Huge tracts of Lincolnshire’s countryside are under threat from dozens of massive wind turbines set to be erected across the county, opponents claim.
It is a landscape of open vistas stretching for miles beneath leaden skies, its fields and wetlands dotted with isolated villages.
But a swathe of Lincolnshire’s countryside is under threat from dozens of massive wind turbines set to be erected across the county, campaigners claim.
Applications to build another 112 turbines are currently in the pipeline, on top of the 84 already built and another 41 which have been given planning permission.
In the district of East Lindsey alone there are already 41 turbines in operation, with another 50 at the planning stage – including one application to erect eight turbines, each one 377 feet in height and taller than St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Newton Marsh wind farm would be built by energy company ASC Renewables within only one and a half miles of the village of Tetney.
Melvin Grosvenor, of the Marsh Wind Farm Action Group, said: “We are facing an invasion of turbines which will industrialise the rural landscape of Lincolnshire.
“The impact on a flat county such as ours will be particularly dramatic as these monstrous structures are visible for miles, in some cases up to 30 miles away.
“We have become hostage to planning inspectors and ridiculously flawed government policies which are promoting flawed technology.”
Campaigners fear that last week’s promise by John Hayes, the Conservative energy minister, of a moratorium on future wind farm applications comes too late to prevent the ravaging of Lincolnshire’s unique landscape.
Almost 4,000 turbines are scheduled to be built across Britain over the next few years, to add to the 3,800 already in operation. Mr Hayes said that only a minority of these are likely to be given the go-ahead.
“We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. Enough is enough,” said Mr Hayes, whose constituency is in Lincolnshire.
But his pledge was immediately slapped down by his Liberal Democrat coalition partner Ed Davey, the energy secretary, who said: “There has been no change to government policy on renewable energy, as collectively agreed by the coalition cabinet.”
Furthermore campaigners point out that although around half of applications for new wind farms are refused by local councils, energy companies often win on appeal to the planning inspectorate.
Industry figures published last week show approvals for onshore wind farms have surged to record levels, despite opposition from critics who claim they are inefficient and blight some of the nation’s best-loved views.
Renewable UK found that the overall capacity approved at the planning stage increased by nearly 50 per cent, with 110 schemes agreed, providing up to 1.7GW of new capacity. In comparison, 1.1GW of capacity was approved in 2010/11.
Hundreds of local residents gathered at Tetney village hall last Saturday to voice their opposition to the proposed Newton Marsh wind farm
Sir Peter Tapsell, father of the House of Commons and MP for Louth and Horncastle, told the meeting: “I am absolutely against it on every possible ground. They ruin our breathtakingly beautiful countryside. The people who are for these wind farms call themselves environmentalists, but nothing damages our environment more than a line of these ghastly turbines.”
Brian Lovesay, 75, a retired farmer who lives close to the Newton Marsh wind farm site, said: “The turbines will be clearly visible for miles around here and what’s more you’ll be able to hear them humming at night.
“They are an eyesore. I’ve travelled around the country quite a lot and they have become a plague, spreading everywhere.”
Objections have also been raised by Bourne Leisure, the owners of nearby Thorpe caravan holiday park, who claim that the turbines will cost the local economy thousands in lost tourism because holiday makers will be put off by the sight of the giant turbines, less than 1000 yards from its facilities.
The turbines are to be built next to two 344ft high turbines which have already been approved and are due to be erected within weeks on land owned by Anglian Water.
There are also plans for three 370ft high turbines to be sighted a few miles away, along the Louth Canal, in North Thoresby, with seven other turbines in the immediate area in the advanced stages of planning.
ASC Renewables claim the Newton Marsh wind farm, and others like it across the county, will have “no significant impact” on the surrounding area.
Mike Denny, the firm’s operations director, said: “We have carefully considered the location of the wind farm by placing it next to an existing scheme. We have done two years worth of ecological and environmental studies and through that we have established there will be no significant effects other than some visual impact.”
ASC says the noise generated by its turbines will be “significantly below” the maximum set by national planning guidelines of 5 decibels above the prevailing background noise, or – where daytime background noise is particularly low – no more than between 35-40 decibels, and that the wind farm will generate between six and eight million pounds for the local economy. It said the proposed wind farm would generate enough electricity to power up to 11,770 homes.
“Onshore wind farms are not the entire answer but fossil fuels are not infinite and we have to move away and evolve from that,” said Mr Denny, adding that the firm will pay around £50,000 a year towards local community projects it the project was approved.
Wind farms are heavily subsidised by the Government to encourage the switch to renewable energy production as a way of fighting climate change. The cost is added to household electricity bills, and although the subsidy is to be cut by 10 per cent from next year, it will still mean £38 of the average household bill will go towards renewables in 2013-14, rising to £53 in 2016-17.
Several large landowners in Lincolnshire, as well as other counties, have benefited from renting their land to wind farm companies, including the father of David Cameron’s wife Samantha. Sir Reginald Sheffield earns an estimated £350,000 a year from the eight turbines sited on his 3,000 acre Normanby Hall estate, near Scunthorpe.
“We just said ‘Oh no, not again!'”
For one Lincolnshire couple the noise from their local wind farm was so intrusive they felt forced to move home. Julian and Jane Davis reached an undisclosed settlement for compensation last November (2011) after a five year legal fight over the noise made by the eight turbines near their home at Grays Farm, in Deeping St Nicholas, near Spalding.
The turbines began operating half a mile from their home in mid-2006. Within six months Mrs and Mrs Davis had moved into rented accommodation, claiming the noise had disturbed their sleep, left them with headaches and dramatically cut the value of their £2.5m farmhouse home.
In court they blamed the ‘’whoom whoom whoom’’ and the low frequency ‘’hum’’ of giant turbine blades for making their lives a misery.
But in a sign of the apparently relentless spread of turbines across the country they are now fighting plans for another wind farm planned near a house Mr Davis, 46, bought for his parents in West Pinchbeck, Spalding, where there are proposals to install up to nine of the structures, each 400ft tall. The turbines would be close to a hermitage, where guests travel for short retreats from the noise and bustle of modern life.
Mrs Davis, 55, a former nurse, said: “When we heard about these plans we literally put our heads in our hands and said ‘oh no, not again’. We just can’t stand the thought of having to go through it all again. If the new turbines go ahead they will be 500 or 600 metres from people’s homes and that is a distance that is more than likely to have significant noise effect.”
Mr Davis, an arable farmer, said: “There are already a number of wind farms we can see from the village. It’s got to the point where it’s a struggle to look in any direction without seeing turbines.”
During the High Court hearing Peter Harrison QC, appearing for Mrs Davis and her husband, said: “Wind farms have emphatically not been the source of trouble-free, green renewable energy which the firms promoting and profiting from wind energy would have the general public believe. Their lives have been wholly disrupted by that noise.”
Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Co-operative Ltd, who run the Deeping St Nicholas wind farm, accused Mr and Mrs Davis of being ‘’over-sensitive’’ to the noise and “exaggerating and overreacting”.
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