Friday, October 09, 2009

A kick in the teeth for democracy as Central Government continues to overrule local decision making on siting of Windfarms

Yesterday (Thursday), we as the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Committee had two wind farm applications in front of us. One for 16 turbines on Goole Fields, which was a very good, well thought through application, and something I found easy to support personally and it had the unanimous support of the Committee. The other was for 3 turbines at Monkwith, near Roos in South Holderness, this I had serious problems with due to the cumulative impact of other applications in the area, at this point in time I don't know on what basis the committee could make a decision... I fail to see how we are able to make decisions on renewable energy applications when the Government is making policy on the hoof. We have to stop this second-guessing of what they want, and let them tell us what policy(s) they expect us to make a decision.

I therefore proposed that the application be deferred for “more information and clarification on the current weighting between national interest and the cumulative impact of wind farms, as the Secretary of State's recent decisions appear to be running contrary to the Government's own planning policy statements” ..... The committee supported this, plus added further concerns about the impact on the local airfield.

The Government message is coming across loud and clear, and is that if we as a local authority planning committee refuse any renewable energy application wherever, whenever and by whoever the applicant is likely to take it to appeal were the Government’s planning inspector will overrule that the decision. To defend the Planning Committee’s decision at such appeals costs the Council some £60k. This is nothing more than a ‘tax on local democracy’, and I refuse to have my hands shackled on this, it is not acceptable, and we must be free as democratically elected Councillors to make our decisions without the spectre of Ed Milliband sitting on our shoulders!

I accept that as a Planning Committee member we have to look at each planning application on its own merits and we can only make a decision on what is in front of us, but applications like the one yesterday can't be pigeon holed just like that and must not be treated in isolation. We must consider the cumulative impact of all the wind farm applications close to Roos.

It is Roos today but it may well be Sancton, Spaldington or any other village in the East Riding tomorrow.

The East Riding of Yorkshire is special and its rurality is one of the reasons why people choose to live here. It is essential that this be protected from the speculative windfarm developers - windfarms in suitable locations like Goole Fields yes, but not in unsuitable locations, sites close to residences, or where sheer numbers swamp communities.

With the Secretary of State overruling decisions taken by the Planning Committee on siting of windfarms, it is nothing more than a kick in the teeth for every individual community, residents group, action group or Parish Council who have spent many hours and their hard earned cash in putting together campaigns and documentation to ensure that issues of landscape, siting, noise, transport, and impact on their homes, lives and businesses is properly taken into account by the Planning Committee. Only to find out that all is in vain as Milliband overrules each and every possible objection in the so-called national interest. He's even dispensed with the pretence of considering the communities view, or our view as an authority, by the Governments unelected planning inspectors dealing with complex appeals in just 17 days....

The Government should save us from this charade and come clean by telling the public and us as Councillors that alternative energy applications are now permitted development, allowed wherever, whenever and by whoever at the behest of the speculative developer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its a tough situation. On the one hand we need to be able to generate sufficient electricity to meet our social and industrial needs, on the other we need to retain a decent quality of life for rural residents.
The green arguments while well meaning are fundamentally flawed insofar as shutting down all energy use in the uk wouldn't have any measurable effect on worlwide CO2 emission. Bliar simply signed up blindly to kyoto to make himself appear important on the world stage when in reality he is/was a political pygmy.
We have coal enough for more than ours and the next two/three generations under Yorkshire and we have nuclear technology if only the vociferous few would grow up and shut up so we can go forward.