Locals to get wind farm veto

Daily Telegraph 6th June 2013

By Robert Winnett, Political Editor

LOCAL communities will be given the power to block wind farms under planning rules to be unveiled today.
Senior Conservatives claim the move will effectively end the spread of the controversial turbines which have been blamed for blighting picturesque landscapes.
Ministers will announce that residents will have to be consulted over new wind farms with applications barred if there is significant opposition.
Councils are currently prevented from even considering applications for larger turbines.
However, under the plans, energy firms will be able to offer “incentives” – such as discounts on electricity bills – to persuade communities to agree to new wind farms.
When planning applications are submitted, officials will have to take into account topography and the impact on “views” and historic sites. Inspectors will also have to assess the “cumulative impact of wind turbines” amid fears that some areas are being overwhelmed by applications.
Currently, councils can be forced to accept new wind farms as national planning guidance states that renewable energy schemes should usually be permitted.
A senior Conservative source said: “The Prime Minister strongly feels that this is a real local issue and if people don’t want to have wind farms they don’t have to have them. This is a bombproof set of safeguards to protect the wishes of local people.”
Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, will today announce that legal planning guidance is to be altered and he will write to all councils and the Planning Inspectorate demanding that they use the new principles in current decisions.
Last night, Mr Pickles said: “We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity.”
Despite senior Conservatives heralding the end of new onshore wind farms, the Liberal Democrats – including the Energy Secretary – believe that the new system of incentives could actually lead to an increase in turbines.
The Energy Department says that a community agreeing to a modest wind farm could see their power bills fall by an average of £400 per household.
Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said: “We remain committed to the deployment of appropriately sited onshore wind, as a key part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix and committed to an evidence-based approach to supporting low carbon power.
“This is an important sector that is driving economic growth, supporting thousands of new jobs and providing a significant share of our electricity and I’m determined that local communities should share in these benefits.”

Lopsided story in Telegraph regarding gipsy and traveller sites?

Daily Telegraph Saturday 2nd March. Green belt at risk as gipsy camp rules are enforced.

If this story is a distortion, is the Telegraph becoming a broadsheet tabloid rag?

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said:

“This story is completely false. This Government has increased planning protection for the Green Belt and open countryside through National planning guidance and given greater weight to the protection of local amenities and the local environment.

We’ve also increased councils’ powers to tackle unauthorised sites and provided additional funding to councils to provide new authorised pitches which have community support.”

As always, only time will tell, but by then of course, it will be too late.

Care to eat your words Mr Clark?

An excellent article in today’s Daily Telegraph from Clive Aslet, described as Editor at Large of ‘Country Life’. Editor at Large? Does that mean he works from home and drives around a lot?

None of the venom and spite we’ve seen from our illustrious leaders, Clark and Neill (Shapps seems to sensible enough to keep his head down for now). It’s a reasoned argument in favour of listening to the genuine concerns of those who care about our countryside. He also calls for the public consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework, to be treated as a genuine exercise and not the current sham suggested by the hysterical utterances Clark and Neill have spouted upon hearing that the National Trust and CPRE have concerns about the potential negative impact of the NPPF.
The best bit of the article for me, is a quote from a then Tory MP in opposition, Greg Clark. Upon hearing that the Labour Government wanted to see 6,000 houses built in Tunbridge Wells, Clark’s constituency, he said: “One of the delights of our area is that there is scarcely a neighbourhood that is not within a short walk of the green fields that surround us”. This is the self same minister now laying in to those who dare to challenge his new passion for covering those green fields in houses and factories.
No wonder politicians are often seen as cynical opportunists, ready to jump on the nearest passing bandwagon. I sincerely hope the members of the Tunbridge Wells Conservative Party are seeking answers from their local MP.

Wind Farms rake it in no matter what

It seems that a collection of these white elephants located in the wilds of Scotland, are now even more profitable than their owners could of wished for.  Not only do they receive a ridiculous level of subsidy from you and I every time we use energy in our homes, it now seems that they receive even more cash when they’re switched off – £900,000 for one nights non-work!  Read the Telegraph story

I think the champion of the fight against non-jobs, Eric Pickles,  should get stuck in to this issue.

Wind turbine flicker is a problem

Even the Daily Telegraph finds it difficult to resist the occasional Sun newspaper type pun when the opportunity presents itself.  In this case, ‘Flicker of hope for the wind turbine victims’ might seem slightly flippant given the impact on peoples’ lives this issue has.

However, not wishing to be churlish about this rare attempt at humour, I hope what they’ve reported is accurate and can be used as a guide for those of us wrestling with the issue of wind turbine development.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), commissioned a report that has come back with recommendation regarding the flicker caused by the rotation of turbine blades when the sun is low in the sky, especially in the winter months, which is often a time of the strongest winds.

Of course a report is one thing, the government updating their guidance is another thing altogether and we can all think of at least one or two government commissioned reports that were the subject of great fanfares of publicity, but then disappeared without trace.

The report recommends that wind turbines should not be located closer than 10 times the diameter of the turbine rotor disc, to a dwelling or office building.  Unfortunately, they also suggest a tolerance level where turbines can be put closer, with a distance of 500 meters as long, as long as the flicker doesn’t last for more than 30 minutes a day!  I suppose that makes some sense, given that the sun (or rather the Earth) is constantly moving, the flicker should at least move away from those being ‘flickered’ after a short period of time.  However, 30 minutes could feel a lot longer if you aren’t actually able to leave the room affected, as might happen in a workplace.

Here in the very flat lands of the Lincolnshire Fens, people are also concerned about the visual impact and unfortunately this recommendation won’t really help us with that issue.  Unlike many other parts of the country, turbines are visible over much greater distances and even when you do the numbers on turbine with a diameter of 80 meters (800 meters clearance) a turbine of that size will still be very visible to the local community.  In the case of the Fens, I also wonder if 10 times the diameter is actually enough.