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Green Energy: Green Landscape?


Wind farm at Newlyn Down, Newquay, Cornwall (Photo credit: CPRE)

During a public inquiry into a proposed wind turbine at Glyndebourne, David Attenborough, argued that if we don't get on and generate our electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, there won't be any landscape left to protect. In the sections below, we show how CPRE, who opposed this turbine, justifies its stance.

The Issues

The issues around wind turbines or indeed an expansion in the number of high voltage electricity pylons that is proposed to cross the country, are as follows:

  • Large structures in the countryside, especially high up hills, create enermous visual intrusion
  • Poorly sited, they would spoil the views for miles around and detract from enjoyment of the countryside; it is perhaps unfortunate that the windiest places are usually on tops of hills, and therefore visible for long distances
  • The purpose of designating an area of countryside as a national park is to conserve and enhance its natural beauty
  • Within designated areas, Government planning guidance PPS 22 (renewable energy) requires that renewable energy development must only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that adverse effects on landscape must be clearly outweighed by the benefits.

Our Position

CPRE supports the the Government's policy of promoting the growth of renewable energy, since climate change is a major threat to the global environment, and to the character and quality of our countryside. However, this should not come at the expense of the beauty, character and tranquillity of the landscape. We support:

  • A greater emphasis given to offshore wind farms, particularly since average wind speeds are much higher than on land
  • On-shore wind turbines should be sited in less sensitive areas and of a scale appropriate to their surroundings
  • The exploitation of other renewable sources such as anaerobic digesters that process waste, or biomass energy production from considerable areas of largely unmanaged woodland
  • Reducing the demand for energy by consuming it more efficiently and considerately.

What We are Doing

We continue to monitor specific applications for wind turbines and campaign against them if inappropriate (see case study below).

In addition, we are promoting the development of landscape character assessments, so that such information can be used to determine the appropriateness of a particular proposal within the context of its surroundings.

Case Study - Wether Down

wind turbine size

During 2009 there was a proposal by Volkswind of Germany to place two massive wind turbines This is one of the most tranquil parts of the county, and one proposed turbine was to be only a few feet from the South Downs Way. Working closely with the local community, gathering other influential allies, advocating our case at parish council meetings, distributing leaflets, and making our case convincingly in writing to all who would read it, all together brought one day in July last year a telephone call from the Chairman of East Meon Parish Council to tell us that the developers has seen the light and withdrawn the proposal.

The following documents were produced as part of this campaign:

See also the press release announcing the withdrawal of the planning application.

Further Reading

  • Campaigners welcome Miliband comments on renewables. Following a question and answer session with the Energy and Climate Change minister, CPRE welcomes his comments that wind energy could only be used in areas of outstanding natural beauty or national parks under 'exceptional circumstances'. (Press Release July 2009)
  • Statement on Renewable Energy in National parks. Following a proposal to build two giant wind turbines in the South Downs National Park at Wether Down, CPRE Hampshire have written to the applicant (Volkswind) to express their concerns and request that their proposal be withdrawn. (Press Release May 2009)
  • CPRE National Energy Campaign (opens in new window). How to to tackle climate change whilst generating the energy we need, and do so in a way that protects our countryside as much as possible.
  • CPRE's Policy on Onshore Wind Turbines (PDF document - opens in new window). CPRE believes they have a role but that their location and extent need to be carefully controlled because of several potential impacts on the countryside.
  • CPRE's 10 tests for government policy on energy. A set of criteria developed just prior to revision of PPS22 (Planning Policy Statement) on renewable energy.

How You Can Help

get involved

If you have concerns about proposals for out-of-scale and out-of-character wind turbines in your area, please let us know.

Why not help your village undertake a Landscape Character Statement? This can be a valuable asset to provide supporting evidence to inform planning decisions that affect your local landscape.

If you would like to discuss these matters further, please contact CPRE Hampshire Branch Office, or the Campaign Management Group.

This page last updated 12th April 2011.

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