Ed Miliband – Question 6

Q:

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Should nationally designated landscapes, such as the Lake District National Park and Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, be ‘no-go’ areas for intrusive new energy infrastructure, including wind farms and pylons?

A:

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They’re much less likely to be suitable, and they do get more protection.

I wouldn’t want to say never, though: in exceptional circumstances it may be possible for some limited development to take place without unacceptable impacts on these important sites. It’s also worth bearing in mind that technological change can mean that sites that are currently excluded as locations for particular types of renewable energy development may in future be suitable.

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19 responses

  1. Brian Skittrall

    It would be far better to set a level of expectation that these areas will be given the maximum protection from development and that should any development be allowed it will be required to do the utmost to minimise the impact on the landscape.

    There should be explicit planning guidelines that enable planning authorities to require, for example, power lines should be burried underground in such areas rather than leaving it up to the whim of inspectors at appeal.

    3 July, 2009 at 4:30 pm

  2. Ruth Chambers

    Ed Miliband’s recognition of the special status of National Parks is welcome and we hope that this will be reflected fully in the forthcoming National Policy Statements on renewable energy and energy networks. National Parks are suitable for and are delivering several forms of renewable energy, but the scale at which this is proposed is key in determining acceptability. I also hope that Ed Miliband will take a holistic approach of proposals for new energy generation so that issues such as grid connection are considered up front and as part of deciding if the generation is acceptable in principle. That way, all potential environmental impacts can be considered fully at the outset.

    3 July, 2009 at 5:27 pm

  3. carl holmes

    will you please not allow new coal fired powerstations to be built and instead install ccs carbon capture and storage facilties to existing powerSTATIONS

    6 July, 2009 at 12:43 pm

  4. John Twidell

    Both the CPRE and the Minister are sadly wrong about National Parks. These of all places should be sustainable, where the people living in and visiting the Park are in ecological balance with the other organisms. People are part of ecology. Therefore fossil fuels with their polluting emissions should not be allowed in National Parks, where only renewable energy should be utilised. We need not expect Parks to export excess renewable energy, but we should expect our life in them to be carbon-neutral and not dependedent on outside resources.

    7 July, 2009 at 9:15 am

    • Andy Boddington

      In the South Shropshire Hills AONB we are pursuing a sensible course. It is an Area of Outstanding NATURAL Beauty so wind farms are out. Wind farms can be beautiful – witness Bryn Titli just over the hill in Powys. But they are a technological beauty, not the harmonious interplay between man and the landscape that is now known as “natural”. So they are out of order in the AONB. But smaller turbines to supply farms and hamlets are welcomed. Few people here use fossils fuels. We grow wood, burn wood, grow wood. Its our main local energy supply. Our way of life is low key, mostly based on local provision. Just like our butchers who serve local meat, we burn local wood and are now catching the wind for local use. The best way to solve the global climate emergency is Think Local, Act Local. Newcomers come here to do that. Families that have been here for generations would not do it any other way. So what is wrong with the rest of the UK?

      7 July, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      • Brian Skittrall

        What an excellent comment Andy – you have given me hope. I wish that there were far more community driven solutions and far less multi-national or offshore companies trying to make a fast buck with no regard for the countryside or local communities.

        7 July, 2009 at 9:20 pm

  5. Mary Robinson

    Wind energy is on many lips, synonymous now with renewables and many would like to think the development of wind energy will reduce CO2 emissions and have a positive effect on climate change. The truth is it could reduce C02 emissions but the question is will it? Correct me if I’m wrong but nowhere in the world has the development of the wind industry resulted in the closure of a polluting power station. The public has an insatiable thirst for energy to maintain its life style, and the energy derived from the wind is eagerly lapped up. But what about C02 savings? There are some savings but they are very hard to find. Until a system of storing energy is established wind energy relies on dirty polluting power stations to be kept at the ready for times when the wind drops, which it is prone to do with alarming rapidity. We desperately need to find a reliable clean energy source but it certainly isn’t wind. Investing huge sums of money in the industry, offering up our most precious landscapes and destroying rural communities may help to salve our consciences but it is immoral and foolhardy.

    8 July, 2009 at 3:47 pm

  6. Christopher Napier

    Here in the South Downs a new national park has been announced by the Secretary of State, with massive public support. It should protect the wonderful landscape, NATURAL beauty and tranquillity of the South Downs for generations to come, for the enjoyment and well-being of the millions who live in the South East.
    The distress of many can therefore be imagined when at almost the same time as that announcement a proposal emerges to put two 126.5 metre windturbines on a very high point right in the middle of the new national park, and in one of the most tranquil locations. These would dominate the open and natural downland views for miles around. They would be very close to the South Downs Way, a much used and loved national trail, and so blight its tranquillity and special qualities.
    The amount of electricity these two turbines would produce would be minimal, and go straight to the national grid (by methods not yet known) without any local benefit.
    If this scheme were to be approved a precedent would be set for allowing very large windturbines in the rest of the South Downs, and all other national parks and AONBs, potentially destroying their special qualities.
    It is very difficult to understand how this scheme could have been contemplated by the developer in this location, but it does present a real example to test the question to Mr Miliband.
    It also allows me to fully support his answer which I understand to be “only in exceptional circumstances and if the impact would not be unacceptable”. It is not possible for policymakers to say “never” but this seems to be quite close to that, and is an approach clearly reflected in the statutory purposes for national parks and in the planning guidance for both national parks and AONBs which have been developed over the years for their protection.
    It is right that the new South Downs National Park must contribute to carbon reduction and renewable energy, but only by means appropriate to it’s iconic landscapes and special qualities. There are various means by which this can be achieved, but it is clear that these do not include huge industrial machines at the most visible points.

    10 July, 2009 at 5:48 pm

  7. John Twidell

    A main characteristic of a National Park should its sustainability. Therefore human activity there should be from sustainable resource, which for its energy supply means renewable energy. Wind turbines are realistic technology for electricity supply that produce no chemical pollution in operation. Only humans are bothered by visual impact, the rest of ecology is relaxed about such turbines. So why the selfish fuss from Christopher Napier?

    10 July, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    • Brian Skittrall

      John, if there was half as much spin at the wind turbines as there is used by their proponents, we could erect one turbine and power the whole country!

      I spotted your qualification “in operation” – the problem is that it takes about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per turbine before you reach that position. Given the questionable levels of genuine carbon savings from wind, you may never pay that back.

      I see that you have already resorted to the popular tactic of your industry when trying to silence opponents – tell them they are being selfish and not thinking about the greater good. You must be frustrated that you could not be sure enough to call Christopher a NIMBY!

      Does the fact that you can not stand the thought that any part of the country could be kept free of giant turbines really show that they are so ineffective that the only way that they can save us is if we have millions of them?

      11 July, 2009 at 12:21 am

  8. Dr Phillip Bratby

    I agree with Brian. People like John Twidell should state in their comments that they have a vested interest in the renewable energy industry and in promoting renewable energy at any cost.

    I state quite categorically that I am a semi-retired physicist who worked in the nuclear industry, but I do not promote the industry as I have a very minor interest in it now.

    13 July, 2009 at 6:50 am

  9. Dr Bratby’s comment on vested interests I fully agree with

    The following abstract is from a letter sent recently to the Local Planning Authority as a concerned member of the community.I did this as I am worried that people with a vested interest have voted at decision meetings for windfarms in the county Decisions have been made on misleading and incorrect informtaion. This should not be allowed and after the event there is often no real record

    ABSTRACT
    “I make this comment on the xx wind farm as a concerned individual and not as a member of any organisation to which I belong. I have a depth of knowledge of wind farm applications throughout the county accumulated over the past decade My experience varies from attendance at development control decision meetings to appearance in a successful outcome in The High Court (High Court Ref.CO/5079/1998)

    Overall my concern is that there must be no more shameful consents on wind planning applications The xx application refers to some of the previous consents not perhaps knowing the shameful nature of their consents Therefore I request this and other contentious applications are tape recorded for later reference”
    —————————————————————-
    Note:Incidently the government agreed with us then and we went to the High Court in support of the Inspector’s conclusion and the Secretary of State’s decision, under attack from the developer

    13 July, 2009 at 4:13 pm

  10. It is time that a different view point was taken. The first time I saw a wind farm in Germany, many years ago, I was blown away by its beauty. Mankind harnessing natural sources of power to create a cleaner and better environment is only to be commended.
    I was assured that the birds were not troubled by the turbines after the first couple of days.

    In trying to preserve these ancient landscapes and areas of natural beauty, we must remember that they will no longer exist for our children if we do not take action to reduce the damaging emissions NOW as a matter of urgency. Ther countryside will be changed out of recognition by global warming.

    The big turbine near Norwich has, after initial opposition, become a well loved monument. It has a wonderful viewing platform ,an ecological museum in the base and it is much visited by school children and tourists. One result of its installation is the regeneration of the nearby village.

    The building of wind farms would also benefit the employment situation with new clean jobs being created.

    There is a need for local planning regulations to be changed. It is almost impossible to put up a small domestic turbine however suitable the location. Why are we all so NIMBY and unwilling to face the needs of the time?

    Although on a different scale, who has not caught sight of a conventional windmills (Such ss Jack and Jill on the South Downs) without being excited by them.

    THINK AGAIN. You are not preseving the countryside; you are endangering it.

    29 July, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    • Brian Skittrall

      Beryl, if windfarms actually produced useful output, then we may be more inclined to sacrifice some of the countryside. However, electricity from wind has failed to reduce net carbon emissions in Denmark and Germany, so why sacrifice our countryside to a failed technology?

      If the Government would listen to anyone other than the wind industry, then they would soon realise that they had been conned into promising them billions of pounds of electricity consumer’s money to fund subsidies that achieve nothing. Instead they have spotted another stealth tax & are collecting up to £60,000 per turbine per year in business rates.

      The only way that windfarms reduce carbon emissions is to make electricity so expensive that people are less inclined to waste it.

      29 July, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  11. Beryl – I understand where you are coming from – but you haven’t mentioned the impact on many of the people living close to turbines, which are getting taller and taller as the years go by.

    Maybe if I really thought that turbines really did the job they are supposed to do, then I would be prepaed to sacrifice my small, medieval farming village in an area of high landscape value. Maybe I would be prepared to sacrifice my quality of life, and take the risk that I will be affected by nosie issues, shadow flicker and health problems. I am a green person and a historian, archaeologist and social anthropologist – and I do care about people in places like Bangladesh.

    But at the moment, Ed Miliband has failed to convince me that turibnes do the job they say they do – in fact, far from it – and I am very worried that we are wasting the money we do have available to help stop climate change and preserve our power supplies for the future.

    Oh, yes – by the way, I happen to believe we should all be reducing the amount of power we produce. We have got far too complacent about thinking that science will always find us a way to allow us to keep on living our extravagent lifestyles.

    29 August, 2009 at 8:22 am

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