Totnes Community Wind Farm (TCWF)

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”  – H.G. Wells

TRESOC formed around one significant project: two 2.3MW wind turbines proposed for one of the best sites for windpower in the South Hams.  The strategy was right – we did our homework back in 2007 and saw that wind provided the most productive and cost-effective solution with the smallest footprint.  It still is.  And this project allowed us to explore in depth a key aspect of our business model:  community/industry partnership – we worked alongside wind developer Infinergy throughout the process.

TCWF demonstrates:

  • an active and visionary local response to national guidelines
  • a well-researched, scientific information base
  • a realistic response to rising energy costs
  • investment in well-being of local community and future generations
  • investment in nature, energy security and climate stability

Read the full story by Ian Bright TRESOC MD on our blog.

The application was turned down in February 2013 and Infinergy decided not to appeal.  There were more letters in favour of TCWF than against.  Our strategy was on-target, the proposal was appropriate and the application was thorough. So, what happened?

Was the scheme too big?  In this case, we felt that size does matter; we went for large wind for good reason: TCWF would have met the electricity demand of 2,500 homes.
Was the undertaking too big for a community energy group? Let’s just say that project development takes much more time & money than predicted.
And what about the strength of those in opposition?  Community engagement in some cases may increase opposition, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it.  We ticked all the boxes in terms of actions (e.g. an organised trip to see the Delabole turbines up close), but perhaps we didn’t start with the basics… “can we harnass energy from the wind?”  Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) do a great job with awareness-raising.

In September 2013, ResPublica, an independent, non-partisan public policy think-tank established in 2009 by Phillip Blond, published a report called “The Community Renewables Economy: Starting up, scaling up and spinning out.” The report recognises TRESOC activities in the section on Central Barriers to Growth of Community Energy, as follows:

“A recent example in support of the effect of local authority attitudes and levels of awareness concerns the Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) wind farm. The Totnes Community Wind Farm, a project that Jonathan Porritt of Forum for the Future described as “one of the most well-designed and well-supported we’ve ever seen,” was denied planning permission early in 2013. The opinion of TRESOC was that ‘Local planning authorities don’t yet have the tools to balance parochial concerns against national strategic objectives for deployment of renewable energy.’ This suggests that greater information and training for decision makers – both planners and councillors – would be beneficial.”

Download Jonathan Porritt’s support letter to the councillors.