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Can renewable energy targets justify the spoiling of historic landscapes?

SIR – You call (Leading article, December 21) for Greg Clark, the minister responsible for redrafting the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), to “produce another draft that is more precise and better defined”. One important area that requires urgent clarity is the positioning of wind farms close to heritage sites.

Despite Government assurances that “heritage protection” is not being watered down, two disturbing appeal decisions in Northamptonshire have been upheld by Government-appointed inspectors. These show that the blind goal of “renewable energy targets” is nullifying the very idea of localism. They also undermine David Cameron’s claim that heritage must be safeguarded in the planning process.

At Kelmarsh, six giant turbines will disfigure the historic Civil War battlefield of Naseby and greatly harm the setting of Kelmarsh Hall, described by Nikolaus Pevsner as “perfect”. Even the inspector admits the house is of the “highest” significance and that the turbines will be “an obvious presence”, as well as harming the adjoining field where English Heritage stages its annual Festival of History.

At Watford Lodge, too, turbines will spoil the setting of Ashby St Ledgers manor house, where the Gunpowder Plot was schemed. They will be visible from the celebrated gardens made by Gertrude Jekyll.

Heritage is a reason why so many people visit Britain every year. Heritage tourism contributes £12 billion to the economy.

With Chris Huhne promising up to 32,000 wind turbines, clarity on where they can be sited is urgent. If the Planning Inspectorate uses renewable energy targets as a reason for agreeing schemes, regardless of impact, is there any point in a local democratic planning process?

Cllr Chris Millar
Leader, Daventry District Council

Chris Heaton-Harris MP (Con)
Daventry, Northamptonshire