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A windmill on East Marsh? Some questions from HMUG

Reproduced here is the letter sent to the Hackney Gazette from Hackney Marshes User Group. Please note that the final sentence was edited by the Gazette such that it's meaning was lost when published in the print edition of Thursday 5th November 2009.

Hackney Marshes User Group
c/o Hackney Marshes Staff Yard
Homerton Road
London E9 5PF

Hackney Marshes User Group are volunteers who:
Organise walks round the Marshes, and explore and enhance their wildlife through plantingand caring for trees and hedges.
Work to improve the Marshes for all sectors of the community, and campaign to protect them from inappropriate development.
Organise free activities and skill-sharing days, and run Hackney Community Tree Nursery & Forest Garden.

2 November 2009
Letter for publication
Hackney Gazette

Jules Pipe calls for questions about the East Marsh turbine. Here are some that Hackney Marshes User Group would like answered.

Why, when the ODA accepted that permission to build the Olympic park was conditional on providing renewable energy from within it, did it not plan to do so? East Marsh is not part of the Olympic park. So why is the ODA asking
to take land outside the park to meet its promises, and just when did it come up with the turbine idea?

With millions being spent on reshaping the river Lea, what thought have the ODA and the Olympic host boroughs given to a legacy of hydro power on the Lea, as proposed by Jim Paton in last week's Gazette? Why isn't there a
hydro generation element in the ODA's Prescott Channel barrage which deprived the Hackney Lea of tidal flow from this year on, with already visibly detrimental ecological results?

What other examples of turbines of this size being constructed in urban areas are there and what were the environmental impacts?

The Lea Valley is an important habitat and migration corridor for birds and bats, which suffer casualties from turbines. What is known about bird and bat movement on East Marsh at the heights affected by the turbine? We
believe that a bird survey was done on East Marsh in 2008 in connection with the Olympics and we call on Jules Pipe to have this survey published as part of the consultation.

Turbines on moorland are known to drive away ground nesting birds. What is known of the likely effects on birds nesting in trees and scrub by the Lea? How will this affect the value of the turbine's exclusion zone as a wildlife area, which is one of the proposed benefits? But if the exclusion zone boundary is separated from the river habitat zone so as not to affect it, what is the wildlife value of a tiny brownfield enclosure isolated from the habitat corridor?

The site is not far from the river which is rich in fish and a breeding area for bream. Will vibration from the turbine reach the water and will it affect fish or invertebrates?

What other detailed evidence on environmental impact did the council and the ODA consider? Has the required Environmental Impact Assessment been done and what are the results? If not, who is going to pay for it?

The turbine 'could' power council buildings and street lights. But will it? What is known about wind rates and speeds on the site? What are the detailed projections for output and for consumption by the proposed applications?

Climate disaster is underway, and urgent steps need to be taken to slow and ultimately reverse the damage. The UK is one of the least affected places, but Londoners alive now will live (or not) through far worse. Skylines, land use and local habitat degradation may turn out to be trivial set against the stark situation we could face in a few decades. We must drastically change the ways we produce and use power. For that we need well-planned and effective action, not ad hoc greenwash. Which the marsh turbine is, depends on more information than has been published so far.

Annie Chipchase
Hackney Marshes User Group

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