REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 186

Revolt news 10/05/2005

NEWS FLASH (from news185) ... the Revolt committee has decided to work on informing the public about the emerging regional policy of concentrating wind farms on Hambleton District. The new planning frameworks are complex, and responses to Local Development Plans are required later this month, but the details of wind farm concentration are relatively obscure in background papers. A separate issue of Revolt news will take this up shortly. Revolt will not however take on a national co-ordinating role on wind farms, as that is admirably filled by Country Guardian

 http://www.countryguardian.net .

ACTION DEADLINE ... Hambleton DC ask for returns to their consultation by Friday 20 May.

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In this news issue, the planning background is outlined, and two key background documents showing wind-farm targets for 2010 are attached. Those targets are more than doubled for 2021. Yet none of the primary consultation documents brings out the targets or their concentration on Hambleton. You have to explore the background documents for that.

The formal consultation questions don't provide for a response on this issue. You would have to make a separate comment. However, in Hambleton News of May 2005, tucked away near the end of a small article on page 10, Mick Jewitt (Head of Planning Policy and Economic Development) does ask if people want us to encourage windfarms or protect our landscape from them; a lack of response to this obscure quote might be taken as a lack of concern.

People concerned about this rather arbitrary concentration of wind farm targets, firstly on North Yorkshire as more than double those for either West Yorkshire or South Yorkshire, and secondly on Hambleton as more than double those for any other District, should express their concern in writing to Hambleton DC by 20 May.

Addresses, email contacts and web sites are listed below. When responding to Hambleton, it may help if you copy in the regional and county bodies and your Hambleton councillor and MP.

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1. GLOBAL WARMING (GW). GW is portrayed by national politicians as a major threat, if not THE major threat. While unsustainability of global economics and resources, in the face of growing population and consumption, may indeed be a major threat, there is much less certainty about the extent of human influence on GW and the likely balance of its good and bad effects. Having said that, it is good to control pollution. The upshot is that politicians need to be seen to respond. Major renewable energy development is inevitable, albeit regrettably alongside major increases in pollution, e.g. from air transport, and alongside slow progress in energy efficiency and conservation.

2. WIND FARMS. The real problem is that political visibility, and ill- informed green zeal, manifest themselves in a blind or cynical promotion of windfarms, which, for technical reasons, hardly help the problem at all and could even make it worse, both by creating more greenhouse gases from the back-up they need and by distracting resources from more effective measures. But, windfarm targets there will be (and are), cascading down from national government, intercepted regionally and dispersed to local districts, with some fairing worse than others.

3. NATIONAL policy. Policy is often framed in terms of renewable energy (RE), surely a Good Thing in general. In practice this means primarily wind farms generating electricity. National targets from the Energy White Paper are for 10% of electricity generation to be from RE by 2010 and 20% by 2020, and for a 60% reduction in CO2 gases by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. High government subsidies favour wind farms, so better ideas would at best be seen as extras, not alternatives. In any case, the scale of UK energy consumption is vastly greater than all practical renewable generation schemes together. However, nuclear energy does not generate greenhouse gases and is on a significant scale against gross national consumption. That remains controversial and is the subject of speculation about how national policy will develop post May 5th. Meanwhile, the government planning statement PPS22 (see Revolt news158.1) paves the way for approval of wind farms over local opposition.

4. REGIONAL strategy. Wind farm targets are allocated to districts in effect through regional planning strategies, though rather obscurely. Consultants (AEA Technology), doing desk research in liaison with the Regional Assembly (YHA) and Government Office (GOYH), have set out detailed targets in background papers (title: Planning for Renewable Energy Targets in Yorkshire and Humber; also called Renewable Energy Assessment Studies - REAS). A first REAS is dated 2002 and the latest version December 2004. This is where the concentration on North Yorkshire and Hambleton seems to originate. It comes without any clear rational explanation, simply from imposed maps characterising sub- regions and sub-areas, in turn developed as part of a draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), and with reference to PPS22.

5. RSS. The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) has to consider many aspects of development, and windfarms are scarcely a visible part of it. The maps such as used in the REAS characterise sub-areas according to, for example, rural/urban nature, links and transport corridors, giving a credible picture for planning. However, they are not sensitive enough to act as a basis for detailed windfarm targets, which remain rather arbitrary. The popularity of sub-areas for desirable housing and rural settlement, acknowledged elsewhere, seems to be lost in setting windfarm targets, whereas the characterisation as transport corridor seems to have doomed Hambleton. The only reason for concentration of windfarms in Hambleton I could discern from officers was a reference to avoiding National Parks, but that would not justify the concentration either on North Yorkshire or on Hambleton. Windfarm targets are reflected also in policy R12 on pages 173-4 of the 2004 draft RSS.

6. REGIONAL key papers. The targets deriving from the REAS are expressed, at least for 2010, in one of 19 background Topic Papers to the RSS. The Topic Papers were open for consultation in winter 2004/05, closed 25 Feb 05. Wind farm targets are not mentioned in the covering notices and summaries, but appear in Topic Paper 7 (Energy), which is attached. This is a short paper, in contrast to the long and detailed REAS volumes which cover all forms of renewable energy. The purpose of the Topic Paper is as background to the RSS rather than being a hard- and-fast prescription; both it and the RSS could be revised, but the targets have already gained a place in print and will be all the harder to change for that. The whole RSS itself is a draft due to be put to government in September (having been put back already), following which it will be put out for consultation.

7. COUNTY policy. Last year the North Yorkshire County Council issued a statement favouring developing small-scale wind farms across the County (news159.3), while recognising the negative impact on the landscape. The District and County authorities work together to respond to many aspects of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). They have commissioned a sub- regional RE study covering North Yorkshire and City of York, with a brief to provide answers to how RE targets can be delivered, how Local Development Frameworks can provide for it, and how local authorities can enable it. It is hoped to have the answers by July.

8. DISTRICT policy. The present consultations, with the 20 May deadline to Hambleton DC, are based on the Local Development Framework (LDF). There is a series of eight accompanying Topic Papers (different from the regional YHA Topic Papers). LDF Topic Paper 8 (Environment) is the relevant one and is attached. It refers to national and regional policies. It mentions that wind energy proposals could have a significant impact, and refers briefly to the regional Topic Paper 7 (Energy), saying it raises the issue of local targets, but it doesn't mention that Hambleton has been singled out for maximum windfarms. The consultation questions ask how the LDF can encourage the development of wind turbines; protecting the landscape is mentioned, but impact on homes seems not to be a concern.

9. LOCAL ACTION. If you are concerned, it will be helpful to lodge a written response with Hambleton DC by 20 May to say so. Raising the matter with your parish councillors and getting them also to respond to Hambleton would help. It may not be too late to ask Hambleton and North Yorkshire to challenge the disproportionate windfarm targets set for them, when other areas, for example with former coal mines and power stations, or with disused airfields or brown-field sites, may present better opportunities. You may also wish to encourage policies to protect not only landscape but also homes from the effects of infra-sound, flicker in sunlight, visual impact and devaluation, and villages from damage to their rural character.

10. NATIONAL ACTION. Unfortunately, we can do little in the short term to affect national policy, though we have called for re-classifying windfarms as non-renewable except for Good Quality Wind Power (news184.1). It is likely that there will be windfarm targets throughout Yorkshire; then it will be a matter of opposing windfarm proposals separately.

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Addresses and contacts:

Hambleton DC, Planning Policy Team, Freepost DL511, Civic Centre, Stonecross, Northallerton DL6 2BS. 

 http://www.hambleton.gov.uk   planning.policy@hambleton.gov.uk  graham.banks@hambleton.gov.uk 

Hambleton's Planning Policy - Local Development Framework (LDF) page is at:

http://tinyurl.com/a4g37 

and the paper is available here as well:

HDC_LDF_Topic8_Environment.pdf

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North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 8AD Tel: 01609 780780 ext 2206 Fax: 01609 777951

 http://www.northyorks.gov.uk  Neil.Dodson@northyorks.gov.uk  Andrea.McMillan@northyorks.gov.uk 

Planning Team, Yorkshire & Humber Assembly, 18 King Street, Wakefield WF1 2SQ tel 01924 331590

http://www.yhassembly.gov.uk/  aga.proszowska@yhassembly.gov.uk  emma.king@yhasssembly.gov.uk 

YHA_Topic_7_energy.pdf

Regional Planning, Transport and Environment GOYH, City House, Leeds

  LJSaunders.GOYH@go-regions.gsi.gov.uk 

 

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