Keslton Roundhill faces south and west. Winds fresh from the Atlantic blast up the hill, shivering and shredding the exposed little clump of trees at the top. The barn shutters have been blown clean off twice.
The Old Barn is off grid. People increasingly use it for serious and memorable occasions – meetings, wakes, weddings. They need lights, to boil a kettle or wash up. Power is provided by a trusty generator which chugs away in the next field and runs a pump to fill water troughs for cattle. None of us wants to be on duty facing the bride’s Mum the day it fails.
The site is an obvious candidate for renewables.
AFAICT we’re not even able to apply for permission to site a windmill. National policy on this seems to have been written by a committee made up of BP and Esso climate change denialists. You can only apply for permission to erect a windmill if you’re in an area specifically designated for it in an approved neighborhood plan. The Kafkaesque twist is that there is no neighborhood plan for Kelston, and no-one’s about to write one.
Siting a 27kw diesel generator for farm use in a field in an AONB, part of the green belt seems to treated as entirely normal. The water inspector even insists that if anyone on site so much as flushes a loo the generator must be running to drive the expensive and high-maintenance electric water purifying system. (Air pollution must be a different department at the Council).
We hear that batteries are getting better and cheaper (Tesla, Ikea and others).
So the search is on for a solution to provide enough energy at all times to pump and clean the water, to provide light, sound for gigs and to boil kettles. Perhaps (given the copious wind and light) to do electric heating too for basins and showers. And to do this silently, with no smell, and treading more lightly on the planet.
We’re looking at solar, and also whether new smaller European windmills that fit on fence posts might come in under de minimis rules. There’s also masses of rain at times and a big slope, but no reliable stream.