Big fuss about the impact that wind farm construction traffic is going to have on the Montgomeryshire town of Welshpool. There's a widely advertised public meeting in the town tomorrow night. I'm hoping to go, and been trying to brief myself beforehand. There are so many aspects to this debate. The Mayor will have difficulty stopping discussion running off down sundry side roads.
Essentially, I expect the meeting to be limited to 'information' - and even that could be a bit vague. Until planning applications are actually submitted, developers can change their plans. At present, the suggestion seems to be that approaching 600 lorry loads will be involved in transporting the 65 turbines planned for just one site near Llanbrynmair. Each load is likely to be 5 metres wide, almost 50 metres long and 6 metres high. There would have to be major realignment at the roundabouts each end of town, and some demolition of the pedestrian access bridge over the by-pass to the railway station. This would all be very disruptive. There is also the issue of weight, with loads possibly being in excess of 100 tonnes - but I suppose the threat of damage to property does depend on how many wheels are under them.
Although I come from a sceptical standpoint, I want to try to minimise impact and maximise compensation. So I've been following up the idea of helicoptering the turbines in. This is not yet realistic. There is research being carried out (in Canada) into developing helicopters which will transport the sort of weights involved, but I'm told that its 5 years away from a prototype, and probably 20 years from commercial availability. So that's out.
Another issue is compensation. At present, 'community benefit' is paid to the area where the wind farm is located, but not to towns which suffer disruption during construction. I suspect that this could be an issue for tomorrow night's meeting. I don't know how narrowly the discussion will be contained, but it may spill over into the timetable for construction of the essential 400 kv cable needed to carry the power to the Grid. We shall see. Anyway, I'll report back after the meeting.
UPDATE. Well over 200 people turned up at the meeting. At last it could be that the debate is moving on to include the impact of cables, pylons, and constuction traffic. The meeting voted about 195 - 22 to oppose what many of the assembled decribed as the destrucy=tion of their town.