First we had Energy Minister John Hayes giving the thumbs down to wind farms, insisting that no more would be built. Then we had Owen Paterson, Environment Minister, calling for an end to subsidies for wind — which would effectively mean the end of wind energy in the UK.
And now we have Nick Boles, Planning Minister, asking for a 1.4 mile (2 km?) set-back from dwellings for new turbines. This is a measure which has been widely discussed. Lincolnshire County Council, to its eternal credit, has put such a limit in its planning policy, as have a number of local authorities. But no national ruling exists so far.
And the same article that records Nick Boles’ 1.4 mile demand also reports that Eric Pickles, the well-upholstered Secretary of State for Communities, has emphasised the importance of local authorities in the planning process. “We look to local planning authorities to determine where a wind farm or a single turbine might go, and in particular where they might not”.
Given that local authority planning enquiries regularly find against wind farm planning applications, and that the developers then appeal, and the Man from Whitehall routinely overturns the local decision, Mr. Pickles’ comments smack of hypocrisy. Add the fact that the Lib-Dem half of the Coalition, represented by Ed Davey, a man steeped in old-fashioned green extremism, regularly insists that his wind farm programme is on track and will not be derailed by Conservatives, and we see that even the hypocrisy itself is mired in confusion.
Conservative Ministers keep singing the right song on wind, but the Coalition government continues with its deeply flawed and damaging policy, which is desecrating what’s left of our countryside.
I feel particularly aggrieved on behalf of my village, which has the Low Spinney wind farm within a mile of the curtilege of the community. Like so many such developments, it was turned down by the local council, Harborough District, but allowed on appeal. Since Low Spinney stands as a reproach both to Nick Boles’ 1.4 mile set-back, and to Eric Pickles insistence on the primacy of local planning, can we now expect to have the wretched thing dismantled?