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Cumbria council boss wants Government windfarm 'policy' rethink

Cumbria has 90 commercial windfarms, with at least another 49 on the way – and the leader of the county council says enough is enough.

Eddie Martin photo
Eddie Martin

Councillor Eddie Martin has written to the minister for decentralisation to complain about government plans to allow windfarm applications to be pushed through regardless of local opposition.

As well as the 139 windfarms which have already been granted planning permission, there are a further 46 applications awaiting a decision, he said.

On behalf of the county council, Mr Martin is calling for the coalition to urgently reconsider its position.

In an open letter to Greg Clark MP, he said: “I would not wish, of course, to question the expertise, integrity or professionalism of the planning inspectorate but it remains difficult, nonetheless, to convince local communities and indeed local politicians that public inquiries of windfarm applications are no more than cosmetic exercises, that the government (of any persuasion) is obsessed with EU imposed targets, and that the concept of local democracy appears to be quite meaningless.

“In short, and despite the palliative rhetoric and occasional panaceas, central government is simply not listening. And that is profoundly depressing. And fundamentally undemocratic.”

Mr Martin points out the ‘invariably futile’ public inquiries are also expensive as the local planning authority has to foot the £60,000 bill.

The county council is calling for an end to ‘over-reliance’ on windfarms and a reduction in wind-related targets.

It wants investment in other low carbon energy generation to be increased.

Mr Martin raises the issue that Cumbrian taxpayers are subsidising windfarms by £32 per household a year, and questions what they get back in return.

The subsidies are paid even when they turbines are not producing electricity.

Mr Martin does not query the need for greener energy, just the government’s apparent determination to make windfarms the preferred option.

He argues that taxes would be more wisely spent on alternatives such as nuclear power and said a two or three reactor station at Sellafield would eliminate the need for more windfarms in Cumbria, as would subsidies for hydro-power.

When there is genuine benefit in windfarms being built, the county council wants adequate and agreed compensation for communities to be a condition of planning permission.

RES Ltd is about to develop a six turbine windfarm at Tallantire in west Cumbria.

It is offering £25,000 a year to be shared out between several parishes.

Mr Martin said: “Frankly, this is a pitiful amount which simply adds further to the sense of profound grievance which communities feel.”

Have your say

why not put them in number 10 downing street back garden, NO way thell put up with them so why should we.

Posted by george Taylor on 1 July 2011 at 13:53

Thank you very much, Eddie. I support your call to end the over-reliance on wind farms wholeheartedly. British homes and industry need energy on demand - not just when the wind blows!

There's no point in ruining Cumbria's fantastic landscapes for the pitifully unreliable contribution of energy that windfarms produce - less than 2% of national power generation during the recent very cold winter weather apparently.

Wind farms' need for constant backup from conventional power stations to maintain baseload renders them pretty feeble as a C02 savings measure.

As more cleaner burning power stations replace the older less efficient coal-fired ones, wind farms value in reducing C02 falls further. Dr.Mike Hall of FELLS landscape conservation group has extrapolated this trend to estimate that by 2030 wind farms would only be saving the equivalent of 70 kgs of C02 per kilowatt hour.

I agree with you that supporting the new power station at Sellafield makes much, much more sense.

I also think that more work from home (enabled by faster broadband access - thank you Eddie for supporting Cumbria's fast broadband initiatives) and the installation of efficient technologies such as Solar PV and air to water heat pumps for homes and businesses have important roles to play in reducing carbon footprints by reducing consumption of energy from the Grid. Local plumbing and heating firms (such as Logic in Appleby)can help advise upon and install.

Better insulation and the development of efficient compact flourescent and LED lighting also help.

Thank you very much again, Eddie.

Posted by Charles Paxton on 1 July 2011 at 13:18

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