Tuesday May 16th 2006

Wheelers Cross and walk back to Marie`s

(2011 update on Wheeler's Cross)

I wasn`t disturbed by any noise in the night. Mrarie said the walls of the bungalow are thick rock, with a cavity, and it is double glazed, so you can`t really hear the turbines indoors, with the windows shut. It also depends on which way the wind is blowing.  One of the problems with wind turbine noise is that sometimes it is worse when you are further away from the turbines, it depends on a number of factors, like the strength and the direction of the wind, so that you can visit a wind farm on a certain day, and  think maybe it is no problem. Your house may be situated in such a way that you don`t suffer badly - but that doesn`t help your neighbour, who does.

From the diary:

"The morning went fast, with many phone calls, and time spent talking with Marie. I like her so much. In some ways I felt we had many things in common, like me she is a woman happy living on her own – she has five grown-up children. She has been so kind and thoughtful, and gone to so much trouble to get in the food she thought I would like, I am very grateful to her.

One of the phone calls was from Adam Wilshaw, of the North Devon Journal. I talked to him as I looked at the view of the turbines through the kitchen window. He told me his girl-friend was doing the Art Trek in North June for the North Devon Festival (I took part in the first Art Trek in 2004 then organised it in 2005 before handing over to Stella Levy who was organising it for 2006. During the walk I was going to visit several Art Trek artists who supported what I was doing) All three were turning now. A white van was parked beneath them.

A woman who lives at Wheelers Cross, on the other side of Bradworthy, had planned to invite a whole group of people over to meet me at two, with the Press and a “stirrup cup” for those who wanted it, but it was cancelled at the last minute because her husband had become very ill.Sarah Payne rang too. We weren`t sure quite what to do about Wheelers Cross, but in the end we decided to go over there anyway. I went in the car with Marie, because we were running late, but said I would walk back

Marie and ParisIt was an interesting drive, through tiny lanes with overgrown banks. We didn`t know what to expect because nearly everyone, including the Press, had been told it was cancelled, but in the end a few people still turned up to meet us at the Wheelers Cross cross-roads.

The cross roads faced the field where the wind farm is proposed. It was full of wild flowers, presumably set-aside. The photograph on the left is of Marie, with Paris, by the gate to the turbine fieldLooking across it you could see Bradworthy church, the village, and on the south side you could see the turbines on the hill, restlessly turning in the wind. It was obvious that if these were built as well, Bradworthy would become a turbine village.

One of the people I met there was a man called Mike, a farmer who lived just by Wheelers Cross. He said that although the Forest Moor turbines are three and a half miles away as the crow flies he gets strobe effects from them in his house. He also told me that one night he and his wife were up near the turbines, with a cow that was calving, and the noise the turbines made was so loud that they could not hear one another speak. When I said that they had been quite quiet while I was at Marie`s, people  told me that the noise is variable, and depends on wind direction. Click for more about noise.

Mike said that the field where they planned to put the turbines was very boggy land, and he was concerned about the amount of concrete that they would need to use – these turbines would be 410 ft high, 150 foot higher than the Forrest Moor ones. Presumably the bases would have to be very big, and then there would be access roads as well. He was worried too about the effects this would have on the watercourses, and the village of Sutcombe in a valley to the south.

at Wheeler`s CrossWe stayed quite a while, talking to everyone, and I videoed the conversation and took photographs. Click on the thumbnail at the right for a larger version of the image. Sarah took some too and said she would email them to David for the website. She and Marie were both members of BLOT, the group that fought and lost the battle for Bradworthy. She said they needed to start a group quickly at Wheelers Cross, and get organised. They told me about someone who had lived near Forrest Moor and moved from there because they didn`t want to be near the turbines. They had bought a house at Wheeler`s Cross. This story highlights how difficult it is to escape being near turbines.

Finally, at around four, I left, and walked home to Marie`s via tiny roads and tracks that were a delight. I met no one, although I did see a man in the distance, taking a herd of cows into a farm. I stopped to take more photos then suddenly found my batteries were running out, which was annoying.

The walk back to Marie`s was about five miles long, but – as arranged earlier – near the end of it, I stopped off at Astro Adventures (click to read about this)

The lane is very pretty. Ashley Gray rang on my mobile. I started talking to him, but kept losing reception, in the end I had to go up and down the road to maintain it. I finally arrived back at Marie`s at about 7.

She was just ready to dish up, and we had a lovely meal of cold ham, salad and new potatoes, eating on our laps as we watched Emmerdale. I was now – after just one exposure – quite hooked on the plot. Would she realise what her husband was up to? And would I get another chance to watch it while en the walk? (No)

Jane Faust rang at 9 and I took the phone outside to see if she could hear the turbines (that wasnt very successful). There was a strong swishing sound, and also a hum, now that the wind was in a different direction. I noticed that it got louder rather than quieter when I was behind a tree yet close to Marie`s house – it was a strange effect. Now that they were facing me, I found it more unsettling visually, the beak-like nacelles gave them a life-like presence, as if they looming towards me in a threatening way.

I stayed watching them, and videoing them, once she had said goodbye. Suddenly – I wish I had caught it on the video – there was a sudden very loud noise, like screeching metal. For a moment I thought there had been a car crash on the nearby road, ar a plane had fallen out of the sky – it was that loud, and sudden, I almost jumped out of my skin. Then I realised it must have been the “feathering” noise that Marie and Barry had mentioned.

I went to bed at 10.30, and wrote my diary before falling oversleep over it."