David Brierley: “Living with wind turbines”

Report of public meeting: Bradwell Village Hall – 22 June 2005
(Rough notes taken of as much of what was as said as was possible. I have tried to capture the exact words used where possible.)

When I arrived there was a sizeable lorry parked outside the hall – the battle bus. The picture on the side shows the turbines as being taller than the nuclear power station and totally dwarfing St Peters on the Wall. There was also a speaker blaring out noise to simulate the noise from a wind turbine. It was astonishingly loud – nothing like my experience of turbines.

The first speaker stood up and provided people with some information on progress. Didn’t catch his name, but key player in BATTLE. I gained the impression he is the Chairman or Secretary (I refer to him as the Chairman, for convenience). He was clearly well known to those present . around 40 to 50 people.

He said that 4 out of 5 landowners have now withdrawn from the scheme. And there was a chance that N-Power may not now go ahead with the scheme at all. As a consequence of the reduction in scale (down to perhaps just 10 turbines on Farmer Fowler’s land), he understood that the planning application now had to go through the local planning authority.

He said that the Bishop of Bradwell had recently met with N-Power in an attempt to get the company to withdraw from the scheme.

He said that if the scheme proceeds, the visual effect will be horrendous. Spirituality of St Peters Church will be ruined.

While 10 turbines won’t kill as many migratory birds as 26 turbines, it will still be bad. His biggest concern was for the winter breeding birds.

Turning to construction, he said that it will mean immense disruption for the villagers. There will be an additional 10,000 extra lorry movements during the year of construction.

A new company “Ridgewind” has now applied to build 16 turbines in Southminster. The announcement has just been made. This scheme will be built adjacent to the Dengie flats and will kill lots of birds. He predicted 16,000 lorry movements over the year of construction.

If either scheme goes ahead it will mean a green light for far more schemes.

N-Power’s application is expected this summer. At that point he asked everyone to write to the planning department and object.

In the meantime he is trying to shift the Fowlers. He is preparing an open letter petition to the Fowlers in an attempt to get them to shift their opinion. This will be delivered by hand.

David Brierley was introduced. We were told he is not a professional public speaker. He would give a talk – uninterrupted – then would take questions.

David Brierley didn’t mention Country Guardian, but referred to a campaign group formed to have the wind turbines near his home taken down – “Mailway”? He is from Cumbria – his experience of living with wind farms is based upon what has happened to him in the 6 years following construction of a wind farm by Powergen.

His experience had left him very anti-wind turbines. Their benefits had been criminally misrepresented by the Greens and by Government. They always show wind turbines in a soft focus, as attractively as possible, set against soothing music. They are like a Monet painting – where the reality is very different from the picture.

His experience is in SW Cumbria.

One problem was that the DTI has never prosecuted developers because there is no legislation which specifically covers the construction of wind turbines. No clear industry standard. What exists are mere guidelines, they are not mandatory. Minimum cost is the driver for construction techniques and the type of turbine construction near his home had been a total disaster.

Misinformation, lies and deceit is all you’ll ever get from wind turbine companies.

The kind of thing he has seen is that the wind companies will distribute notices of their intentions many kilometres away from where the turbines are planned, but not tell those immediate affected. Those homes immediately next to the planned farm may not hear a thing from the company. This is because they know they’ll object.

The noise he has found was unbelievable – “noise was like a broken down washing machine in its death throes”. Some residents have to play a radio all night to gain some respite.

One elderly lady said it was like a C130 Hercules outside your window all night long. Someone else said it was like someone mixing cement outside your door 24 hours a day. That’s what some of the locals say.

The company claimed to have fitted a noise reduction system after initial construction, and claimed that following this there had been no complaints. He said that was a lie – from one resident there had been 220 noise complaints.

Turbines affect your health – they cause tinnitus, dizziness, upset stomachs, malaise, ill effects all caused by wind turbines. Lots of local people claim to be ill because of them. The illnesses aren’t imagined – they’ve been witnessed by hundreds of people. Even the local councillors have witnessed them but failed to speak up. When the noise stops their symptoms go away – proof that the noise from wind farms damage your health.

David Brierley gave an explanation of the logarithmic decibels scale (dB). The turbine built near his home was in the mid to high 40dB range. The industry claims that at their developments it’s around 19dBs but it’s 4 to 8 times louder than that. In addition the area has been transformed into a mixed rural industrial area. The World Health Organisation claim that people need less than 32dB to have any chance of uninterrupted sleep – so why does he and his community have to suffer so much more noise?

He understands that a medical report is due to be published at the end of 2005 that will prove this point. But he admitted that the local medical profession had felt unable to substantiate what local residents were saying regarding the adverse impact upon their health.

The suggestion that wind farms were “inaudible” was just another example of the lies and deceit which is typical of wind farm manufacturers.

There is also a DEFRA report on the impacts of wind farms. This has found that wind farms are a source of low intensity noise and that this can be damaging to health. He said that ministers were well aware of the report.

He referred to his own MP – Hatton. His MP was initially quite supportive and arranged a meeting with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to discuss the problems the locals were having with the turbines. But this was suddenly cancelled and not re-scheduled. He saw all this as very peculiar – a similar state of affairs to everything else he has witnessed with regard to his fight.

For 6 years he has suffered.

Turning to the public enquiry, he said there were 6 complaints made. He fully expected to win. As a former police officer, he had faith in the law . but not any longer. He referred to common decency, proper standards and said he firmly believed in our legal system. But, after 5 years hard work and a very considerable financial burden he was left feeling bitter.

The judge, when summing up, said that his case lacked credibility, yet it was the absolute truth – the noise was unbearable. And, the judge said that audibility and annoyance should not be linked to nuisance. Noise had to expected around wind turbines.

One journalists told him, after the case, that you couldn’t be allowed to win – it was a test case. “We were shafted.”

He spoke to those who built the wind farm as duplicitous charlatans, with green pretensions.

He referred to the arguments made by the greens that they want to save the world, but he wanted the same thing. But, wind farms were not the way to do it. His aim is now to gather as much evidence as he can, for the benefit of others who face what he does. He won’t give in because this is patently, criminally, wrong.

He described the ministers who have approved wind farms as spineless individuals who lack back bone. And denounced what he described as a “diabolic dash for wind”.

He warned people that your greatest enemy is apathy and lethargy. Urged them all to get stuck in now and campaign hard against the wind turbines.

He said that he referred earlier to Monet and not being able to see the point. Well if you substitute the T for a Y – you get MONEY. And, if you substitute the N in Green for a D – you get Greed, and that’s what this is all about.

He also made a point about there being “no F in Justice”. Took him 6 years to realise that there ain’t no “effin’ justice”.


Q. Did you have the right to appeal?

Yes, but this was going to cost £250,000 and they couldn’t afford it. His Barrister didn’t charge them for the first case, but if they lost, Powergen’s costs would be substantial. As it was, Powergen applied for £123,000 costs for the first hearing. The judge ordered that they be met from central funds because, although they lost, it was a strong case. He said the judge said they were right to bring the case, even thought they didn’t win.

Q. What chance do we have of stopping the wind farm at the planning application stage.

(Chairman answered) The majority of the council is conservative, or conservatively minded independent councillors. They and the local MP are very anti-wind farm. Maldon District will probably be against the wind farm.

But, it’s odds on certain that N-Power will go to a court of appeal. But, he said the tide is against wind farms now. There’s more and more opposition.

Q. Who was behind the leaflets put through our doors?

The first one was traced to a Friends of the Earth activist, not sure about the second one.

Q. Why didn’t they put their names on it, we put our names on our stuff?

Q. Are the renewable companies behind the leaflet campaign?

Neither point answered, but a local councillor spoke – didn’t get his name. Said that he has written to N-Power and to the Chief executive of Maldon District Council. He was applying as much pressure as he could.

Q. The leaflets imply that the noise concern is exaggerated?

Brierly – not in my experience. The noise you can hear from the battle bus outside is realistic – that’s what you can expect to hear.

But, the noise is not constant, it depends upon the conditions. The worst noise occurs when all turbines are in synch. One resident in Yorkshire has told him that a wind farm there can be heard from 20 miles away. And, the larger turbines – for example 1 Megawatt machines, will make much more noise. You can expect around 104dB.

A new conference is to be held in Berlin in the winter on wind farms – specifically looking at the negative aspects. He expects this to have a major impact upon politicians and the public.

Q. Are property prices affected by wind farms?

Brierley said that the value of his property was not an issue for him. He bought the house because he loved the area and intended to die in the house. So, money was not a consideration for him. However, none of the locals who have wanted to sell have been able to sell. No one has ever been able to move away.

Q. Are you aware of any adverse impacts upon animals?

Brierley said that he was aware that horses don’t like them – reports from equestrians that horses are unnerved. It’s probably caused by the shadow cast by the blades.

He also mentioned a cow that had recently calved was chasing the shadow of the blades – protective instinct for the young.

But, sheep graze right up to them – so they don’t mind them.

Q. I said that I had noticed that there was virtually no noise at the Swaffam turbine, and I had detected no noise from an off-shore site in Norfolk, nor from a site in Cornwall, when there on holiday in April. I asked what the reason was for the level of noise he faced – suggesting size of the turbines, type of manufacture, or height?

A chap at the front of the hall spoke up (quite annoyed) and said that wind farms most certainly do make a lot of noise and said he could assure me of that. He said he went to visit a site on a very misty day. He couldn’t see the turbines but found them by the scale of the noise.

Another chap, at the back of the hall, said that the Swaffam site is a red herring. That’s a community wind farm, in which all the villagers have a stake. It was incredibly expensive, over £1 million – 3 times more than the ones to be built here. But the Bradwell turbines are industrial sized machines which were designed to be placed off-shore. The noise from these machines will be overwhelming, and they are totally unsuited to on-shore sites.

Q. Where will the turbines go?

The “Chairman” said at a 40 degree angle from the Cricketers Pub – on the Fowlers’ land. He mentioned that 10 placed close together may actually be worse than 26 spread across a wider area.

He expressed his thanks to those have so far pulled out of the scheme and behaved like good neighbours.

Q. Were the Fowlers invited along tonight?

Yes, but Stan Fowler can be a bit confrontational and so is not expected. Mrs Fowler has answered some of the letters which have been sent to her. The son, Michael and Teresa Fowler are more reasonable and have been willing to at least talk about it.

But the Mr Fowler has confirmed that he is now in a binding agreement with N-Power. Mrs Fowler has expressed the opinion that BATTLE is scaremongering about the wind farm.

Q. Roger E asked what the views were of people regarding the use of nuclear power as an alternative, and how would people feel about the dangers of nuclear waste.

This brought quite a few groans with some 8 – 10 people getting up and leaving the meeting. He was sitting next to me so we were duly “rumbled” as outsiders – probably in favour of the wind farm.

The Chairman we don’t have an opinion on those kinds of environmental issues. We are campaigning against the wind farm.

Roger E pressed the point.

The Chairman replied that everyone accepts that renewables are part of the solution, but not here. BATTLE is against this site. In any event there isn’t enough space in the UK to get all of our energy needs from wind.

Another person in the audience said that the question is – what is right for Bradwell. St Peters and the area around it is the 9th most spiritual place in the United Kingdom and that tranquillity should not be destroyed. It’s not just for us, but for the thousands of visitors too. He went on – we can’t sort out the global issues, we just look at Bradwell and what’s right for Bradwell.

The Chairman agreed, it’s not a debate for this evening.

Q. Will the road network fall apart given the weight of the machinery and turbines which are to be brought in?

This was answered by a person at the back of the hall who said he was not sure, but it could happen, the standard of the roads around here is already pretty bad.

Another person spoke up to make two points: –

  • Did you know that concrete gives off CO2? Every one ton on concrete creates one ton of CO2.
  • There was a New Scientist article in April which said that noise had a bad impact upon bird life by killing them by the backdoor – driving them away.

The young man at the front, who addressed my point earlier added that the wind turbine manufacturers had a terrible reputation for intimidation. He quoted the case of an Alison Peel (?) and claimed that the British Wind Energy Association placed an item on their website saying, we know where you live. Apparently this lady campaigned against a wind farm and so, it was alleged, the BWEA gave her name and address on their website. Two weeks later her house (shop) in the village was broken into and smashed up.

David Brierley interjected with – this is the industry we are dealing with. They are only interested in money and don’t care about the environment.

Another speaker at the back said, by the way, did you know that cows produce green house gas emissions. Indeed, if you reduced a dairy herd by four cows, you’d equal the green house gas savings you’d get from one wind turbine.

Finally, Michael Helm, a councillor said he was looking for help with the battle bus and called for volunteers. Then the Chairman, said that BATTLE was now getting low on funds and appealed for further donations.

Outside the meeting hall

Michael D, Roger E and I left the meeting hall. Outside the Chairman and a young man came directly to meet us. It was quite clear we were outsiders, with an apparently alternative view to those at the meeting.

They sought to find out a bit more about us. I deflected the issue slightly by saying we were from Southend, an area which was going to see one of the largest wind farms ever constructed – the Thames array (12 miles off-shore). I said that we had heard about the meeting and had come along to find out more about the issue – and had found it very informative. I thanked them for welcoming us as outsiders.

Michael D asked why N-Power had chosen an on-shore site; he asked if it was fears for wildlife. The Chairman answered that he didn’t think concern for wildlife was a consideration, it just came down to money. N-Power wanted to build here because it was cheaper than off-shore. There certainly wasn’t any greater danger to birds off-shore compared to on-shore development.

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