Davidstow Wind Farm – A decision

Planning is never an easy task, especially Strategic Planning. Today, we had to make a decision on the planned wind farm at Davidstow Wood an old WW2 Airfield. This application was first visited just over 6 months ago where Approval was given, subject to two conditions being met.The Link to Full Agenda

These were 1- That the proposed plan met the approval of NATS (link to what they do  Click Here) and 2 – English Nature objected to the proposed plan as it felt these turbines would have a detrimental effect on the bird population on that area.

So, six months on these two issues had not been resolved, and it seemed that it was unlikely the conditions would be met. So it was brought back to the committee for a decision. The reason why it was brought back was because at a previous committee  meetings (in October 2009 and March 2010) it was resolved that if the outstanding matters had not been addressed by 01 July 2010 then this would be brought back  for reconsideration.

I asked many questions about the level of information in the report. These were mostly on the bird issues. I asked for further information on how these figures to bird deaths were calculated. Both sides claimed different. I was informed that most of the figures were in fact guestimates. I mean, how can you make a decision when you feel that there is a lack of information, or if this information was indeed factual. I mean I could claim I am the King of Siam, but that does not mean I am!

In the end after much debate, a vote was taken. Bernie Ellis made the recommendation – as per Officers Recommendations – That this application was to be refused.

I felt I could support this for one simple fact. That was that under PPS22.  It is the responsibility of developers to address any potential impacts, taking account of Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport guidance in relation to radar and aviation, and the legislative requirements on separation distances, before planning applications are submitted. Local Planning Authorities should satisfy themselves that such issues have been addressed before considering planning applications. I felt this had not been addressed, nor the objections by English Nature had been mitigated enough to warrant approval. So refusal it was.

That does not solve the problem of do we need to take a more pragmatic view of Turbines and accept them, or keep resisting them because people do not like the look of them, or they like them as long it’s not in their own backyard.

 

10 comments

  • anguslamond

    The fact that this proposal was right next to and would have grossly dominated and degraded the in-views to(from an area of hundreds of square miles) and spectacular out-views from Cornwall's iconic twin peaks, Roughtor and Brown Willy, and the highland moorland heartland of Cornwall and the only exclusively inland part of the Cornwall Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty should never have been sidelined by a minority of 7 out of 21 of the Cornwall Council Strategic Planning Committee in October 2009, Andrew. And there's more:

    http://anguslamond.wordpress.com/cornwall-roughtor-brown-willy-and-bodmin-moor-aonb-v-community-windpower-ltd-cheshire/

    http://anguslamond.wordpress.com/cornwall-roughtor-brown-willy-bodmin-moor-aonb-images/

    A very good decision today. Let's hope so-called 'Community' Windpower Ltd over in Cheshire get the message, go away and don't come back to bother Cornwall with any other anti-social and absurd landscape, skyline, environment, cultural heritage and wildlife degrading idiocy.

    Their whole idea was ridiculous from the start and it is a surprise they were indulged to the extent this charade carried on this long.

    If they dare to resurrect their stupid plan there'll be a whole queue of determined people, organisations and other agencies waiting to greet them and nip their greed fuelled fantasies in the bud.

  • Karen Briggs

    Before making sweeping statements about accepting turbines thoughout Cornwall I really do think that you need to increase your knowledge on the subject.

    Perhaps when you realise how little they actually contribute to the grid you may well change your mind.

    Have a look at these –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10518796
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRqu4WiLQfk

    Energy firms will receive THOUSANDS OF POUNDS PER DAY per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing –

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/7840035/Firms-paid-to-shut-down-wind-farms-when-the-wind-is-blowing.html

    Should you need any more information please contact us at http://www.stinc.org.uk

  • Mark Huntley-James

    Hi Andrew,

    It is good to see someone starting a debate. For what it's worth, here's my personal rant. I had to split it into three parts…

    One:

    Before I start howling at the moon, I should probably declare my position – I am convert. I used to like the wind turbines. and now I loath them. I am not a technophobe – I am (was?) a professional physicist turned financial software consultant. Now I herd sheep rather than photons and electrons.

    Not too many years back, when the issues of global warming and green energy were starting to be taken more seriously, I looked at the spread of windfarms and thought: great, something being done at last, and they don't look too bad on the television…

    The trouble was, that was just the media/PR face of the business. My next contact with the turbines was a bit more up-close and unpleasant and, as I now know, is called Cold Northcott. We were driving towards Camelford on our way to Falmouth on a foggy autumn day. I nearly put the car through a hedge when something huge jumped out of the mist at me. Just a turbine blade, panic over… Never been so close to one of those before.

    By a chain of chance, and probably less than an hour later, we had decided we were moving to Camelford. Eighteen acres of rough grazing, lost in the fog, light drizzle falling – Cornwall is beautiful even when the weather isn't. And then, a few years later, my next encounter with a wind turbine was the plan to put twenty of them within two kilometres of our new home just outside of Camelford.

    Disillusionment was setting in. I rapidly reached the point where I realised that, as I said at the beginning, I loath the wind turbines. I am sure there is a touch of the NIMBY there – they were going to be very, very close to my back yard, but they also deeply offend my scientific training.

  • Mark Huntley-James

    TWO:
    So here are the main reasons why I put my life on hold for more than eighteen months to fight the Davidstow Windfarm:

    1: The last government declared, in their hideously convoluted planning rules, that we are not allowed to question the wisdom or value of building windfarms. Debate is not allowed – I find that offensive as a scientist and contrary to the basic point of living in a democracy. If the applicant can not defend and justify the underlying technical reasons for putting a major industrial facility in a rural area, then the application should be thrown out, not protected by a blanket dictat from central government.

    2: Wind farms are greed, not green. The only reason developers build windfarms is for the money. Lots of it, taken from us, the consumers, via the Renewable Obligation, which is no more than a back-door subsidy. There is no requirement to prove any real value, other than to point to the assumption given legal weight by the government (as per in my first objection). The chief executive of EON stated as much – no one would build wind farms without the subsidies.

    3: I do find them visually objectionable in a rural setting. Frankly, Delabole is not a pretty sight and driving towards Truro you see one ugly wind farm after another. However, drive to Bristol and turbines are dotted around Avonmouth and seem perfectly reasonable in the massively industrialised surroundings. Drive a little further, and there is a single turbine close to the M4 at Reading, perhaps a little more intrusive, but still not too bad in the industrial/commercial park setting there. (Perhaps my opinion would be different if I had to live underneath them, rather than just driving by…)

    4: They are supposedly green and therefore can do no wrong. To criticise is to be branded a heretic and probably the only thing saving the heretic from being burnt at the stake is the worry over the carbon footprint. However, when you read some of the less well publicised statements from companies such as EON, they bluntly state the serious limitations of wind power. The thing is, companies like EON are in the energy business for the long haul and it is in their interests to highlight the weaknesses of wind power rather than gloss over them as the previous government was wont to do.

    5: The numbers just do not add up to any meaningful benefit. The volcanic ash cloud saved more man-made CO2 in a few days than a project the size of Davidstow would in a year (in fact, several years) purely because it stopped the transatlantic flights. Cancelling a handful of such flights gives the same emissions savings as the Davidstow proposal, and at a fraction of the cost!

    6: The windfarms do not secure our energy supplies for the future. This is a piece of nonsense that gets bandied around. The more wind power you rely on, the more fragile the system can become and more conventional generating capacity has to be kept on inefficient standby BUT ONLY WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING. Sorry for the capitals, but this is a facet of the subject which really, really annoys me. The national grid has to maintain reserve capacity, ticking over on its minimum output, to be available at short notice in the event of a failure (a surprisingly regular event), and they have all manner of complex arrangements so that when a generating station fails unexpectedly we barely notice it. On top of this 'traditional' reserve, they add extra standby capacity when the wind farms are actually generating so that there is a ready supply to take over should the wind drop without warning.

  • Mark Huntley-James

    THREE:

    Over and above my acquired dislike of wind turbines, I have deep objections to the Davidstow proposal. I was at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting in 2009 and that was a depressing revelation. Up until then I had been taking an interest in the way in which the last government was trying to erode local democracy and take planning decisions out of the hands of local people to place them with quangos and planning inspectors. After that meeting my attitude was turned around – if I had just seen local democracy in action, bring on the planning inspectors. At least then we would not have decisions dominated by political posturing and the public polishing of green credentials.

    I really have three big complaints:
    1: The Davidstow application (which I went through in great detail) was a shambles of errors, omissions, glaring inconsistencies and grand claims which do not survive close scrutiny. It should have been thrown back to be re-done before it ever got as far as a committee. And before it wasted such a huge amount of time and money.
    2: It attracted an exceptional barrage of objection from major statutory consultees, and from organisations which generally support wind farms. All that was swept aside by councillors in an apparent desire to be seen to be green. The committee was being so environmentally-minded that it waved the green flag at a project which even Friends of the Earth viewed as being unacceptably damaging to the environment. Green at any price, green without thinking – essentially the same arrogant mind-set which got us into the present mess of profligate use of fossil fuels.
    3: It highlighted, for me, the highly constrained and polarised debate on the topic. Some people like the look of the turbines, many farmers would be happy to see the starlings gone, the energy generation is pitiful – but so many of these topics are either discounted because the government dictated it to be so, or the loud factions on both sides of the debate discourage discussion. This is a murky topic, emotionally charged and littered with highly subjective arguments which should surely be dragged out into the open rather than locked away and ignored.

    Overall, I applaud the decision to refuse permission, but I am appalled by the convoluted way that decision was reached and the lack of open debate. If it were not for the fluke of the air traffic objection, we might already be seeing the first concrete poured on a massively destructive project. However, that still leaves the question – why was this application allowed to go forward with the air traffic issue not resolved?

    I look forward to seeing more open debate. I moved to Cornwall because it is beautiful, even when the weather is foul. If we give the windfarm developers free rein, they will strip-mine Cornwall's beauty for the bountiful government subsidies and then, sadly, Cornwall will be ugly whatever the weather.

    Regards,
    Mark Huntley-James
    (A stray emmet living in North Cornwall)

  • R English

    It is wrong to accuse objectors of having some shallow reason to dislike turbines. People are not objecting to them because they do not like the look of them or that they are in their back yards but because they do not believe they will solve either power requirments or serve to enhance our green credentials , and that Cornwall should not roll over for every developer. Having followed this affair for several years I have to say I find it annoying that the council bends over backwards to help this company considering that it was never honest with anyone least of all CC. As for the NATS objection the wind company knew their was a problem at the begining in the scoping stages and wrote around the problem in their enviromental staement. The council should have heeded NATS objections, votimg on this was pointless.

  • Karen Briggs

    Have a look at this –

    http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/Man-wins-High-Court-appeal-battle-wind-turbine/article-2465795-detail/article.html

    The case is one of several legal actions involving wind turbines that are coming before the courts in a backlash by “local people” to the Government’s push for renewable energy.

  • Arthur

    Like Mark, I too am a convert. I used to think that wind farms were the essential part of a green energy future. Free energy, in fact. How wrong I was! They certainly bring benefits of monetary reward to their owners and the owners of the land on which they stand. But to the birds and bats of the area they bring death and to the residents living nearby they can bring illness both mental and physical. They dominate the landscape and destroy its tranquility. Worst of all they produce little electricity and only when the wind chances to blow, not necessarily when it is needed. Meanwhile, the power stations they were expected to replace have to go on generating to supply electricity when the wind is not blowing and to be ready to supply it when it is.

    What concerns me most, however, about this proposed windfarm at Davidstow is the presentation of so much falsehood in the planning application and so little concern by Cornwall Council that they are dealing with a company that is trying to gain a financial advantage by fraud. I have written to the council several times drawing this to their attention. If in my dealings with another person I attempt to gain a financial advantage by fraudulent means I can go to prison for the offence. I cannot see why the same rule should not apply where a company is trying to get a favourable decision from councillors by presenting falsehoods to those councillors for a planning application that is going to result in considerable financial benefit for that company. However, should the company be foolish enough to appeal against this refusal, then their mendacity will be openly examined and they be exposed for what they are. All future windfarm applications this company may make, where there is danger to wildlife, despoilationn of the landscape or detriment to nearby residents, will have a health warning attached to alert the neighbourhood to the need for careful scrutiny of all supposed facts presented in the environmental statement.

  • Karen

    As part of your 'windfarm knowledge gathering' I think you should read the following –

    More than half of Britain's windfarms have been built where there is not enough wind –

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1303688/More-half-Britains-wind-farms-built-wind.html#ixzz0wtQNdRty

  • Bob

    Hi Andrew,
    Could you tell me why if for example you could not understand the two sides of the argument on bird deaths you appear be saying that in that case I will believe CWL when they are obviously telling you that they are the king of Siam. I like many others spent a lot of time looking at the ES and as I live in Davidstow I thought I should know what was being said to planners and local people, and I can say that CWL have never been completely honest with me you or anyone and this is why it is so galling when the at the first sitting the committee appeared to bend over backwards to go along with this company and yet had not bothered to have all the facts. You should have looked at the long list of objections from the statutory Consultees and the panning officers notes and taken heed, after all that is what the system is set up for , you know that all consultees should look carefully and favourably at renewable energy projects so if they object it will be for a good reason, they are not nimbys.
    Bob

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