Wind farms will be non-existent in Wiltshire and other parts of the country unless a last minute amendment made by the county to its planning core strategy is overturned by a massive public response.
This was the urgent message given to members of Transition Marlborough at their annual general meeting on Wednesday by ffnlo Costain, joint organiser of the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance and chair of the Pewsey Environmental Action Team.
He revealed how Wiltshire Council, after years of discussion and consultation, had produced a core planning strategy in June for vitally needed renewable forms of energy but then emasculated it with a last minute amendment on health and safety.
“It virtually banned wind turbines,” declared Mr Costain. “They claimed it was due to safety issues, that there was a possibility that suddenly one of turbines would leap off, as they have never done anywhere in the world ever, and hit someone walking by.”
The claim was made despite the fact that the strategy allowed for no wind farms to be created within three kilometres of residential homes.
But a planning inspector subsequently ordered the Conservative-controlled council to carry out another consultation exercise to discover public reaction to its proposals, an exercise due to end next week.
And the serious danger was that those against renewable energy won the day – a wind farm proposed for the village of West Ashton has produced major opposition – then it would set a precedent copied elsewhere in the country.
“I am here because this amendment puts prejudice at the heart of planning policy,” declared Mr Costain. “Planning policy is supposed to be fair. Every scheme that comes before a council is supposed to be judged on its merits.”
“The consultation is not about being in favour or against wind. It is about renewable energy in general. We need to say to the council, stop being prejudicial, there are already so many opportunities, if want to oppose wind farms, within the statutory planning process.”
“This is really important. Because if this amendment goes through it just won’t be Wiltshire that doesn’t have wind energy. There are several other councils across England who are looking at this as a test case.”
A show of hands by the audience in Marlborough Town Hall showed a good number had already opposed the Wiltshire amendment but at least 25 to 30 of them had not.
You need to include your postal address on the email for your response to be considered valid, but you don’t need to be a Wiltshire resident.
You could copy and paste the text below, however it is better to use your own words:
I am writing to comment on the amended Wiltshire Core Strategy Policy 42 (standalone renewable energy installations). I believe this policy is unsound; it has not been positively prepared, it is not justified and is not consistent with national policy.
1. The policy takes a negative stance towards large-scale wind power, going against Wiltshire Council’s own findings that “Positive policies are needed to maximise the delivery of large scale, standalone renewable energy technologies in Wiltshire to help ensure national and local targets can be met”.
2. The Government has affirmed that “The approach to wind turbine development in the UK is to assess the potential impacts of proposals on a case by case basis”. Wiltshire council has offered no reasoned justification as to why arbitrary separation distances should be set in the core strategy.
3. The policy as amended is contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): that planning should help in “securing radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” (NPPF paragraph 93); and that Local Authorities should “design their policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed”, and “consider identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy sources” (NPPF paragraph 97).
Anyone wishing to contact Mr Costain can do so at: email@example.com