Planning Permission for a Staffordshire Moorlands Wind Turbine

LessCO~2 Limited's Project Manager Paul Fox was recently interviewed by BBC Radio Stoke. He was interviewed with a dairy farmer who was in the process of having his Endurance E-3120 wind turbine installed. The radio link was only available for a short time so here is the transcription of the report:

BBC Radio Stoke’s political reporter Phil McCann looking at the issue of wind turbines being built in the Staffordshire Moorlands and the experience of one Derbyshire farmer who is having one built there.

Transcription

Well , we’re all having to deal with rising energy bills and its why some farmers are turning to wind turbines but over the last few weeks we’ve reported here on BBC Radio Stoke how Staffordshire Moorlands District Council wants to stop them being built if they are over a certain height and in open countryside for that matter.

Plans are still being submitted however even in the Peak District National Park. BBC Radio Stoke’s political reporter Phil McCann hopped over the border into Derbyshire to speak to one farmer who is having a turbine installed there.

Phil McCann:

“The newest addition to the Peak Park’s skyline is just behind me, standing 25 meters above the hill top that it is situated on, is the tower of a wind turbine. The blades are lying next to it and about to be fitted. It is dominating this part of the skyline.

Further down the hill though is Hill Top Farm. The advantage this place has in terms of the new rules which Staffordshire Moorlands District Council want to bring in is that it is not in Staffordshire. It is just a mile or so over the boundary into Derbyshire and in the farmyard with his cows with me is Robert Gosling whose family have farmed on Hill Top near Parwich for around fifty years. You’ve been having big problems with your energy bills haven’t you?”

Robert Gosling:

“Yes, over the last five years the price of electricity on the farm here has doubled. We are spending nearly £20,000 a year now and it’s a major expense to the business.”

Phil McCann:

“So why did you come up with the solution that we see on the hill behind us?”

Robert Gosling:

“The Government have encouraged renewables over the last few years and it seemed an obvious way to look at renewables to reduce our costs and the only real option we’d got was wind. We’re on an exposed site with no other natural resources that we could really use so it was the obvious solution.”

Phil McCann:

“You are also privileged to be farming a beautiful part of the country in the National Park. You must understand there are reasons why it is difficult to get these turbines built and that they can be controversial?”

Robert Gosling:

“Absolutely. The advantage with this is that it is going to benefit our business and it is actually the farmers that look after the Peak District. We maintain the walls, we do all the conservation work, so the two things actually fit together very well. There is an impact on the landscape but when you balance the benefits with the negatives it’s quite understandable why the Peak Park accepted it.”

Phil McCann:

“But, what do you say to those who say it ruins the landscape? “

Robert Gosling:

“It’s a personal view. I would suggest the majority of people were not against them. There’s always going to be a few who don’t like anything.”

Paul Fox:

“My name’s Paul Fox and project manage wind turbine installations for LessCO~2 Limited which is a wind turbine installation company. We are based in Leek but we’ve installed wind turbines across the whole of the UK.”

Phil McCann:

“What do you think about what the District Council in the Staffordshire Moorlands is trying to do?”

Paul Fox:

“I think it’s probably actually against National Planning Framework guidelines. I think they are looking to interpret the rules in their own way. I agree with what Robert said I think it is important that you look at these turbines in a way that causes as little inconvenience as possible to local people and the size of the turbine that we are installing – I think there is a very important difference between a turbine on a dairy farm and a wind farm. This is a relatively small turbine which is less than a third of the size of the ones you see on the big wind farms.”

Phil McCann:

“It can be damaging to house prices nearby though can’t it? And one of the main industries around here isn’t just farming, it is also tourism and it can be damaging for that.”

Paul Fox:

“Well I think there is quite a lot of misinformation going around about house prices. Certainly when I started doing wind projects five years ago down in the South West it was one of the things that I spoke to local agents about and they said that the only time that house prices were really badly influenced by wind turbines is when you’ve got a very vociferous local pressure group and they actually create their own self-fulfilling prophecy but once the turbines are built the prices tend to come back up to the local average anyway.”