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Wind Farm Inquiry: Urgent! Please Support The Final Push

Appeal at Spring Farm Ridge, between Greatworth and Helmdon
Appeal Reference Number: APP/Z2830/A/11/2165035

The public inquiry into the proposal for five 130 metre (410 feet) high wind turbines on the Spring Farm Ridge site between Helmdon, Greatworth and Sulgrave ended last Thursday. On behalf of HSGWAG, three witnesses eminent in the fields of planning, landscape architecture and acoustics gave their professional opinions that the proposal was unacceptable because of 1) the visual and noise impact upon local people, 2) the impact upon the unspoilt local landscape, 3) the impact upon treasured local heritage assets such as conservation areas and listed buildings, and 4) the dangers posed to users of the local footpath and bridleway network and the B4525 road. A long list of local people appeared at the inquiry to endorse these opinions based upon their local knowledge and experiences.

In closing the case for Broadview Energy, their barrister quoted rather selectively from the government’s June 2013 statement on renewable energy as follows: “…appropriately sited onshore wind….has an important part to play in a responsible and balanced UK energy policy..” He said that the Spring Farm Ridge Wind Farm is appropriately sited and can and should play its part in our low carbon future. However, the government’s statement said many more things of importance to local people which he did not quote. For example, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, said: “The views of local people must be listened to when making planning decisions. Meeting Britain’s energy needs should not be used to justify the wrong development in the wrong location.” The Energy Minister, Michael Fallon similarly said: “Today, we are putting local people at the heart of decision making on onshore wind. We are changing the balance to ensure that they are consulted earlier and have more say against poorly sited or inadequately justified turbines.”

New government guidance was issued which, according to Eric Pickles, “makes it clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the views of local communities should be listened to.” His concern for the views of local people to be taken into account in deciding appeals such as Spring Farm Ridge was further expressed during the course of the Spring Farm Ridge inquiry when he said: “….some local communities have genuine concerns that when it comes to developments such as wind turbines and solar farms insufficient weight is being given to local environmental considerations like landscape, heritage and local amenity.” He said that he intended to make the final decision himself on a number of renewable energy appeals so that he “can consider the extent to which the new practice guidance is meeting the Government’s intentions”.

You may be aware that, within days of making this statement, he decided that the Spring Farm Ridge Wind Farm appeal was one of the appeals upon which he will make the final decision himself. The Inspector who presided over the recent inquiry will therefore simply present his report to Eric Pickles with a recommendation as to whether it should be allowed or dismissed. From the above summary of government intentions, it can be seen that the Secretary of State should give close attention to the views of local communities when making his decision.

It is of vital importance, therefore, that everyone who objects to the proposed wind farm writes to Eric Pickles, setting out, in the same terms he used himself, their “genuine concerns that insufficient weight is being given to local environmental considerations like landscape, heritage and local amenity”.  The letter should be addressed to Mr Pickles at House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. Email:

eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk

and it should contain your address and a personal signature. The letter might make reference to the fact that you understand that the appeal in respect of the refusal of planning permission for the proposal is to be decided by Mr Pickles, in order to ensure that the views of local people are properly considered in line with the latest government planning policy guidance.

Subject to your own views, in making your objection the letter might make reference to the proposal being unacceptable for some or all of the following reasons, enlarged upon as you see fit:

  • the visual and noise impact upon local people
  • the impact upon the unspoilt local landscape,
  • the impact upon treasured local heritage assets such as conservation areas and listed buildings
  • the dangers posed to users of the local footpath and bridleway network and the B4525 road.

It would be useful also to send a copy of the letter to our local Member of Parliament Andrea Leadsom, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. Email: andrea.leadsom.mp@parliament.uk

Note that each person in a household wishing to object can send a letter of his or her own (e.g. a husband and wife may each write a letter).  Written letters are best (and please note that it doesn’t need to be long – brevity can be good!) but emails are also acceptable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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