Wind farm developers are facing a dramatic escalation of opposition from dozens of MPs who say they will fight every application in their constituencies.
The MPs, many of whom have until now only opposed particular proposals, believe their intervention will make it more difficult for planning permission to be given.
In a fresh protest against the Government’s support for onshore wind turbines, backbenchers said their constituencies had reached “tipping point” and would be ruined by further development.
They are sharing advice on running local campaigns against wind farms after the Tory head of a larger cross party group of MPs opposed to the spread of onshore wind distributed a manual on how to fight proposals by developers.
The move comes after the group of 106 MPs – 101 of them Tories – called on the Government to cut generous subsidies, which they say are driving the expansion of wind farms. In a letter to the Prime Minister in February last year they warned it was “unwise” to make consumers subsidise “inefficient and intermittent energy production”.
Geoffrey Cox, the MP for Torridge and West Devon, one of the signatories to the letter said: “There are now so many turbine applications that the whole of our district is affected. I believe we have now reached a tipping point.
“I shall be registering a formal planning objection to each and every major commercial wind turbine application in Torridge and West Devon from now on.”
Mr Cox, a former barrister, made the pledge as he resolved to fight plans by EDF Energy Renewables, a firm owned by the French state, for six 377-ft turbines in Torridge, Devon.
Residents say the proposed Hollow Panson wind farm would “ruin” the surrounding landscape, also warning of health risks to those living in the nearest homes – just 800 metres from the turbines.
The local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the area risked being “obliterated” by a series of planning applications for wind turbines being approved by planning inspectors.
Earlier this year an 80ft turbine collapsed on a farm in nearby Bradworthy, during gale force winds, leaving a “mangled wreck”.
Mr Cox said the proposals for six turbines on privately owned farmland in Torridge followed the construction of “dozens” of turbines in the last three years.
He said: “Torridge is now facing over 60 applications. They are going to make a fundamental change to the character of this exquisite landscape, trashing an ancient and beautiful countryside for the sake of filling the pockets of developers with consumer subsidies.
“These are some of the most romantic and attractive destinations in our country and yet we are erecting giant machines which litter the countryside. The time has come to stop feeding this extraordinary cash cow.”
Glyn Davies, the MP for Montgomeryshire in Wales, is fighting plans by the National Grid to install power lines through Mid Wales in order to connect any new wind farms. He described the proposals as an “outrage”.
Mr Davies was parliamentary private secretary to Cheryl Gillan, the former Welsh Secretary, until she was replaced in a reshuffle last year, and did not sign the letter to Mr Cameron because he was unable to do so as a ministerial aide.
However, last night he warned of a feeling among his constituents that ministers “do not care” about the scale of opposition to wind farms.
He described the scale of the new wind farms which the proposed pylons were intended to service, as “terrifying”.
“My personal main objection is the visual impact. Industrialisation on that scale will destroy one of the most beautiful parts of Britain.
“The turbines cause a great deal of distress because of the numbers of them, but the greatest anger is because of the pylons.
“It is very difficult because there is a real sense that the Government does not care and does not want to listen. It’s very frustrating for me because it is my Government.”
Chris Heaton-Harris, a Conservative MP who is leading an informal cross party group opposing the spread of onshore wind farms said “dozens” of MPs were now formally registering objections to all wind farms proposed in their constituencies.
He said: “More and more MPs are taking that approach. I am registering objections to just about any wind turbine that falls in my constituency.
“There are lots of MPs now who represent various anti-wind farm groups at public meetings.”
With the help of veteran campaigners in his constituency Mr Heaton-Harris has produced a manual for MPs wishing to block wind farm applications.
“I have been circulating it to those who want a bit of help,” he said. “The reason we have so many applications is because the level of subsidy is way too high, and I hope the Government will look at this matter urgently.”
Dr John Constable, Director of Renewable Energy Foundation, a UK charity publishing data on the energy sector, said: “The wind industry has been overheated and corrupted by the EU targets and the absurdly generous subsidies designed to meet them, which currently cost the UK consumer about £2 billion a year, about half to wind, and are set to rise to about £8 billion a year in 2020, the vast majority going to wind.”
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Government policy on onshore wind has not changed and the coalition supports the deployment of all forms of renewable energy, as long as it is appropriately sited.
“We are working closely with the Department of Communities and Local Government on a review of planning guidance, which will support communities in taking decisions about all sustainable development in their area.
“We’re also looking at how communities can be better engaged with, and receive greater benefit from, hosting onshore wind in their area. We expect to publish a report on this in the summer.”
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/04/14/wind-farm-developers-face-new-wave-of-opposition-from-mps/