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Beware traffic delays as turbine blades arrive on Sheppey

By John Nurden

Giant wind turbine blades were causing traffic delays on the Isle of Sheppey today.

Twelve are being delivered from Sheerness Docks to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch.

The first six blades arrived earlier this week.

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Turbine blade on its way to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey from Sheerness Docks (4761108)
Turbine blade on its way to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey from Sheerness Docks (4761108)

Three more arrived today and the final three are due on Monday.

They are leaving Sheerness Docks and travelling along Brielle Way and the Lower Road to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch.

Contractors have had to lop branches off an oak tree at Eastchurch to allow room for the blades' transport trucks to turn.

Mike Brown of Eastchurch parish council said: "They have butchered the 50-year-old oak tree at the entrance to our village without any warning. The tree is now lopsided and looks awful."

Mike Brown points to the lopsided oak tree at Eastchurch (4748335)
Mike Brown points to the lopsided oak tree at Eastchurch (4748335)

Metal plates were installed on the grass verge at the roundabout at the other end of the village to widen the road for the trucks.

There are separate roadworks on the Lower Road at its junction with Barton Hill Drive and Brielle Way at Blue Town, near where some of the windfarm parts are being stored at the former Sheerness Steel mill.

Sean Leacock of community group Big Local Eastern Sheppey warned: "Please expect delays along the Lower Road."

The four turbines are being built by Energykontor UK.

Turbine blades navigate prison roundabout at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey (4761099)
Turbine blades navigate prison roundabout at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey (4761099)

Energiekontor project spokesman Nathan Wicks said: "We'd like to apologise for any delays the arrival of the parts is causing. We are trying to be as responsible as possible and have limited deliveries outside busy periods such as school drop-off and collection times.

"Unfortunately, there are other roadworks taking place at the same time which have nothing to do with the wind farm."

Deliveries have been limited to between 9.30am and 3pm to try to avoid disruption.

Turbine blade on its way to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey (4761106)
Turbine blade on its way to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey (4761106)

The turbines and blades are expected to stand 126.5 metres high when completed and produce enough electricity to power more than 6,000 homes.

The £2.7 million scheme was originally developed by Airvolution Energy but was turned down by Swale council in January 2015. It was passed on appeal in 2016 and taken over by Leeds-based Energiekontor UK in 2017.

Airvolution promised to plough back £47,000 a year to the local community – more than £1.1 million over 25 years - and set up a £23,000-a-year apprenticeship fund so Sheppey’s youth could access training and employment.

Energiekontor says it is still in discussions but will make a one-off contribution to the community every year which will be managed by a separate company. The figure has not yet been decided.

Traffic tailbacks as turbine blades make their way to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey (4761122)
Traffic tailbacks as turbine blades make their way to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey (4761122)

Swale councillors originally refused it because of a "potential cumulative impact" on the landscape and the possible health effects on people using hearing aids and suffering from tinnitus.

There are already two turbines operating at the Island's prisons nearby and four in Sheerness Docks. The council later dropped its health objection.

Richard Mardon, the chief executive officer at London-based Airvolution, said at the time of the appeal: "We are looking at a project that had no objections from statutory consultees, support from the local community and a recommendation to approve from the council's own planning officers.

"We feel strongly those councillors on the committee made the wrong decision."

How the wind turbines at New Rides Farm, Eastchurch, will look from Leysdown. Computer-generated image from Airvolution Energy
How the wind turbines at New Rides Farm, Eastchurch, will look from Leysdown. Computer-generated image from Airvolution Energy
Enlarged entrance to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch to allow delivery of wind turbine blades (4761565)
Enlarged entrance to New Rides Farm, Eastchurch to allow delivery of wind turbine blades (4761565)

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