Swindon Advertiser: Flying high to halt turbines

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Swindon Advertiser today ran an article about the Ill Winds blimp flight yesterday.

A CAMPAIGN group have gone to new heights in their battle against a plan to build three wind turbines at the Honda plant.

South Marston-based campaign group, Ill Wind, received authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly a blimp at 393ft (120m), to represent a turbine blade at its highest point.

This is twice as tall as Nelson’s Column in London which stands at 169 ft (52m) high but not as tall at the London Eye which is 442ft high (135m).

It follows the news that Swindon Council have received hundreds of letters from local residents in response to the proposals. A spokesman for the council said the volume was unusual but not all letters were complaints.

The balloon, which was donated by a local resident, was launched at 11am yesterday and flew for three hours before high winds caused a steering line to snap and it had to be taken down.

Neil Burchell, chairman of the group, said: “I think we achieved what we wanted to do, which was to show how tall these turbines will be.”

We had a lot of people come out and they were horrified by it. We even had a call from someone in Greenbridge who said they could see it.”

I think it’s great that people have felt strongly enough to write in those numbers.”

We hope that by demonstrating the scale of the turbines, this will prompt people to investigate for themselves fully the issues of noise, flicker and associated health problems.”

The group had hoped to fly it from the exact place on the Honda site but were told they could only fly it at the height of the hub and so chose to relocate to Thornhill Road.

A viewing platform was also set-up on the South Marston recreation ground, 600m away from the blimp, to represent the distance of the turbines from the nearest houses in Greenfields.

Sam Tipper, a spokesman for the car manufacturer, said: “Honda and Ecotricity have already submitted photographs, as stipulated by Swindon Council, to support the planning application which are a true representation of visual impact of the wind turbines.”

However, we do appreciate that it may be difficult to visualise the impact of a turbine from the perspective of each individual resident’s house from the photographs.

What also remains important to us is that any airborne device selected must give an accurate visual representation of the hub height of the proposed wind turbines in both size of the hub diameter (5.5m) and at a fixed height of 79m.”

“Honda and Ecotricity also maintain an open communication approach with the local community in regards to this proposed wind turbine application.”

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