Sunday, May 22, 2011
Sixpennywood Wind Farm Access Road Saga Continues
This past week I was proud to join Balkholme residents, Parish Councillors, and representatives of the ‘Sixpennywood Not’ anti-wind farm group on a site meeting with representatives of wind farm developer ‘Your Energy’ and a Government appointed Planning Inspector. The purpose of the visit was to look at the piece of land being offered by the developer as ‘Common Land’ as a replacement for a piece of ‘Common Land’ they wish to take in order to construct the wind farm access road.
I really struggle with the idea that an area forming a rectangle of some 500 square meters is to be taken, and replaced with a strip ‘43cm wide by over a 1km long’.
The consultation reply from the British Horse Society sums it up very well:
“The replacement land is of inferior quality, being at the edge of a deep dangerous drain, overgrown with trees and shrubs and what is to all purposes the rough ground where the drain is cleaned out onto.
The land proposed as replacement is not as stated on the 'edge of agricultural land ' and a less than half a metre strip of 'waste' can hardly reciprocate for the present common.
The consultation on this proposal was poor and the maps wholly inadequate and the equestrians feel that the scheme could go ahead with a permit to work on the common without the need to de-register it”.
Is this really the best Your Energy can come up with? Why instead could a useful area of land (of 500 square meters) not be provided for community use?
The Planning Inspector has my sympathies here, because it is a question of what is technically right and what is morally right.
The other point is that the access road, if given the go ahead, will have to cross a bridleway, well used by local people - especially on horseback. Your Energy is applying to close a 12m section of this bridleway for a period of 6 months during the construction of the wind Farm. Apparently, due to the risks posed to public safety.
Once the construction period is complete, the bridleway will be re-opened and access will remain as it currently exists but with an access track, constructed of compacted stone surface, crossing the bridleway for the operational lifetime of the wind farm (25 years).
The British Horse Society has also raised points about this, and I for one would not like to see the bridleway closed or significantly diverted. A compromise is certainly possible here.
I also struggle with why the access to construct this wind farm was not part of the original planning application. It this yet another example of ‘Your Energy’ playing fast and loose with the feelings of local residents and the system?