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Thursday, 21 June 2012

County Council takes stand against wind farms

I have Mark to thank for pointing me to this great piece of news.

Cllr Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said:

“There’s been a proliferation of wind farms across Lincolnshire in recent years, and we feel that enough is enough. Although we understand the need for alternative energy and are not opposed to all wind farms, we remain unconvinced by the questionable science behind them.

Not only are these things spoiling our beautiful countryside for future generations, they could also seriously damage our tourism industry - who wants to spend their holiday looking at a 400ft turbine?

Similarly, who wants to live next door to one? People enjoy living in Lincolnshire because we have a great way of life, not because the landscape’s blighted by wind farms. On top of that, there are also issues around the damage caused to roads during the construction and decommissioning of turbines.

And at a time of rising ‘fuel poverty’ people shouldn’t have to subsidise these developments through their energy bills. For these reason, we want to raise the bar even higher for anyone wanting to construct a wind farm in the county, and urge them to think twice about the impact their plans will have.”

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If you’ll bear with me, I’ll post the county council’s  entire position statement in full below. As you read through it, keep reminding yourself that this is Lincolnshire we are talking about. If Lincolnshire is prepared to act responsibly in looking after its landscapes, what is to stop other, more scenic counties doing the same?

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LINCOLNSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL WIND ENERGY POSITION STATEMENT (Revised)

a) Landscape and Visual Impact

The County Council is very concerned that the proliferation of onshore wind farm proposals would, if approved and implemented, result in the industrialisation and urbanisation of a highly rural county renowned and characterised by its big skies and uninterrupted vistas. The introduction of strong vertical structures in a landscape with a horizontal emphasis would, it is considered, be alien in a predominately flat landscape reducing the remoteness of the landscape and diminishing the visual impact of the subtly undulating areas of the Wolds, Lincoln Edge and Southern Kesteven Uplands. Such changes would, if left to continue, reduce the visual attractiveness of the County to residents and visitors alike.

The County Council considers that onshore wind energy developments (not including micro wind energy sites) are only acceptable where they are:-

  • located outside highly sensitive landscape areas as defined in Landscape
    Character Assessments. The importance of uninterrupted vistas is a significant aspect of the character of the Lincolnshire landscape and therefore afforded great significance when considering the potential visual
    impact of developments.
  • located outside of areas defined in Landscape Character Assessments as
    having a low landscape capacity to visually accommodate wind turbine
    development. The County Council would encourage and support the
    District Councils to prepare rigorous landscape character assessments
    that include visual capacity assessments and intervisibility assessments
    and cumulative impact derived from the presence of existing wind farms.
  • It is considered that wind farms should not be located within the
    Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or within 2km
    of the boundary of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural
    Beauty or greater where there are specific views present so as not to
    negatively impact upon views into or out of the designated area.
  • Sand dunes and coastal conservation area should be afforded protection
    from discordant developments, such as wind farms, which should be
    located outside of the coastal strip, formally defined as the coastal
    conservation area, and those outside of the coastal strip to demonstrate
    they would not have a detrimental impact upon the open coast.
  • located sufficient distance from town and villages so as not to be too
    prominent, for example, outside of 2km from defined settlement
    boundaries (those in the development plan).
  • It is considered appropriate that landscape wide projects are also provided
    with protection from inappropriate large scale developments. These would
    include established project areas. Wind farm developments are therefore
    considered inappropriate in the following and consequently should not be
    located within 2km of such:-

o   Coastal Country Park;
o   Witham Valley Country Park;
o   Trent Vale;
o   Lime Woods
o   Kirkby on Bain Valley
o   Baston Fen
o   Laughton Woods;
o   South Kesteven Woods;
o   Cover Sands;
o   South Kesteven Uplands;
o   Coastal Grazing Marshes;
o   Any areas identified as being of Greater Landscape Value as these
     areas should be seen as being intrinsically important to the
     landscape character of Lincolnshire;
o   All sites designated as SSSIs and any wildlife sites designated in
     the county in order to protect ecology and diversity as laid down in
     the Biodiversity Action Plan.

  • In general, there is a presumption against wind turbine developments on the grounds of potential negative cumulative visual impact, unless wind farms should be located such that they would not merge with the existing developments (on and off shore), thereby resulting in a negative cumulative visual impact:

- settlements of more than 10 dwellings should not have wind turbine developments in more than 90° of their field of view, this normally equates to 10km from windows in residential properties;

- individual dwellings should not have wind turbines in more than
180° of their field of view.

b) Impact on the Historic and Natural Environment

  • Wind turbine development should not take place in locations where:

- the context of a historic garden, park, battlefield or designated conservation area would be visually compromised (dependent upon a site specific assessment);

- the visual dominance of Lincoln Cathedral would be compromised; (see
also Regional Plan Policy SR10);

- the visual significance of church spires and historic/architecturally
important buildings would be compromised. Wind turbine development
should be avoided where there is likely to be “conspicuous” impact;

- there are defined areas of historic landscape and townscape importance, as defined by the Historic Landscape Characterisation
Assessment and local planning authorities, and to protect the integrity of
such sites in the immediate vicinity. District Councils are also encouraged
to consider the potential of formally designating areas of historic landscape character associated with villages as conservation areas. North
Lincolnshire Council is currently considering such a strategy to
protect the historic landscape around Epworth;

- the development would be in or in proximity to an international
site of nature conservation interest and of a Site of Special Scientific
Interest;

c) Residential Amenity

Amenity of existing residential occupants must be maintained at an acceptable level, therefore the following criteria shall be applied:-

  • no wind turbine developments shall be constructed in close
    proximity of a residential property (the accepted distance for
    separation is 700 metres) however, noise and amplitude modulation issues can be present up to 2km away. Therefore, unless through assessment, it can be demonstrated that there would be acceptable noise levels within the 2km radius of a residential property, the minimum distance should be 2km:
  • no wind turbines shall be constructed within a distance of a factor of ten times the diameter of the blades of a residential property to mitigate against flicker, unless intervening topography/structures negates the impact.
  • wind farm developments must demonstrate that they would have no unacceptable impact due to noise, amplitude modulation, low frequency sound or vibration on residential amenity.

d) Related Infrastructure

  • The presumption is for connecting cables to be placed underground and use made of existing or replacement pylons (of the same size and scale) along existing routes to carry the additional base load cabling.

e) Construction Vehicles

Access for construction and maintenance vehicles is an issue in rural areas, particularly where highway improvements are required. In such circumstances commuted sums would be required for highway improvements and reinstatement. In addition, it may be appropriate for proposals to be subject to routing agreements and bonds for construction traffic, which should be agreed prior to determination of a planning application, in order to mitigate against the impact of construction vehicles on rural communities.

e) Local Economy

Whether individually or cumulatively, wind farm developments should not
have a negative impact upon the local economy, particularly upon tourism.

f) Benefits

Large scale renewable proposals should demonstrate that they deliver
economic, social, environmental and community benefits that are directly
related to the proposed development and are of a reasonable scale and
nature to the local area.

g) Decommissioning

The decommissioning of wind farm sites should include the removal of all
infrastructure whether above or below ground (including the turbine bases
and access roads within the site). This will be achieved via Sc 106
planning obligations or planning conditions attached to the permission. In
addition, a bond should be in place with the relevant local authority to
ensure the cost of re-instatement does not fall to the taxpayer

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Do we really want to cover this landscape with wind turbines?

IMG_2024

37 comments:

  1. At last, some common sense from government. Let's hope the councils in the Scottish Highlands take note and follow suit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Sir!
      :-)
      I really like their planning constraints as well - all quite rigorous and putting the onus of proof on the developer rather than the protester.

      Delete
  2. other, more scenic counties ????

    This is outrageous scenic snobbery, sir. My family comes from Lincolnshire and it has some of the finest open landscapes in the country. Are you suggesting that some windswept god forsaken bog can somehow be classed as "more scenic" than, say, the Lincolnshire Wolds?

    Surely not ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spoken like a true flatlander.
      Ummm, yes?
      :-)

      Delete
  3. Common sense, at last! Somehow it seems hard to believe, but well done them for having the courage to stick their heads above the parapet and follow their convictions.

    Now all that needs to happen is for other counties (and countries!) to adopt this as a charter for future wind farm development. And I do - I really do - like the bit about the decomissioning bond. That should make them think! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if all the counties' planning departments ever get together and discuss wind farms.
      Does anyone have any information on this?

      I would guess that there must be. if so, perhaps other counties will follow suit?

      Delete
    2. There is a potentially delicious conundrum for counties here, too.

      There must be no end of counties and areas (National Parks, AONBs, for example) who consider themselves "better" - in the sense of outdoor profile - than Lincolnshire (to whom I mean no disrespect in any way!). They will just have had their opening ace lead unceremoniously trumped!

      Possibly some capital can be made of this? Can other counties be made aware they are noticably "falling behind" an area outside of the top eschelons of beauty? And will they feel competitive about it?

      Growing up in Derbyshire in the 70s and 80s the council adopted a slogan espousing it's anti-nuclear stance. Will LCC be the first to claim "Welcome to Lincolnshire, a turbine free zone"?

      Delete
    3. They have quite a few turbines already and they are now saying "Enough is enough"
      That would make a pretty good slogan too... Not "anti - wind" but saying they have done their bit.

      Delete
    4. Quite! For some reason I was just having a rather light-headed Friday moment - kind of demob happy, I guess!

      Actually, the bit about having done their bit is actually a very powerful and persuasive line to adopt - as you say, not laced with negative "anti" connotations but of a serious and pressing job completed. Sells well like that, doesn't it?

      Still, it is good news and something of a landmark in the move to stop having the entire countryside turbined over.

      Delete
  4. Well, they have just started on the build of 10 completely pointless ones near us at West Wratting.
    There was a campaign against them from locals, but as per normal, the council, and the govt road roughshod over it.
    So as these bloody things get built we can now see them from most of the beautiful local places such as Quy river, Fulbourn Fen, Fleam and Devil Dyke.
    Infact you can see them from everywhere round here.
    I am guessing that South Cambs, or East Cambs or whereever, did not talk to anyone, other than those paying the big bucks.

    And the nice new view from Fleam Dyke HERE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andy
      That is distressing to hear. Ta for the picture. That's my old stomping ground for our Sunday walks with Lord Elpus & Miss Whiplash.
      Time for the monkey wrenches, I think...

      Delete
  5. Thanks for posting up my comments Alan. It is good news. I must say that whilst Lincolnshire can be flat as I said in my comments on your previous post I live 5 minutes from the Lincolnshire Wolds, the hilly bit and whilst it does not reach the heights of many upland areas, it is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and quite rightly so. This is why LCC is so concerned with wind farms on top of the wolds, destroying the views and tourism which is a very substantial part of the county's revenue. If people don't know the area and think the whole county is flat do come and have a look around and walk -I think you will be surprised :)

    BTW -sorry you couldn't make the Terra Nova day, I would like to have met up with you and Martin Rye - perhaps some other time.
    Cheers
    Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark
      Perhaps I was a bit flippant about the charms of Lincolnshire... :-)
      I just hope that other county councils throughout the UK can take a leaf out of Lincolnshire's book. Then, perhaps, central governments (England, Scotland and Wales) will take note and notice that the ground is shifting.
      It would be great to meet up sometime... I'll have to have a shufty at the diary.

      Delete
    2. No problem Alan I am not offended. I am not a native of Lincolnshire and have lived in quite a number of places including abroad but I do like the area I live in. That's why I am so pleased about what LCC is trying to do. Lets hope their enlightened view spreads. Our local news also covers East Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Wolds and they are fighting back up there as well. I have my doubts about Scotland. As I walked through Knoydart( nothing there at the moment), the other week I was thinking, Scotland has so much outstanding scenery - what are those dumb buggers up to ruin so much beauty across their country. They should be tried for environmental vandalism !

      Delete
    3. There are wind turbines on Skye now. It's only a matter of time.

      Delete
    4. Hi Alan

      And more planned in Glen Ose. I was told this by a local of the area (he knows I loathe them) who said that there was 'nothing there anyway', or words to that effect. The existing turbines have been there for some time now and are visible on the drive north to Dunvegan, from the Dunvegan to Portree road, from 'The Tables' and from elsewhere on the island. Unfortunately,their presence didn't seem to be putting people off coming to the area.

      Delete
    5. I should have added "and I was there too, obviously". Disconcerting that.

      Delete
    6. Hi Gibson
      If they can go for planning on Skye, they'll go for it anywhere.
      The faster the subsidies are cut, the better.
      :-(

      Delete
  6. I don't know how it works in England but up here, it's the Holyrood Mafia that has the final say. From the Courier: "In recent times Perth and Kinross Council has turned down 17 applications, but all but one dismissal was subsequently overturned by the Scottish Government".

    There's also a proposal before oor Parliament to raise the Planning Application Fee from £15950 to £100000. Doubt it'll make the bastard developers pause for that but it's better than nothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kev - Nice to see you.
      :-)
      I'm pretty sure there is now a great deal of pressure on Alex to reconsider some of the current proposals - Ben Wyvis & Allt Duine spring to mind - and with the MCofS's Manifesto shoved under his nose, and his sudden shift to favour marine energy, perhaps some of our wild places in Scotland can now be saved?
      We need folk like Cameron McNeish to get close to Wee Eck and try to turn him.

      Delete
    2. Well, you can bet that Cameron will do his best, but whether or not Salmond will listen is another thing entirely.

      Delete
  7. Simple quick comment from me mate as it's local to me this news.

    Bout fooking time! I'm pleased! Much of Lincolnshire is pretty unexplored by the majority of walkers. The Lincolnshire Wolds is lovely and the fens have something to admire too with the big big skies. Turbines would've ruined it and it's nice to see one council have some balls and stick their neck out on this! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simply put and Spot On Terry.
      Other counties should take note and follow suit.

      Delete
  8. Damn right they should mate. To be frank, I get sick and tired at the naivety some folk have to the merits of wind power. Aye, I'd prefer them out at bloody sea. But even then they're not economical.

    Solar, tidal, hydro is where it's at. So why aren't the subsidies going into that?

    Why isn't all those large sums of money going into wind bloody farms being invested in making new and old homes more energy efficient???

    The more this debacle carries on the more it bewilders me that more people don't protest or at least politicians (bar backbenchers are next to useless) protest and do something about it.

    So fair play to Lincs County Council. Good on them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the general population were aware of the true facts, then sure, I would agree with you.

      But they have been fed so many half-truths and downright lies from the green movement and the wind energy businesses and their representatives that they honestly believe that wind power is "green".

      It's the biggest lie that's been sold for years, and at last the politicians are beginning to realise that the money being spent on ROC's would be far better spent elsewhere.

      Delete
  9. A thought provoking piece. I was ambivalent about wind farms up to now, but your post has caused me to re-think and I now see the dangers inherent to the environment and landscape in this policy. Thank you for shining some light on the topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paul
      Thanks for commenting. You can find quite a bit of background to the topic if you click on the "Wind Power Stations" tab at the top right of the blog.
      :-)

      Delete
  10. Wind is the future! ROC on baby! Can't say more as these handcuffs aer makkin typong dufficult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chris.
      I hope the inmates are kind in the Scrubs. They won't take too kindly to too much wind in the closed confines of your cell.

      Delete
  11. I was keeping my powders dry, Alan, because I knew the situation in Scotland is completely different.

    Here's the latest news:

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/scottish-wind-farms-snp-accused-of-caving-in-to-wind-moguls-1-2371458

    The picture of the Prick-in-Chief says it all. It's little grey men like that that are destroying this country forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andy: That's incredible.
      It shows just how out of touch the Scottish Government has become in their rush to flog wind energy to the English.

      Delete
  12. Alan, just an update to wind farms in Lincolnshire. I thought you might be interested in this. The proposal is about 8-10 miles away from me Here is the link http://tpaw.org.uk/

    Cheers
    Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that update, Mark.
      Let's hope that with this overwhelming opposition the planners will turn it down.

      Delete
  13. Alan,could not find a contact email for you but I thought you might be interested in the news that a wind turbine application within 3 Km of my home was rejected. Needless to say I quite happy :)

    http://markswalkingblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/wind-turbine-application-turned-down/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for getting in touch Mark. That is fantastic news!
      :-)

      Delete

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