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Letter: Boxing Day Floods 2015

Date published: 07 February 2017


Dear Editor,

The Environment Agency is to undertake an investigation to determine whether Crook Hill wind farm contributed to the floods in our area on Boxing Day 2015.

Why only Crook Hill?

Wind farms surround our area. I’m no expert, but suspect the hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete and other alien material (used for the turbine bases and miles of service roads) which is now embedded in our upland moors is simply not as good as peat at handling water.

We need our MPs and councillors to ask the Environment Agency to investigate Scout Moor Wind Farm, its proposed extension and the other wind farms surrounding our area too.

The attached photo, taken the day after the Boxing Day floods, shows the spillway between Upper and Middle Naden Reservoirs (Scout Moor Wind Farm is in the background). You can see hundreds of tons of stone, that once lined the spillway, have been washed to into Middle Naden Reservoir.

Bearing in mind how high up these reservoirs are, the volume and force of water must have been tremendous to do this damage - and this water still had a long way to travel down hill!

The following extract from the Statement of Case, on behalf of Rossendale and Rochdale Borough Councils, in support of expanding Scout Moor wind farm, causes concern:

“Hydrology, Hydrogeology and Geology

4.55 The Councils sought independent specialist advice from JBA Consulting on these topics. (JBA Consulting, 12 June 2015, Scout Moor Windfarm Hydrogeology Review, JBA Consulting, 7 July 2015, Scout Moor Windfarm Hydrogeology Review)
Flood Risk

4.56 The Applicant has demonstrated that flood risk onsite and within the surrounding locality will not be adversely affected. [Really?]

4.57 The Councils agree with Rochdale concluding within their Committee Report:
“...given the location of the site, on top of an upland area, the presence of the track already on site (for the existing wind farm) and the limited hard standing proposed and the provision of suitable drainage measures, it is not likely that flood risk from the development would be significant. It is also noted that the site is not located in an area known for high flood risk and is just upstream of a number of reservoirs that likely to “buffer” any small changes in flow. Taking these factors alongside the fact that a surface water monitoring programme will take place across the site, it is considered that through the use of appropriate conditions, adequate measures can be put in place to ensure that the development would not result in any undue flood risks and the application is acceptable in this regard. It is also noted that the Environmental Agency have no objection to the application”. (Hydrology, Hydrogeology and Geology – Flood Risk section, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Committee Report – Application Number: 15/00395/FUL)”

Based on the evidence available at the time, these statements were probably well founded, but things have moved on, more wind farms have been developed and we have the evidence of what actually happened on Boxing Day 2015. Consider these statements now against the current evidence and surely, before making Scout Moor wind farm bigger, we need to understand how Scout Moor and the other surrounding wind farms might have contributed to the floods.

We could be looking at a long-term ecological disaster.

If these wind farms are proven to have contributed to the Boxing Day floods, current legislation allows the possibility of wind farm companies disappearing when it comes to decommissioning. Sites could be left to become industrial wastelands or, at best, turbines could be removed, but, all the embedded concrete and other foreign material would be left to displace the peat that once soaked up the rain.

I’m concerned the 'profit first' motive of 'green energy' companies wanting to save our planet is going to leave long-term problems for the public to 'soak up' the cost of repairing the damage they could leave behind.

If you share these concerns, please ask your MP and councillors to start asking questions about this issue.

Yours,

Alan Rawsterne

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Rochdale Online.


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