Save Our Silton
The picture above shows the unspoilt area where Ecotricity wanted to build four 120m high wind turbines - and for what? See the 'facts' sheet in the 'Presentations' page.
Please note, all historical home page information has been moved to the Stop press / Archive page.
"We attribute our planning success in large part to our Good Neighbour policy through which we only commit to build turbines where we can be sure they will be good neighbours throughout their lifetime. If we can’t be sure, we walk away.”
So now, Ecotricity, PLEASE DO IT - GO AWAY!
The Inquiry into the Silton wind farm proposal resumes on Tuesday 18th September2012 in The Exchange, Sturminster Newton at 9.30 am and is scheduled to end on Thursday 27th at 5 pm. The Inquiry is, of course, open to the public.
An excellent and timely article in the Sunday Telegraph dated 23 September 2012. How could anyone but a fantasist continue to support the useless and very expensive wind 'energy' policy? It's interesting to note, in view of what is in the article, that at 4.35pm on 22nd September, all 3500 wind turbines in the UK were producing 0.5% of our electricity - 175 mW.
Sunday Telegraph 23 September 2012
Germany's wind power chaos should be a warning to the UK
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a massive commitment to 'renewable' energy
By Christopher Booker
A really excellent article in The Spectator of 3 March 2012 by Matt Ridley - go to 'Stop Press'
Below is a brief summary of Days 1 - 6 of the Inquiry into the appeal by Ecotricity against the decision by North Dorset District Council to refuse permission for their proposal for four turbines at Silton. It is now adjourned until 9.30 am on Tuesday 18th September, at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton, and will probably last for a further 6 days. The Exchange is a large hall, and it is hoped that as many of our members as possible will be able to attend all or part of the Inquiry.
Car Parking space at the Exchange is limited, but there is a 'pay and display' car park nearby.
ECOTRICITY APPEAL HEARING DAY 6: 7 MARCH 2012
The morning was taken up by a visit around the area by the Inspector, accompanied by a member from each side. Below is a report by David Masters, who represented SOS:
I took the Inspector and the other two to viewing at successively Whistley Farm, Valhalla, Manor Farm, Silton House, Anstey, Bagmore Farm, through Bourton (pointing out the disused Factory), to Chaffeymoor Grange (views only from the terrace overlooking the site) then Old Farm, Four Winds, Depley Barn and Farm, Broad Oak Farm, Croctin Cottage (at the Inspector's request with access inside refused) and lastly Slait Farm. We started at 9.30 am and finished at 1.30 pm. The blimp could not be flown because of the wind, so the best I could do was to produce the photographs attached as exhibits to Debbie Allard and Cindy Brierley's proofs and get him to look at these in the views. Otherwise reference was consistently made to the photomontages (or photographs) of Andrew Cook (Ecotricity), Peter Radmall (NDDC), Jonathan Billingsley and Architech (both for SOS), as appropriate. Ian Broadway produced his amended plan and photographs for Four Winds, which the Inspector considered. He told me that he had much earlier this morning been into the Church. I asked if he put the lights on - he hadn't. I wish I had known that he was going to be there as I would have illuminated the interior and opened the vestry (chantry) but I had understood that he was not looking at the Church today. There were a huge number of SOS signs up all over the place Bourton, Milton and Silton (although not at Manor Farm!) which all could not fail to see.
ECOTRICITY APPEAL HEARING DAY 5: 6 MARCH 2012
When the Inquiry resumes, the Inspector has made 8 days available although it is hoped that it will last no more than 6 further days. Three weeks prior to that each party is to submit a brief supplementary statement on the effects on the proposal of the National Planning Policy Framework which would by then probably be in effect.
The day started with the cross examination of Mr Cook, the Ecotricity Landscape Consultant, by Richard Burden of the AONB. This lasted for two hours, and showed some defects in their case – not least that a number of apparent quotations in their statement of case were in fact summaries and not accurate quotations.
The Inspector then questioned him, and Mr Cook had to agree that there is a sense of tranquillity in the area and this would be degraded. He also agreed that within 1 km of the site, the turbines would be dominant and harmful, and within 2 km there would be some harm – in both cases only at the local level, and (in his view) the essential character of the area would remain. On lighting, Ecotricity now plan to use infra red lights on the turbines and if this is acceptable to the relevant authorities, would therefore not be a problem.
He asserted that the turbines would not be harmful to horse riders; also that, although two of the turbines would be within ‘topple distance’ of the Drove Road, this would not be a danger because of the turbine design and the occasional usage of the Drove Road. He asserted that there should be a ‘buffer zone’ around the site of 500 m (approx 4 times turbine height).
The Inspector noted these points.
Andrew Sturt then made his statement. He noted that actual wind speeds had not been used by Ecotricity, which was most irregular. He also asserted that from his house, 1700 m from the site, the turbines would be an intrusion into attractive landscape, and would dominate St Nicholas Church and its setting. He next showed that the proposal would contravene many parts of the Bourton local plan. Finally, he quoted from the Prime Minister that wind are over subsidised, and that local people would be given more control over wind farm developments. Mr Hardy for Ecotricity questioned the accuracy of this and asked for the actual statement to be produced.
Dr Pickering, the Ecotricity ecology consultant, then gave his statement – in effect that there was no significant problem with bats on the proposed site.
Finally, David Masters gave his statement as both Churchwarden of St Nicholas and on behalf of Silton Parish Meeting. His view is that the proposed turbines would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and on the church, including its setting, both visually and acoustically. They would also effect tourism and lead to a decline in employment locally.
Mr Hardy pointed out that much of the statement was personal opinion, as Mr Masters is not an ‘expert’ in planning, tourism or acoustics.
The Inquiry was then adjourned until 18th September.
ECOTRICITY APPEAL HEARING DAY 4: 2 March 2012
The day opened as usual with a discussion on the programme for the rest of the hearing. It is now apparent that even the extra four days allowed from July 3rd will not be sufficient but a further view will be taken after the hearing next Tuesday. (There is no hearing on Monday).
Jenny Steadman from Penselwood read a statement from the Parish Council setting out their consistent strong opposition to the proposal. The village is situated on the escarpment and the view will be directly across to the proposed site. The landscape locally and towards the site does not have anything, either man made or natural, higher than 20M. The Parish Council’s view is that the proposed development would be harmful to the landscape. Mrs Steadman added her own personal objections saying that she had not seen or heard of any benefits from this scheme; she had seen the blimp and the height it showed and is very much opposed.
Mr Cooke, Landscape Expert for the appellant, Ecotricity, then read his summary of evidence. He stated that he is always objective when giving his opinions and has advised local authorities and developers in the past not to proceed with a scheme due to adverse impact. His main focus was on the 1KM area of the proposed site where he acknowledges that the landscape will be perceived as part of a windfarm. Outside of 1KM he perceives impact that will not be harmful and the landscape will accommodate the turbines. He believes that the AONB will not be harmed as the degree of change perceived would be minimised.
Mr Wadsley for NDDC then questioned him, having established that Mr Cooke had never acted for a party opposing a wind turbine development. Mr Cooke remained adamant in his views expressed in his proof of evidence that the development could be absorbed into the landscape and would not be harmful in the public interest to those households mentioned in the case files. Mr Wadsley did establish that it is Mr Cooke’s understanding that any grid connection would be underground.
Richard Kimblin QC then opened the cross examination of Mr Cooke for Save Our Silton. He asked Mr Cooke if his material was always unbiased and representative. When he reviewed the Environmental Statement that had already been prepared when he was briefed by the appellant, was he content. On both counts Mr Cooke agreed. There then followed a session comparing the ES photomontages with those provided to SOS by Architect, it became clear that a different impression was gained from each set; it will be up to the Inspector to decide on the accuracy when he sees the actual sites on Wednesday next week.
There was discussion on the accurate siting of the blimp, Mr Cooke said as it was not on the site, the photomontages could not be accurate or of value. Mr Kimblin asked if the blimp could be flown from the site for accuracy and Mr Hardy for Ecotricity intervened to say no - very firmly.
The view of the turbines from the Church and its curtilage was not agreed and will have to be left to the site visit - although Mr Kimblin did make the point that had permission to use the actual site for the blimp been granted at the first request there would not be a question over whether the turbines were visible or not. Mr Kimblin questioned the methodology used in preparing his proof of evidence and Mr Cooke agreed that he had used only previous Inspectors’ decisions and had not used NDDC Local Plan policies.
Mr Kimblin spent some time in going through the impact on the properties in the vicinity of the proposed site and the impact on them. He showed that in his calculations the impact would be severe on several of them thereby diminishing their attractiveness as a place to live, Mr Cooke did not agree and again it will up to the Inspector to decide.
Returning to photographs used by Mr Cooke to illustrate the local landscape characteristics, Mr Kimblin questioned why there were no historic landscape elements shown and Mr Cooke admitted that the photographs were selected as a rebuttal of the Council’s claim that the development would be harmful. Mr Cooke’s opening claim that material supplied by him was always representative was therefore shown on this point as not being accurate.
The remaining questioning by Mr Kimblin set out show that the case for the appellant had understated the impact of harm to landscape, historic elements and residents. It will up to the Inspector to decide who is right.
The hearing will reconvene on Tuesday when Mr Burden of the AONB will have an opportunity to cross examine Mr Cooke.
Further news on Tuesday evening.
ECOTRICITY APPEAL HEARING DAY 3: 1 March 2012
The morning sessions saw the completion of the AONB case. The appellant’s counsel, David Hardy had completed his cross examination of Richard Burden the afternoon before. It was the turn of Emma Rouse who is the Historical and Heritage specialist for the AONB. Mr Hardy confirmed with Miss Rouse that she had favoured the English Heritage guidelines over PPS5 which is the recognised statutory document that is used; in acknowledging this Miss Rouse stated that PPS5 does contain a footnote about setting – a point that Mr Hardy consistently challenges.
Miss Rouse also confirmed this was her first appeal hearing and that she was not familiar with two documents that Mr Hardy referred to. Mr Pope, the Inspector, also questioned why, if AONB were so concerned at the impact, had the National Trust, English Heritage and NDDC not objected to the application. Miss Rouse remained adamant that the development would have an adverse impact on the historic landscape both in the Vale and on the surrounding AONB and could not answer for the other organisations. Miss Rouse confirmed that she had not considered either Silton Church or East Knoyle Windmill as part of her deliberations.
Richard Kimblin for SOS then opened the landscape case prepared by Jonathan Billingsley of the Landscape Partnership. He confirmed the views expressed in his proofs of evidence. Under fierce questioning from Mr Hardy about the precedent set by previous appeals, he remained firm that each application must be judged on its merits. He would not allow Mr Hardy to describe the Vale as being an intensive large scale agricultural area, and insisted on it being described as a small, intimate and tranquil landscape.
Each residence was described in turn and the impact assessed, Jonathan Billinglsey maintained his view that the impact on most of the properties including the Church is moderate (this does not mean insignificant). To all questions, he returned to the point that the proposal was industrial, out of scale and moving and therefore would create an adverse impact. Mr Billingsley did make the point to Mr Hardy that Ecotricity have not proved that the turbines will not be seen from Silton Churchyard, although Hardy is insisting on proof from the defending parties that they will.
Richard Kimblin then spent a few minutes re-questioning Jonathan Billingsley, which helpfully corrected several of the misleading impressions left by the aggressive questioning of Richard Hardy. The Inspector then clarified a few points with him.
Finally, he outlined the plan for to-morrow, which will be taken up with the evidence of the Ecotricity landscape consultant, Mr Cook, and possibly one or two of our lay witnesses.
The Inspector will be visiting sites next Wednesday - timing and a route will be agreed between all the parties, but they will not start until 10 am, and all are expected to travel in one car. He mentioned on the opening day that he will not allow new issues to be raised during his visits. The blimp will of course be flown, weather permitting.
More news tomorrow.
ECOTRICITY APPEAL HEARING DAY 2: 29th February 2012
Day 2 of the hearing started with a further review of time-tabling. The Inquiry will adjourn after next Tuesday (6th March) and reconvene on Tuesday 3rd July. Four days have then been set aside.
The bulk of the morning was taken up with the cross examination of the Council’s landscape expert, Peter Radmall by the appellant’s advocate, Peter Hardy. Mr Hardy listed the regulations to which he would be referring, the main ones being PPS25 and PPS2, both relating to planning decisions, landscape and heritage settings.
Reference was made several times to the public benefit of a scheme outweighing the concerns and values of private individuals. This point was re-inforced in relation to each property. Although Mr Radmall conceded that Manor Farm did not breach the test, all the other properties referred to did, in his opinion. He would not allow himself to be pushed to concede on this point.
There was questioning on the point of the distance from a Wind Park (as he insists on calling it) beyond which there is little or no visual impact; he wanted Mr Radmall to agree that this would 2KM or less, but he would not agree and insisted it depended on the points from which the observer was looking. There was a lengthy discussion on the visual impact when viewed from a high point or across the Vale from a lower point and again Mr Radmall insisted the impact depended on the weather, background and viewing angle.
Mr Hardy for the appellant challenged the impact on views to and from the AONB, stating that the view from the AONB was more significant to the public than those towards the AONB, Mr Radmall did not concede this point.
Each property was then considered in terms of the impact on views from the house and garden. It was proposed by Mr Radmall that the impact on Manor Farm was low but moderate on all the other properties. Mr Hardy referred several times to the Inspector forming his own views – we do not think Mr Pope needs reminding of this!
Cultural Heritage was then addressed, the main factors being the Church, Silton Manor and Manor Farm. Mr Hardy and Mr Radmall could not reach agreement on whether the setting of a cultural heritage asset was a point to be considered separately from others such as archaeology, landscape etc PPS 5 was used for this section. It was concluded that this point would be dealt with in final submission – but see below.
The cross questioning was concluded just before lunch at 1pm.
Mr Waddsley for NDDC then took Mr Radmall through his responses to the appellant. He pointed out that the setting of a landscape was not just confined to the elements set out by Mr Hardy but could be considered as either part of or separate from them – this is set out in PPS5. Therefore Mr Hardy’s persistence in trying to defend this point was nullified.
The NDDC local plan was reviewed in relation to those properties likely to be affected and it was noted that within the plan is a statement that the amenity of land users and neighbours should be safeguarded; Mr Waddsley drew the conclusion that this would not be the case if the proposal went ahead.
There were many references by Mr Hardy to previous decisions particularly those involving Inspector Lavender but as Mr Waddsley pointed out these are not case law and binding. Mr Radmall repeated that every site must be judged on its merits.
Richard Burden for AONB then appeared and gave a graphic verbal and photographic account of the impact of 120M high turbines in a landscape where the highest man made vertical is probably not more than 15-20M. He dismissed the issue of the A303 being visually intrusive as it is low lying in most parts and screened.
Mr Burden also pointed the temporary nature of trees and hedges as screening for an installation that could be there for 25 years – he referred to the impact of Dutch elm disease in the 1970s and how quickly the landscape was opened up. He also pointed out that however hard one tries, a tree or hedge will not reach 120M as would the turbines. He defended robustly the integrity of the AONB as it exists and that a management plan has been accepted by many partners including NDDC; he demonstrated that even caravan parks with a height of no more than 15M maximum are not allowed in the vicinity of an AONB area. In all, a comprehensive and strong case against the application.
After a short break the cross questioning of Mr Burden by Mr Hardy for the appellant began and a strong attempt was made to undermine his credibility. Tghis was not entirely successful. The cross examination will continue to-morrow morning (Thursday) and will be followd by the evidence of the SOS landscape consultant, Jonathan Billingsley.
ECOTRICITY APPEAL HEARING DAY 1: 28th February 2012
The Inspector, Neil Pope, opened the enquiry and introduced the lawyers - for Ecotricity, David Hardy, for NDDC, Peter Wadsley and Richard Kimblin for SOS. The AONB are representing themselves in the person of Richard Burden.
It was immediately agreed that this will not be a five day hearing, but more like eight or nine. This is most frustrating as SOS has said this from the beginning. Peter Hardy announced that he was not available after next Tuesday so the appeal will be have to be adjourned until either June or August – we will know tomorrow. This caused dismay, as we believe the hearing will lose momentum and of course those most closely affected will have to wait not just for the end of the hearing but some weeks after that for the Inspector’s decision. It will also almost certainly cost us more.
There was a rather long summary of the Ecotricity case from Peter Hardy who quoted all the planning protocols and relevant legislation and went to
great lengths to rubbish the noise report that will be presented later in the
hearing on behalf of SOS. The other advocates and Richard Burden gave
a more measured overview of the case that will be presented by their
There followed a long presentation and subsequent questioning of the
landscape expert, Peter Radmell, who spoke on behalf of the Council. He will be cross examined the appellant tomorrow.
This is a very brief resume of the action today. There will be a similar summary at the end of each day.
FARMERS WEEKLY Saturday 25 February 2012 06:00
Countryfile presenter Matt Baker has waded into the debate over wind farms by questioning their effectiveness. The 2011 Farmers Weekly Awards host, 34, was asked to name the greatest threat to the countryside and he criticised the increasing number of wind turbines appearing across the UK. Mr Baker, who grew up on a farm in Durham, told the Radio Times: "I think there's an enormous number of wind turbines." He went on: "They are right next to the farm in Durham and they're 90m high. I'm not sure how effective they are as they never seem to be actually working." Mr Baker is the latest high-profile person to speak out against wind turbines. Environmentalist David Bellamy has hit out at them, saying they are destroying our landscapes for profit. Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, said previously that wind was the "least efficient" form of green power and wind turbines were a "public menace" that risked blighting the British landscape. In November, Prince Philip dismissed wind farms as a "useless disgrace" and described people who backed them as believing in a "fairy tale". Mr Baker, the son of a Durham farmer, also said it was sad that many villages were now empty, with fewer people from the countryside still working there. "Where I grew up, on a farm in Durham, you worked on the farm. I should have been a farmer like my father but that's not what happens now," he said. "We all live in the countryside as a lifestyle choice, not because we work there. "Villages are empty and I think that's sad. But I do think there will be a resurgence in agriculture in this country, so that might change." Do you believe wind turbines are a threat to the British countryside?
Much excitement from Renewables UK about how much electricity was produced from wind earlier in the year. At 8.45 this morning, 6th February, the entire turbine 'fleet' in the UK was producing 70 MW, - 0.1 % of our requirements. I wonder if there will be as much publicity about this?
See the 'BLOG' page for a full copy of the letter by 106 MPs to the Prime Minister demanding a review of the suvsidies paid to wind power station developers.
8th January 2012 - an article by Christopher Booker on the absurdity that passes for our energy policy - see 'Stop Press'.
15th December 2011 - read a very worrying artice from 'green' Denmark about the mounting problem of disposing of wind turbine blades - go to the 'STOP PRESS' page.
5th November 2011: The Appeal by Ecotricity against the unanimous decision by North Dorset District Council to reject their proposal to build four 120m high wind turbines at Silton is now scheduled for the end of February.
The Hearing will be open to the public, at a site yet to be announced by NDDC. SOS has submitted its 'Statement of Case' to the Planning Inspectorate,
19th September 2011: Ecotricity has decided to appeal against the refusal by North Dorset District Council to allow 4 huge wind turbines near Silton. His original application was rejected by every parish council in the area, by South Somerset District Council and by the Wiltshire Unitary Council before being unanimously rejected by Dorset. Dale Vince has been quoted as saying he only puts up wind turbines where they are wanted. Even he must see that they are NOT wanted here!
As he normally does, he left his appeal until the last possible minute so as to give us the minimum time to prepare our defence. But prepare it we will. Why should our countryside be despoiled by these huge, utterly useless, eyesores? Tourism is a (probably the) main contributer to the local economy. Why kill the goose that lays the golden egg - because that would inevitably be the outcome if Ecotricity wins the appeal.
Have a look at the map below showing the proposed locations of the turbines. The Ecotricity application can be accessed - click here to view directly. See also details of the trivial amounts of electricity that wind produces. Also have a look (in 'Stop Press) at our latest Press Releases.
Have you renewed your membership, or would you like to join and support us? The application form can be found on the 'contacts' page.
The map below is the latest version we've received from Ecotricity regarding the new proposal:
This Blimp is flying at 120 m - the height of the proposed turbines. It is 6.8 m (21 feet) long!
The nearest Ecotricity turbine is this recently completed one in the Mendips at Shooters Bottom.
It is slightly smaller than the 6 proposed for Silton. Note the (large!) barn to the right of the base.
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