Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Company not off to a very good start with yet another Spaldington wind farm application
So now we know, RWE npower renewables are planning to build an eight turbine wind farm on land north east of the Howdenshire village of Spaldington, on a site to be known as ‘River Valley Wind Farm’.
Many will be aware that residents of the village have, for the past two and a half years, been fighting off not one but two wind farm companies each wanting to construct overly large wind turbines close to the village. Last autumn one application for the five x 125m high turbine Spaldington Airfield site was granted consent at appeal, but the other for the Spaldington Common site was dismissed by the Government’s Planning Inspector.... Now yet another wind farm company is moving in on the community !
Interestingly the River Valley Wind Farm proposes to have one of the turbines located less than 790m from the site of the recently dismissed Spaldington Common Wind Farm. I understand this proposal is to be put out to consultation and residents will have their opportunity to comment - Where have we seen this before I wonder??
What is particularly frustrating is that detail regarding the number of turbines and their location within the site has come to light less than a week after the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee voted to approve an anemometer mast on the site.
Some would ask what difference it does make.
I would say it's a question of trust and openness and how the applicant is viewed by the community - sadly there is a perception that RWE npower renewables have not got off to a good start in this respect, particularly when one takes into account the application for the mast was submitted just before Christmas. This meant that the community of Spaldington, who had gone through so much the previous 18 months, instead of having a break, taking time to reflect, and recouping their financial losses, had to spend the festive season worrying about the threat yet another wind farm being imposed on them.
I spoke at the Planning Committee meeting, where I asked for the application for the mast to be deferred and suggested the applicant could provide some of the information pertaining to turbine size and numbers, and more importantly their location within the red lined area designated by the applicant for the wind farm.
I didn’t think this was an unreasonable request, certainly when compared to the unreasonable actions of RWE npower renewables so far in their quest to impose a wind farm on local residents. Unfortunately the advice given by the Council Officers did not support what I was requesting and although five members of the Committee voted to refuse the application, six voted to approve.
At the meeting I did acknowledge that the proposed site may be a good location for a wind farm and importantly I did support the Goole Fields application by the same company. Although I questioned if it would not have been better for them to have demonstrated a more open approach from the beginning.
The company has acknowledged its awareness of the recent appeal decisions on the Spaldington Airfield and Spaldington Common Schemes and has studied those applications, and has given careful thought to how their proposals would fit with the consented wind farm. They also state that they have taken into account the reasons for refusal for the Spaldington Common wind farm to ensure they can work with the community and key stake holders to design a wind farm that is suitable for the area. They then purport to recognise the importance and sensitivity of the recent decisions.
One resident summed it up his feelings by saying, “Is this some sort of sick joke – for me they appear to be acting like vultures picking over the carcass of a failed wind farm application”?
We have seen this drip, drip, drip strategy employed by wind farm companies time after time, the application for the mast to let residents know a wind farm is on its way, forget about any consultation at this stage. Then we see some sort of public exhibition where a number of wind turbines are proposed, the residents start a campaign, letters in the press and public outcry, then the company says they have listened and remove a couple of the turbines from the plan – leaving the number that they wanted all along - they then talk about how the community will benefit from a pot of money they can offer, or even more direct as we heard at one application.
If one looks back to a previous application, a few miles from this site, the anemometer mast was refused by the Planning Committee – what happened? Did the company appeal? No…. They just went on to submit a planning application for a wind farm that included the anemometer mast. So it can be done.
What I would have liked to have seen with this application was some decency and good old fashioned up front honesty in the process for once, by having the applicant come forward with their full plans right at the beginning. Needless to say this opportunity was lost.