Some 18 months ago I presented a motion to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council asking the Council to, “undertake a review of its ’Interim Planning Document on Renewable Energy’, which could include minimum distance criteria between wind turbines and sensitive land uses such as residential dwellings, rights of way and roads”. This was approved at the meeting of the full Council.
I followed this up with a question to the Leader of the Council almost exactly a year ago asking for an update on progress, and also yesterday when I again asked for an update.
Unfortunately the responses to my questions both yesterday and a year ago indicate that the ERYC officers have done very little regarding my original motion, which is frustrating. The answer is still the same, “This may be included when we eventually produce the ‘Core Strategy’ for development in the East Riding”. That’s fine, but in the meantime many of our rural communities will be decimated by having large wind farms constructed overly close to their properties.
What is very trying is that the original motion came as a result of a number of conversations with the Council’s team of Barristers, expert witnesses and Planning Officers during and after the Sixpennywood wind farm appeal public inquiry, which was unfortunately lost and developer Your Energy given the go ahead to construct 12 x 125m high turbines on a site between Howden and Gilberdyke. It is particularly ironic that it was these conversations precipitated the suggestion that I put forward the motion in the first place as they 'lacked this vital tool in their armoury.'
Needless to say, in Howdenshire work is progressing on the Sixpennywood site, but more alarming, is that since this site was approved others have followed and we now see access and community fund issues being formally discussed around the approved 5 turbine Spaldington Airfield site, the approved two turbine Gallymoor site is moving ahead, plans are in the pipeline for a large 8 turbine wind farm at the River Valley site between Spaldington and Holme on Spalding Moor, and the applicant of the already once refused plan for the Spaldington Common site is looking at submitting an amended scheme.
If ever there was an indication of the need for the planning guidance I’m asking for it was last year, in the process leading up to, and when the Spaldington Common Wind Farm application was thrown out by the Planning Inspector at appeal. The inspector confirmed that the wind turbines would have been far too close to, and would have created a negative and overbearing impact on nearby properties. This showed quite simply that there is a limit to how close to properties wind turbines can be built. In the lead up to the appeal the ERYC Planning Committee had refused this application even though the Council’s Planning Officers had recommended approval.
If robust guidance had been in place firstly would we have seen this application and secondly, even we had the application would the Planning Officers have instead recommended refusal. A recommendation of refusal, would have been much easier to defend at the Public Enquiry, and the officers would have been in a position to the use their abundant skills in putting forward some of the evidence, which would have no doubt saved the Council a significant amount of money by not having to employ very expensive consultants/expert witnesses.