New Battle of Naseby

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.

 

Dear Eric,

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    

www.rogerhelmer.com

 

 

 

 

 

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16 Responses to New Battle of Naseby

  1. The situation now with government planning inspectors and wind folly subsidy farms, is such, that I see very little point in the costly and time consuming preamble. Why allow local freedom to object, and a local level planning process, if the intention is to trump the decision each and every time with centrally organised planning inspectors? Every person involved in the process, other than the inspector and the government minister in charge of the policy, is irrelevant. It would be a kindness to make this clear and move on. The hardships created in trying to raise enough money to put up serious and informed objection, by local residents in order to maintain an illusion of due democratic process, only to be slapped down again and again, is a tragedy in itself.
    The issue then is a wider one, and not about wind follies at all. Our political system itself, is in the spot light. And our legal system for establishing who, if anyone, is entitled to compensation for any loss, or negative effects to their life, caused by large scale developments.

  2. Andy C says:

    I’m not a natural opponent of wind farms – I like the idea of renewables and finding ways to keep our economy going without dependency on fossil fuels or nuclear generation (both more damaging options) seems to me to be the right way forward. Whilst some wind farms look elegant and command the landscape, they make noise and upset some people who want to preserve unbroken views of the countryside.

    I wonder just how much power the turbines generate in inland settings, and whether planned installations such as this will make economic sense. Just how profitable would a visitor centre be compared with the income and tax revenue generated by these turbines? Just how would the turbines detract from the visitor centre’s profitability? Surely you could combine the two and have twice the visitor numbers – school parties learning about the Civil War and others learning about renewables and environmentally sensitive living. .

    If you could show a better return through the development of a visitor centre rather than the turbines, or developing both, that might convince me of the argument you are making.

    According to the image you show, the turbines don’t appear to cause much damage to the battlefield itself – they “overlook” the battlefield, Is it the visual impact and the additional noise pollution that local people object to, or the rather irrational desire to temporarily preserve the view of an empty field in which an historical event took place? It’s already been bisected by the A14 – a much more damaging piece of building and a much greater noise polluter. Not far away is a big waste dump and a large lorry park – and these probably impact upon the local environment more than the installation of a wind farm.

    The one point I heartily agree with is that if one opens a planning process to local residents, their views must be considered. If the local community objects strongly having heard all the arguments, that should carry due weight. However, kneejerk nimbyism is not a convincing argument and the objection of heritage groups should not trump the economic argument from a developer – after all, the heritage groups are also rarely “local”.

    In the balance, I don’t think you make a sufficiently strong case here,

    • fenbeagleblog says:

      If you are putting forward an ‘economic’ argument, to trump a planning decision, and objections from local residents and councils. Then first of all you will have to remove the ROC indirect subsidy that the wind follies will receive. Paid by increasing electrical users bills. And causing concerns expressed in the recent government commissioned John Hills report into the effects of fuel poverty. If there is an economic argument for them without this subsidy, then you might have more of a point. My prediction is the developer would not wish to go ahead, without the subsidy, and ‘farming’ that subsidy, is in fact, the main reason for building them.

      • Andy C says:

        Thanks for your response fenbeagle, You have a point about the subsidy and whether the project would go ahead without it and I also wonder how feasible they would be without financial incentives. Just because the site has a “Mill Hill” it doesn’t necessarily mean there is sufficient consistent wind to generate electricity efficiently. However, the alternative battlefield centre is also subsidised by lottery money and similarly uneconomic.

      • fenbeagleblog says:

        I am not in generally in favour of any subsidy Andy. If the visiting centre cannot pay for itself without wealth redistribution from people with no interest it has no business being there, any more than the wind follies that will trash the place for a great deal more.

    • I disagree, Andy, that you can “keep our economy going” with wind — it’s just too expensive. New research from Holland, published by Civitas and reported in the Telegraph today, confirms what I’ve been saying for years — that the required back-up capacity (usually gas, running intermittently) means that the total emissions from wind farms plus back-up may actually exceed the emissions from gas alone run continuously and efficiently, so expensive wind doesn’t even fulfil its first objective. Oh, and I disagree that nuclear is “damaging”. It’s absolutely the safest mainstream baseload power technology we know of, by several orders of magnitude (see my Exeter blog — use the search device).

      • Andy C says:

        Thanks Roger – I wasn’t arguing for wind as the only stimulus to economy, I was just suggesting that all renewables should be considered in preference to fossil fuels or nuclear. The nuclear question is rather more long term than you suggest – ie the safety of waste storage, decommissioning costs and the unlikely but worrying Japanese experience all add up to a less rosy picture than you suggest. Mind you, I am no anti nuclear protester – I would like to see all sciences ustilised to resolve the problem of exorbitant power costs in the future. particularly when the very damaging coal-based technologies seem to be growing so rapidly in Asia.

        I would also like to see more biogas, wave and microgeneration technologies being developed. However, I agree with you that to date nuclear seems to be the most efficient mainstream power technology that is not based on fossil fuels.

  3. Wind farms don’t make any money while tourism does. I thought this government wanted to increase tourism to this country.

    • Andy C says:

      A valid point – profitability in 24.05 years is the calculation I have seen from the industry, but that doesn’t take into account the potential increases in electricity prices over the life of the turbine. – so at the end of their life they become profitable. Now how profitable is the battlefield currently? It would be splendid if it could bring in income from tourist money, but is this likely without development of a tourism centre and things like major reenactments by Sealed Knot, increased hotel/B&Bs/campsites, food outlets and other attractions to keep the tourist local? Is the infrastructure in the area? I don’t know, but my memory of the area is of little to attract a tourist based on the battlefield alone – Kelmarsh Hall is a jewel that remains underexploited, but what else?

      It would be good to see a worked out proposal on how to bring tourism to the area.

      • Andy, I just can’t accept the desecration of a national heritage site on a straight economic calculation. You may as well say that the Mona Lisa is worth the value of some old canvas.

  4. David C says:

    The worst thing of all about this is that the citizens of Northamptonshire will be paying through their increased electricity bills for the construction of these monstrosities, which without gigantic subsidy would never be built at all.
    The citizen is being taxed to provide useless memorials to Huhnism.

  5. Ian says:

    Next they will be using those useless old stones on Salisbury Plain as hardcore for a new mosque.

    • Andy C says:

      Hardly an equivalent argument Ian, Stonehenge is an enormously significant world heritage site. The battlefields of the civil war, whilst of significant moment in our history, are not the same – they deserve celebration and protection, but being overlooked by turbines is not the same as having the turbines slap bang in the middle – and I would not be content to support that. I’m not an expert on the Muslim population of Salisbury, but I doubt the bulldozers will be rolling down the A303 any time soon.

  6. Here I am in complete agreement with your feelings. We both know that you are going to get nowhere.
    The utterly trivial grounds that the Civil Servants from the DoE used to wreck out parent-led school have convinced me that you – and we – are simply trying to halt a set of big headed imbeciles.

  7. David Ramsbotham says:

    Roger – in view of your stance on wind farms could you support my petition please?

    Are you disillusioned by rising electricity prices, over dependence on the “green” dream [especially uneconomical and inefficient wind farms] and the destruction of our countryside then please register your objection to the Government on

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22958

    or by googling “petition 22958” and following the link.

    If you agree with this petition please pass this message on to persuade members of your community and anyone else you know to sign up too.

    Many thanks,

    David Ramsbotham

  8. Brenda says:

    Roger – I believe you have received a reply to your letter and wonder whether you will be adding it to this thread as I would like to add a link to our Comment section
    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/#Comment
    but it would be nice to have the whole story.
    Democracy? Forget it!
    Thanks.

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