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New wind farm planning guide is failing, says MP Geoffrey Cox

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 25, 2013

  • MP Geoffrey Cox

Comments (11)

Wind farms are "industrialising" the countryside, a Westcountry MP has warned as he raised fears tough new rules to prevent the technology's expansion are failing.

Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon, has concerns that new planning guidance to give local opponents more power has done little to slow the number of wind farm applications.

He has launched a "probe" into the success or otherwise of ministers telling planning authorities local people's concerns should take precedence over the need for "green" energy.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has already pledged to review more wind farm applications to ensure the guidance, issued in July, is working.

It comes amid David Cameron pledging to "roll back" green levies that add 9% to energy bills and, in part, fund unprofitable wind farms, as bills become one of the top political issues.

Controversial wind farms have divided opinion in the region, including proposals for turbines at Fullabrook, near Ilfracombe, in North Devon, England's biggest wind farm, and in Davidstow in North Cornwall, which has infuriated locals.

More than 4,000 turbines are in operation across the country.

Mr Cox said: "These turbines dominate the countryside for miles around permanently altering and industrialising its appearance.

"Local communities have felt powerless to say no to these developments and although it was hoped that the new guidance would go some way to addressing this, it appears that this has not been sufficiently the case.

"I am therefore asking the Secretary of State to look into this matter again, to clarify the impact the existing guidance has had, and to make the necessary amendments to this guidance in order to allow our unique landscape to be protected and to give communities a greater say over the decision making."

As well as giving local communities a "veto", the new-look Planning Practice Guidance for Renewable and Low Carbon Energy gives more weight to the impact of turbines on the landscape and heritage.

The MP has tabled a series written Parliamentary questions on the number of wind turbine application appeals sent to the Planing Inspectorate watchdog, and the number of refusals overturned by the Inspectorate citing the guidance.

He has also asked the Secretary of State to review the existing guidance on the cumulative landscape and visual impacts of turbines.

Earlier this month, Mr Pickles made clear his fears that the Planning Inspectorate is not enforcing the new guidelines. He wrote to MPs saying he will give "particular scrutiny" to applications involving renewables, to ensure new guidance is being followed correctly.

The Secretary of State will exercise his power to determine the outcome of appeals against renewable energy applications over the next six months to make sure guidance is being properly followed.

The guidance was part of a package of measures that also significantly increase the amount of money communities will receive for agreeing to host wind farms nearby.

Meanwhile, David Cameron's aides said green taxes on household energy bills will fall next year despite Liberal Democrat objections.

The Prime Minister, under pressure from Labour and Sir John Major, told the Commons: "We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges."

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  • johndavies  |  October 27 2013, 5:11PM

    moorejohn This website has details for 2,846 renewable energy stations. Outputs, production factors, payments etc - http://tinyurl.com/dyq3xb9 enjoy.

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  October 25 2013, 9:06PM

    If any of you thought that Eric Pickles was anything other than hot air.........

  • moorejohn  |  October 25 2013, 3:35PM

    I read recently that the wind 'turbines' in the SW are the lowest performing in the country -- operating at 17% of the time. As it is quite impossible to identify where the electricity we use actually comes from -- the only way that Carbon Dioxide is saved is if an instant source of power can come in at the moment that the wind stops blowing and stop when it starts again -- I don't imagine this actually happens. These things are a con and a money making scheme for the developers and landowners.

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  • IvorWard  |  October 25 2013, 3:26PM

    I am going to move in next to Pink Diesel and run a cable to his electric meter for my power. He/her/it seems to be perfectly happy to pay the subsidies through his/hers/its electric bill to support the wind turbine owners. Why not just pay me direct? If I can get a 500kw turbine on my land I can collect £45,000 a year from all you bill payers. If I get lucky and get a 3MW turbine I can get £338,000 a year off you suckers and then stop farming and disappear to Palma on your money. Pity the mafia didn't think this one up first and it was left to the Camerloon, Cloggy, and Moribund Triumvirate to join forces and vote for it in the climate change act. Biggest laugh is that the UK only reckons to have saved 9 million tonnes of CO2 output in 2011 when the world emitted 39.2 BILLION tonnes. That is rising at 2.6% a year. That is over a BILLION tonnes a year rise. So congratulations UK on spending all the money that could have been spent on health, education, roads, policing, insulation etc. on making Wind Farm owners rich. What a surprise that many of the big beneficiaries have friends and family in Government. Well done UK in possibly knocking 0.003 of one degree off the world temperature in 2100 if the computer models were right (and they haven't been for 17 years now). What a relief that will be to the people in 2100 looking back and laughing at what a bunch of stupid idiots our Government has become.

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  October 25 2013, 12:45PM

    By the way. There is a proposal for three turbines in the Kelly/Meadwell/Milton Abbot area. These I would see from my house as the most dominant feature of the landscape on the ridge two mles away from me, right at the front of the house. Someone came knocking on my door with a petition against them. The petitioner had a 2.5 litre Mercedes estate. I asked them about this fuel guzzling car and they said they needed it as they had a dog. Doh! I didn't sign the petition.

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  October 25 2013, 12:37PM

    If the Nimbies had had their way Stonehenge would have never got off the drawing board.

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  October 25 2013, 12:34PM

    Excellent news! Geoffrey Cox doesn't like wind turbines. That's OK by me, he can have his views. But when I asked him if. seeing people would lobby him to stop turbines, then he would ask them to, in return, cut down on their own pesonal carbon emissions, he said "No. This would be hectoring them". Clearly rural people have a sense of entitlement. If people are not prepared to actually do anythng, may the Curse of The Ancient Environmetalist be upon them.So "May the Three-Armed Giants blight thy view!".

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  • rolandsmith  |  October 25 2013, 12:03PM

    The worrying thing is that, up until now, the new guidance doesn't seem to have got through to the planners – both locally and at the Planning Inspectorate – who misguidedly think that the erratic and inefficient performance of windmills is the way to keep the lights on and to power industry and commerce. As has already been said, it's time to stop the subsidies without which these monstrosities cannot be viable.

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  • TWINSCREW  |  October 25 2013, 11:06AM

    "The guidance was part of a package of measures that also significantly increase the amount of money communities will receive for agreeing to host wind farms nearby" And pray tell where this money is coming from if not from green levies, it is time this whole green energy scam was abolished.

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  • jigs-7  |  October 25 2013, 10:50AM

    I'm with you PAWB46! Enough is enough - too many already. Sad.

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