Bigger blade for new wind turbine near Leighton Buzzard will double renewable electricity produced

Applicant says revised turbine will be quieter as councillors approve scheme

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 12:14 am

Twice as much electricity will be produced with the varying of conditions applied to a wind turbine project near Leighton Buzzard, a meeting heard.

Checkley Wood Energy Limited's full plans include a substation, an access track, underground cabling and associated infrastructure on land off the A5, at Checkley Wood Farm, Watling Street.

Planning officer Stuart Kemp told Central Bedfordshire Council' s development management committee on Wednesday: "The site is on agricultural land in the south Bedfordshire Green Belt and is next to the Double Arches wind turbine.

View of the first turbine at Double Arches. Photo by Graham Mountford

"The revised scheme will create almost enough electricity to power an average of 2,270 homes a year, while resulting in a reduction of 4,366 tonnes of carbon output annually," he said.

There were 109 comments in support of the application and 11 objections.

Heath and Reach resident Terry Ellis referred to planning approval for the turbine being granted in September 2017, despite 616 objections at that time.

"Any problems experienced when the first turbine became operational are likely to be multiplied by this second turbine," he warned.

Site plan for turbine 2

"These include noise, shadow flicker, television reception issues and the visual intrusion on the landscape.

"The applicant's justification is the substantial increase in output and this isn't disputed.

"But on that basis the case could be made for a third, fourth or fifth turbine. Somewhere the line has to be drawn."

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion said: "The location baton has been lost five years ago when permission was granted, despite the local community's objections," he explained.

"The remaining issues are whether an assessment has been done about the effect on the television signal and will it be quieter?

"What will this council do around the conditions to ensure those decibel levels aren't exceeded?" he asked.

"It seems action will only be taken once a complaint has been made. Perhaps we need to be proactive rather than reactive in monitoring that condition on noise levels.

"And I couldn't find any mention of television reception. If some residents find a deterioration in television or other telecommunications the applicant would be obliged to respond."

Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Ray Berry mentioned that residents' television reception issues were dealt with rapidly in the past.

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey spoke as a neighbouring ward councillor in favour of the development and then took no further part in the discussion.

She described it as being "in a landscape with huge pylons, a lot of new housing, and close to the extremely noisy A5", saying: "This will be producing the same amount of energy as two of the Eggington solar farms on 22 acres.

"By 2035 our electricity has to be decarbonised. There's also the issue of grid constraints. There are developments in Leighton Buzzard where you can't have electric cookers. It has to be gas.

"This turbine will go directly into a charging station, the first of its kind, on the A5. It's a good balance to get this amount of clean energy for a small increase in the blade."

Acting as planning adviser for the applicant, John Fairley, from the agent Engena Planning Limited, said: "Planning consent was awarded in 2017.

"This application seeks to vary the dimensions of the turbine. This results in an overall increase in tip height of 3.5m. The new turbine will be quieter."

Managing director of AW Renewables and AW Energy Ian Foll said: "The proposed turbine will generate twice as much renewable electricity.

"Send out the message that CBC takes climate change very seriously and backs projects which deliver against its own sustainability plan."

Councillors approved the variation of condition with ten votes in favour and none against.

South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth has campaigned for the new wind turbine to replace fossil fuels with clean local renewable energy. Coordinator of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth Ken Barry said: “This is fantastic news after COP26 and shows that we're going in the right direction.”

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