Reap the wild wind

An artists impression of the planned turbine installation on Brownhills Common. Image courtesy of Prowind.

I have been aware now for some weeks that there have been rumours circulating about an interesting development on Brownhills Common, and following some research, I can now share the news with readers that Prowind, a German wind turnbine operations company has been granted permission to erect three 45m tall wind turbines just off the Parade behind the Hussey Arms.

I am as astonished by this news, as I’m sure many of the readership will be, but after long and careful reflection on the matter and no small amount of research, I can honestly say that I don’t think it’s a bad idea.

Hammerwich Windmill, left, is a remnant of the first instance of wind power being harvested locally.

Back last November, Prowind approached Lichfield District Council with a view to erecting several of the elegant electricity generators on the Meerash Ridge just south of Hammerwich, and in their introductory letter, the company pointed out that these would not be the first use of wind power in the old village, as the former windmill attested; but the Council chiefs in Lichfield were not minded to approve, as turbines already overlooked the city from Curborugh, Little Hay and Fisherwick.

Lichfield is already overlooked by wind generators, like this one at Fisherwick.

Lichfield was keen however to gain the benefits of cheap, green power and suggested that the windswept expanse of Brownhills Common may be a better location, Chasewater being out of the question due to it’s SSSI status. The cable runs back to Lichfield would be relatively short, and only involve one 18 month lane closure on the A5 and A461, and Walsall Council would appreciate the rent and use of otherwise unusable land.

The German green generation company followed up on the suggestion, and after intensive and secret talks over a number of months, Councillors voted to approve the plan at a session last Tuesday (9th March 2017) at Walsall, by a majority of 2. Councillor Phil Blower, of Aldridge South voted in favour, and said after the meeting:

‘This is an excellent plan that will be of huge benefit Walsall – we need to do more as a borough to engage with renewable energy, and what better way to do that than have the first wind turbines in the borough up in Brownhills.

‘It’s true that at 45m these will not be small machines, but they won’t be visible from most of Walsall and certainly not from my ward, and the land rental will provide a huge boost in finances that will allow us to reverse the library closure in Pelsall going forward.’

The most startling aspect of the plan is that because these are renewable energy generators, no planning permission is required, and installation will be starting within weeks.

Civil engineers have piling rigs ready to move onto Brownhills Common.

The plan is to create deep concrete piles into the common, totalling some 35 meters which will be bored by large drilling rigs, then use cranes to erect the main columns, which will require the clearance of about 170 trees, but with careful planning, most of the trees lost will be coniferous and therefore aid the heathland restoration.

During the works which will be 24 hours per day on a three shift basis, residents will be prevented from accessing the common, but when complete, the heath will be restored and the footprint of the three turbines will be very small, with only mild noise nuisance for nearby neighbours within a 2 mile radius.

Some Brownhills residents and community activists have been quite vocal in their opposition, not least the Friends of Brownhills Common, who held a special session in the bar of the Swan on hearing the news last Wednesday. Barrie Poxon, spokesmen for the Common enthusiasts said:

‘It’s an outrage that we’re having these hideous machines foisted on Brownhills by Lichfield, with the consent of Walsall for nothing more than a few bob in the council coffers. Walsall have been hell bent on destroying the common for years, and nobody knows for sure the effect these monsters will have on the town.

‘With the increased wind these things will generate, it won’t be safe on the common and in town at all. Small children, old people and the vulnerable could get blown over, or into traffic. They’ll probably scare the deer and adversely affect any man wearing a hairpiece.

‘I really don’t know why we need all this green electricity crap anyway. My kettle runs on steam and I don’t hold with all this modernity. We need to go back to the old days when we just dug up the common for coal, sailed it up the cut to Walsall and burned it in the power station that covered the town in soot. It only made a few houses sink and caused minor illness.’

Curborough wind turbine is in the grounds of Lichfield’s sewage works, providing the double benefit of wafting the mell away from the city towards Armitage, where it’s appreciated.

Dr. Frish Zephyr, of Prowind, was more pragmatic.

‘Renewable energy, particularly wind generation, is the future. After all, with Brexit and the eventual divorce from the EU upcoming for the UK, all the electricity you ship in from the continent will be cut off by the French. To avoid blackouts, your country needs to adopt new methods of generation, and the best place to do that is where there is a large amount of wind, and is already relatively ugly. Our turbines will enhance the area, be a tourist attraction, and only cause temporary damage to the common.

‘Cities of culture and sophistication like Lichfield must not be allowed to suffer power blackouts when this could be so easily prevented by only mild inconvenience in Brownhills.’

Chaz Mason: A Clayhanger wildlife enthusiast often at the mercy of a cruel wind.

As I often do at times like this, I approached the will man of Clayhanger Marsh, Chaz Mason, to see what he thought.

‘I’m concerned for the effects on local birdlife, but hopefully, the presence of these turbines might well steer the rarer, more skittish birds onto Clayhanger Marsh, which would be of huge benefit.

Mine’s a pint of something by Backyard  if you’re in the chair.’

In order to get more information, I phoned the office of our MP, the fragrant Wendy Morton, to garner her views on the matter. Sadly, she was out when I called,  and I was told by her secretary:

‘Wendy doesn’t do Brownhills. Unless there’s a photographer. Book a photographer, and she’ll be straight over. Couldn’t fax me a map over, could you? We had terrible trouble last time.’

Poppy-Run-2015-e1446545369239-1140x600

Wendy has previously suffered with the wind.

Years after the black gold was dug out from under Brownhills to fuel the industrial revolution, it looks like Brownhills will once again be at the heart of generating power for the upper classes.

What do you think about this plan? Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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19 Responses to Reap the wild wind

  1. kevin osborne says:

    We were living in Gloucestershire when two turbine were vehemently protested against back in the 1990s. They went ahead and actually enhanced the local area with their majestic appearance. Back then wind turbines were not as common as now and the impact was not as well known as now.

    They were an incredible boost to the countryside economy and actually rather beautiful. I’m really looking forward to seeing them as we would struggle in Brownhills to use much solar or tidal energy and this is probably our only real opportunity to contribute to self sufficiency.

  2. morturn says:

    We would be absolute ‘fools’ not to think that this plan is not a great idea.

  3. Edwina. says:

    Is it April fools day???

  4. Alan Dawson says:

    Hi Bob, I can fully understand the merits of the scheme in providing low cost electricity but I do wonder whether the scientists who originate these plans take into account the long term effects of these ventures. It is a well known fact that the movement of any structure through the atmosphere produces thermal energy. Will an increase in the temperature of the common have any detrimental effect on the fauna and flora? Surely, in an age of ever decreasing natural habitat we have to consider the overall effect when producing masses of hot air?

  5. Gail Harvester says:

    This is an absolute outrage & the good folk of the borough should gather together to share their disapproval.
    I’m in the process of organising a mass protest later today. Please make banners, bring whistles & encourage everyone you know to meet by the old bandstand at the bottom of Holland Park at 11.00am today.
    Central TV, Radio WM & the national press should be in attendance.
    Come on, rise up & lets take the wind out of greedy Walsall Council’s sails.

    Yours truly,
    Gail Harvester

  6. A horrifying prospect!

    I have heard from “a reliable source” that there is another green energy plant under consideration.

    You have commented on the changing water level of Chasewater many times.

    I’m told that this is testing for the scientifically controlled release of water that will drive a waterwheel generator just below the dam.

    The Canal & River Trust have warned that canal boat speeds up to Chasewater will be reduced to 1mph and going back will be up to 15mph – there complaints were swept aside……………

  7. kevinjones21 says:

    Have you been given this information by Ms April Twyllo from the Welsh Jôc Dda party? Nice work Bob!

  8. Ade Reid says:

    We have a couple of them in Stafford on a farm at the back of the County Showground also two at the side of the M6 at Junc 14.I actually think they are magnificent pieces of engineering and have no problem with them what so ever but can imagine some people saying “not in my back yard”.I moved to a quiet part of Stafford 20 years ago but since then have seen massive house building in and around Stafford but time moves on ,things change,not always for the better but you cant stop it.If these turbines are installed they will soon become a part of the landscape that people will get used to.and possibly fascinated by like I am ?

  9. stymaster says:

    Just typical of Lichfield to refuse, then suggest just over the border.

  10. Graham says:

    Bob,
    Thank you so much for bringing out the issue of the conflict between hair pieces and wind turbines. This has been a hidden problem because, understandably, people find it too embarrassing to talk about and the operators want to keep a lid on it.
    You have done a great public service this day and deserve appropriate recognition.

  11. tkevcro says:

    This is rather foolish

  12. Ade Reid says:

    Check the date people.methinks Bob might be having a little laugh at our expense !!!!!!! (or I might be wrong) ?

  13. Yes folks, April fool!

    My compliments to Gail Harvester, I wish I’d thought of that!

    Cheers all
    Bob

  14. He!He!He!

    But is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to spot the difference between April Fools Jokes and some of the words of “Those Who Know Best”?

  15. David Evans says:

    hi Bob
    many thanks for this most informative article,…..who is it that said..never believe anything until it is officially denied?
    kind regards
    David

  16. alvin Cox says:

    hi bob, just like walsall council to accept something like this, but not to be in their close proximity, but to shove it to the far reaches of the area where it does not affect them, we up Brownhills West
    have been having the dross dropped here for years i suppose that some more won,t matter.
    I think erecting these turbines will be a blot on our beautiful landscape that we love to look at over here , i don,t suppose that we could change their minds and have them erected in the Arboretum
    could we (on their doorstep) mind you if enough people protested you never know what might happen. regards Alvin Cox

  17. Sheila says:

    Ha ha! Well done Bob – what a fabulous spoof. You got me going until at least half way down. Brilliant x

  18. madwblog says:

    You had me right up until ‘adversely affect any man wearing a hairpiece’. Such fun!

  19. Bill Breakwell. says:

    Bob just read this got me believing at first,as good as the BBC’s Spaghetti Harvest with the commentary by Richard Dimberly in the fifties.

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