Three different proposals for giant wind turbines are blowing up a storm in Somerset – with fears one may threaten the historic spring that bubbles up in one of the county’s best-loved gardens.
The spring, known as St Andrew’s Well, is fed from underground channels on the Mendip Hills which travel close to Wells Cathedral. Every day, four million gallons of water flows through the channels, surfacing near the small city’s Bishop’s Palace.
But geologist Robin Evans says the supply could be compromised by proposals to build two huge wind turbines not far from Wells.
One is proposed in an old quarry at the village of Maesbury and the other at Victoria Farm near Pen Hill. Worried locals have formed Action Against Turbines on the Mendip Hills to fight the plans being considered.
Mr Evans, who works for consultants Ambellia, said: “if the base of a turbine is too deep it would affect the water table. That, in turn, could compromise the water flow.”
Each turbine would be more than 300 feet high, to the tip of its blade. Richard Witcombe,a retired civil servant, keen amateur geologist and caver for more than 50 years said: “The quarry appears to be associated with an east/west fault line. Excavation could intercept ancient cave passages as they run close to the surface near the summit of the Mendip hills.
"A few hundred yards south-east of the quarry site lies the small cave of Hansdown Swallet. The stream sinking here was dye-traced in 1973. It travelled to St. Andrew’s by the Bishop’s Palace in just 20 hours.”
Mendip planners have yet to decide how to deal with the applications. In South Somerset district West Crewkerne Against Wind Turbines is fighting an application for a turbine that would be 67 metres tall to its blade tip on the West Crewkerne-Wayford-Winsham ridge. The group says it would be visible for 15 miles and spoil precious landscape.
Somerset’s only large wind turbine, at Shooters Bottom, Chewton Mendip, was built in 2008 after a four-year battle. Mendip District Council turned down the Ecotricity but permission was granted on appeal.