Green belt wind farms assessed by Guildford Borough Council 

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A councillor said the wind farms are unviable due to a low wind speed but did not rule out the possibility completely

A wind turbine
A wind turbine

The potential for wind turbines in the green belt has been assessed, it has been revealed in new documents emerging as the much-maligned Guildford Borough Council local plan process kicks back into gear following the election.

The documents are part of a wide-ranging study covering potential renewable energy projects in the borough.

The lead councillor for environment has said wind farms are unviable due to constraints and a low wind speed, but could not rule out the possibility completely.

The areas identified deemed suitable for large scale wind farms after constraints have been applied include the Clandon and Horsley, Normandy and Pirbright wards. One of the largest areas outlined includes land north of Pirbright Road in Normandy.

The Renewable Energy Mapping Study uses constraints to assess where wind farms could be built, including that they must be 100m away from homes, 150 metres from roads and railway lines, and 80 metres above ground level.

“The analysis shows that all of the remaining areas after level 1 constraints are applied fall into green belt,” the document states.

Cllr Matt Furniss, lead councillor for infrastructure and environment, said wind turbines are not really a strong viable option.

“Low wind speed and a lot of constraints make wind power not an option,” Cllr Furniss said.

“I never rule anything out, but probably at the bottom of the list of what would be used as a renewable in Guildford.

“Low wind speed just doesn’t work.”

Cllr Furniss, who said he was really pushing for carbon reduction and climate change, said there were bigger opportunities for renewable energy around the River Wey with hydro electric and water sourced heat pumps.

“There are big opportunities around the river, with hydro electric and also water source heat pumps,” he said.

The study document states: “The analysis shows that whilst opportunities for medium and large scale wind are somewhat limited within Guildford Borough, there are small areas in which wind development at this scale has potential. The potential for large scale wind is estimated to be 105 MW (megawatts), equivalent to 42 large scale turbines which could annually generate electricity equal to 39% of the borough’s 2012 electricity consumption. The results suggest that deploying larger scale wind power either now or in the future is likely to impact on landscape character and openness.

“Should Guildford wish to consider deploying such infrastructure, the significance of this impact, which would in part be dependent upon the designations in place at the chosen location, would need to be weighed against the benefits of long term local sustainable energy generation.

“Proposals within each location should be considered on a case-by-case basis and should be site-specific.

“The analysis therefore simply aims to identify areas where planning constraints are least likely to impact deployment of these technologies.”

Wind and solar farms are said to not be permanent fixtures, and have a life of around 25 years.

The borough council has a hydro power pump at the Town Mill adjacent to Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, and has put a bid to instal another at the Electric Theatre.

Sites deemed suitable for other hydro schemes include Bowers Weir, Papercourt Weir, Millbrook Weir, Millmead Lock, and Stoke Mill.