Now, I think we’ve established that Rutland is very small, very beautiful and very rural, but it’s not, I confess, very exciting. Pity then, the editor of the weekly Rutland Times newspaper, which today leads with ‘Young dancers win talent contest’ and ‘Woman cautioned for stealing eggs’. Talk about a slow news week.
More interesting and timely, in relation to yesterday’s announcement of a new initiative for windpower expansion in Britain, is the news that North Luffenham’s primary school has become the first in the county to install a wind turbine. Apparently, on windy days, the 1.2kw of energy generated is enough to power ‘one of the school corridors and classrooms’ which is all very educational and eco-friendly I’m sure, but why does it generate so little?
A quick trip to the government’s Windspeed Database at the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) reveals that the average windspeed in North Luffenham at 10 metres above ground-level is only 4.5 metres/second (m/s); considerably slower than the 6m/s recommended by the Energy Saving Trust (EST). According to the database, a turbine in North Luffenham (despite its hill-top position) would have to be 45 metres above ground (not sea-level) in order to attain the recommended wind speed.
So while the school’s efforts are laudable, they fall some way short of fulfilling the true potential of a turbine at their location. Similarly, the suggested praise of Rutland County Council for giving planning permission to this enterprise looks unwarranted, given the self-evident benefits of microgeneration versus this winter’s projected 40% fuel hikes.
There are, however, two pieces of good news:-
- BERR’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme offers Grants from £400 to £2,500, depending on the technology (solar or photovoltaic panels for example), to home-owners wishing to install a microgeneration system. Applications are accepted on a ‘rolling first-come first-served basis’, dependant upon fulfilment of energy efficiency measures.
- On 6th April, the government made changes to the General Permitted Development Order for renewable technologies, which lifted planning restrictions for most domestic microgeneration technologies, excluding Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites. The EST website says that ‘it is expected that roof mounted and free standing micro wind turbines will be permitted at detached properties that are not in conservation areas.'
Further legislation is expected later this year. In the meantime, we must rely upon the forward-thinking elements of Rutland’s Planning Department to allow us the opportunity to make real monetary and ecological savings.
BBC on Windpower
BERR Low Carbon Building Programme
BERR Windspeed Database
Energy Saving Trust
General Permitted Development Order (6th April 2008)
PM’s speech on Local Carbon Future (full text)
Rutland County Council Planning Office
55 minutes ago