Figures don’t stack up

ANNE Wrangham’s latest letter (Some of the strongest winds in the country, December 8), mirrors the exaggerated and misleading claims made in the New Bewick planning application, which was decisively rejected by the county council’s Planning and Environment Committee on December 6.

It is self-evident to most people who know the area that a turbine site which is in a valley, only 90 metres above sea level and in the lee of the Cheviots will have low average wind speeds.

This is easily confirmed using the same wind-speed database which the agents for the Wrangham’s turbine application claim to have used.

The NOABL database is hosted by a government department and uses historic Met Office data to give wind speed forecasts for each kilometre grid in England and Wales (www.rensmart.com/Weather/BERR).

Recorded turbine outputs also disprove Anne Wrangham’s rather silly claims about regional wind resource.

RenewableUK, the wind industry trade body, claims that ‘over the course of a year, (a modern wind turbine) will typically generate about 30 per cent of the theoretical maximum output. This is known as its load factor’.

Government figures show that the North East has the lowest load factors of any English region apart from the South East.

The average from 1998 to 2006 was only 21 per cent and the figure for 2009, the last year for which DECC has published regional figures, was only 21.9 per cent. DECC’s regional tables are reproduced on the Windbyte website (www.windbyte.co.uk/windpower.html).

The wind turbine output figures which inform these government tables are a matter of public record.

The recorded output figures upon which subsidies are paid can be found on the Renewable Energy Foundation website (www.ref.org.uk/energy-data).

It is only a pity that the Wrangham family did not do more research on this subject before falling for the sales pitch of agents who routinely exaggerate the output, and hence returns, from wind turbines.

They might have saved themselves tens of thousands of pounds in development fees paid to agents and have avoided alienating so many of their neighbours who care deeply about the landscape, heritage and tourist economy of Northumberland.

Don Brownlow,





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