March 17, 2012

Is nowhere safe from windfarms?

Author: Brian Skittrall, 16 March 2012

The recent decision by the Planning Inspectorate to give the go-ahead for a windfarm near Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire should raise alarm bells in every county. It suggests that no part of the countryside is safe from these industrial scale developments, described by the inspector as alien and incongruous in the landscape.

Northants is at risk of becoming the windfarm capital of England with 21 windfarms installed, approved or announced. Yet it is one of the least windy parts of the country.

CPRE Northamptonshire shares the horror of the National Trust and English Heritage at the threat posed by 400ft wind turbines to heritage sites and precious landscapes. The inspector acknowledges that damage will be caused but his hands are tied by the Government policies within which he has to operate.

The inspector justifies his decision by saying that, in relation to nearby villages, “any reasonable observer would recognise the settlement and the church as features of historic, architectural and cultural significance, and the wind turbines as modern, large-scale, functional impositions designed to capture energy from the wind. The presence of the wind turbines would be something of a distraction”. So that’s alright then.

The Government is giving precedence to national targets for onshore wind energy generation over local planning decisions. Subsidies for developers and landowners are encouraging wind turbines in unsuitable places, ignoring both landscape damage and the limited amount of electricity they generate.

Sir Paul Hayter of CPRE Northamptonshire says: “We remember the Arctic temperatures of December 2010 when the wind did not blow. Are we going to sacrifice our precious countryside and heritage for the benefit of developers and an unreliable source of power? If the conditions at Lyveden New Bield are not worthy of protection, is anywhere safe?”

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