Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A breath of sanity

Last week we reported on the remarkable story of the planning application for the subsidy wind farm at Lower Farm, Bearstone, Shropshire.

Despite it attracting objections from 2,333 residents and businesses, six Parish Councils, two MPs and the neighbouring Newcastle under Lyne Borough Council – which refused permission for the access road - planning officials had decided that national policy was sufficient to over-ride local objections and recommended that the scheme should go ahead.

Last night, however, in front of 400 local residents, in a packed hall set out for 250, North Shropshire Planning and Development Committee, decided to go with local sentiment and refused the application by a clear majority of 11-3.

However, the developers, Dutch-owned Nuon (from the land of the burning windmill – pictured), are planning to appeal and, from past experience, it is likely that the government appointed planning inspector will approve the scheme, citing the essential need to increase the amount of renewable energy.

MP for North Shropshire, Owen Paterson, who has been at the forefront of the campaign against these seven giant 340 ft, 2MW wind turbines, had a suggestion for Nuon – to the effect that they should find a large cold stone and hide under it. The people of Shropshire do not want these windmills and no amount of corporate spin will make them change their minds.

But, with £43 million of subsidy at stake, it is easy to see why Nuon are so enthusiastic about wind. This is easy, secure money, gained from ripping off customers through the so-called Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) levy, without which wind power would be economically unviable.

And that, at the heart of it, is what windmills are all about – money. Government policy, with the backing of the EU, has turned these useless eyesores into giant money-making machines and the corporates are now digging deep into the trough to grab their shares of the booty.

Still there are enough stupid people out there – and an awful lot of politicians – who are na├»ve enough to believe otherwise. But, for once, democracy and common sense have prevailed. But, such is this land of ours that it will very soon be cast aside. The windmills must prevail – for no other reason than money talks.