Welcome to ActonBridge.Org Aston Wind 'Farm' Question & Answer Page

1. August 2005 :

This section of the ActonBridge.Org website will carry news of a proposal to build a wind 'farm' at Aston, on the opposite bank of the River Weaver in Cheshire. The huge generators (over 400 feet tall) would be visible and audible from several parts of Acton Bridge, and neighbouring villages.

We shall be developing arguments about the proposed wind 'farm', and the wider issues of taxpayer-subsidised power generation.

The following notes are from a public meeting at Aston School on Tuesday 15. March 2005 during which the author, Steve Pardoe of Acton Bridge, spoke to Mr Huw Smallwood, Managing Director of the developer, Tegni Cymru Cyf, and his colleagues.

Update 1. August 2005 : the Planning Application (reference 05-1059-FUM) has been received by Vale Royal Borough Council, and many of the documents submitted by Tegni Cymru Cyf and their consultants Dulas are already available on the VRBC Website.

Back to main wind 'farm' page, or look at our new wind power links page.

Nordex turbines

A typical 'farm' of wind turbines
Photo from Nordex GmbH, who kindly permit free use of the image

Tegni Cymru Cyf Wind Power Station Presentation
Questions and  Answers : Comments in [brackets] are the author's.

Site planning and environment

1 When will you apply for planning permission, and publish your EIA report?

No date confirmed, but not before the Environmental Impact Assessment has been completed

2 How many wind turbines are planned for Aston / Dutton, now and in future?

Four, only (plus a permanent anemometer tower, substation etc).

3 What will be their exact location, size (tower and blades), and base elevation?

The one-metre NG references for the tower bases are given as :
(Easting) 357349 (Northing) 377958
(Easting) 357484 (Northing) 377527
(Easting) 357128 (Northing) 377279
(Easting) 357343 (Northing) 376965

The towers would be 80m (262 ft) tall at the hub, and the blade diameter 90m (295 ft) giving a total height of 125m (410 feet), among the largest ever contemplated in the UK. The Aston turbines would be sited up to 40m Above Sea Level, making their overall height some 165m ASL (540 ft) and exceptionally prominent. The swept area of each turbine is 6,362m2.

[For comparison, even the largest Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet has a wingspan of only 64m, so if you could imagine a 747 twirling on end, each of the proposed Aston generators would sweep about twice that area. The four sets of turbines would occupy a staggering "six acres of sky". Such an eminence overtops Frodsham, Helsby and Eddisbury Hills. The observatory on top of Blackpool tower, a "world famous Victorian landmark" clearly visible from as far away as the Lake District and North Wales, is slightly lower than this at 122m (400ft) yet its horizon visibility is quoted as 42km (26 miles)].

4 What rules apply to safe separation from rights of way, power lines and the railway?

Fall-over height, plus an unstated margin.

5 Can you show us the horizontal profiles of various sight lines across the valleys?

No, these have not been prepared.

6 What is the downwind noise (including infrasound) spectrum of each turbine?

This has not been prepared, but will be in the EIA. Mr Smallwood "doesn't believe subsonic [disturbance] exists".

7 Can you show us the polar diagram of sound range / intensity?

This has not been prepared, but will be in the EIA.

8 Can you show us the polar diagram of wind speed variation with time of day and season for this location, over a meaningful period of at least one year?

No. The anemometer has only been in place for a short time.

9 If not (8), why was the anemometer mast installed for such a short period?

Because it is possible to extrapolate from the short period by correlation with Meteorological Office data.

10 If the environmental impact (sound, visual, etc) or electrical performance turn out to be worse than anticipated, will the site be demolished and restored?

No. There are no guidelines to balance CO2 reduction against visual intrusion. Tegni can't imagine the site's failing to meet its commercial or CO2 reduction criteria [answer changed at Mr Smallwood's request for his initial response not to be quoted].

Local amenity and economy

11 Why erect these noisy eyesores in beautiful areas like the Weaver Valley, instead of along the industrialized banks of the Mersey (like in Rotterdam)?

The Mersey Estuary is sensitive on account of wading and migratory birds.

12 [Question omitted]

13 Will Tegni Cymru Cyf (TCC) also be paying adequate compensation to the owners of properties adversely affected (by 20-30% typ) by these turbines?

No. It's not a planning issue. Tegni dispute any loss in property value.

14 How many return truck journeys will be required to build the foundations, and the towers and other equipment? Will there be an on-site mixing plant?

Each of the four bases would use 350 m3 of concrete (say 800 tonnes each) and typical ready-mixed concrete truck capacity is 6m3 or 8m3, so there would be about 200 return truck movements, over a period of four days. There would not be an on-site mixing plant.

15 Will it be necessary to widen Aston Lane to accommodate the plant and equipment, and will TCC make a commitment to reinstatement after installing the turbines?

Yes, some hedges would be removed and the road widened in the vicinity of Aston Lea, but would be restored promptly afterwards.

Power production and ecological benefit

16 How does effective power generation vary with wind speed?

[Refer to literature]

17 What is the annualised power generated when down times (no wind) are considered?

Tegni expect 12MW installed to be subject to a 28% to 30% operating factor.

18 What contribution does each turbine make to reducing greenhouse gases - specifically CO2 - operating at its annualised capacity?

[Refer to established formulae]. The EIA will refer to production of 29.5 GWh over a 20-year design life.

19 Have you estimated how much CO2 will be produced as a result of the construction (eg limestone releases ~ one tonne of CO2 per tonne of cement)?

[Not covered].

20 What is the operating life of these turbines and towers?

Designed for 20 years, but may turn out longer.

Safety and restoration of site

21 Who is, and will remain, responsible for the safe operation of the turbines (for example, prevention of and compensation for catastrophic blade detachment)?

The operator - some confusion over which legal entity this is (Tegni, Germania Windpark GmbH, and / or Winvest Finanzierungsservice GmbH).

[Note added 26. May 2005 : refer to a new page on turbine failures]

22 What happens when the site's useful life is over?

No plans for this. The planning conditions would require that the towers and turbines be removed, but the concrete foundations will stay.

23 Who is going to pay for their decommissioning, and the removal of thousands of tonnes of concrete in the foundations?

The operator would decommission the equipment. It is not possible to remove the concrete.

24 Will the developer pay a Completion Bond?

Apparently not considered.

25 Tegni Cymru Cyf's accounts (31/10/2003) show a net worth of only 39. Is TCC just a 'front' for Germania Windpark / Winvest Finanzierungsservice?

No clear answer to this, except for surprise that Tegni's remarkably small issued capital is so well known.

[Most recent Annual Return (17/7/2004) for Tegni Cymru Cyf shows majority ownership by two German companies : Germania Windpark GmbH own 60% ; and Winvest Finanzierungsservice GmbH own 5%]

26 How can TCC credibly take responsibility for the construction and completion of this project, and also for a 20-year maintenance and risk insurance period?

The budget will be in the EIA.

National Interest

27 Where are the turbines, blades and towers manufactured?

The turbines, nacelles, generator components and blades come from Vestas Wind Systems A/S, in Denmark. These account for about 7m of the 9M budget.

28 Is any of the equipment to be installed made in the UK?

Only switchgear and relatively low value materials [perhaps 20% of project cost] will be sourced in the UK.

29 What about the civil engineering and construction contractors, and material suppliers? (Much of the new Lidl store in Northwich, including the bricks and the hideous orange roof tiles, came in fleets of lorries from Germany).

Not decided yet but will be local where possible.

30 Where will the output from this installation be connected to the National Grid, and who is going to pay for this?

Not decided yet. The 33kV substation would be at Aston Grange and cabling would be underground. Scottish Power have informally confirmed capability to accept load, in principle, but specific fault levels have not been calculated, and connection will not be applied for until Planning Permission is obtained.

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