Saturday, 24 August 2019

Install wind turbine to cut town’s carbon footprint

Install wind turbine to cut town’s carbon footprint

A WIND turbine and planting 1.5 million trees are ideas being considered to make Henley carbon neutral by 2030.

Members of the Climate Emergency 2030 working group met at the town hall on Tuesday to consider draft proposals.

These included installing a wind turbine as a source of renewable energy, although several members conceded that there was unlikely to be a suitable location for it in the town.

Patrick Fleming, secretary of Henley in Transition, said farmland in Wokingham could be a possible site for the turbine and suggested contacting John Halsall, the leader of Wokingham Borough Council, for advice.

He said: “If we are talking about Wokingham then we are talking about farms. We should talk to John Halsall and see if we can win him over. We might have someone who could lead the project in the area and will see it through.

“If we are going to put a wind turbine in Wokingham district there are two stakeholders we will have to persuade. We can't mandate what farmers do.”

The campaign group previously warned there was little time to address the issue of global warming and urged the town council to declare a climate emergency.

Both Tony Hoskins, chair of the working group, and member Rebecca Chandler-Wilde agreed it was hard to see how the wind turbine would work in Henley Town Council’s remit and said it would be better to work with its neighbours.

Mr Hoskins added: “I have felt from the start that we will need to consult with our neighbouring parishes. These ideas won't work if we work only in the tight boundaries that we have in Henley.”

Members of the working group are due to visit Green Park in Reading in the coming weeks to see the wind turbine that is there.

They have also looked at the possibility of consulting with world-leading experts from the University of Reading to help firm up individual projects.

A 2010 study by the university reviewed five potential sites for a wind turbine, despite Henley being an area of relatively low wind speed.

The research suggested a turbine could produce power equivalent to 20 to 32 per cent of Henley's residential electricity needs.

Suzy Bannon, who has a masters degree in Environmental Science, stressed the importance of public consultation with all of the working group's ideas.

She said: “Because they have had a say in the process we would be more comfortable going ahead with the scheme. They can all give their views and then they all feel like they are a part of it.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann agreed, adding: “We have talked about these documents going to plans. It would be nice to find a way to perform a public consultation on this.

“We need to get the public on side. The best way for this to work is to reassure people and get them involved as quickly as possible. We need to do it. It is much higher on the agenda nowadays and there are people out there who are looking for some way to get inolved. ”

The committee also discussed other ideas such as retrofitting existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency, installing more car charging point stations and promoting renewable energy generation on council-owned properties.

Mr Fleming said that the land in and around Henley should also be looked at as a way of reducing the town’s carbon footprint. He said: “Increasing woodland is something we could do. If we had 1.5 million trees, that would offset our carbon.

“We could change the countryside quite radically. Whether it is land use for turbines, or growing woodland, it is going to change the perception of the town.”

The proposals will be discussed further by the council’s planning committee on August 6.

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