Judith Merritt has farmed in the Llanelli area for over 30 years. She and her husband moved there in 1982 and whilst Seymour worked in the local town Judith focused her attention on managing a successful beef farm and bringing up their two young children.
The farm has 40 head of beef including sucklers and calves, and a recent addition of Pedigree Traditional Herefords will see the herd move to more sustainable, traditional cattle. Sustainability and renewable energy are important to Judith and it was the desire to know more about renewables that led her and Seymour to a community group considering an anaerobic digester. Investigating what was required, the process involved and the possible benefits of anaerobic digestion gave Judith and her husband the confidence to find out more about renewable energy for their farm. It rapidly became clear that wind offered the best opportunities for the farm as its location meant that the wind was free flowing, of a good speed and came straight off the sea.
The entire family became involved in the project and selected an Endurance Wind Power E-3120 as being the best in its class with a proven history of success. Three companies were asked to visit the site to discuss how they would tackle the installation, the best place to site the turbine and to provide a quotation. Aeolus Power (Wind-Energy) Limited was chosen as the company carried out a careful site survey and offered the best back-up service and support: Judith & Seymour felt confident that Aeolus Power would do a good job. Judith used the services of a planning consultant to provide expert guidance through the planning process. It took around 9 months to prepare the planning application, a further 9 months for the planning permission to be granted and then around 12 months for the grid connection to be finalised.
“Specialist knowledge and expertise is required right through the installation process” says Judith.
Carmarthenshire’s planning officer was professional, fair and stuck to the facts: he was not swayed by irrelevant comments or objections. Since the wind turbine has been installed many of Judith’s neighbours have said how much they enjoy seeing the blades of the turbine turning, and the local primary school has been given access to production data, allowing the children to understand how renewable energy can be produced and the carbon savings made by moving away from fossil fuels.
The installation took place in August 2014 with the intention of taking advantage of the good weather but heavy rain at the foundations stage delayed the installation by a day to allow the ground to dry out fully before work continued. Judith’s tips for anyone considering the installation of a wind turbine are to check that the site has sufficient wind speed, to use wind energy experts to install the turbine, to engage a planning consultant with a good professional record and to sort out grid connection early in the process.
Of Aeolus Power’s service Judith says, “Absolutely brilliant. Even now, if I have any questions, including dealing with OFGEM, I ring Christine, she knows what I am talking about, and she sorts it out.”
Seymour retired in 2013 and is now involved in actively managing the farm; the couple are using the income from the turbine to provide a pension.