Land of sweeping horizons becomes a hostage to turbines

By Patrick Sawer
Copyright Sunday Telegraph 4th Nov 2012

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 in the pipeline, on top of the 84 already built and 41 more 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 377ft high and taller than St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Newton Marsh wind farm would be built by the 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 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 were likely to be given the go-ahead.
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 risen 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 1.7 gigawatts of new capacity. In comparison, 1.1GW of capacity was approved in 2010/11.
Hundreds of 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 owner of nearby Thorpe caravan holiday park, which claims 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 1,000 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 others in the immediate area in the advanced stages of planning.
ASC Renewables claimed the Newton Marsh wind farm, and others like it throughout the county, would 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 said the noise generated by its turbines would be “significantly below” the maximum set by national planning guidelines of five decibels above the prevailing background level, or 35-40 decibels in particularly quiet areas, and that the wind farm would generate £6 million to £8 million 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 would pay about £50,000 a year towards local community projects if 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.

Bin the bags everybody

Prompted by the CPRE, I have written to John Hayes asking for his support to address the plastic bag blight our public spaces suffers.

John Hayes MP
South Holland and The Deepings House of Commons
London SW1A0AA

I am writing to ask for your support on the important issue of single-use carrier bags.

Last year was the second in a row to see an increase in the use of single-use bags. In 2011 a total of eight billion ‘thin-gauge’ bags were issued throughout the UK, which represents a 5.4% increase compared with 2010 (7.8 billion). I am very concerned that all of the net growth occurred in England, particularly as England remains the sole home nation not to have a single-use bag levy in place or to be actively seeking to introduce one.

Single-use plastic bags are wasteful of resources and all too often end up as litter, which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, whether on land or at sea; strewn in our towns, countryside or beaches they are an eyesore, and often a hazard to wildlife.

In 2011, when commenting on 2010 plastic bag use, the Prime Minister said: “Progress overall went backwards last year, and that is unacceptable. Retailers need to do better. I want to see significant falls again. I know that retailers want to do better too but if they don’t I will be asking them to explain why not.”

Locally, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade our local Co-op shop to stop giving out plastic bags as a matter of course, as these have proven to be one of the most significant and obvious causes of local littering. A legally enforced charge, would be a huge step to achieving my ambition for our community.

In October 2011, Wales introduced a levy of 5p per plastic bag. Since then retailers have reported a drop in plastic bag usage of between 70-96%, while Welsh public support for the levy grew to 70%. When Ireland introduced a plastic bag levy in 2002, plastic bag use fell by 90%, as did the amount of litter.

I strongly support the Break the Bag Habit campaign run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage, which calls on the Government to reduce litter and waste by requiring retailers to introduce a levy on all new single-use bags.

Please raise my concerns with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman MP, and urge her to introduce a levy on single-use carrier bags in line with the successful actions being taken in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so that England is not left behind.

Yours sincerely

All of the people all of the time?

Will it ever be possible for the planning system to please all of the people all of the time?  Of course not, change always brings resistance and when that changes involves, knocking down, build-up or increasing the presence of something, whether it be houses, people, cars or even cows, as in the case of a recent application for a super dairy near Lincoln, you will always get somebody who doesn’t like it. 

However, you would like to think that you could at least improve the system to the point where it met some of the aspirations of both the public and the profession, for better outcomes based on a more straightforward process.  Not so it would appear, if the repsonse of the RTPI to the recent Budget is anything to go by.

Budget: Britain’s planners fear a ‘tin shed’ England within 10 years

23-Mar-11

Changes to planning system announced today will have dramatic effect on character of the country

Richard Summers, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which represents almost 23,000 of Britain’s planning professionals, has attacked proposals in the budget announced today to allow developers to bypass important planning rules. Richard Summers said:

“If sweeping changes announced to the planning system result in the default position being ‘yes’ to development then there is real danger that within a decade we will end up with an England of tin sheds, Lego land housing and US style shopping malls”.

“Where will the incentive be in the future for developers to address issues such as climate change, environmental protection, design quality and affordable housing, if they know that the government has tied the hands of local councillors who will be required to nod through most development proposals. This could mean developers building what they like, where they like, and when they like. It’s a policy that finally buries genuine localism”. (my emphasis).