we have the application for one at Beckwell Farm, there is another screening opinion for a 250 ft turbine at Ridgecombe Farm on the hill coming out of Tinhay, we believe that another one is on its way on the other side of the road up that hill. Those two are both likely to be from MUREX as well. And of course the 250 ft one at Lifton Farm shop has been approved. We are in very grave danger of seeing Turbines all along the ridge from Ramsdown to the top of Tinhay hill. This what has happened already in parts of Cornwall and also Torridge where they now have 4 wind farms and 76 individual Turbines
  • This will impact our B&B’s and other businesses as Julia Martin made clear at our last meeting when we discussed the proposal for the smaller Turbine at Beckwell Farm
  • We worry about the effect on our spring water supplies that many of the houses in this area depend upon. The bases for these Turbines require many hundreds of tonnes concrete
  • There is also concern about noise, the low frequency whooshing noise can travel significant distances. There is also potential flicker as the blades catch the sun
  • Finally if this Turbine goes ahead it will stand out as a blot on the landscape, this is the highest point between Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor and the Turbine will be seen for miles around – do we really want to destroy our beautiful landscape for ourselves ,our children and future generations. Once these things are up they will not go away and the likelihood is that when they reach their end of life they will either be replaced or if the heavy subsidies that we all pay for are no longer available they will be left as rusting hulks.

So what are the benefits of this Turbine and what is it all for?

  1. 1.   The argument that is put forward is that we need to do this to reduce our CO2 emissions. Yes we agree we should reduce CO2 emissions but there are other ways of doing it as I have outlined without destroying the countryside that we are trying to protect.
  2. 2.   We are told that unless we build Turbines like this we will run out of electricity. That is nonsense you would need to put up at least 10,000 turbines like this to produce the same electricity as one power station. And even then, because these Turbines do not work all the time you would still need the power station. What we need to do is build more power stations not more Turbines and for 20 year successive governments have been failing to do that.
  3. 3.   We are told in the Murex document that they will contribute to the community. The recommended level is £5k/per MW/per year. That is £2,500 per year, they may pay more. This turbine I estimate will generate £200k per year profit even after paying for the capital cost. So the community is likely to get just over 1% and the reason we would get even that is to bribe us to put up with the unsightly and noisy Turbine. This turbine will generate £4.5- £5m for the developers and the landowner over its life. So you can see why landowners are jumping on the bandwagon no matter what impact it has on their neighbours.

So what can we do to stop this happening?

  1. 1.   We are only at the screening stage at this time so there is no planning application. So WDBC are not interested in any public inputs at the moment. What everyone can do is write to Aardvark who are Murex’s partners telling them how much you object to this proposal. This is best done using Murex’s form, if you have one, if you don’t then there are copies available on the table. Alternatively we can give you Murex’s email address.
  2. 2.   We can also get ready for the planning application. If you are not already a member of MABRAKE I would urge you to join, it costs nothing and we can keep you up to date with what is happening. David will tell you more about that in a minute.
  3. 3.   When the application comes in we shall want as many people as possible to help us to stop this happening.

Once the application comes we have just 21 days to respond and there are a lot of things we can do:

  • We can get as many people as possible to write in to WDBC objecting – that is very important in influencing both the West Devon Council and the inspector if it goes to appeal. Just last week a decision to erect a Turbine was overturned in the high court partly because the inspector did not take into account the strength of local opinion. So as many objection letters as possible please!
  • We can write to English Heritage, Dartmoor National Park, and the Tamar Valley AONB asking them to object
  • We can get our local councillors and MP to object on our behalf – we have done that in the past.
  • We can  get advice from planning consultants on how this application might infringe West Devon’s own planning regulations
  • We can publicise it in the local papers and possibly on local radio – again both of which we have done in the past

It will be a long and difficult battle with big money investors with deep pockets against us but we can win.




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