The Benefits of “Undergrounding”

I have just been made privy to some correspondence between a constituent and the CPRE, in which the CPRE (a certain Dustin Benton, who works on “the CPRE’s climate and energy policy”) sets out a pro-wind-farm policy.  Genuflecting to the conventional view, Mr. Benton says that “the threat that climate change poses to the beauty and character of England’s landscapes justifies the development of a wide range of renewables, including on and offshore wind”, and adds for good measure  “We believe that wind power, especially offshore, where the wind blows more strongly and where wind farms can be more easily sited to reduce visual impact, should make a significant contribution to the provision of vitally needed renewable electricity”.
I have written to Mr. Benton pointing out that this seems rather at odds with the expressed view of the Chief Executive of CPRE, Shaun Spiers, who is quoted as saying that “We may come to see wind turbines as the redundant relics of our compulsion to do something”  (though they now claim he meant that wind turbines would be redundant unless we also did a load of other stuff) .  I think that Mr. Spiers was right  first time, and that Mr. Benton is wrong.
But I was struck by another remark in Mr. Benton’s e-mail: “CPRE’s pylons campaign is calling for pylons to be undergrounded in nationally designated landscapes. We believe that large pylons and other intrusive forms of built development harm the character of areas that are designated for their natural beauty”.
In my note to Mr. Benton, I have said “I am struck by the obvious benefits to landscape and the environment of having pylons “undergrounded” (a new verb in my lexicon).  I think that onshore wind turbines would also be much more acceptable if they were undergrounded”.

Now there’s a solution we could all applaud.

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6 Responses to The Benefits of “Undergrounding”

  1. fenbeagle says:

    CPRE seem to be going through a period of confusion, on this subject. I wish CPRE well, particularly on their pylons campaign. Clearly though, Large industrial wind turbines, are an intrusive form of build development, harming the character of the countryside.
    Inconsistency of ideology beliefs, will not help CPRE, in their campaigns.

  2. CPRE is not going through a period of confusion on the issue of wind farms. CPRE has a national policy on onshore wind turbines which both Shaun Spiers and I have worked within when discussing wind turbines both publicly and privately. Unfortunately, Mr Helmer has misquoted Shaun Spiers and selectively quoted me to make it appear as if there is disagreement.

    To be absolutely clear, Shaun has made two remarks which are similar to those which Mr Helmer is misquoting. These are:

    “There is a concern that [wind farms] become a redundant symbol of our desire to do something but we are not actually doing it – then it is a nightmare vision of the future.” (source)


    “A 2026 nightmare would be a landscape littered with redundant wind farms and their attendant infrastructure which had been erected to salve the national conscience for continuing to expand airports and build new roads.” (source)

    Nationally, CPRE works to promote a beautiful and tranquil countryside for the benefit of all. We want to see comprehensive and coordinated action to tackle climate change, and support an integrated policy to reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and promote a wide range of renewables both on and offshore.

    • mrphilburrows says:

      The fact that you have put links to sources in your comment makes you infinitely more credible than Roger.
      Roger seems to think that he should be able to make statements that are untraceable. It makes correcting him a lot more difficult.
      Well done Dustin!

    • Thank you for taking up my invitation to add a comment, Dustin, and for explaining your position. I am glad at least that some of your regional CPRE organisations take a dissenting view.

    • Tony Leatham says:

      The national policy referred to here it seems to me is rather ineffective as each individual branch of the CPRE is permitted to form its own opinion and act on that, not the national policy.

      In Leicester, the CPRE has been subverted by at least one green fanatic who runs a pro wind organisation and every time a planning application for a wind farm requires comment from the CPRE, they always find in favour of it. This makes a mockery of this national policy and renders the CPRE toothless.

      I am aware that Shaun Spiers launched an inquiry into the situation in Leicester after being urged to do so by Mr. Helmer. Nothing tangible resulted from that inquiry.

      This national policy would have been much clearer by simply stating that industrial sized wind turbines designed for offshore use have no place at all onshore in rural england (and let’s be honest, the risks associated with wind turbines – blade failure, ice throw, noise – make them unsuitable pretty well anywhere there are people). And I think the idea that it’s OK to build them offshore is equally unacceptable – why ruin our coastal landscape for something so useless (they only generate when the wind blows between a minimum and maximum speed), pointless (they don’t actually save CO2), and costly?

  3. I should perhaps add that I spoke, quite some time ago, by telepghone to Mr. Spiers, to congratulate him on his remarks, and he made no attempt either to deny them, or to qualify them by giving a contrary context.

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