In response to the claim that people living near turbines support wind and that "more than 80% of respondents have not experienced any problems at all" --
The August 2003 Market & Opinion Research International (MORI) poll referred to [click here], commissioned by the Scottish Executive [click here for their more complete presentation of the data] included people who lived up to 20 km (12.4 miles) from a wind farm. The cut-off for being "closest" to the turbines was 5 km (3.1 miles). Only 63% of the people in the "closest" zone, or 12% of all those surveyed, could actually see the wind farm from their homes. Only 10% saw the turbines all the time. Only 19% more saw them frequently. 15% never saw them. Of those who could see the turbines from their homes, only 18% thought they had a positive impact. Results for problems experienced are not broken down by proximity to the turbines, much less to show the results for those who actually see them from their homes, or who live, say within 1 or 2 km.
Although only 18% of those who could see turbines from their homes felt they had a positive impact, only 7% felt their impact on the area was negative. The vast majority were more ambivalent. And whereas 54% of all respondents would tend to or even strongly support expansion of the local wind plant by 50%, that number drops to 42% supporting expansion by 100%. Opposition conversely increases from 16% to 21%. Again results on this question are not provided for those who can see the turbines from their homes or live very close to them.
John Etherington provides other criticisms of this poll: 72% of people they attempted to interview were not in or refused to participate, and for 5 out of the 10 wind sites considered they only interviewed a total of 3 people living within 5 km. The poll also asked about future generation but did not mention hydro as an option, even though it has supplied all of the highlands' needs 24 hours a day for over 50 years.
Views of Scotland also offers criticism: 89% of the weighted results represented respondents who lived farther than 10 km, many of them in urban areas. For several sites, none of the respondents lived closer than 5 km. Many people lived closer to a site other than the one they were asked about. The question about expansion stated only a number of towers, without mention of a greater land area and much larger towers, or that expansion plans at 3 sites were already in process. And although people were asked whether they felt the wind plants had a broadly positive or broadly negative impact on the area, the survey misrepresents the 73% (80% weighted) expressing no opinion as a generally neutral personal feeling. Again, almost all of the respondents live farther than 10 km from a wind plant. Nor does the survey acknowledge the possible ambivalence towards wind plants when 3 of the sites are near a 200-employee assembly plant and 3 other sites are near Europe's largest open-cast coal mine.
Another famous MORI poll (October 2002) [click here] interviewed tourists. Of the 307 tourists questioned over 2 weekends in Argyll, 60% did not know there were wind turbines around. Of those who knew they were there, 52% did not know where and 49% (only 20% of all the respondents) had seen them. Nonetheless, 55% of all 307 thought the presence of wind turbines had a positive effect on their impression of Argyll as a place to visit, 32% were ambivalent and 8% felt it had a negative effect. Even this inconclusive survey, which suggests that had more people seen the turbines the negative feeling would be greater, shows the likelihood of a significant loss of tourism.
A survey by VisitScotland [click here for a PDF file of the report] of tourists who came to enjoy nature found that more than half of them agreed that wind-power sites spoiled the countryside, and that 15% would definitely and 10% more likely would avoid areas with wind development. They calculate that this would have meant a loss of over 6,000 jobs and nearly £140 million of revenue in 2000.
As to people who live near turbines, here in Vermont the very small township of Searsburg (pop. 85) was generally positive about their 11-tower 6-MW power station when it was constructed in 1996. Now, the developer wants to expand the site, and the town is reportedly very much opposed. In other Vermont towns targeted for wind stations, it is hardly a "vocal minority" that opposes them. Lowell sent a survey to every resident of their town and 6 neighboring towns, 5,050 people. 1,088 people replied: 41 for the development, 1,047 against. In Kirby 177 out of 550 residents responded to a similar survey: 41 for, 12 undecided, and 124 against. At a standing-room-only "information" meeting, opposition was unanimous. At a hearing in Lyndon on February 12, 2004, 51 people testified before the House committee on natural resources and energy: 7 in support of, 44 against industrial wind plants on Vermont's mountain ridges. Just over the border in New Hampshire, 190 of Lyman's 280 voters signed a petition against granting a variance to allow a wind measurement tower.
This opposition is not out of ignorance or fear. On the contrary, it is broad and quite well informed beyond the often misleading and inaccurate information provided by developers.
Only in East Haven are a majority supportive of a "demonstration" project of 4 1.5-MW turbines on the derelict site of an old military radar station (89 for, 15 against). The developer bought the site for back taxes and has pledged even more to the town school. Of 235 surveys sent out, 124 -- more than half -- were to property owners who don't actually live in East Haven. It is not reported, however, how many of them were among the respondents. As in Searsburg, it will be interesting to see how the residents feel after living a while with the initial towers and then have to consider 46 more towers over 3 mountains, including the ridge right over the village. In fact, the survey was conducted by the developer and the actual methods and results have not been made public.
Country Life magazine asked their readers to name the most hated eyesores in Britain. The results were published in November 2003, and wind farms topped the list.
In March 2004, Cape Cod Times along with the local public radio station commissioned a poll about the proposed 130-tower 14-square-mile Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. The project was not described, nor were arguments for and against outlined. Nonetheless, 55% of the 588 respondents opposed it (20% did not respond).
In August 2004, a survey of 1,400 residents of the island of Lewis in Scotland found 88% opposed to a proposal to install up to 300 turbines. Only 8% supported any wind scheme. The developer, Amec, simply dismissed the finding. By the end of 2004, the Scottish Executive had received more than 2,000 objections to the Lewis project.
A door-to-door survey of residents in the Scottish villages of Abington, Elvanfoot, and Crawford found that 76% of the people are against a proposed 18-square-mile complex of 173 400-feet-high turbines in the area.
In Wales, home to a third of the U.K.'s installed wind capacity, 87% out of around 2,000 responses to the TAN8 (Technical Advice Note 8 on Renewable Energy) planning policy were against increasing wind power. In response to the public inquiry for the Whinash wind facility in Cumbria, overlooking the Lake District National Park, there were 4,290 letters, as well as 700 petition signatures, of objection against 520 in support.
A survey by Massey University in New Zealand found that 80% of the people who live within 3 km of the turbines on the Tararua and Ruahine ranges in Manawatu considered them to be "intrusive," and 73% considered them to be "unattractive." Turbine noise was heard by 75% of the respondents. (The level of noise from the turbines that was considered to be "highly annoying" was as low as 36 dB.)
If people really supported these giant complexes as the wind PR insists, the industry would hardly need to demand that local decision making be replaced by wind-friendly central government, yet that is precisely what they in fact insist on.
-- Eric RosenbloomMore pages on this site about wind power in Vermont:
• letter to The Caledonian-Record (St. Johnsbury), by Bill Eddy
• letter to The Caledonian-Record, by Bill Klein
• editorial by the Burlington Free Press
• report on the poor record of the Searsburg wind plant
• comments about proposed East Haven wind project and projects in Vermont in general
• letter to the Manchester Journal, by Hugh Kemper, and response by Andrew Perchlik, with commentary
• letter to the Burlington Free Press, by Eric Rosenbloom
Also: Vermonters with Vision
AppendixThe following question was asked to 250 visitors at the Monfragüe natural park, in Extremadura: "Would you choose a tourist destination where there would be wind turbines?"
Results: 60 to 68% of tourists will shun places with wind turbines, against 33% that would not (this 33% shrunk to 25% after they were shown the picture of a landscape with wind turbines). The rest, 7%, had no opinion.
These results were published in Spanish in the February 2006 issue of Almena de Monfragüe, the magazine of the natural park of Monfragüe, sponsored by the government of Extremadura. The poll was taken in May, June, and July of 2005.
From: Angela Kelly
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003
If you've ever been taken in by the mantra of the pro-wind lobby that "public opinion grows overwhelmingly in favour" of wind turbines the more these industrial monsters spread like a virus over the beautiful countryside of the UK just read this along with their letter to the Farmers Guardian:
"MANY OF US DID NOT OBJECT TO THE FIRST APPLICATION BECAUSE, EITHER WE WERE NEVER INFORMED OR WE WERE LED TO BELIEVE IT WOULD REMAIN A SMALL-SCALE OPERATION.
"ONCE THE TURBINES WERE BUILT WE WERE ASTONISHED AT THEIR SIZE AND VISUAL IMPACT. WE ARE NOW DISMAYED TO HEAR OF PLANS FOR A HUGE EXPANSION OF THE SITE BY A FURTHER 11 TURBINES!"
--From CLOUT (Conwy Locals Oppose Unnecessary Turbines), 2003.
Letter in Farmers Guardian, 12 Dec 2003
Welsh wind farm woes
With regard to your piece on the so-called windfarm 'co-operative,' (FG, Nov 28) the illusion that Cwmni Gwynt Teg are providing some green panacea for a jubilant local community is simply not true.
The issue of building 11 more turbines in this Landscape Conservation Area on the fringes of Snowdonia National Park is highly contentious. It has split the community and the first three turbines have already caused terrible damage to the lives of the immediate farming neighbours.
The scheme may have helped the three farmers involved, but it has made many more lives a complete misery It is a pity the developers failed to inform your paper that over 1,000 signatures of objection have been sent to the local planning authority; neither did they care to mention that many national bodies are also objecting to the scheme, including the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, the National Trust, the Ramblers Association, the Snowdonia Society and the Conwy Valley Civic Society.
And as far as efficiency goes, one single jumbo jet will produce more C02 than a large windfarm such as this will ever save. [As the U.K. government is pushing wind power, they are also expanding three major airports. --ER]
Conwy Locals Opposing Unnecessary Turbines (CLOUT)
c/o Ty Ucha'r Ffordd, Pandy Tudur, Abergele
When the "informed" public are asked a STRAIGHTFORWARD question -- i.e.: "Do you want commercial wind 'farms' in the countryside?" -- the majority always answer with a resounding NO. The following figures make a nonsense of the developers' claim that "public opinion grows overwhelmingly in favour" of wind turbines the more these industrial monsters spread like a virus over the beautiful countryside of the UK.
1) Summer 1997 Windfarm Poll by the "County Times". 781 responses resulting in a 79% vote of NO to more wind 'farms' in Mid-Wales.
2) Easter 1999 Windfarm Poll by "County Times". Over 90% voted NO to more wind 'farms' in Montgomeryshire. This from a public who have real-life experience of wind 'farms' and are now only too aware that in spite of their gigantic size, they produce a minute, insignificant and unreliable supply of electricity.
3) In 1998, due to intense local opposition, an application to extend the 24-turbine Cemaes wind 'farm' by the addition of 6 more turbines was called in for Public Inquiry. SO, IF WE ARE TO BELIEVE THE CLAIMS OF THE WIND INDUSTRY, WHY WEREN'T THE LOCALS CLAMOURING FOR MORE WIND TURBINES?
4) 15th December 1997, at Cold Northcott, Cornwall, (where they already had "real-life" experience) councillors rejected the planning application for an extension to the existing wind 'farm' by 25 votes to 9 showing a dramatic change of attitude since the first proposal. Letters 780 against and not even one in favour!
5) 1997 at Davidstow, nearby, an application for a wind 'farm' was overwhelmingly rejected. 813 letters against and only 3 in favour.
6) 1998 January 29th, at Jordanston, Pembrokeshire an application to erect 17 wind turbines was rejected by councillors, 15 votes to 1. Letters 560 against, letters in favour 2.
7) December 1997. Six influential conservation groups in Wales united to oppose a proposal for a wind power station on the Denbigh Moors, i.e: Council for National Parks, Campaign for Protection of Rural Wales, The National Trust,, Snowdonia National Park Society, The Ramblers, The RSPB. These groups opposed the application because they were representing their members.
8) 2003 -- From CLOUT (Conwy Locals Oppose Unnecessary Turbines): "Many of us did not object to the first application because, either we were never informed or we were led to believe it would remain a small-scale operation. Once the turbines were built we were astonished at their size and visual impact. We are now dismayed to hear of plans for a huge expansion of the site by a further 11 turbines!!!"