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Lyveden New Bield 2Leading conservation bodies have united for the first time in a High Court battle against plans for a windfarm they say will result in substantial harm to a heritage area “of national significance”.
English Heritage and the National Trust say if they lose the landmark case the protection of other important historic sites around the country could also be undermined.
They argue the area in Northamptonshire has “a great many top-dollar heritage assets” and defeat will “turn government policy on conservation on its head”.
In a unique move, English Heritage and the National Trust are supporting East Northamptonshire District Council’s legal bid to block plans for four wind turbines in an area north of Catshead Woods on farmland at Sudborough.
In particular there is concern over the wind farm’s impact on the setting of Lyveden New Bield, a 17th Century lodge which has one of the finest surviving examples of an Elizabethan garden in the country.
The district council rejected the windfarm plans, then involving five wind turbine generators, in 2010 after strong local opposition and fears the heritage of the area would be put at risk through their interference with panoramic views.
But developers Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Ltd appealed, and in March last year public inquiry inspector Paul Griffiths allowed the construction of four turbines.
The proposals include building a sub-station, access road, an 80 metre (262 feet) anemometer mast, underground cabling and temporary construction facilities.
Each turbine will have a hub height of 85m (278ft), a rotor diameter of approximately 93m (305ft) and total maximum height of 126.5m (415ft).
The inspector said he recognised the case had wide implications for listed buildings and conservation areas and the proposal would cause harm to the setting of a range of designated heritage assets.
But the harm was “less than substantial” and was outweighed by the “significant benefits” the windfarm would bring in terms of renewable energy.
Today Morag Ellis QC, representing the council, argued at London’s High Court that the inspector’s decision was legally flawed and he had underestimated the harm that would be caused.
Ms Ellis told Mrs Justice Lang the way the inspector had worded his decision was “genuinely mysterious and wholly inadequate”.
He had concluded the presence of the turbines “would not erode a reasonable observer’s understanding or appreciation of the significance of the designated heritage assets – and they would therefore have no harmful impact on their settings”.
Ms Ellis said: “That is an extraordinary conclusion. There are a great many top-dollar heritage assets involved here.
“This decision turns government policy on conservation on its head.
Speaking on BBC Radio Northampton today, Jonathan Hornett of Northants Green Party, said ‘in it’s day Lyveden New Bield itself was a controversial addition to the countryside with strong local opposition; the whole site, including the gardens and moats are man made’
‘This country needs energy security, energy bills are increasing due to having to import fuel. Foreign countries will try to charge as much as they can for fuel because why shouldn’t they?’
‘People always want the electricity, but do not want the generation of electricity, a balance of wind, solar and fossil fuelled generation is they only way forward.’

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50218759A pub is hosting an event at which people will be able to find out how they can benefit from free green electricity at an informal chat with an installer of small-scale wind turbines.

The evening on Wednesday, February 20 at the Queen’s Head in Sutton Bassett will be open to residents and businesses from Northamptonshire.

Windcrop Ltd has organised drinks and a light buffet at the pub in Sutton Bassett between 7 and 9pm when the event is taking place.

People will be able to speak to current customers and site assessors of Windcrop Ltd who will give them advice about the suitability of their land and the kind of savings they could expect from wind turbines.

The company has already installed more than 450 turbines across the UK and has helped everyone from farmers to homes, schools and businesses to cut their electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprint.

It has also installed turbines to help power community-based enterprises such as village halls.

The wind turbines that the company is offering are the size of a mature tree.

John Moore, managing director at Windcrop, said: “We have developed a different approach to renewable energy that simply delivers free green electricity to the landowner.

“We can provide fully-franchised turbines for customers to save money on energy bills and cut carbon footprint while we recoup our costs from the Government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) scheme.

“We will also be talking about our new model for those with capital available to buy a turbine to earn their own return through the FiT, ultimately more than doubling their investment as well as cutting costs.

“We are continuing to branch out across the UK and we’ve organised this fun community event to provide local people with the chance to come and find out more about us.”

To reserve your place ay the event in Sutton Bassett call Ben Skipper or Charlotte Taylor at Windcrop on 01603 882152 or visit http://www.windcrop.co.uk for more information.

Source – http://www.harboroughmail.co.uk/news/local-news/come-for-a-natter-about-wind-turbine-matters-1-4787555?

Wind-farm-in-Andalusia-Sp-001Over the last three months wind farms produced more electricity than any other power source in Spain for the first time ever, an industry group has said.

The country delivered over six terawatt hours of electricity from wind farms during January, according to data from grid operator Red Electrica de Espana, the Spanish Wind Energy Association said in a statement.

“Since November 1, wind has been the top technology in the electrical system,” the group said in a blog posting. “The last time any technology exceeded six terawatt-hours of monthly generation was in 2010, when it was combined-cycle gas turbines.”

The performance means wind energy exceeded output from both nuclear and coal-fired power stations and represents more than a quarter of Spain’s total power generation.

Spain has been looking to boost its wind power capacity as part of the government’s efforts to cut carbon emissions.

The news came in the same week as German wind energy industry association BWE said it expects developers to add between 3GW and 3.5GW of capacity this year, far outstripping the 2.4GW installed in 2012.

The surge in new capacity will be largely driven by new offshore wind farms coming online and will mean the country remains on track to meet its goal of generating around 40 per cent of its electricity form renewables by 2020, up from about 25 per cent currently.

MM92_1Renewable energy developers are hoping the government will prevent a growing number of county councils from imposing wind farm buffer zones, which could severely restrict developments across the country.

Buffer zones are designed to prevent turbines from being installed too close to people’s homes, but developers fear that stringent restrictions could effectively block the development of wind farms in potentially suitable locations.

At least eight local authorities in England either already have formal buffer zones in place or are seeking to mark out areas of up to two kilometres around residential properties where turbines cannot be built.

Lincolnshire County Council is among those seeking a buffer zone of 700 metres, and South Cambridgeshire has consulted on a 2km restriction, while Hampshire last week confirmed a blanket ban on new wind farms built on council land.

Stratford on Avon District Council, Northumberland County Council, Cherwell District Council, Wiltshire Council, Milton Keynes and Rutland also have buffer zones planned or imposed already.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservative Party yesterday launched a report calling for councils to be given the power to end the “march of the wind farms”.

The wide-ranging paper, says councils should have to power to impose a one year moratorium on new wind turbine developments in Scotland, and encourages them to enforce existing planning guidance restricting wind farms that are closer than 2km to residential areas.

The document also calls for a 50 per cent cut in the subsidy for onshore wind farms and greater “local democracy” in planning decisions, at the same time as calling for more investment in shale gas exploration and nuclear power plants.

However, renewable energy developers have warned that buffer zones are too blunt a tool for ensuring governments strike the right balance between encouraging renewable energy generation and giving communities a voice.

Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, pointed out that the Scottish Government’s existing 2km guideline was designed to ensure that each wind farm application was judged on its own merits.

“The 2km proposal is a guideline and not a rule,” she said. “This is an important distinction because it’s imperative that communities, developers and decision makers are given the opportunity to make the case for or against any application. This avoids recommendations being made on the basis of imposed rules which may not be relevant to local circumstances.”

Jennifer Webber, of RenewableUK, also warned that proposals for buffer zones across the UK were creating uncertainty among both developers and their suppliers over the future of wind energy in certain regions.

RWE has already threatened Milton Keynes with legal action over the council’s decision to increase an existing 350m buffer zone to 600m-1km zone depending on the size of the turbine.

The utility, which has two wind farms that could fall in the new buffer zone, maintains the proposed rules clash with national guidance that sets out the need for renewable energy, as well as Milton Keynes Council’s own existing policies on wind energy.

Developers are now hoping that the Planning Inspectorate will refuse to give the go-ahead to new buffer zones, when local authorities submit their Local Plans for approval in March.

Webber said the Planning Inspectorate could yet dismiss the buffer zones in favour of the need to meet national renewable energy targets, adding that a recent increase in planning approval rates suggested most councils are taking a more strategic approach to onshore wind decisions.

But, outside of their formal Local Plans, councils can still include buffer zones in their planning guidance. There is also the risk an increasing number of councils will adopt a blanket ban similar to that confirmed in Hampshire last Thursday.