Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sixpennywood Windfarm Appeal Decision - Another Kick In The Teeth For Local Democracy

The decision by the Government appointed planning inspector to overrule the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee by granting permission for the Sixpennywood Windfarm application near Howden is yet another kick in the teeth for local democracy. Clearly the inspector has played lip service to the Governments agenda and completely failed to take into account the Council’s good record of having already exceeded its 2021 renewable energy target by some 26%, he has not taken into account the local feeling, and he has completely failed to recognise the devastating effect a windfarm of such size and scale will have on the landscape.

In the past, as a member of the ERYC Planning Committee I have voted for and against windfarm applications depending on their size, scale and location. But for me this particular application was never about wind energy, it was never about a windfarm on this site – it was all about sheer size and scale of the proposal and the greed of Your Energy the company behind the application, maximising it’s profits by having the greatest number of the largest turbines on the site, with the nearest being 630m from a dwelling.

The company has acted in a very questionable manner from the very beginning, playing scant regard to community engagement, riding roughshod over local concerns, measuring the background noise in very dubious circumstances, and changing the size of the turbines between the Planning Committee making its decision and the case going to appeal. Your Energy comes out of this whole sordid affair with a planning consent worth millions but with it’s credibility seriously questioned.

Needless to say the residents of Kilpin, Laxton, Balkholme and Eastrington will be overlooked by 10 of the largest wind turbines constructed in the Britain, and with each turn of the gigantic blades raking taxpayers money into the coffers of an offshore company. I am aghast at the inspector when he says in his decision notice “Subject to suitable conditions I do not find that there would be unacceptable harm to the living conditions of nearby residents” I would find it very difficult to explain this to those residents whose lives are going to be changed.

This is an appeal that we could not afford to lose, I now fear for other areas and communities of the East Riding of Yorkshire that are likely to suffer the same fate, as the speculative windfarm developers move in with applications of a similar massive size and scale, at a distance of less than 650m from people’s houses. Local democracy is worth fighting for, local voices are important and should be heard, alas this is clearly not the Governments understanding, when they trample all over local democratically elected Councillors, the sooner this centralist government with its complete lack of understanding of rural issues is thrown out the better.

To listen to an interview I gave to BBC Radio Humberside's Peter Levy on this item please click: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p005drw5/The_Peter_Levy_Show_09_12_2009/ the interview starts at 11.40 in.


John in Gilberdyke said...

You present a good assessment of the situation Paul. It belongs on the front page of the national press where just maybe the whole miserable charade of planning inspectorate windfarm appeals be brought to the whole countrywide electorates attention.
There is another side to the planning and inspectorate coin of course. We have within our parish a development which was supposed to be screened by trees. Some years later are there any trees? - Are there hell! The neighbour lives in a hellish situation.
Why do not the enforcement team actually act on matters such as this? They jump all over small people but seem to run a mile from anyone who will kick up a fuss

James said...

I really agree with Paul Robinson on this matter. The local residents of the site at Sixpenny wood have fought for what seems like an eternity to protect the rural landscape of Howdenshire and the peaceful tranquility it brings to the area. Now after all these years, the local parish councils objecting, the planning committee objecting on 2 occassions (1 for the mast and 1 for the project itself) some Government body comes in and makes a decision - not on the local feeling CLEARLY but on Whitehall! Well Mr Brown and Mr Blair I hope you are proud of yourselves. You have allowed what is a beautiful tranquil peaceful farming community to be ruined by these monstrosities, that would even be errected if it weren't for the huge subsidies we tax payers and electric bill payers offer these off-shore companies. You have ruined the countryside! As for the inspector I hoped you would take into account the local public feeling but obviously you didn't consider these people that are going to have thier worlds turned upside down for years to come! I mean how on earth can you allow a turbine of 125M to be built within 650m from someones house - we wouldn't allow birds or bats to be treat this way - oh yes we would in this instance as clearly the EI stated there would be casualties. I hope you can tell from this that I for one am not happy with the Government or the Planning Inspector and I fear for the East Riding as every wind developer and his dog are now due to bombard the area with applications. Good luck to all the sensible people fighting the cause. The Government need to get a grip of this country or there will be no country left to be proud of. In fact Mr Camaren needs to sort this mess out that Labour are going to leave!

Anonymous said...

If it acceptable to build the windfarm next to the communities of Balkholme, Kilpin, Laxton, Eastrington etc why not build on Swinefleet peat bog/Thorne wastes? Oh, I forgot we might inconvenience some wildlife. Which is most important people or birds etc.?

Anonymous said...

Bob near Skelton has left a new comment on your post "Sixpennywood Windfarm Appeal Decision - Another Ki...":

At last common sense has been used, even at this late stage. The minority, some residents and some not, have been over ruled by the planning inspector. This nasty and at best, petty little campaign has cost east riding council tax payers over £60,000. In fact £100,000 would be nearer the mark.
The council turned the application down on the possible affect on Howden minster, nothing else, not noise, wildlife, disputed property value. The application was rejected by 8 votes to 7. One vote. £100,000 gambled on one vote. Money badly spent. Our money!!!
I welcome these generators as much as the ones at Old Goole. Old Goole residents I know also welcome them, but the council passed those. Is it because down to earth hard working people on the south bank look to the future, when the toffs on the north bank just don’t want them in there manicured back yard?
I don’t exspect you to publish this Paul, as it fails to fall into line with the view of the few members of snot, your misguided loyalty is commanded by.

Paul Robinson said...

No Problem publishing your views Bob...

If you read what I have said then you'll realise for me it was never about a windfarm on this site - it was about the size and scale of the proposal.

My loyalty is to Howdenshire and East Riding Residents - But on planning matters I treat each application on it's merits, as you know I have voted for and against windfarm applications. The Goole Fields and Twin rivers sites are remote and isolated, as well as being away from housing...

I like to think I'm down to earth and hard working - most people who know me would think this I’m sure... Yes I live in the North Bank of the Humber/Ouse - but a Toff? Come on Bob I went to Howden Comprehensive School….(first time anyone has brought up class on this blog - congratulations!)

Wind farm victim said...

ERYC can not escape it's share of responsibility for the outcome of the Sixpenny Wood Public Inquiry. Those of us who sat through the inquiry, especially the first 3 days, watched the shambolic performance of the Council's team with increasing horror.

We saw consultants appearing as expert witnesses for the Council, who were clearly under-prepared and unfamiliar with the case they were presenting, easily torn apart by the advocate appearing for Your Energy. The evidence of one witness appearing for the Council was mostly material recycled from the previous Tedder Hill inquiry. Unfortunately for the Council the appellant's advocate had also appeared at Tedder Hill..... It became increasingly clear that the witness had also had very little to do with the preparation of the evidence.

ERYC's advocate gave the impression of being disorganised with little strategy behind her questioning of witnesses. Indeed she appeared to wrong foot her own witness on more than one occasion.

In contrast the team on the other side of the room, appearing for Your Energy, were very competent, professional, well prepared and far more credible than ERYC's team. And they were led by a very incisive and effective advocate.

The only redeeming aspect of the Council's case at the inquiry was the performance of the ERYC official giving evidence on the impact of the Sixpenny Wood turbines on a very narrow view of Howden Minster. He did an excellent job, defending a difficult argument. The other witnesses appearing on behalf of the council were all external consultants rather than ERYC staff.

ERYC's debacle at the inquiry made it very simple for the Inspector to follow the Government line and plant yet another wind farm in this area.

ERYC seems to have tried to fight the appeal it could not afford to loose "on the cheap" and got what it paid for.

The people who will now be affected by the Sixpenny Wood Wind Farm deserved better. All East Yorkshire residents threatened by the prospect of huge wind turbines far too close to their homes deserve better. 600m…500m……400m………

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if Bob really wants to look into the class and North South issue he ought to less parochial and question how many wind farms are been built in the south of the country compared to the north.

Anonymous said...

Well done Paul for highlighting this issue the bad news is it is going to get worse. Can I appeal to everyone to object to the new proposals about to engulf Spaldington. Visit www.spaldingtonstop.org.uk for more details