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Rose Ash Parish Meeting – Batsworthy Cross wind turbines

Tuesday 10 May 2016

6.30pm, Rose Ash Village Hall

The meeting was opened by Parish Chairman Dennis Cronk who invited the North Devon Council (NDC) guests to introduce themselves:

  • Jeremy Mann, Head of Environmental Health and Housing (JM)
  • Andy Cole, Service Lead, Environmental Protection (AC)
  • Claire Holm, Customer and Corporate Communications Manager (CH)

JM also invited the representative from the turbine operators RWE to introduce himself:

  • Michael Williams, Senior Project Manager (MW)

JM began by explaining how NDC will manage the process at Batsworthy Cross. First, planning compliance will be sought, and after, any noise complaints will be dealt with through statutory nuisance legislation. Noise cannot be investigated whilst planning compliance.

JM then asked AC to explain the process for the noise monitoring. AC explained that the noise monitoring has to be completed within six months from completion. RWE have appointed consultants Hoare Lea which has been approved by NDC. NDC will use its own consultant Bob Davies to verify the monitoring methods and data collected as it’s a very specialised role and it doesn’t have those skills in house.

Question: Did the six months period begin on 7 April when the first export started?

Answer: Yes

AC explained that although only three monitoring locations were needed, the operators have agreed to monitor six to give further reassurance. The monitoring kits will go in over the next couple of weeks and the NDC noise consultant Bob Davies will oversee this.

The locations for the noise monitoring are provisionally:

  • All Angels
  • Broadlands
  • The Ridge
  • Batsworthy Farm – either East Batsworthy Farm or West Batsworthy Cottage
  • Manor Farm
  • Beaples Hill Farm

The noise monitoring equipment will be located at the most suitable property which may neighbour those indicated above.

The properties selected represent worst case scenario properties and have been selected by the RWE consultant and verified by NDC’s consultant.

Question: Why did it take four years to reach planning compliance at Fullabrook?

JM: NDC took a precautionary approach to ensure all wind speeds and directions were captured. Fullabrook is also much larger than Batsworthy. No inefficiency in the way it was handled has been identified. JM explained that NDC will wait for the data and won’t speculate on any outcome. Even though it may take a while, the outcome will be of greater benefit to the community.

Question: Will the community have a say over whether the compliance is extended?

JM: We will have regard to the views of the community in any extension of compliance but we have a statutory duty to regulate the planning consent.

Question: Will six months of monitoring during the summer months give the date needed?

AC will seek clarification. AC explained it is crucial for the council to gain all the data needed. Cllr Jeremy Yabsley asked if AC could clarify that the monitoring wouldn’t stop until all the data needed had been collected.

Question: What provision is in place to monitor the turbines once compliance had been met?

MW explained that it is on the interests of RWE to keep the turbines maintained for their life as if they don’t, the turbines won’t produce maximum output. There is condition monitoring equipment within the wind turbines which record information and highlight potential problems.  This helps ensure the turbines operate as designed at all times.

JM explained the council’s ongoing monitoring after compliance was achieved would be the exception rather than the rule.

Question: Are all nine turbines on at the same time?

Answer: Yes

Question:  Is it possible to know the locations of the monitoring equipment and the reasons for their location?

It was agreed that this information can be provided once the monitoring equipment had been deployed.

Question: How much business rates will the council get from the turbines? How is it assessed? Who pays for it? Is it based on a flat rate or output?

Answer: JM to clarify.

Question: As this noise monitoring is based on ETSU criteria which doesn’t include amplitude modulation (AM), can this not be looked at alongside the planning compliance?

Answer: No, the council will not look at statutory nuisance whilst looking at planning compliance.

Question: So we could suffer AM all the way through compliance monitoring and have to put up with it?

JM: The council will reflect on the comments from the community and it would help greatly if the community could start by collecting some information and look into the appropriateness of running two monitoring exercises side by side. The council will report back to the community within two weeks.

A couple of members of the audience expressed a lack of confidence in NDC’s noise consultant but JM and AC assured the community that they had confidence in him. The community asked if he would attend a future meeting and CH confirmed that he undoubtedly would as he attended the most recent Fullabrook meeting.

Question: How will the community be kept informed?

CH explained she would act as the conduit between the council and the community and she would collect email addresses tonight so she could keep in contact whenever necessary. She explained she would also set up a page on the council’s website where all relevant information would be posted.

Question: Will the council have raw data that it can share with the community? There was some concern over the averaging of the data.

MW said that the raw data can be provided to the Council following completion of the Compliance Monitoring.

Question: Will actual audio be collected?

AC will check.

Question: when the original background noise was being collected, the equipment fell over at one property – what do we do if that happens again?

MW would ensure that Hoare Lea provide contact details to residents when the monitoring equipment was first positioned.

Cllr Jeremy Yabsley requested the properties closest to the turbines be closely monitored. AC gave reassurance they would.

Question: Will AM be measured?

MW said he will check to see if it is and if audio is collected.

Question: Could the turbine nearest Manor Farm be switched off as it is causing the residents to suffer sleepless nights.

MW said he would investigate the issues raised by residents near Manor Farm.  A decision to turn off the wind turbine would be raised with RWE management.

Question – is light flicker being monitored?

AC explained that any light flicker problems need to be reported to the planning department.

Question: could we get the noise consultant’s views on AM affecting noise levels coming from the Link Road?

MW to check.

The Chairman thanked everyone for coming and the meeting was closed at 8.35pm.