Myth: Turbines are taking over the countryside
- There are now some 1,120 turbines in 90 locations.
- Generating 10 per cent of UK electricity from renewables by 2010 could mean an increase by around another one and half times the current number.
- Less than 1/20,000th of the UK (800ˆ1,200 hectares) would be used for foundations and access roads.
- Land between turbines can still be used for farming or natural habitat.
Myth: Wind farms are unpopular
- Research suggests quite the reverse.
- 90 per cent of the public believe the Government should encourage the use of renewable energy.
- 80 per cent support Government plans to significantly increase wind turbines.
- 74 per cent agree that wind farms are needed to meet current and future energy needs.
- 66 per cent would approve of a new wind farm in their area.
- Approval is over 80 per cent among those already within 5 kilometres of a wind farm.
Myth: Turbines are a health hazard
- Wind generation produces no emissions, harmful pollutants or waste products.
- In 25 years of wind generation, with 68,000 turbines now worldwide, there are no significant reports of health issues. This includes Denmark, whose turbine density is 30 times that of the UK.
- The DTI has commissioned an independent study in response to public concerns about low frequency noise.
- However, vibration levels 100 metres from turbines are a factor of 10 lower than the safety requirements for modern laboratories.
- Each development requires a noise assessment which can be validated by the Environmental Health Officer.
Myth: Wind farms devastate house prices
- A study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggests that wind farms have no lasting impact on UK house prices.
- This study is supported by evidence at wind farms in England, Scotland and Wales.
- It shows that local house prices recover from any initial impact once a wind farm has been operating for two years.
- Evidence suggests that those living nearest to wind farms are their strongest advocates.
- People promoting fears of falling prices risk making them self-fulfilling.
Myth: Wind farms keep tourists away
- Many wind farms are tourist attractions.
- 30,000 people have visited the information centre for the new Scroby Sands offshore wind farm since May 2004.
- 90 per cent of tourists surveyed in Scotland said wind farms make no difference to enjoyment of their holiday.
- Twice as many would return to an area because of a wind farm than would stay away.
Myth: Turbine blades threaten bird populations
- UK wind farms have not been associated with any major adverse effects on birds.
- By far the biggest threat to UK bird populations is climate change, which is mitigated by renewables such as wind.
- Environmental assessments are required as part of the planning process, to ensure wind farms are properly sited and configured in relation to bird movements.
- These assessments have improved the understanding of bird ecology, helping conservation.
Myth: Wind produces little power
- A single 1.8-megawatt turbine can produce enough power for 1,000 homes.
- Existing wind projects generate enough for nearly half a million homes.
- The average UK wind farm will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within three to five months ˆ more quickly than coal and nuclear plants.
- Over its lifetime, a wind farm will repay this energy 50 times over.
- The geographical spread of wind farms minimises the loss of generation when the wind stops in any one location.
- Back-up generation is already in place to cover shut-downs of other forms of generation; little further back-up will be needed up to 2010 to cover periods when wind and other renewables generation is low.
Myth: Wind energy will not help climate change
- Producing 10 per cent of electricity from renewables in 2010 could cut carbon emissions by 2.5 million tonnes a year.
- Wind generation produces no carbon emissions.
- Every unit of energy generated by wind doesn‚t need to be generated by carbon-producing sources.
- Any emissions savings lost through use of fossil fuel back-up will be minimal to 2010.22
- Wind is part of a range of measures to tackle climate change, alongside other renewables and energy efficiency.
Myth: Projects are forced through with no regard for local concerns
- Ministers have made it clear that wind farms should only be located in the appropriate place and that local concerns should be listened to.
- All wind farm proposals are subject to a strict planning process, addressing environmental, visual and community impacts.
- Local planning authorities consider onshore proposals up to 50 megawatts (the vast majority of applications to date).
- The planning framework facilitates renewable energy, while maintaining safeguards for landscape and nature conservation.
- It does not impose targets or developments on local authorities.
- For applications over 50 megawatts, local authorities can trigger an independent public inquiry if they object.
- The public can participate in the planning processes and their views are taken into account at every stage.
- Projects not meeting planning requirements are refused consent.
- About a third of all applications are refused.
Myth: Onshore wind is being promoted at the expense of other renewables
- The Government has committed £500 million to develop longer-term renewables, such as offshore wind, wave and tidal, solar, biomass and community projects.
- Onshore wind is currently the most economically viable renewables technology with scope for expansion, but it will increasingly operate as part of a renewables mix as other technologies come on line.
- The UK is already the world‚s second-biggest offshore wind generator. Plans for further offshore wind farms represent the world‚s biggest expansion of renewable energy.