"Windfarm Wars" Company comes to Churchover

BBC2 series follows 6 years of "Windfarm Wars" near Dartmoor by the McAlpine Group.

In 2005 BBC TWO commissioned Sevenstones Media to produce Windfarm Wars, then a single observational documentary following the building of a windfarm, a story that was to become one of the UK ’s most divisive issues. Six years later, following the unravelling of this dramatic story, Windfarm Wars has finally become a remarkable four-part series with unprecedented access to all parties.

(Editor 2013: Why three and a half years on from when permission was given to build the turbines, are they still not built?

Mike Hulme has done an enormous service (and cost him around £200,000 to go through the enquiries and the High Court) to all communities threatened by wind turbines by getting the High Court to lay down some simple extra precautionary noise conditions.

The fact that McAlpine/RES have not built the turbines could suggest that they know that the turbines would break the High Court noise restrictions in certain wind conditions (especially at night) thereby forcing them to turn the turbines off and even with the enormous subsidies the turbines would not be as profitable.)

The history: Filmed in Devon over this six-year period, Windfarm Wars reveals what happens to a community when a wind farm of nine 120-metre high turbines is planned to be built in an undesignated yet sensitive landscape just four and a half miles from the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park. From planning and protest, to propaganda and polemic, through two Public Inquiries and three High Court challenges, Windfarm Wars tells the story of those people most deeply affected by events.

There’s the farmer, Martin Tucker, who’s keen to have turbines on his land, as a result of which his family’s financial future would be permanently secured. But his cousin becomes one of his most vociferous opponents. There’s the passionate wind farm developer Rachel Ruffle (Editor 2013: who has been appointed to the board of McAlpine's RES company) a woman dedicated to her mission of making money from renewable energy to Devon . There’s the local action group who argue the turbines will have a detrimental visual impact and are ineffective, and who campaign to upset Rachel’s plans. There’s also, Mike Hulme, a local resident whose green conscience is torn. He wants to combat climate change but his home is close to the turbines and he believes his personal and financial wellbeing, and the tranquillity and peace of the countryside will be threatened if the windfarm goes ahead. As he becomes increasingly disillusioned with McAlpine's actions, and following 2 Public Inquiries, Mike Hulme takes his fight against the Government Inspector’s decisions all the way to the High Court. Rachel Ruffle is equally determined to resist these challenges and see through the battle for her company’s windfarm to be built. This documentary series charts the human drama and conflict as a community reacts to the dilemma of how best to respond to climate change and the impact of industrial wind turbines on their doorsteps.

It’s a story that sets a precedent too. When it started, the windfarm company involved, RES, a subsidiary of the massive Robert McAlpine construction Group, refused to release the raw data of their wind and noise recordings except to a qualified expert. As a result of Mike Hulme’s campaign, releasing raw data into the public domain is now a more established procedure. His battle involves criticism of the inadequacy of the government’s guidelines controlling windfarm noise, as well as concerns about the level of noise he may experience, including a phenomenon known as AM or amplitude modulation or 'low frequency infrasound'.

Against a backdrop of the pressures of climate change and the complexities of charge and counter-charge, Windfarm Wars looks beyond the taunts of nimbyism and charts the democratic safeguards and processes by which such major projects are decided. In the end this series is about one man’s search for ‘truth’ in the controversial and confusing world of onshore windfarm development, and one woman’s crusade to build her company’s windfarm.

Mike Hulme needs financial help to carry on his fight against McAlpine/RES who continue to try to overturn the precautinary noise restrictions imposed by the High Court.

Please be in touch with ASWAR and we will advise how to donate to Mike Hulme's fighting fund.