17 May 2012

Wind farm developments and their impact on the countryside


Representing LAW (Lilbourne Against Wind farm) at a recent public inquiry Jeremy  Sacha (Director at Sacha Barnes Ltd)voiced his concerns about the damage caused by wind farm developments to our rural landscape. Explaining his concerns Jeremy described the opportunist approach we are allowing in England when it comes to selecting sites for wind turbines and wind farm developments.

The latest report to come from the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) alerts us all to the exploitation of our rural landscape and Jeremy has seen the difficulties faced by local action groups when trying to fight planning applications for new wind farms. The resources available to the developers of wind farms are considerable and make the Planning and Public Inquiry process a very uneven playing field. LAW  were fighting a wind farm after a number of wind farms had already been permitted in their area and they were making the case that the accumulative effects of wind farm developments was destroying their local countryside.  Unfortunately the countryside on their doorstep had no official landscape designation and like a lot of pleasant but unremarkable rural landscape in this country it seemed to be up for grabs for the erection of wind turbines. Jeremy concluded that we seem to lack any strategic approach to the selection of the best sites for wind farms and as the Government is clearly convinced that they are an essential part of our energy infrastructure, much of our rural landscape is now under threat. But if sites were strategically selected, so much good could be achieved if wind farm developments were actively targeted at despoiled and derelict land, where landscape improvement is made a complementary objective of the development plan.  As old power stations and nuclear plants become obsolete we should convert their vast acreages to wind farms, then perhaps people will stop pointing at their inefficiencies as power generators and see them as a positive tools for landscape enhancement.

Jeremy believes passionately that our countryside is a precious and diminishing resource that we should be protecting and restoring and yet we risk losing it’s essential character by allowing this ‘Gold Rush’ of poorly planned wind farm development.

Just in case you are wondering, Jeremy is no Luddite or Don Quixote, he is totally convinced of the essential need for low carbon forms of power generation and confesses to have been quite excited by the sight of turbine blades slowly revolving  above green fields, but having  now represented a group of very informed and reasonable people, who were clearly distressed by the prospect of their local countryside being spoiled, he has woken up to their alarm bell warning.  We appear to have fired the start button for wind farm developments in this country without really assessing the risk of long term damage to the character of our rural landscape.

Rant over, all comments welcome.

Photo by rasmithuk on Flikr - Licensed under the Creative Commons


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