Wind array trial due to start on Kelston Roundhill in July

Kelston Tump LLP (the partnership of William, Klaus and Clare, the owners of Kelston Roundhill) has just authorised a small-scale test of a new prototype wind array half way up the hill. The Old Barn and the borehole providing water for cattle on Kelston Roundhill are off grid, currently powered by an ageing 27kw diesel generator. We want to use the abundant wind and sun to provide the modest amount of power needed for farming and events at the Old Barn.

The first Spinetic prototype on trial at a farm in Wilts (with car & tractor to show scale)

Designed and commissioned by Spinetic, a Wilts-based startup, the wind array is a lightweight, low-cost flexible way of harvesting wind resource. Wind arrays are drastically lower in height, have less visual impact and appear to have much less impact on wildlife than traditional turbines. We hope to test all that and more in the trial.

The wider policy context is that the UK now by law must be “net-zero” on carbon emissions by 2050, ending Britain’s long-standing and disproportionate contribution to climate change. Bath & NE Somerset Council declared climate emergency in May 2019, and is committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. B&NES commissioned some years ago two very pertinent reports. In 2010 CAMCO delivered the latest update of its report Renewable Energy and Planning Research. In 2011 Land Use Consultants delivered a report Landscape and Visual Issues for Areas with Technical Potential for Wind Energy Development in Bath and North East Somerset. The TL:DR is that Bath and surrounding areas are reasonably rich in wind resource (as any walker on the Kelston Roundhill could tell you), and that it’s a sensitive landscape (the reports mention Kelston Roundhill several times) with important sight lines, vulnerable wildlife and sites of special scientific interest. Wind is our biggest resource, but B&NES is not suitable for large scale wind farms.

B&NES Adopted Placemaking Plan sets out the existing framework (248pp); this is set to be superseded by a new Local Plan which takes over from 2020/1 (draft here: see p130 onwards for climate change related matters).

The 2010 CAMCO and 2011 LUC reports opine on the sensitivity of what they describe as large, medium sized and small wind resources. By this they mean

large (2.5MW, 135m to tip and 100m rotor diameter); medium (600kW, 61m to tip and 42m rotor diameter); and small (15kW, 25m to tip and 12m rotor diameter)

There is absolutely no way anyone is erecting such insanely massive wind turbines on Kelston Roundhill. It’s not even a controversy; we just wouldn’t think of them. But what the B&NES consultants are describing, remember, are turbines. What we’re going to trial is a prototype wind array. The maximum height is just 6m. These are better described as low-impact or modular; they are under a quarter the height of what B&NES’ consultants designate as “small”.

Kelston Roundhill is an iconic spot, visible from far away. It’s part of the skyline of the World Heritage City, clearly visible on any photo, painting or engraving made of Bath from the south west. It’s AONB and green belt. It’s sensitive, and we need to tread carefully towards a sensitive way to harvest renewable energy. It’s a good place to do the right thing. The wind speed is good (location is key, and Spinetic has been measuring it over the last year).

The trial prototype is 25m long by 6m high, and will be located along the hedge between Barn Ground and Seven Acres. There’s no public access there so if you want a close inspection or have any questions please contact us: kelstonroundhill@gmail.com.

We’ll do an online consultation survey shortly after installation so all interested parties can express their views based on the reality an actual trial installation.

Before and after the prototype trial: crude artist’s impression

Before: the hedge between Barn Ground and Seven Acres (photo taken from the hedge between Hangmans’ and Barn Ground)

An impression of the scale of the 6m high wind array. But artist’s impressions can be misleading; soon we can show the prototype trial for real.

About williamheath

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2 Responses to Wind array trial due to start on Kelston Roundhill in July

  1. Rachel Jarai says:

    Many thanks, William, for keeping us all updated and for laying out the issues so clearly. Your post couldn’t be more timely, as it comes on the same day as the announcement that for the first time Britain is using more power from zero-carbon sources than from fossil fuels. The time to shift to alternative power sources is now.

    As an avid walker and visitor to the Roundhill, I will look forward to seeing the trial installation once it is in place.

    I hope that this is something that the local area will get on board with, and that the mini wind array will serve as a good reference point for similar small-scale installations within our landscape-sensitive AONB.

    • williamheath says:

      Thanks Rachel. It’s a step into the unknown, but at the same time a leap we have to take. We’ll learn a lot from having the trial. Key things are engaging local community and an evolving discussion with the Council against a reasonably fast changing policy background.

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