Something of a mystery at Lephinmore in Cowal

Just before Christmas 2012 we were informed of an unidentifiable but very tall mast visible from the west shores of Loch Fyne on the horizon on east Loch Fyne opposite Minard Castle.

Now there are two of them – one on the ridgeline itself  and one half way up the  side of the hill.

These are anemometers conducting a temporary meteorological survey of wind speeds is a specific area – the masts are therefore at the height of the hub of the turbine rotor.

The appearance of these tall and slender masts signifies planned applications for wind farms.

A quick google came up with this website, indicating that Burcote Wind are currently ‘consulting on proposals for a wind farm of up to 43 turbines at Lephin. The site is located on the Cowal pensinsula, on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne, between Lephinmore and Otter Ferry. It is approximately 10km east of Lochgilphead, the nearest town.

‘Although within the boundaries of Strachur Community Council, the Lephin proposal sits in the western half of that area, in the historic district of Strathlachlan.’

The website then declares that: ‘As part of the proposal, Burcote Wind will help establish a community benefit fund for the area, worth a minimum of £5,000 per MW of installed capacity. [Ed: given as 129MW].

‘This would provide an annual fund of around £645,000 – £16.1million over the wind farm’s lifetime – to support community projects.’

This is fundamentally misleading.

Research has shown – and wind developers and governments are well aware of this – that the period to decommissioning of  wind turbines is nothing like the 25 year life lifespan previously assumed and on which this calculation is based. It is now thought to be around 12 years.

£8 million odd is still a lot of money  but communities would have to factor in to their decision  on whether to support or object to the proposal, the prolonged and significant upheaval involved in the construction and installation of a wind farm – plus, 12 years later, the suffering of the physical and acoustic upheaval of  decommissioning the site – at least as disruptive process as its installation.

We have been told that yesterday there was some burning at Lephinmore, which might have been burning off scrub on the site, suggesting that the developer’s perspective is that they will be going ahead on this proposal.

Yet the Burcote website linked above does not indicate that planning consent has been granted – nor can we find any trace of such a decision on Argyll and Bute Council’s website.

There is absolutely no doubt that a wind farm, never mind 43 wind turbines, on this site would be a substantial and significant intervention in a very specific landscape, visible quite widely.

We understand that Furnace Community Council – which would be one of those affected, was contacted some time ago by a consultant representing Burcote; and are asking whether this was a ‘consultation’ or a preliminary information note; and what response was given. [We will update this article when we get this information.]

At the time this contact was made, Burcote had done virtually no background research and was not aware – until the Chair of Furnace Community Council informed their consultant, that there already was another application for the same area from the Banks Group.

This is for the Strachur area and would also impact heavily on the Loch Fyne landscape as seen from the west shores but not by the communities of Strachur and Glendaruel near which it is planned to be located.

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17 Responses to Something of a mystery at Lephinmore in Cowal

  1. This outfit has appeared here before – Glenbarr and Creggan were among their punts; if you go to their website, ‘about us’, ‘team members’ you’ll find that one – the investor member – called ‘hotbed’, encourages disbelief. Who he? – Russian or Colombian ‘businessman’, in the laundry business maybe? Not really designed to encourage confidence in the integrity of this company, could it be one of the developers looking to exploit the fat profits (courtesy of us) available in the renewables business, as fast as they can?.

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      • There are 23 companies, each a variation on the Burcote theme, according to Companies House. All having the same owners? Who knows? I don’t mind spending a couple of quid on WebCHeck to nosey the list of members and a few years accounts from time to time, but two dozen? Exceeds my charitable threshold I’m afraid, intrigued though I am.

        If these companies are associates of one another, can anyone help to explain the business tactic that’s being employed? Seems like a lot of administration effort and expense if it has no practical benefit.

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  2. Research has shown – and wind developers and governments are well aware of this – that the period to decommissioning of wind turbines is nothing like the 25 year life lifespan previously assumed and on which this calculation is based. It is now thought to be around 12 years.

    I don’t believe this. Please post a link to some evidence instead of just making things up.

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      • Here’s what some of Prof. Hughes’ critics say (just for a bit of balance, you understand):

        Department of Energy and Climate Change:
        “Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence. Britain’s oldest commercial turbines at Delabole in Cornwall have only recently been replaced after 20 years of operation, and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since that project started generating in 1991.”

        RenewableUK:
        “The fact that investors have remained confident in the wind energy sector demonstrates their confidence in the technology. Importantly, wind farm developers only earn money for the clean electricity they actually generate, so it’s very much in their interests to make sure that their turbines are maintained throughout the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm to an optimum level, which includes upgrading as the technology improves.”

        Dale Vince, Ecotricity:
        “Today’s turbines have been designed and built to last 25 years,” he said. “In fact Ecotricity’s first turbine was built 16 years ago using old technology and is performing better than ever and will still be around for its 25th birthday.”

        The European Wind Energy Association:
        “Owners of old wind turbines can replace them with much more powerful new and more silent ones. Should we stop wind turbine owners and investors doing so?”

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  3. Webcraft,

    Some links as requested, reports of relevant studies by energy economist Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University and formerly senior adviser to the World Bank:-

    http://www.ref.org.uk/publications/280-analysis-of-wind-farm-performance-in-uk-and-denmark
    on which page you’ll find zipped files of the raw data for the following report (in case you feel like analysing them yourself)
    And:
    http://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/280/ref.hughes.19.12.12.pdf

    Decommissioning is not the word I’d use – they’ll still be there and sort of working, but crocked, according to the author of the report.

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  4. The Banks project is at the north end of Colintraive and Glendaruel and looks like impacting visually both within that community, and also for Minard, Furnace et al. The developer is actively engaged with the Community Councils involved and there have been some public meetings. The chat is that this is more likely to go ahead as Banks have already successfully developed projects. Burcote is seen as much less credible being oversized and without much regard for the local infrastructure needs.

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  5. It seems to be standard practice for planning permission to be granted for a period of 25 years. It seems unlikely that everything will be dismantled & the site cleared when all the access roads & power cables are already in situ. I would expect an application for an extension period to be submitted using the same turbines if they’re still working or new (& probably bigger)turbines if they’re not. Of course that’s assuming the subsidies are still in place.

    I believe that the proposed turbines are the same model as those planned for Creggan i.e. 126m to the blade tip. For comparison the tower at the Glasgow Science Centre is 127m to the top of its spire.

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  6. Some info.

    Hotbed were a private equity syndicate based in London who pooled high net worth investors money, min £25k a time and invested in various PE companies. They have subsequently went bust and all their legacy investments are now being run by an organisation called Connection Capital, who use the same business model.

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    • Newsroom: We checked out this post before publishing it because we could find nothing in the comments chain that linked to Hotbed or Connection Capital. so we were unsure where it was coming from.
      The link is Burcote Wind now in the Connection Capital portfolio. Googling the two names is explanatory.

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  7. What consultation?
    - We have received no written or/and verbal communication.
    - There has been no postal survey.
    - We have not been made aware of any public meeting or exhibition
    - No report has been publicised

    Philippe Charrier
    6 Nursery Cottages
    Minard

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  8. There is a democratic and also a dictatorial path for wind farm developments. Pray let us follow and claim our democratic rights that have been hard fought and died for, over many years.
    Benefits to the community are based on a financial income of a few hundred thousand pounds per year and are the well-known proverbial sop. This cannot be compared with the already proven income of millions from tourism over the same proposed period of time and worse still, seriously and adversely affect that same tourism now and in the future.
    It will affect the highly acclaimed and unsurpassed beauty of our world-renowned Scottish landscapes and others elsewhere for many decades yet to come. This is brought about through our most precious democratic rights being flouted because of the great poverty of mind of a minority of peoples’ greed for power and wealth. This is the realm of the rich who easily turn poor economies to their great advantage – let us therefore protect and not lose our precious democracy.
    Selling the beauty of our land cannot be likened to the ‘family silver’ as it is belongs to everyone – and more importantly, is our peoples very future and our children’s true heritage. The truth of that same heritage lies in the exquisite beauty of our countryside, created over millions of years and now threatened by man-made greed. This same poverty of mind is changing our beautiful countryside at this present time – that same beauty that speaks to our souls. All this has been created mystically for the benefit our very beings as we continue to search for the truth that leads us to love the light of true freedom – even in another age of man-made darkness.

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