I WRITE in my capacity as trustee of the Metrowind Community Trust which holds a 5% shareholding in the Metrowind Van Stadens wind farm project ("See what impact wind farm has on residents", October 16).
Bob Bell and his selected few have been showing the residents of this metro one side of the coin, and, with all due respect, they show the bottom side, not the one facing up.
No wind farm goes through the rigorous preferred bidder status without it meeting all the Department of Energy's requirements, including making sure that it does not disturb critical biodiversity areas. The project has met all these requirements, and even scored the highest points on socio-economic development and enterprise development during the round one bidding process.
I have been following the Blue Horizon Bay's anti-wind farm concerned group for some time now and in April 2011 when the round one developers were applying for electricity generation licences, it was the only one in the Eastern Cape opposing construction of such a national project. Its views were overruled by Nersa and the licence was granted to the Van Stadens wind farm developer.
I was in the audience and the reasons stated by the concerned group ranged from noise, visual invasion, and being trapped in the village and being unable to get in or out during the construction stage. To date all the turbine components have been safely and seamlessly transported from Coega to the construction site without any road incidences or any major traffic delays on the road to the Blue Horizon Bay village.
On the argument of noise, quiet operation has become an important design criterion for successful wind turbine manufacture. Great attention is given to ensuring that both mechanical and aerodynamic noises are as low as possible.
Mechanical components are acoustically isolated from the tower and blades using anti-vibration mounts, and the nacelle is insulated to minimise airborne noise radiation. The noise emanating from the blades has also been reduced by careful design and manufacture.
Standing next to the turbine, it is usually possible to hear a swishing sound as the blades rotate, and the whirr of the gearbox and generator may also be audible. However, as distance from the turbine increases, these effects are reduced.
I challenge Bob et al to go and stand at the foot of the turbine in Coega and tell me their concerns about the noise level. I have been there and you hear virtually nothing within a 20m distance, only a swooshing sound when standing at the foot of the turbine.
On the visual impact, if you visit the Blue Horizon village, you will note that most houses are in the valley facing the sea and therefore cannot even see the blades of the turbines. Only a handful of properties have sight of two or three turbines.
I sometimes witness passersby stopping to take pictures and admiring these magnificent structures. The wind farm project results in a number of site visits for members of the public including residents from Blue Horizon Bay who are showing keen interest in the development.
Even there, one can deduce that not all the residents of Blue Horizon Bay are against the construction of the wind farm.
Metrowind Van Stadens wind farm aims to promote economic development and reduce poverty by assisting the surrounding community to harness the potential of the green economy, including increasing the number of community members earning sustainable livings and improving the community's environmental assets.
A Metrowind Community Trust has been set up with a 5% shareholding in the project. The communities of Witteklip, Fitches Corner and Shamrock stand to benefit to the tune of R50-million over a 20-year life span of the project.
This project has created more than 90 direct jobs for the surrounding local communities within a 50km radius.
This number is set to grow slightly before the project reaches its commercial operation date in February next year.
The project is set on reaching cold commissioning a few months early, that is next month, making it the first wind farm to connect to the national grid.
As a gesture of goodwill and its commitment to the poor and disadvantaged communities, the project has put up solar lights in the dark communities of Fitches Corner, Witteklip and Shamrock, and it will soon put in place early childhood development centres in these communities.
I appeal to the Blue Horizon Bay community, perhaps to the leaders of the concerned group, please consider the needs of the less privileged as your "nimby" attitude will surely rob them of the brighter future they deserve. Perhaps this is one of those changes which are inevitable.
Let us all support the wind farms, Eskom and our country depend on them, not to mention the poor communities which stand to benefit tremendously!
George Meko, chairman, Communities for Wind Energy Association and a trustee of Metrowind Community Trust