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Windfarm and Shivering Sands forts
Windfarm and Shivering Sands forts

Vattenfall’s sorry explanation

The man from Vattenfall didn’t sound pleased to hear from me at 4:30am this morning. But I was awake (guess why!) and it seemed like the right time to have a conversation with him about Vattenfall’s time-keeping and their disregard for residents.

I had spoken to Melanie Rogers (07817 944 359), Vattenfall’s local Customer Relations person on Saturday night about the racket they were making then. She had repeated the explanation she had been given as to why the pile-driving happened at all hours of the day and night, and happily added that she didn’t understand all the technicalities and would ask Adam Ezzenel the Foundation Package Manager to call me the next day.

Adam called on Sunday while I was out, leaving his contact details, which is how I came to be speaking to him as the sky was lightening in the small hours of this morning. We had a polite and productive conversation, all things considered, but I’m still not happy.

Adam explained that their mobile rig collects the foundations from Sheerness, returns to the wind farm, gets into position, and screws itself 100 feet into the seabed. Then, if it’s not too windy, the huge crane manoeuvres the foundations into place and they start hammering them into the seabed. Adam said that these were the constraints that they had to work within.

I pointed out that the well-being of the residents didn’t appear to be a constraint that was even considered, and that any major construction project on land would have contractual or legal limits on its operating hours. Adam explained that the wind farm extension has no such restrictions.

Adam said that it was not Vattenfall’s “intention” to cause disruption and inconvenience to residents. This is simply disingenuous. As I explained, it may not be their “intention”, but it is inevitable that pile-driving at sea in the middle of the night will be audible for miles around.

Melanie Rogers has received complaints from the western end of Whitstable to the eastern end of Herne Bay, and I know that it’s clearly audible at the corner of Sea View Road and Reculver Road, half a kilometre inland. That covers maybe a third of the population of Herne Bay and Whitstable – kids preparing for exams, the elderly in care homes, the poorly in hospital – and Vattenfall don’t care.

Everyone on this stretch of the coast knows how well sound travels across the sea from the MOD/Qinetiq range at Shoeburyness. Vattenfall know how much noise their operation make, but they simply refuse to consider the local residents as any kind of constraint on their 24 hour operations.

This got me wondering about how, if at all, the coastal towns benefit from having the wind farm on our skyline. If Melanie is local, then that’s one job. Our electricity isn’t any cheaper, despite the huge amount that is generated off shore being piped ashore. Like the Monty Python sketch of “what have the Romans ever done for us?”… what does Vattenfall do for the coastal towns?

If they were smart, Vattenfall would offer to be permanent sponsors of the Christmas lights in Herne Bay and Whitstable, as an apology for being inconsiderate neighbours, and as a good bit of cheap, electricity-related PR. Just a thought.

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