I recently attended a meeting of the Torridge Area Advisory Group, an offshoot of Torridge District Council. The Agenda confirmed the meeting’s main feature was ‘wind energy’ and there would be a presentation by Baerbal Francis, TDC’s environmental and sustainability appraisal officer.
I went because in November last year Alverdiscott and Huntshaw Parish Council held an open meeting to discuss wind turbines, but no one from the TDC planning department came to address the meeting.
The meeting only served to increase the public’s frustration as over 80 attended. So I went to this latest meeting in the hope that this time there would be a balanced discussion and a clarification of the rules and planning conditions.
What a sad affair. First, the speaker failed to check the visual aids before coming to the meeting so “the power lead was the wrong sort”. Then there were not enough printed images of the slides she had prepared for everyone to see. That was bad enough, but worse was to come.
The first part of her presentation was a summary of the types of turbines on the market and their heights, how good they are, and how much the owners could earn, forgetting that the rest of local and national population (and the majority of the people parish councillors represent) are paying an extra tax on fuel bills to give inflated incomes to a few.
Therefore farmers and others who erect turbines risk becoming pariahs in their communities. The speaker gave the impression that she would not rest until the Devon countryside was littered with turbines on every hilltop.
In these times of austerity such comments, coming from someone who clearly is not local, are to put it mildly, offensive.
TDC has published a ‘wind energy policy’, a document which sets out a range of conditions and circumstances which, if met, would allow wind turbines to be built on green field sites, the green fields of Devon.
This document is full of loopholes and is not worth the paper used to print it. This was confirmed by the speaker, specifically that TDC did not have to comply with the very loose conditions therein!
For example, the distance from any dwelling cannot be limited, so there is no minimum. Equally appalling is that only lip service is applied to the preservation of wildlife.
When the green fields of Devon are used to erect such power generating equipment the fields, de facto, become brown. Therefore in 20 years or so when the turbines become redundant, factories and commercial buildings will eventually follow.
The wind energy policy document states in section 3.5.12 that “It is expected that the land will be restored to its former use when the operation of the turbine has ceased.”
Expected! It should be a precondition of any permission that the field has to be returned to its former use. Just what on earth is TDC publishing this document for? Could it be the destruction of farming?
Is it any surprise that the view now widely held confirms that TDC’s planners do not care at all for the preservation of Devon countryside, its farming heritage, or how much ill will that turbines generate in the community?
It seems clear that TDC will not stand up for the wishes of the electorate who, incidentally, have never been asked if they preferred turbines to water mills, solar, wave, or tidal power. Talk about planning. What planning?
When the question was asked as to whether if TDC’s wind energy policy was irrelevant and unenforceable, then a parish council could surely set its own policy the chairman immediately stated it was illegal to do so.
This was quickly corrected by a Devon county councillor who said that under the Localism Act, parish councils can do just that and that district councils have to comply, unless, for example, the installation was for a group of large turbines in which case the ‘national requirement’ may overrule that policy.
It is known that at least one parish in the district has formed its own draft ‘wind energy policy’ for wind turbines. Perhaps other parish councils should create policies on wind energy and other matters.
Then the public, through their parish councils, can fight back. It appears that the remedy is actually in the hands of parish councils and not the wishy-washy, ‘let-anything-through’ planners in district councils who in our area and on this issue have become themselves, the pariahs of society.
So I urge all parish councils everywhere to take note and act.
IT is clearly recognised that the severity of the potential impact by the proposed Atlantic Array wind farm (in the Bristol Channel) on our environment is so great that there is a legal requirement to carry out an extensive survey as part of the planning process, on factors affecting, people and jobs, marine and wild life.
This ugly industrialisation of our seas while potentially destroying the natural habitats and in particular those of Lundy, one of our few remaining natural wildernesses, is also going to destroy our very way of life.
By this I mean ours and our visitors need to get out to enjoy, our natural environment, through leisure activities including walking and biking the coast path, swimming, fishing and boating at our world class beaches.
The proposed onshore cable route will cut right across the unspoilt green valley of Cornborough near Abbotsham, an extremely popular area for walkers and cyclists, close to Bideford. (Woolacombe and Braunton were not considered!)
Due to the seasonally rough seas and high tides, the Atlantic Array will be incompatible with fishing in and around the Bristol Channel, and disrupt the shipping lanes, but this won’t stop this development. From this multi million pound scheme investors are prepared to pay off the fishermen with millions of pounds to buy their fishing rights or “boxes”.
A whole fishing industry is at stake for future generations and the fishing industry will lose out. Once a “box” is sold there will be no more fishing allowed in that area forever, including those ports throughout the Bristol Channel.
Is this too high a price to pay? That is a question not only for the fisherman but also for the whole community who are going to be affected by this scheme. A green alternative must and can be found clearly the well researched and tested under water tidal power is very suited to the fast tidal movements within the Bristol Channel, and could be a viable solution.
The public must be consulted as it is a requirement of the planning process application and also a marine licence is needed from the Welsh Government.
The Atlantic Array has not happened yet and is still a long way off. The final decision depends on WE the people who live here. We need to get involved. Support the Atlantic Array protest.
Don’t let our heritage be sold.
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