Letter from Ecotricity and Honda

Ecotricity LogoThe following letter, dated 8th October 2010, has been provided by Honda and Ecotricity to all South Marston residents:

As you may be aware, Honda in partnership with Ecotricity is proposing to develop three wind turbines at its manufacturing site in Swindon. We previously informed local residents regarding our proposals in June. You may have also seen our advertisements in the local press about our two public information open days, which were attended by over 100 local people and received a good level of local press and radio coverage. Since that time, we have been meeting with local community representatives and answering questions directly with residents as they arise.

Honda and Ecotricity have become increasingly concerned that inaccurate and incomplete information is being circulated which could cause worry and confusion to local residents.

We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you on some of the main topics that have been raised during this consultation period:

Noise – All wind turbines within the UK are required to comply with strict noise guidelines when operating. These guidelines are called ETSU R97. Limits are set on the level of noise a wind turbine can make and these limits link to the current level of background noise that is in the area.

To measure this, we undertook four weeks of round-the-clock background noise level monitoring with a number of local residents earlier this year in all directions around the Honda site, to understand what the current background noise levels are. Claims have been made that the operation of these turbines will lead to you experiencing new noise within the 35-40dB range. The background noise monitoring has shown that background noise levels within the area already range between 35-50dB. This means the turbines will be operating within the current background noise levels and so are unlikely to be audible.

Flicker‘ – Literature that you may have received has claimed that ‘flicker’ from turbines will affect those who suffer from migraine and epilepsy. This is not correct and has been confirmed by independent literature produced by both the NHS and the Health and Safety Executive.

We have also had discussions with local residents on a separate, specific issue known as shadow flicker. This is a relatively rare occurrence that happens when a number of specific factors take place together, including when the sun is shining and is low in the sky. In these discussions, we clarified that any potential impact can be predicted by computer modelling and fully mitigated against by controlling the operation of the wind turbines. This mitigation will be implemented immediately if the turbines were constructed, and therefore the potential for shadow flicker would not occur.

Visual impact – The wind turbines that we are proposing are 120m in height; they will be visible. The reason for submitting a planning application for turbines of this height is to try and ensure that the electricity generation is maximised on the site. The taller the turbines and the greater the swept area of the turbine blades, the greater the potential electricity generation as more energy from the wind can be captured. These three turbines will generate 30% more electricity than the five already operating at Watchfield. Any structure such as a wind turbine cannot be hidden from view. However, the location of the three turbines on the Honda site has been very carefully chosen to take in multiple constraints.

Proximity to Houses – Within the UK, a wind turbine’s proximity to housing is governed by the strict noise regulations. There are no set separation distances for wind turbines and residential properties, and claims that there are in Scotland are incorrect. This is the same case in many other European countries. All separation distances to residential properties are based on current background noise levels. As explained above, we have worked within these same strict parameters and, as can be read on the blog at www.ecotricity.co.uk/honda, the locations of these turbines have been adjusted to ensure that this site will cause minimal impact our neighbours for the lifetime of the turbines.

Why Wind Power – Over the last ten years Honda have and will continue to invest considerable effort in improving the energy efficiency of the manufacturing operations.

To achieve further CO2 reductions, the next stage, is generation of on-site renewable energy. Currently this is made up of three main streams which are in various stages of development.

  • Solar Panels: A small test array has been installed on the roof of an existing building.
  • Biomass: 17 acres of a biomass crop, Miscanthus, has been planted on site so it can be harvested for an energy crop.
  • Wind Power: Three proposed wind turbines located on our site to allow the energy to be fed directly into the factory, reducing transmission losses and giving security of supply.

Mixes of all these technologies make up the Honda renewable energy strategy, for which wind plays a significant part.

Current Situation

The Planning Application has been submitted to Swindon Borough Council. They are currently reviewing the detailed informatlon. we are now awaiting notification of when the application will be heard by the Planning Committee.

While the information above hopefully answers many of the common queries, we appreciate that they are not comprehensive and you may want to know more.

Honda and Ecotricity maintain an open communication approach with our local community. Further information can be found on Swindon Borough Council’s website and Ecotricity’s own website at www.ecotricity.co.uk/honda


A scanned version of the letter is available here: 20101008 Honda Ecotricity Letter.

So does this letter address your objections? Leave your comments below.

As has been seen from the comments thread here, Ecotricity have previously been reading and responding to the comments. Subscribe to South Marston Website Comments by Email


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