Yet again, overwhelming local opposition to a wind-farm proposal has been bulldozed aside by the government’s planning inspector, making a nonsense of promises of localism. This time, it’s on a particularly sensitive site — the Civil War battlefield of Naseby, Northamptonshire, in my East Midlands constituency. This is a site of huge historical importance, and the local Naseby Battlefield Project aims to develop visitor facilities which should attract tourism to the county. Local campaigners were delighted when the wind farm proposal was at first rejected. But now that rejection has been set aside.
Hopes for the Naseby site are — literally — overshadowed by the prospect of seven egregious, giant 400 foot wind turbines which will tower over the area. This comes despite officials admitting that the development will “harm the setting”. Yet again, our irrational obsession with futile attempts to solve an entirely speculative problem is destroying our heritage. Yet again, a coalition of local councils, local residents and heritage organisations were virtually unanimous in their opposition, yet their objections were swept aside.
Preposterously, one excuse given was that “the turbines will only be there for twenty-five years”. That’s a quarter of a century, for heaven’s sake! It’s a whole generation. And I’m sure that E-On, who are proposing this appalling desecration, will expect to replace the turbines with new ones in 2037. Sensible people, of course, know that they’ll never be replaced, because by 2037 the whole global warming scam will be no more than an historical curiosity, like the South Sea Bubble, and the remains of the turbines will be so much spinning post-industrial junk.
I have supported campaigns against wind farms across the region, including this Naseby/Kelmarsh project. But I think that none has had quite this degree of sensitivity. And I share the frustration of these campaign groups, who have worked their socks off fund-raising for representation at planning enquiries. Often they succeed with their local authority, only to have their local victory swept aside by the government’s planning inspectorate, which apparently knows no criterion except “renewable targets” (imposed, of course, by Brussels — and Chris Huhne).
What more can I do as an MEP? Not much. Except this: I can write to the Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and appeal to him on the grounds of common sense, heritage, and localism. I am sending him the following letter:
Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles MP,
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government,
House of Commons.
Kelmarsh Wind Farm Proposal at the Battlefield of Naseby
I write to you as an MEP for the East Midlands Region including Northamptonshire, to appeal to you on behalf of my constituents in the region to look again at the recent decision of the government’s Planning Inspectorate with regard to the E-On proposal to build a wind-farm at Kelmarsh, overlooking the historic Civil War battlefield of Naseby.
You will of course be familiar with the arguments. You will be aware that local opposition to the project is virtually unanimous, with a local action group, local councils and heritage organisations combining to condemn what amounts to an act of desecration on a hugely important and valuable historical site. If ever there were a case for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to intervene and make a stand, this is surely it.
I am especially concerned that the proposal runs directly counter to the ideas of localism which the Conservative Party has done so much to promote. Our localism policies will be greeted with ironic laughter as long as these men from Whitehall can overturn the settled will of local people, without debate and without appeal. Whether or not you accept the pressing need to reduce CO2 emissions (and more and more scientists doubt it); whether or not you think that wind turbines can contribute to that objective (and the evidence points against it); surely an historical site of this importance demands special protection?
Government inspectors are riding roughshod over the objections of campaign groups across the East Midlands. I should perhaps declare an interest, because this is precisely what happened at Low Spinney in Leicestershire, and I now have four vast turbines within a mile of my home. Again and again we ignore the issues of visual intrusion, environmental damage, noise, reflection and flicker and the associated health issues, and the housing blight inflicted on local communities. We ignore the damage to local residents, lives, homes, families, villages. Are we also to abandon our historical heritage to the renewable obsession?
I call on you to respect the settled views of Northamptonshire people, and re-visit this appalling decision before it is too late.
With best regards, Roger.
ROGER HELMER MEP