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The National Trust has set out its battle plan for rural “warfare” with a list of 25 wind farm projects it is challenging.
Sir Simon Jenkins, the Chairman of the Trust, spoke yesterday of the “warfare” in the countryside sparked by a huge number of housing developments and wind farms planned in rural areas.
Today the Trust reveals they are opposing or “keeping a close eye” on 25 wind farms that threaten stately homes and unspoilt landscape around the countryside.
Britain is building more wind turbines this year than ever before with more than 1,200 turbines due to start spinning throughout the countryside and around the coast over the next 12 months.
The Midlands alone has eight applications for wind farms near heritage properties, largely because the region has less protection from designation like national parks.
The properties under threat range from Georgian estates to fishing villages. Coastline around Morecambe Bay and the Isle of Wight is in danger.
Some properties, like Hardwick Hall in Yorkshire, is surrounded by a number of applications to build wind farms.
The Atlantic Array in the Bristol Channel threatens Lundy Island, one of the most important breeding sites in the UK for puffins.
Sir Simon said the Trust hears of new developments threatening precious landscapes “every week” and receives “enraged letters.”
“We don’t want to be thought as an automatic nay-sayer but where they infringe on our properties we have an obligation to be concerned,” he said.
“The National Trust is about safeguarding beautiful landscapes and beautiful landscapes to most people means in a natural state, it means when someone is proposing an intrusive development we are expected to respond.”
Sir Simon said most people come to National Trust properties to enjoy a beautiful landscape and an industrial object like a wind turbine risks ruining that experience.
“Most people are frankly offended by them.”
He insisted the National Trust “tries to be reasonable” and is not objecting to a number of offshore wind farms, but has a duty to protect landscape and property under threat.
“We think the English landscape needs protecting – now more than ever.”
English Heritage is also concerned about wind farms threatening heritage.
The Governrment Agency has teamed up with the Trust to fight plans for four 415ft turbines within a mile of Lyeden New Bield, an Elizabethan manor in Northamptonshire.
The two bodies fear that if the turbines are allowed it will set a precedent to allow the need for green energy to over rule concerns for heritage.
The ruling, expected in the next few days, will determine whether many wind farms near heritage sites can go ahead in the future.
However Robert Norris, Head of Communications at RenewableUK, the wind energy lobby group, said wind farms do not have to compromise the view from heritage sites and in fact a recent poll found that more than half of the population find them “perfectly acceptable”.
He pointed out that the National Trust has installed five wind turbines on its own property and the new Director General Dame Helen Ghosh described them as “graceful”.
“Anyone who’s serious about protecting the British countryside from a damaging over-reliance on fossil fuels will naturally want to support wind energy, as an example of practical action on climate change,” he said.
The National Trust is also waging “warfare” against inappropriate housing by asking Government to give councils more time to adapt to new planning laws.
Local authorities are supposed to have “local plans” in place by the end of this month under the so-called National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
But teaming up with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) this time, the National Trust want councils to have another year to develop local plans and ensure they maintain watertight protection against unwanted development.
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