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National Trust call for protection for precious ‘seascapes’  

Credit:  By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk 15 April 2011 ~~

Britain’s most special ‘seascapes’ should be given the same kind of protection as beautiful areas on land to stop them being blighted by wind farms, according to the National Trust.

Stunning coastline like the Wash in Lincolnshire, the Gower Peninsula or the South Downs at the Seven Sisters are in danger of being spoiled by industrial development or the building of 300ft high turbines.

The Government has vowed to build up to 7,000 wind turbines off the coast of Britain over the next decade.

But unlike Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Parks, that were created in 1959 to protect beautiful areas on land, these areas have no protection in the planning system

A group of conservation groups has teamed up to propose that ‘seascapes’ like the Pembrokeshire coastline or Beachy Head are also protected.

The National Trust point to a recent survey which found two-thirds of those quizzed thought visiting the coast or seaside was important to their quality of life.

Phil Dyke, coast and marine adviser at the National Trust, said marine wildlife like dolphins or sea horses are protected but there is no legislation to protect the beautiful or culturally important seascapes.

He called for new planning laws in the Marine Act to take into account the importance of visual beauty and tranquillity in the same way that planning works on land.

“As an island nation it does seem strange that it’s taken us more than six decades to start thinking about how we protect our seascapes, these wonderful yet fragile places that mean so much to people,” he said.

Mr Dyke said offshore wind is a worry, with one farm planned off the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Wind farms planned for off the Gower and the north coast of Devon are also causing concern.

“Going to the coast that has a wind farm close to shore takes away the sense of freedom and wilderness people value about the coast because it is a developed seascape. That is not to say they should not be there, because we need green energy, but society needs to have a conversation about where they go.”

Neil Sinden of the Campaign to Protect Rural England also said offshore wind is a concern. Not only to seascapes but to the coast as power sub stations could be built onshore with connected pylons.

“Decision making on the location of offshore wind farms needs to take account of views from tranquil coastlines to ensure industrial structures do not damage people’s quality of experience of those places,” he said.

Mr Sinden said much of Britain’s landscape, such as the Northumberland coastline or the rugged beaches of Scotland, rely on views of the sea.

“Our marine area is becoming increasingly busy, with more shipping, military training, fisheries, energy production, port development and aggregate extraction. This is placing pressure on what’s left of the beauty and tranquillity of our coasts which are such an important part of our quality of life and national identity,” he said.

“That’s why we need a robust marine planning system that extends the protection that we have for our landscapes to our seascapes.”

Source:  By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk 15 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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