Our natural Suffolk heritage v wind turbines?

The Daily Telegraph has reported on a landmark legal case brought by East Northants District Council. Plans for four 300ft wind turbines on the Duke of Gloucester’s Barnham estate, were passed by an inspector in April last year. This decision is now being contested by the council in court.

The plans were put forward by West Coast Energy. The report from the Planning Inspectorate states:

The inspectorate had concluded the presence of the turbines “would not erode a reasonable observer’s understanding or appreciation of the significance of the designated heritage assets – and they would therefore have no harmful impact on their settings”.

What concerns me most is that current planning law affords little or no protection from either wind turbines or new rows of electricity pylons. The major debating point in this court case will be whether the requirement to produce renewable energy is allowed to outweigh our natural and built environment.

So here’s the question – why is it that giant wind turbines (or pylons) can be erected in the middle of the countryside when the same planning inspectorate would not allow a 30 storey office or apartment block in the same location? 

The two 430 ft high turbines planned by Partnership for Renewables will dwarf the Orwell Bridge. The company has refused to put up a blimp which would allow local people to assess the impact of the proposals. The photomontages provided at their recent exhibitions were completely inadequate. Photographs were carefully massaged so that large trees close to the camera conveniently hid the scale of the turbines. And there was no photomontage with a high viewpoint, looking down from Pinewood or Belstead Hills.

I have previously stated that I am not against wind turbines per se – but they have to be in the right place. In my opinion on fields between Ipswich and Belstead/Wherstead is not the right place. They are far too close to housing. Also there are other means of generating electricity from renewables. Let’s investigate those. Otherwise we will see a further industrialisation of the countryside in Suffolk – in addition to the new row of pylons planned by National Grid.

The contribution of these two wind turbines is miniscule in comparison with the output from the offshore Greater Gabbard windfarm. Each of the turbines will produce 2.5MW of electricity. Greater Gabbard turbines produce a total of 504MW. Are they worth the expense and anguish? PfR’s November newsletter gives details of proposed locations.

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