Huge windfall is unlikely

I was interested to read the claims about local benefits being made by Energiekontor, the German-owned wind development company which is seeking to build nine, 100m turbines near Belford (Multimillion-pound boost for economy, June 28).

The Gazette quotes the company as claiming that the windfarms ‘could potentially lead to a multimillion-pound sum for the (Belford) quarry’.

Firstly, one notes the words ‘could’ and ‘potentially’. As we all know, pigs could potentially fly. That they don’t is a constant sorrow to those fond of free-range pork. However, in this case I am less interested in pigs than in ‘porkies’.

Energiekontor’s ‘Belford Burn Project Newsletter and Consulation Invitation’ contained the following: ‘Where possible, local contractors will be used for construction and materials. For example, per turbine, there is generally around £60,000-worth of equipment required for internal fit-out’.

At the Belford Burn exhibition in March, I had the opportunity to discuss this claim with a senior member of Energiekontor’s staff. He conceded that fitting out turbine towers was a specialist job which could not be done by a local company.

Looking at the quarry issue, I find it hard to believe that Energiekontor did not know that Belford had a quarry before their discussion with Belford Parish Council. They must, as part of their preliminary work on the project, have identified and costed sources of stone for site works. Be that as it may, it is a fact that however close they are to local quarries, most wind developers include so-called ‘borrow pits’ (quarries) on the development site, close to the turbines.

Borrow pits are already mapped on Air Farmers’ neighbouring proposal. It is, of course, cheaper to provide your own stone rather than truck it in from comercial quarries.

We will wait with baited breath to see whether Energiekontor’s planning application involves any ‘borrow pits’.

Finally, I would be interested to hear Energiekontor’s justification for their claim that Belford quarry could benefit from a ‘multi-million pound sum’.

I have seen a number of detailed industry studies of windfarm construction costs.

The civil and electrical engineering component is a small percentage of total costs, usually calculated at around £200,000 for a 2MV turbine, depending on access, ground conditions and other factors.

So, total civil engineering costs for nine turbines might be in the region of £1.8million to £2million.

I may be entirely wrong. If so, I hope Energiekontor will provide the figures to correct me.

Don Brownlow

Grievestead Farm, Norham