Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
In France (75% nuclear), the nuclear industry (and no doubt elements of the deep state) does its utmost to contain rollout of renewables and specially wind.

The pushback comes in the form of efficient propaganda that has given inland wind a dirty name among even a large swathe of ecologically-minded people. Among people I know for their ecological opinions and lifestyle AND opposition to nuclear, the mention of wind brings out even violent opposition: it's big industry, it's big money, it's capitalists sucking up big subsidies, it's ugly, it's noisy, it's bad for your health.

I'm working with a local group on the energy transition, hoping to get a mix of renewables in local production (we can use sun, wind, and water ie river flow), and first we have to counter this. When opponents (more NIMBYist) organize meetings, along comes some front org for nukes and provides anti-renewables talking points.

Meanwhile, when Ségolène Royale's Energy Transition law (that supports slow nuclear phaseout and increase in renewables) is discussed in the Senate, a PS senator puts up (and gets voted with no trouble) an amendment fixing the distance for inland windmills at at least 1000 metres from any dwelling. This rules out getting on for 85% of France, and makes local windfarm projects impossible. OK, the Senate doesn't have the last word, but the support for nukes, as much among PS as UMP, is evident.

From the senator's speech: "I've been under a windmill, the noise is infernal." "In England the distance from any dwelling is 1,500 metres, in the US 2,000 metres."

Anyone got any up-to-date information on the latter two?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 08:30:11 AM EST
The idea of the US fixing any distance in metres is ridiculous....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 10:00:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I can ascertain, in England there is no fixed distance between windmills and residential dwellings. Wind farm development applications of >50MW are handled at national level, smaller farms at local planning authority level. Each authority may fix its own rules on distance, or simply treat each application ad hoc. The sort of distances that seem to be required go from 350m to 800m, with 500m being generally considered sufficient.

1,500 metres has been called for (particularly by opponents) in certain cases, but it is not a rule.

Scottish planning policy says: "A separation distance of up to 2km between areas of search and the edge of cities, towns and villages is recommended"

but that is a recommendation that doesn't concern individual dwellings.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 11:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a number of domestic-scale windmills near where I live.

They received planning permission, and were built - in an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, no less, with plenty of weather to keep them running.

But they don't seem to last. Small-scale wind doesn't give as much of a return as passive solar or rooftop PVs.

There are quite a few houses with PVs now. And some large PV schemes.

But they don't always last, either.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 at 05:42:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the latter one is a case of illegal planning permission. One thing our local group is fighting against is the tendency for private-sector initiatives to attempt to co-opt local authorities for hush-hush operations, which local elected officials can be tempted by because they know there'll be opposition to renewables projects among their voters. Keeping it all under wraps inevitably ends up by energising the opposition, who can quite reasonably complain that technocrats and private interests are imposing renewables on the population. The wedge-issue effect is potent.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 at 06:43:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can understand people having issues with windmills. I don't necessarily agree, but I can understand it.

I'm baffled why anyone would want to dismantle a giant PV farm when they didn't even notice it being built.

It's not as if it spoiled their view, or changed the value of their property, or it makes a noise, or lights up in the dark, or gangs of rogue PV panels go stalking the landscape at full moon forcing people to vote Green at gunpoint.

There was a public consultation in the village hall before the farm was built. I very much doubt that Wilts Council failed to hammer the usual notices to the usual telegraph poles, or that this was the evil work of a single rogue planning officer.

Basically this is being attacked on a technicality. It's possible the appeal will succeed, but I guess that depends in part on what happens at the next election.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 at 09:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Important People who own the Valuable Properties don't read notices tacked to telephone poles, and probably don't know that the village hall exists.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 at 11:10:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
has a commission called EFSEC (Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council) that rules the process per a State law from the '70s that is revised occasionally to keep up with developments. Their plan and site reviews are quite comprehensive, and they have knowledgeable staff. Siting has many aspects, including migratory-bird routes, but the approved plans are very ad hoc.

I don't believe that there is a specific set-off for wind turbines from residences, though folks in our neighborhood used to talk about 1.5 - 2 tower height distances (analogous to how we talk about buffers for various activities in the forest). The reality, though, is that the wind turbines around here are developed in groups and sited on farmland (usually) where structures are distant - but farming activities often come closer than 1 tower height.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 12:57:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nobody in my area thinks that wind turbines are noisy -probably because they are almost all large, post-2006 models. I find the old high-revolution units at Altamount Pass in CA to be noisy and scary, but I don't think that many such will be part of any future developments.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 01:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would suggest the senator go stand near a fuel pulverizer at a coal-fired plant.

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?
by budr on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 02:24:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Better yet, jump in.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 03:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's big industry, it's big money, it's capitalists sucking up big subsidies, it's ugly, it's noisy, it's bad for your health.

I can't really speak for other types of renewables, but for wind power at least, fossil power and nuclear power are much, much worse on each and every one of those points.

Ugly? I can't speak for anyone else, but to me a field of modern wind turbines is actually kind of attractive in a statuesque, foresty kind of way, and I've never in my life seen an "nice" looking coal burner or nuke.

Noisy?  I've walked around under a set of large wind turbines.  Yeah, they make some noise. The whine of the gear boxes is not pleasant. Over time it can get on your nerves. I've also spent time in and around a number of different fossil-powered plants, from gas and coal fired steam turbines, to combined-cycle units, to quick-start gas turbines. Trust me, the noise of a wind turbine is not even in the same league.

And bad for your health?  Puhleaze...

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?

by budr on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 02:49:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the noise of windmills compared with other, less deadly, sources of noise, such as cars or trains.

by Katrin on Sun Mar 8th, 2015 at 02:54:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I can now make out, there is no US federal rule on setback (ie distance between windmill and dwelling). It's not just a state matter, but county or municipality that decides, ad hoc.

My impression is that the French disinformation has mixed up feet and metres. 2,000 feet = 600 metres. That distance isn't even a rule in the US, but it is sometimes used. And, as the NASA knows (but in this case the shoe would be on the other foot), screwing up between feet and metres is an easy mistake to make...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 03:15:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Setback is generally handled on the county level.  Sometimes (like in New York State and Washington state) there is a state permit process that is expensive and complicated, but serves as an alternative if a county enacts overly restrictive rules.

There are lot's of places (mostly in Texas) with zero zoning or even permit requirements.  You can just put anything you want wherever you want.  In this cases, you only have to comply with federal laws, like the endangered species act.  

Other places have extremely strict rules with crazy setbacks of 1 mile or more.  In those cases, there generally aren't any wind turbines in operation.  Those big setbacks effectively serve as a ban on utility scale turbines.  You can see the in various counties in New York, Washington, and Wisconsin. (AND Bayern!)  They are generally the result of an active anti-wind community that holds political sway with the county council (OR the local Seehofer.) The objective rationale for such rules are typically infra-sound and "wind turbine syndrome".

Most reasonable locations have setbacks of 1 or maybe 1.1 times fall-down height (Unplanned Rapid Disassembly Event) from roads and power lines and something like 1000 feet or maybe a bit more (1/4 mile is common) to either a non-participating property line or a residence (property line being moe restrictive).  Sound ordinances are all over the board, but range from 35dBA to 45dBA, either measured at a residence or at a property line.  Badly written ordinances have requirements for infra-sound.

There are often rules related to shadow flicker, and also to wake shadow.  Shadow flicker is usually defined by hour/year that a residence has flicker.  It can range from about 3 hours to about 30 hours.  Wind shadow is usually ignored.  Riverside county in CA has what I consider to be one of the better zoning laws, especially regarding wakes (downwind loss of energy). They require a 10 (I think- maybe it's only 5) Rotor Diameter separation from a non-participating land owner in the downwind direction.

In most cases serious restrictions have zero to do with citizen protection and much to do with utility protection.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 9th, 2015 at 02:23:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. I'm hoping that the senator will reply to tell us where he got the information that "the Americans have just decided to fix setback at 2,000 metres".

He did mention "some German länder" where setback is at 1,500 metres. As far as I've been able to see, that's indeed Bayern. Do you know of any others?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 9th, 2015 at 02:34:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I know (i can ask my repowering Guru), the restrictive special setback law is only in Bayern, and only to prevent most installations. Setback is 10x turbine height, or some 2 km.

I'll let Mothers Against Turbines explain it best:

Fighting Big Wind

I understand there's been positive buildout in Hesse and Baden Würtemberg, so they can't have such restrictive restrictions. In NRW, the coal lobby has put in place some minor restrictions, but they have no wind anyway. The rest of 'Schland?  Wind is saving the poor lands asses.

But your Senator is simply very wrong about amurka; with some small exceptions in "densely" populated rural areas. And remember, some restrictions are to prevent upwind projects from stealing too much wind from downwind projects/landowners.

Along with Elvis, rational discussion about energy has long left the building.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 9th, 2015 at 04:50:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of another recent story from Germany, connected to a British anti-wind evergreen: military radars. Wind power development is limited near military airports in Germany, too, even if not to the British extent. But even that may now be reduced with a system that allows airport operators to shut down nearby wind turbines for the short periods of time they would be disturbing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 04:44:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bremen's airport is fully surrounded by modern wind turbines, plus some older ones, in every direction. Some right at the airport borders. Since 15 years. Without problems. Zero.

Well, one time during very high winds some Frieslanders were able to sneak in and attack the coffee shop undetected.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 9th, 2015 at 02:29:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sent a mail to the senator to ask for the source of his information.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 8th, 2015 at 08:41:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Three weeks later, no reply. Not that I'm surprised.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 30th, 2015 at 05:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The senator committed suicide with a shotgun.

French senator found dead in apparent suicide ahead of 'Chinese weddings' trial - France - RFI

Jean Germain, the former mayor of Tours and current Socialist party senator for Indre-et-Loire, was found dead Tuesday after failing to appear in court in a corruption case related to a Chinese wedding package offered in his city, police have confirmed to the AFP news agency.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 8th, 2015 at 01:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am sure there is a long list of politicians you should politely request an answer from.
by Katrin on Wed Apr 8th, 2015 at 02:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
paul spencer and randy have already answered this but my two cents is that the senator is either an idiot, a shill, or a liar. he could be all those.

the statement is pure BS on several levels. it relies on the fact that no one will ever check the details. who in france will seek out the answer for the US? no one, because as noted, there is none.

as i note in my new book on this phenomena, it is the power of the statement--as in the "big lie" not whether it is true or not.

so while randy and i and others like us run around trying to pin down the truth, they throw out another lie, thus keeping us running around in circles. who was it said, a lie travels around the world while the truth is still trying to put its pants on.

paul gipe

Paul Gipe

by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 at 02:10:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Next, this plays out at lower levels than the Sénat. One of the local mayors here, who is hysterically anti-wind, copies these senatorial lies into his municipal newsletter and adds another -- believe it or not, England has now banned onshore windmills completely (!).

The problem being, as you rightly say, that they get out there first and we are playing catch-up.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 at 02:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series