Controversial Purbeck wind farm to become reality after 20 year battle

The final sections of a massive wind farm are arriving at a Purbeck quarry, which along with a 30 acre solar farm, will provide enough electricity to power all homes on the Isle of Purbeck.

The controversial project, at Masters Quarry in East Stoke, between Wareham and Wool – which was the subject of an extended legal battle – is finally taking shape.

Most of the tower sections – weighing more than 50 tons each – have already been delivered and are ready for assembly, with the last two sections arriving on Tuesday 14th December 2021.

Each of the turbine tower sections weighs more than 50 tons

Cost around £5 million

The second-hand wind farm was bought for around £5 million from Belgium. The tower sections will be stored on site while the blades, gearbox and generator undergo repairs.

Construction will start in the spring, and the wind farm should be operational by the end of summer 2022.

Will Bond, whose family next year celebrates 300 years of farming at nearby Stokeford Farm, is a partner in the Alaska Wind Farm project with Wimborne-based energy company Infinergy.

Will Bond has fought a long campaign to install the windfarm

“It’s a relief”

Will said:

“It’s a massive job but it’s a relief to be finally getting there. We’ve got to do something about climate change and I’m in a position to enable this to happen.

“I think I would be socially irresponsible if I didn’t do what I can.”

Alaska Wind Farm photomontage
Infinergy

Artist impression of what the wind turbines will look like once constructed

There are four sections to each tower

Sad day for campaigners

But for Dorset Campaign for Rural England, which fought the wind farm, it’s a sad day.

A Dorset CPRE representative said:

“Dorset CPRE put a lot of effort, time and money into trying to stop the proposal including commissioning a specialist noise consultant and a landscape and environment report to evaluate the impact of the massive turbines at East Stoke.”

Springfield Rally
Dorset CPRE

Terry Stewart (then Purbeck & Poole CPRE Chairman) with residents campaigning against the original proposals in March 2009

Visible for miles

The location on high ground, at a working quarry extracting sand and gravel from heathland, means the wind farm will be visible for miles around. There are also concerns about blades killing birds and bats.

When they are assembled each tower will be 100 metres tall – 125 metres to the tip of the blades – that’s more than twice the height of Nelson’s Column.

Alaska Tower Transport
Infinergy

Each turbine will be more than twice the height of Nelson’s Column

270 mile trip

The last phase of their journey from Belgium, via Holland, involved a 270 mile road trip from the port near Grimsby.

The turbines were brought by road from the port near Grimsby

Long road to completion

The wind farm was first mooted nearly 20 years ago but campaigners fought tooth and nail to stop it.

An initial planning application was refused by the then Purbeck District Council in 2011, a decision that was later overturned after a public inquiry.

Campaigners then went to the High Court in 2013 and lost a subsequent appeal in 2014, after the initial judgement went against them.

The sand and gravel quarry on 284 acres of heathland

88,000 solar panels

Once the wind farm is up and running, eight megawatts of power will be fed into the national grid via a substation at Wareham.

Alongside the wind farm, a solar farm with 88,000 panels on 30 acres of land, will add a further 26 megawatts.

It’s estimated the combined output of the wind and solar farm will generate enough electricity to meet the demands of all the homes in Swanage, Wareham and the rest of the Isle of Purbeck.

Part of the final consent for the wind farm includes an agreement to provide conservation management for the surrounding heathland.

The wind farm should be operational by the end of summer 2022

“A symbol of hope”

Esbjorn Wilmar, the CEO of Infinergy, said:

“As a county, Dorset has been lagging behind in renewable energy generation. Alaska Wind Farm is a step in the right direction, making a real contribution at the local level.”

For campaigners, this is a ‘sad day’. But Will Bond remains convinced:

“For a lot of people, the wind farm is a symbol of hope.”

Alaska Tower Transport
Infinergy

The wind farm is seen as part of Dorset’s carbon reduction goals

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