Thoughts from the Wind Farm Visitors

Image by Ben Barden/Vattenfall

Clare Jones, Sophie Isaacson, Robert Trythall and Iain MacInnes went on a trip hosted by Scottish Power Renewables to see Whitelee onshore wind farm, four offshore wind farms and a construction base.

The Group left Tiree on Sunday 25th of September. Each Group member has written a short report conveying their experiences and what they took from the trip. Scattered in this issue are short excerpts from each report. The full reports are on the Tiree Trust Website www.tireetrust.org.uk and are also available in the Tiree Trust office at An Talla if anyone would like to read them.

Off-shore windfarm thoughts from Claire…

“…It would be great to be able to report that we all saw the wind farms and said “Oh that’s not as bad as I’d feared” but that is not the case. I was reminded of my first trip to Tiree in 1986 when the sight of the golfball filled me with the same horror. Now it is part of my landscape, a workplace for people I know and a source of pride that a small place like Tiree can contribute to international air safety.

The Tiree that I moved to twenty-five years ago was very different to now, a place where no-one was a stranger, where there was Gaelic gu leor and anyone could have the beach to themselves. Back in 1985 ‘peak oil’ was unheard of and few bothered about climate change, but times have changed and I would like to think that Tiree could be proud of it’s place in the planet’s future, whilst still providing the environment we all love and the tranquillity that brings so many back to Tiree year after year.

I had volunteered to go to Barrow unsure as to whether SPR’s proposals could be good for Tiree, required only to report back my views to my neighbours. I can say nothing to reassure its detractors about the visual effect of the Tiree Array, but I do now think that wind farm O& M and perhaps a visitor centre would present benefits, lasting twenty or so years into the future. Turbines will not be a permanent feature of our seascape and may later be replaced by alternative marine energy technologies. There again the Tiree Array may be an engineering, business or political step too far which mean it may never be built, so I hope that I do not lose friends from having expressed these opinions!”

Clare Jones, Balephuil

 

…….And Sophie…….

“…Although obviously I went on the trip interested in turbines I did not go with very much knowledge on the subject! I went with an open mind and wanted to discover how I felt about the machines when I was standing amongst them.

On Monday afternoon we drove to Walney Island to see the offshore developments. Off the Coast of Walney Island stand four different wind farm developments. The layout of the turbines is very dense and because one development is in front of another I found the whole thing quite messy and unattractive.

The Barrow wind farm, which was further left than the others and stood alone I found much more pleasing to my eye, these turbines were laid out nicely and I found as my eye grew used to the unusual site that I quite liked it! My other concern when looking at the turbines was that in one of the developments, Ormonde, the turbines stood on platforms or ‘jackets’. These platforms were clearly visible and were above sea level. These turbines did not look sleek like the others, in fact they reminded me of electricity pylons! …

What I took from the trip was that I liked wind turbines, as long as they were laid out nicely and weren’t sitting on jackets; that offshore wind farms already in the U.K have brought jobs to local communities; increased fishing potential; not harmed the sea life and were good for our country and for the world.

I still do feel concerned that life will change on Tiree and about the impact of such a huge development but am keen for our Island to develop and think that jobs for young people and increased training skills and opportunities on the island are the way forward! I would like to make it clear that these are my personal views after going on a trip to see wind turbines and would like to thank SPR for taking us on the trip.”

Sophie Isaacson, Ruaig

 

..From Robert…

Impressions gained from my visit with SPR to off-shore Arrays in Morecombe Bay,

Array Information : Morecombe Bay is an offshore gas field, scattered with gas related offshore structures. The three Arrays in the Bay were

(1) Barrow,(2) Walney 1 and 2, and (3) Ormonde.

Barrow was a 30 x 3 Mw Array separated from the Walney and Ormonde Arrays. 162 of the turbines were small 3-3.6 MW monopile turbines. These units are no longer under consideration by SPR. The closest and densest Array, Ormonde, was between 9.4 and 14 km offshore. It comprised 30 X 5 Mw turbines on 4-legged jacket foundations. These are the smallest turbine units currently being considered by SPR. Jacket foundations add significantly to the negative visual impact.

Issues :

Visual Impact :- Day–time. Massively negative. The ‘Row’s of London Gherkins‘ analogy is apparent.

Night-time. Resembled an oil refinery operating at night. Each turbine looked like a light-up Xmas Tree. This is a “major” Tiree issue. (Marine Scotland Scoping Opinion p19)

Construction: : – Anchoring foundations ,and cabling, present considerable technological challenges, still to be overcome.

Maintenance:: By boat ,but aborted if wave height exceeds 1.5m . Tiree Array has mean wave height of 2.5 m!

Environmental:- Marine:- Prior to Array construction Morecombe Bay had a low-grade marine habitat. Array construction ,due to the seabed geology, sand, facilitated some artificial reef creation thereby marginally improving its marine habitat . Tiree’s geology,lewisian gneiss, does not offer a similar opportunity.

Sound: During construction will be an issue. Barrow vs Tiree: – No comparison…..no contest!!! . Barrow is an industrial area (pop 75000) with high unemployment (4.1%). The area is ugly, and run down. It is a significant nuclear construction and power center, Tourism is near as damn it non-existent. The Arrays were virtually unsighted from Barrow and Walney the proximate community.( pop 13000)

Socio–economic impact . Barrow, has and infinite capacity to absorb the negative impacts of such Arrays. Tiree does not have this capacity. ACTION REQUIRED :-

(1) SPR to present night time visualisations of their current day time visualisations.

(2) SPR to present further set of visualisations of 6 MW and 10 MW turbines ,with jacket foundations, in both day and night light conditions.

Robert Trythall. Cornaigmore

 

…And Iain…

“On the 25th of September we travelled by ferry and train to Glasgow. We met up with Morna and Ralf from SPR on Monday morning.

First we visited Whitelee wind farm which was very impressive and a very good use of land . I noticed that there was a farm working in harmony around the turbines and sheep grazing all round the wind farm.

The offshore wind farms at Walney Island were very dense and chaotic. I did not like the look of them as they were all different heights and models of turbines. Also the turbines in the closest of the four offshore wind farms, Ormonde, were built on ‘Jacket’ foundations. These foundations made the turbines look like they were sitting on tables and were not visually pleasing. These turbines were much denser than the proposed turbines off Tiree but I was surprised to hear that pot fishermen could fish as close as 50 meters around the turbines – and it was only advisory that they didn’t go any closer for risk of damaging their boats.

I was very impressed by the DONG construction site and harbour. The whole operation was well run and the work ethic in the base was very good. Everyone we talked to was positive and the running of the projects was smooth and on schedule. There were a lot of local people working within the station which I thought was good.

I think that a wind farm development, if implemented correctly could be very good for Tiree, it could bring jobs to people on the island. However, after visiting the Walney Island developments I do have slight concerns about the visual impact of a turbine development off our island”

Iain MacInnes, Ruaig

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