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Inquiry into Cumbria wind farm plans begins

Press Association Tuesday April 19, 2005

Guardian Unlimited

A public inquiry into plans to build Europe's largest wind farm on moorland in Cumbria began today. Chalmerston Wind Power and West Coast Energy hope to construct 27 turbines, each standing 377ft tall, on land at Whinash, north of Kendal.

The turbines would occupy a 7km area, stretching between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District national park, close to the M6 motorway, and the proposed £5m wind farm would generate around 67 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 46,000 homes.

Environmental groups have supported the plan, saying it is another step towards the government's goal of meeting 10% of the UK's energy needs from renewable sources by 2010.

However, the Cumbria Tourist Board and local campaigners oppose the proposals, voicing fears the giant structures would damage the region's beauty and reduce visitor numbers. There are currently 11 wind farms in Cumbria, none as large as the proposed development.

The public inquiry, taking place at the Shap Wells hotel, near Penrith, is expected to last for around seven weeks. Because of the scale of the proposed project, the Department of Trade and Industry will be responsible for planning consent.

Power stations that burn fossil fuels are one of the chief causes of global warming and, despite the visual impact of the proposed turbines, green groups are backing the plan.

"If you think wind farms destroy the environment, that is nothing compared to the damage climate change will wreak on the world," Matthew Robins, a spokesman for the anti-climate change group Rising Tide, said.

"Schemes such as wind farms are essential if we want to prevent climate chaos and give our children a sustainable future."

Friends of the Earth energy spokeswoman Jill Perry added: "People need to wake up to the fact that climate change will happen, and it is not good enough to pretend we can sit back for the next few years thinking about the situation."

A spokesman for the Cumbria Tourist Board said it was not opposed to renewable energy "in principle", but that the giant turbines would damage tourism.

Eric Robson, the board's chairman, added: "The Lake District was recently voted the finest landscape in Britain. But from both of those landscapes, the view would be dominated by the constant movement of turbine blades, and represent one of the biggest industrial developments in Britain.

"Tourism is worth a billion pounds to Cumbria every year, and the very place where these will be built is the front door of the county's tourist industry," he said.

Ian Brodie, of landscape protection group Friends of the Lake District, said: "This is a wonderful piece of Cumbrian landscape that is being considered for classification as a national park.

"This project would be absolutely catastrophic for the area. Having spoken to local people, the concern is that it would hugely reduce the enjoyment they got from the local landscape and their own homes.

"In light of the current government energy policy, any advantage gained in terms of reducing global warming would be dwarfed by the damage done to the local tourist economy and landscape."

SocietyGuardian.co.uk © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005


Philip Stott’s blog on April 20.

See also his article in the Times http://greenspin.blogspot.com/2005_04_17_greenspin_archive.html#111398839180542800

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Whinash: I was not angry until now.....

The proposed wind farm at Whinash in Cumbria, on the very borders of the iconic Lake District National Park, is an environmentalist's folly too far. By supporting it, Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Greenpeace lose any credibility to be taken seriously as organisations defending our British landscape and environments. Indeed, I now see such organisations as intrinsically dangerous to the true aims of conservation and landscape care.

In the name of an arrogant, ill-thought out, set of dogmas and theologies, these fanatics will sacrifice anything, even landscape beauty, peace and wilderness. And we should never undervalue the importance of 'wilderness' for the long-term psychological health of an increasingly-urban world. People are fully aware that the British landscape is largely a product of human action, but they crave open areas where they can feel the wind free on their face and where there are no overt signs of an industrialised planet.

And anyway, wind farms for what?

Trying to plug Britain's looming energy gap with a proliferation of wind farms is like trying to solve the pensions' crisis by putting a tax on babies' nappies. It stinks.

All 'renewable' sources of energy together contribute but 4% of Britain's energy needs and they will toil to achieve 10%, especially when one takes into account the fact that the wind fraction requires a constant back-up from either fossil fuels or nuclear power. Moreover, the ecological footprint of wind farms is enormous. Environmentalists would tolerate no other industrial development that gobbles up over 150,000 acres of wilderness just to replace one conventional/nuclear power station.

And it is all aeolian ephemerality anyway. The real energy question is how on earth is Britain going to generate its core 93% of energy! The answer, of course, is a mix of clean coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.

With Whinash, the time has come to be counted. This willful despoliation by big energy companies of our last-remaining countryside for effectively no gain would normally be an anathema to any sensible Green and it has to stopped.

The battle cry, 'Say No Whinash!', must sound throughout the land, from Peter Rabbit (himself) to Melvyn Bragg (for it is he), until we halt the outrageous sacrifice of our heritage.

Whinash is a wind farm too far. I was not angry until now.....

Philip, off for a soothing coffee. Grrrrrrr!


http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/viewarticle.aspx?id=201290


 
4,000 objectors, 500 backers for Whinash inquiry
Published on 19/04/2005

By Ross Brewster

A PUBLIC inquiry into a Cumbrian wind farm application has received 4,290 letters objecting to the plan and 520 backing it. The hearing started today.

The response, for and against the Whinash scheme for 27 turbines nearly 400ft high, has been phenomenal.

Individual objectors sent 1,400 letters, another 2,150 sent organised petition letters, 740 sent petition postcards objecting too.

And there was a 700-name petition saying ‘No’ to the proposal as well.

Chalmerston Wind Power Ltd want to build the turbines on a hillside between Tebay and Shap, just off the M6.

There have also been more than 520 letters supporting the application.

It’s planned to hold an evening session so that locals can give vent to their feelings.

Battle lines are being drawn as planning inspector David Rose and planning officer Christopher White get the hearing – expected to last for ten weeks – under way at the Shap Wells Hotel.

The inquiry has provoked strong opinions on all sides – those who say wind energy is a vital factor in achieving Government targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions and those who say putting 27 turbines on a hillside just outside the Lake District National Park is a “national scandal”.

Kyle Blue, chairman of the No Whinash Windfarm pressure group, said: “If this project proceeds it will open the finest, windy countryside to similar developments, and perhaps place National Parks at risk, for insignificant benefits to the nation.”

He said development prompted by the Government’s financial inducements to increase renewable energy generation had thrown “the most environmentally damaging technology, on a scale unprecedented in England, onto one of its most sensitive and controversial sites”.

Dozens of witnesses are lined up to give evidence at the inquiry including Lord Parkinson, Lord Bragg, Sir Chris Bonington, Lord Jopling and Lord Inglewood, who will all be expressing concern about the scheme.

A host of experts are also being called including the former head of the European Energy Commission Sir Christopher Audland and Sir Donald Miller, formerly head of Scottish Power.

The proposed development would border two National Parks and become the biggest wind farm in the country.

n What do you think of the Whinash proposals? Have your say by voting in our online poll atwww.newsandstar.co.uk

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http://www.politics.co.uk/domestic-policy/wind-farm-hearing-opens-$8309058.htm


 

Wind farm hearing opens

Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 13:17
 
A hearing on controversial proposals to build a wind farm on the edge of the Lake District opens today in Cumbria.

Environmental groups back the plans to erect 27 turbines, each almost 400ft high, although tourist chiefs fear they could put visitors off coming to the area.

The wind farm in Whinash, would stretch seven kilometres to the Yorkshire Dales and generate enough power for 46,000 homes, making it one of the largest in Britain.

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace claim that most locals are behind the plan, which would help the region reach its renewable energy targets.

They reject claims that the farm would ruin the landscape and cause too much noise, saying the motorway running through the area has already done this.

"That fine landscape includes the terrible M6, which has an awful impact on the landscape and the wildlife," Friends of the Earth regional co-ordinator Margaret Sanders told the Today programme.

She added: "They were thinking of trying to make it part of the national park, but I think that is just ridiculous."

Steve Molloy, project manager for West Coast Energy, which is behind the scheme, told the same programme that Whinash was the best location for the wind farm.

"There are renewable energy targets for Cumbria of 201 megawatts, and this will meet a third of that target," he said.

However, while Cumbria Tourist Board has said it is not against wind farms in principle, it argues that the development could set a "dangerous precedent".

Chairman Eric Robson told the Today programme: "Even the proponents of this scheme are saying that this is a pivotal moment, and we agree with them on that."

He warned: "If we lose this one, then the whole of the uplands of Britain are gone."

The Department for Trade and Industry will be responsible for granting planning consent for the project because of its size.  
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/04/19/uturbines.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/04/19/ixportaltop.html
  
 

Opponents line up for 'biggest wind farm' inquiry
(Filed: 19/04/2005)

An inquiry has begun into plans to build Europe's largest wind farm on moorland in Cumbria.

 
A resident passes an anti-wind turbine poster in Orton, Cumbria
The proposals would see the construction of 27 turbines, each standing 377 feet high, on land at Whinash, north of Kendal.

The scheme has won the backing of environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace because of the clean nature of wind powered energy production.

Cumbrian Tourist Board and local campaigners oppose the plans because they fear the giant structures will damage the beauty of the region and reduce visitor numbers.

The turbines would occupy a 4 mile area between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Park, close to the M6 motorway.

Chalmerston Wind Power is leading the £55 million plan to build the turbines, which would generate around 81 megawatts of electricity per year, enough for 47,000 homes.

The public inquiry, at Shap Wells Hotel near Penrith, is expected to last for around seven weeks.

Because of the scale of the project, the Department for Trade and Industry will be responsible for planning consent.

Power stations which burn fossil fuels are one of the chief causes of global warming and despite the visual impact of the proposed turbines, green groups are backing the plan.

Friends of the Earth energy spokeswoman Jill Perry said: "People need to wake up to the fact that climate change will happen and it is not good enough to pretend we can sit back for the next few years thinking about the situation."

Jim Footner, of Greenpeace, said: "Climate change is the greatest threat our planet faces, already killing more than 150,000 people every year and putting one-in-three of our land-based species at risk from extinction. Clean energy alternatives are crucial if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change."

A spokesman from the Cumbrian Tourist Board said it was not opposed to renewable energy "in principle", but the giant turbines, visible from the M6 motorway, would damage tourism.