Yorkshire’s expert manufacturing firms could lead the world in the development of green technologies and the industry will be a vital component of the region’s economic recovery, but the advancement of the renewable energy sector cannot be at all costs.
The approval of a vast windfarm just a few miles off the coast at Withernsea shows scant regard for the damage such an enormous development would have on one of the most stunning coastal views in the country. The plans, for 80 turbines potentially 550 feet high, bear all the hallmarks of being rushed through.
The Government is committed to the ambitious target of ensuring 30 per cent of the country’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020. There is a danger that, in order to achieve such a goal, Ministers are making decisions not based solely on the evidence before them, but with the additional pressure of chasing a target.
The 245MW Westernmost Rough wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 150,000 homes and yet could potentially cause permanent damage to a historic landscape. Flamborough Head offers exceptional cliff top views and those lucky enough to visit can also enjoy a vast array of bird life along the eight-mile chalk headland.
Though the wind farm will be built about 20 miles away to the south, the expert view is that up to 80 huge turbines will be clearly visible on the horizon.
What must now come out is why the Government, and Conservative Energy Secretary Charles Hendry, rejected the warnings of his advisors at Natural England, who clearly stated the stunning natural peninsula will be “impacted”.
There also appears to be a worrying disregard for local democracy given the lack of involvement of the parish council.
At a time when David Cameron is pushing the Localism Agenda and claiming to be giving power over major planning decisions back to the people, the fact that Flamborough parish council were not even aware of the plans is disappointing.
This is not a case of whether the Government should be increasing the use of renewable energy or not, it is about common sense. There seems little sense in scarring a coastline for relatively meagre reward.