Wind Farm Environmental Impacts Assessment Environmental Sciences

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There are totally four locations that we can be chose, one located at northwest, one at centre, one at north east and one at centre. Finally, the centre one is being chosen. At that location, six turbines are going to place, with 3903.6m2 swept areas per turbine, and the total power out put in M/W is 9 MW, generating capacity is 3.09 (assume availability factor is 0.98 and capacity factor = 0.35). Since the turbines are going to place in regular shape, areal extent should be considered, it should be 1.16km2. For the total area that needed, assuming circular foundations of 10m diameter and 2km of 4m width access roads is 8.4km2. With develop a wind farm; both benefits and unavoidable negative impacts are caused.

For benefits, the carbon dioxide emit from generation of electricity by wind turbines will be lower than that by mixed energy source (coal-fired, oil-fired or gas-fired power stations). And the costs of this project over 25 years operational period is ï¿¡35496000. On the other hand, it provides creation and safeguarding of jobs, e.g. manufacturing of wind turbines, construction, operation, maintenance and removal of turbines, research and monitoring. Also, the wind farms projects can definitely create jobs opportunities.

For the unavoidable impacts, land will be lost in order to construct the wind turbines, also wild-live animal's habit. On the other hand, during the operation period, noise will be generated, it will cause nuisance to the birds, the primary school student or teacher nearby.

Introduction

The wind farm project takes place in Germansweek, UK. Taking all factors into account, the Germansweek wind farm site is a very suitable site for wind farm in Plymouth. The wind speed at the wind farm place is 6.9 meters per second, it is enough for operate the wind turbines. The population of the area is low density and dispersed, as is typical in rural farming areas. There is a number of working farming properties and associated residences in the vicinity of the proposed wind farm site. The majority of the land use is agricultural land use, mainly for farming and grazing. Only a few residential areas nearby and also there are only one primary school. The wind-farm is located at around 180 meters height with six wind turbines are placed in parallel shape. Near the wind farm, rivers existing, therefore, in the construction, mitigation measures should be employed in order to ease the impacts to the rivers. Besides, near the wind farm, there have some ancient woodland and forests, habitat will be affected or lost. Mitigation should be employed, especially for the woodland; it is because the woodland has great protection value. Further, the generating costs per kWh of electricity for the project is ï¿¡35496000 per 25 years. On the other hand, with the use of wind power, carbon dioxide emission can be reduced, 11628.11 tones of CO2 can be saved per year.

Policy and legal requirements

The UK Government has placed a 'Renewables Obligation' on all UK electricity suppliers to provide 10% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and 15% by 2015.

The Environmental Statement identifies that a range of policies exist that serve to encourage the development of renewable energy sources and establish targets for their progressive introduction. Planning Policy Statement 22 is of particular relevance and lists a series of key principles which are designed to support the expansion of renewable energy production whilst ensuring appropriate environmental safeguards.

Directives 85/337 and 97/11 of the European Commission require that certain plans and projects should be subjected to EIA. It further provides that certain projects may need environmental impact assessment depending on the nature, scale and location of the development (and the potential for significant environmental effects).

3. Environmental Impacts3.1 Flicker

The blades can create flicker in two ways. Firstly, sunlight irradiates the wind turbines blades at certain angles can create reflection. This can create a strobe effect in affected areas which can be some distance away. Secondly, with the sun behind them, the turning blades can cast moving shadows across nearby houses and landscape. Although the flicker affect residences nearby generally, the strobe effect can be difficult to block out (Harvey Jones, 2006).

3.2 Noise

Noise occurs in two stages. One is during the erection and building stage. There is a great deal of heavy machinery and earthmovings are required for access roads to each turbine site. Further more, significant foundation concreting are required and also the tower and turbine erection. Although this would normally only seriously affect neighboring properties, trucks movements on local roads will cause additional noise to that normally encountered (Harvey Jones, 2006). During construction, noise will be emitted e.g. from transporting materials, pile driving for foundations, lying of cables. The noise generated by these sources, will primarily be of low frequencies (OSPAR Commission, 2004). The second stage is the operation stage. When operating the wind turbines and the transformer, noise will be emitted to air and through the tower and foundation to water. On the other hand, the turbines will transmit vibrations to the surroundings and this might have an impact on the fauna in the vicinity of the foundations.

3.3 Traffic

Most of the problems of traffic will occur during the building phase. Dozens of truck movements will be needed in order to provide heavy machinery, road metal, concrete and building materials. In this case, the blades and towers are of extreme length up to 99.95 m and take some time to navigate the roads. At some times, Traffic delays would be expected and thus should be tailored to local traffic requirements. And there is a chance that the roads are in damage and should be remedied by the operator. Moreover, dust from the road traffic may also be a problem. Local roads are sometime improved by the operator by removing difficult curves, road widening and improving the road surface to enable heavy truck movements to use the roads without disruption (Harvey Jones, 2006).

3.4 Soil erosion

Because of the earth excavation and road works, a range of erosion problems will be presented if the area experiences serious rainfall. And dust from exposed cuttings may also be problematic. This may result in a problem down hill with landslips or streams carrying additional silt and its resulting flooding consequences (Harvey Jones, 2006).

3.5 Hydrology and drainage

Most of the hydrology impacts presenting in construction stage. There are some potential hydrological impacts that associated principally with construction of the wind farm. For example, sediment-laden water could enter watercourses; peat could be disturbed affecting water quality and promoting erosion and degradation (Entec UK Limited, 2006).

3.6 Ecology and nature conservation

Wind-farms might affect birds by increasing mortality rates through collisions, by disturbance of birds in their resting and feeding habitat, or by altering the amount of resting and feeding habitat. Large wind farms may also produce a barrier effect, deflecting bird movements away from their intended tracks.

The potential impacts can be divided into two subjects of expected impact, namely disturbance and collision risk.

3.61 Loss of habitatBirds

Birds are likely to be displaced from foraging habitat by the disturbance caused by wind-farms in operation, in effect a loss of feeding habitat. They may become habituated to such disturbance over time, and it is even possible in some cases that once such habituation occurs, some species might benefit from increased amounts, or concentrations, of food in the vicinity of individual turbines or wind-farms. Thus short term and medium term effects of wind-farm development might differ, or effects may differ between species. Particularly sensitive bird species might never habituate to wind-farms and be permanently displaced from the area or continually disturbed from these areas.

Collision risk

There is the risk that birds will collide with the wind turbines in operation. This can affect wintering and staging migratory birds, which over-fly the wind-farm area every day over longer periods. Furthermore, it can affect a population of migrating birds, where a smaller or larger number of individuals over-fly the wind farm area once or twice a year (OSPAR Commission, 2004).

3.62 Bats

Bats are at risk from wind turbines, researchers have found, because the rotating blades produce a change in air pressure that can kill the mammals. Canadian scientists examined bats found dead at a wind farm, and concluded that most had internal injuries consistent with sudden loss of air pressure. Bats use echo-location to avoid hitting the blades but cannot detect the sharp pressure changes around the turbine. The scientists say wind farms are more of an issue for bats than for birds. "An atmospheric pressure drop at wind turbine blades is an undetectable - and potentially unforeseeable - hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities at these specific structures," said Erin Baerwald, who led the research team at the University of Calgary.

The idea is that the pressure around a rotating turbine blade is lower than in the surrounding air. A bat flying into the low-pressure zone finds its lungs suddenly expanding, bursting capillaries in the surrounding tissue which then becomes flooded with blood (Richard Black, 2008).

3.7 Green house gas saving

Wind power avoids many of the environmental costs of conventional electricity generation, including reduction in air quality and the damage to the natural environment caused by acid rain from pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and sulphur dioxide (SOX). Electricity produced from renewable sources can displace electricity that would otherwise be generated from conventional fossil fuel power stations and reduces emissions. For each year of its operation, the Dunmore Wind Farm would also directly prevent the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). As such, the development would contribute both to improved air quality at a local and regional level and would also contribute towards achieving national targets to reduce carbon dioxide (TCI Renewables, 2007).

3.8 Heritage

In this case, the area that affected by this project does not cover any cultural heritage.

3.9 Socio-economic

Tourism

There is anecdotal evidence that wind farms attract tourists. In addition, the construction and maintenance of access roadways for the turbines would undoubtedly attract residents and tourists who enjoy activities such as hiking, camping, birding, and snowmobiling.

4. Recommendations

Any field drainage encountered and disturbed during construction will be repaired prior to reinstatement. During construction of the turbine foundations, temporary drainage and silt traps will be installed.

Spill kits should be stored on site containing absorbents and booms to address any fuel spillages as a result of refueling vehicles. The storage of fuel on site should be restricted any requirement to store fuel should be within appropriate containment facilities.

Any concrete required is likely to be mixed off site, in the unlikely event there is a requirement for onsite mixing this should be carried out within containment to prevent release into the environment.

All contractors should be trained in the handling of hazardous substances, pollution prevention and in the use of pollution prevention equipment. All construction works will be undertaken with reference to relevant Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPG).

In the event that a storm drainage system is required, a Sustainable Drainage System.

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