According to Mike Harrison, the leader of North Devon District Council, the North Devon landscape must be protected as well as the quality of life of its inhabitants from wind turbines which will be massive and not wanted in this tourist area.
He also says the granting of permission for the Fullabrook scheme was perverse and a “must do something” reaction which he feels will not be financially viable.
I agree with his sentiments and trust that he will be true to his statement and that North Devon Council will fight tooth and nail to protect all of North Devon, not just Fullabrook, from the threat of wind turbines – which are no doubt being applied for by generating companies looking to grab as much of our taxes as they can in the form of massive subsidies paid through the Renewable Obligation Certificate.
What I do not agree with is Devon County Council’s attitude to wind turbines, which is contrary to the stance taken by North Devon District Council.
I asked Malcolm West, head of planning at Devon County Council, to tell me what benefits the proposed wind turbines at Batsworthy Cross would bring, bearing in mind the harm to the landscape, the effects on people living nearby, the proven health problems caused by wind turbines, the damage to the tourist economy and the damage to wildlife.
Mr West’s reply was that the wind turbines would bring “direct financial benefits through revenues to the local landowners” and “promote awareness of sustainable development through interpretation facilities at the Knowstone Services”.
He also claimed that the turbines would produce a given amount of electricity – but as the site has not been fitted with an anemometer to measure the wind speed, for the differing seasons these figures cannot be relied upon.
With no other economic benefits the “direct benefits to local landowners” is an insult to everybody else and contrary to the Government’s own body, Ofgem, which has declared wind energy to be far too expensive.
If the county council’s case for wind farms is founded on such flimsy, superficial “benefits” then surely somebody needs to look again at the policy.
They would then realise that Devon is a special rural county with a massive reliance on the tourist trade, being blessed with two National Parks and hundreds of unspoilt areas that are not fit for the industrial desecration which is seemingly envisaged by the Devon County Council planners.
How can Devon County Council be so blinkered and ignore the thousands of people who recognise that wind farms are not the answer to the energy crisis, and that they will do nothing to address global warming?
The only reason wind turbines are being suggested by energy companies is for the huge financial benefits to them through taxpayers’ surcharges.
Rose Ash, North Devon
1 January 2008
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