The countryside champions

windfarm Woodmancott

Artist's impression of proposed turbines at Woodmancott

Green Energy:
Green Landscape?

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 this section, we highlight proposed wind turbine projects in our area that CPRE Hampshire opposes. Further down the page you will find a discussion on the issues, and our position on wind turbines and principles that we feel should guide applications.

Although inappropriately sited wind turbines have been our major concern in recent years, we are now facing what could become another blight on the character of our landscape - that of solar farms. CPRE Kent have produced a 64-page Planning Practice Note (PDF - opens in new tab) on how to respond to proposals for such developments


Bullington Wind Farm Proposal [Refused]

Latest. The three Authorities whose land the proposals straddle - Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley - met jointly on 16th June and refused permission.
Read CPRE's presentation to meeting :: Decision notice

French electricity giant EDF is proposing to build 14 massive wind turbines, each over 400 feet high, on the North Wessex Downs to the north of Bullington Cross, i.e. in the NE quadrant between the A34 and the A303 near Freefolk wood - about two and a half miles to the south of Overton and Whitchurch.

This would be one of the biggest wind power stations in southern England and visible as far afield as Salisbury, Southampton and Winchester.

CPRE Hampshire is opposed to this project. In our view it would be bound to have a seriously adverse impact on the special qualities and character of Hampshire's landscapes, including the setting of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its benefits would not outweigh the adverse impacts.

Quite apart from environmental and visual objections, any carbon savings would be very limited because alternative power would still be needed when the wind is insufficient. (Wind turbines in the south of England usually produce less than one quarter of their stated capacity due to intermittence of wind supply).

Keep Hampshire Green is an organisation quite separate from CPRE Hampshire which has been formed with the objective of opposing these Wind Turbine proposals. For a detailed discussion of the arguments and to keep up to date with any developments, please visit their website - www.keephampshiregreen.org.


Woodmancott Down Windfarm [Refused]

Latest. Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council refused this application at its meeting on 25th June 2014. To read the documentation associated with this proposal and the officer's recommendation visit this page (application no. 13/00844) of the Council's planning portal.

From the outset CPRE Hampshire opposed this proposal for a medium-sized windfarm (6 turbines, each 130m high) in an unspoilt part of Hampshire at Woodmancott Down. An application was first submitted to Basingstoke & Deane Council in June 2013. CPRE North Hampshire chairman, Peter Bedford, has written an article It's An Ill Wind (PDF) outlining the issues and CPRE Hampshire's opposition to this scheme. He urged those who value our countryside to sign the petition of the local campaign group. The website given in the original article has now been superceeded by SOS Hampshire Downs (external link), which provides up to date information on this proposal.


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.

In terms of our approach to proposals for on-shore wind turbines, CPRE issued an updated set of principles in 2012. They include:

  • Work within a locally accountable, strategic plan-led system to steer wind turbine development to areas of least landscape sensitivity, taking account of community views.
  • Protect the character of the countryside – its landscape, tranquillity, wildlife, heritage and amenity. Wind turbines should be sensitively located to take account of their individual and cumulative impact on the countryside.
  • Require proposals for wind turbines to be assessed on their individual merits. There should be no planning policy presumption in favour of renewable energy development, or wind turbines in particular.
  • Require the onshore wind industry to take legal and financial responsibility for the removal of wind turbines and associated infrastructure from the landscape once they come to the end of their useful life.
  • Prior to making applications for wind turbine development, developers should fully engage with local communities and secure public participation in planning for renewables.
  • Include full assessments of the cumulative impacts of wind turbine developments in the decision-making process as required by paragraph 97 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The full 4-page policy guidance note can be downloaded from the CPRE National Website here (PDF: 90kb - opens in new tab/window).


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 11th July 2014.

 
 
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