Thursday, June 21, 2012

Minimum distances between wind turbines & houses - A missed opportunity in East Yorkshire

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.


Anonymous said...

It is now abundantly clear that the hidden agenda within ERYC is for as many wind farms as quickly as possible. The local population are just an inconvenience which ERYC tries to ignore; if the locals actually get themselves organised into a vocal opposition group then ERYC regards them as a nuisance. ERYC seem far more interested in whatever money they might be able to get from these wind farm companies than in their own residents welfare.

Anonymous said...

It is the case that the agenda within ERYC is for as many wind farms to be approved and built as quickly as possible? Is the local population just an inconvenience which ERYC tries to ignore and if the locals actually get themselves organised into a vocal opposition group does the ERYC regard them as a nuisance? I just don’t understand but it seems the Council are far more interested in whatever money they might be able to get from these wind farm companies than in their own residents welfare.

Anonymous said...

The performance of the ERYC planning department and the councils legal representation was significantly less than that of the Spaldington residents. An observer could be forgiven for thinking the planners were wind supporters paying lip service to the decision of the councillors to refuse the windfarm application. This needs an investigation.

John in Gilberdyke said...

It seems to me there are a number of matters of importance which have stalled in the planning department - wind turbines and the Gilberdyke Tip to highlight two instances. In private industry such failures would be rooted out and the culprits dealt with. Is it too much to ask that the elected representatives act on the behalf of the electors and manage/get a grip on this totally unacceptable situation?

Paul Robinson said...

Many thanks for all the comments people have sent and attempted to post on this subject.

Whilst I fully appreciate what you are all saying, the ‘code of conduct’ for East Riding of Yorkshire Councillors means that if I allowed most of the comments that criticise the Council, Planning officers, or the Leader of the Council to be published, then I would be once again hauled before the Council’s Standards Committee accused of ‘bringing the Authority and my office into disrepute’.

Comments that put forward an argument, and criticise the action rather than an individual, or those that do not easily identify an individual are normally OK.

Thanks for your understanding.


Anonymous said...

A great pity that the East Riding Council opted for the more restrictive code of conduct instead of the simplified version suggested by the government. It would seem likely that this was deliberately pushed through simply to keep those voices of dissent silent. Shameful!

Anonymous said...

We now see a number of Parish Councils with the foresight to throw out ERYCs "advice" to adopt the more restrictive version and adopt the Government version. Sadly this leaves a number of hard working representatives who are members of Parish Councils and ERY Council having to operate under two separate codes. While wearing their Parish hats they can operate and speak freely to the benefit of their Parishes, but while wearing the ERYC hats they are virtually silenced on vital matters and so the county merry go round trundles on!

Anonymous said...

I notice the eryc monitoring officer has attempted to introduce the most restricttive conditiions of the old style code into the government suggested version. Hopefully this will be noticed by the parishes and they will throw it out of their adopted codes.