Last Saturday, I went to see the impact of a proposed wind farm by the village of Peckleton, near Desborough, in David Tredinnick’s Bosworth Constituency. The developers are proposing to put two 400 foot turbines a mere 550 yards from “Fairfields”, the house where Mr. & Mrs. Sargent live with Mrs. Sargent’s brain-damaged brother David. David requires constant care, and has occasional fits of depression which are brought on and exacerbated by noise. The Sargents are dreading to think of the impact which these vast industrial structures will have, so near to their home. There is, of course, extensive evidence that the low-frequency sound of wind turbines can have very serious health impacts on susceptible local residents.
The local protest group, the Peckleton Action Group, organised by Angelina Thorne and her colleagues, had arranged for a blimp to be flown to illustrate the height of the proposed turbines, and I was glad to have the opportunity on Saturday to see for myself.
(I have had some criticism of the photograph above, which fails to show the blimp. But the problem is that while the blimp clearly shows the enormous scale of the proposed turbines, it is so high in the sky that it’s scarcely visible at all in a photo).
It is simply heartbreaking to see the scale of the proposed imposition on the wonderful Leicestershire countryside, and on the much-loved home of these local people. This is a horror story which is unfolding across the country, and all across the land, courageous and determined groups of local people are devoting huge amounts of time, effort and money to opposing these developments. It must seem a bitter irony that they are assured by European conventions of a right to the quiet enjoyment of their property.
In the last months of the Labour government, it was clear that it had issued instructions for planning permission to be granted in defiance of local opinion. We Conservatives on the other hand talked of localism, and giving local people a say on intrusive developments. It is time to deliver. I propose to take this issue up with Eric Pickles as Communities Secretary, and see what hope we can offer to people like the Sargents.
There might be some consolation if wind turbines made any sense in economic and environmental terms. Not only does each turbine soak up subsidies of over £100,000 a year (paid for by electricity consumers like you and me), but we are now finding that the grid has to pay extra money to wind farm operators to turn off the turbines when the power they produce is surplus to requirements. It has well been said that “wind power may be free, but it’s certainly not cheap”. In fact it’s very expensive, both in terms of hard cash, and in terms of the blight on lives and homes and communities.