July 11th: Today I was invited to visit Baumber, near Horncastle, Lincs, by the Baumber Windfarm Action Group (BWAG: www.bwag.co.uk), and I met them at a tiny rural crossroads between Baumber and Wispington. (To my shame, I have to admit that despite representing the East Midlands for ten years, I had never previously heard of Wispington — fortunately my SatNav knew it!). There was a van there with a huge banner “Baumber says NO to wind turbines”, and another placard across the road “Put your turbines out to sea, not in our AONB“. I was a bit confused by this, but it turns out that AONB means “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, and indeed the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB starts just a couple of miles east of Baumber.
Yet this is where Enertrag UK Ltd proposes to place four massive 125 metre (400 foot) wind turbines, a mere half-a-mile from the village of Wispington, and not much further from Baumber and Minting. Looking west from Baumber there are uninterrupted views of the gently undulating Lincolnshire countryside all the way to the majestic Lincoln Cathedral against the horizon. This is some of the region’s — some of Britain’s — most lovely and unspoiled countryside. From my rural crossroads, there was a view unchanged perhaps for centuries. Not a pylon, nor a mobile phone mast, nor an electricity sub-station. Not even a motorway or railway line. The only twenty-first-century intrusion was an odious anemometer mast, put up to measure wind speeds in support of the windfarm planning application.
The view west from Baumber will be dominated by these giant structures if the wind farm goes ahead. BWAG has had a local artist paint the magnificent view, with a splendid sky, and the Cathedral a smudge on the horizon. If the wind-farm happens, the painting will stand as a mournful reminder of innocence lost, of how things used to be.
As I stood there, what I presumed to be the Morgan Owners’ Club came by on an outing. We saw literally dozens of the standard Morgan roadster go by, and several of the very swish and very expensive “Aero” model. They came for the beautiful unspoiled countryside, not to see industrial-scale wind farms. There is a palpable threat to tourism. One of the (open topped) Morgans stopped and cheered for our wind-farm protest, and we briefly fell into conversation with the driver. It turned out she was organising a similar protest in Norfolk.
Next to the van with the banner was a Land-Rover with a blimp attached, flying at just the height of the proposed turbines — 400 feet. You have to see it to believe it. These things are enormous, and unlike the blimp they rotate (at least, they do when the wind blows). They are simply intolerable in close proximity to houses. Scottish planning law advises a minimum set-back of two kilometres. Why don’t we in England have the same protection? Or better still, two good English miles?
I was delighted that my good friend and colleague Edward Leigh MP came to support the protest (he was just over the border of his constituency, and into that of Sir Peter Tapsell, who I understand also supports the BWAG campaign).
Lincolnshire has a range of viable alternative energy options, including waste incineration with energy recovery, and bio-mass. Renewable energy needs to pass the twin tests of economic and environmental viability. Bio-mass generally does. Wind clearly does not. They’re not farming wind — they’re farming subsidies. And we are all paying the price, in more ways than one.