News

16th July 2015EDF withdraw from planning appeal

We are delighted to announce that EDF have finally withdrawn from the forthcoming planning appeal.

With changes to Government policy for onshore wind farms, we had hoped for a withdrawal soon after the election but EDF continued to be bullish about their prospects. The Government is phasing out subsidies for further onshore wind farms and has strengthened the voice of local communities in opposing them. (Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, made a statement in the Commons on 22nd June. READ HERE

However, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) were allowing room for negotiation for wind farm proposals still in the planning system. It seemed EDF were determined to make a test case of Bullington Cross, dragging us towards the Appeal hearing which was due to run for a month from October 13th and which would have been extremely expensive for the three Councils and Keep Hampshire Green, as well as exhausting and stressful for all concerned.

Keep Hampshire Green have been building up the campaign to get EDF to withdraw, and our local MPs were busy working on our behalf by pressing for rapid clarification of the changes in Government policy. Finally, to our immense relief, EDF withdrew on 13th July.

The site near Bullington Cross always was the wrong place to build a wind farm and our planners, Parish Councillors and District Councillors made that clear last summer when permission was refused. There are places where wind farms are appropriate, but this is definitely not one of them. In terms of wind resource, it would have been in the worst 5% of wind farm sites in the UK. To scar this beautiful stretch of unspoilt countryside for such poor public return would have been scandalous, and could have set a precedent for other parts of Hampshire.  It was only the distorted subsidy system that drew EDF to this site, and made them determined to appeal the local democratic decision. Finally EDF has recognised that there is no point in pursuing this project any further.

The Government is absolutely right to adjust policy for onshore wind; with the rapid increase in installed capacity in recent years, we have already reached our national targets for wind energy. There is no point in over-shooting targets with intermittent wind power; it just increases costs, destabilises the grid and crowds out other more promising renewables, without actually weaning us off coal. The evidence for this is already out there: just look at what is happening in Germany and Denmark. Onshore wind is not the cheapest form of renewable energy; it is the cheapest way for energy companies to access subsidies and that is very different.

We are lucky to live in a country where the feelings and wishes of small people can matter. Many people care deeply about the countryside and for those whose communities would have been blighted, this wind farm would have been devastating. Here we were, facing EDF, one of Europe’s most powerful companies with infinite resources, and yet the concerns of local people have been recognised and defended. If we had been convinced that a sacrifice would have been for the greater good, we would have had to be prepared to make it. In this case we were not at all convinced; this scheme was only about money.

We would like to thank our MPs for helping to defend the democratic decisions of our planning committees; Caroline Nokes, Kit Malthouse and particularly Steve Brine who has worked tirelessly. We would also like to thank the many local people who contributed generously to the fighting fund and to those who lent their support in other ways. We all look forward to returning to normal life.

February 2015EDF appeals against planning refusal

EDF’s planning application was recommended for refusal by the planning officers of Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley Councils in June 2014. The wind farm was then refused by the democratically elected planning committees of all three councils. EDF had six months in which to appeal the decision, and their appeal was duly delivered in mid-December, just before the end of the appeal window.

The appeal is made to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate (PI), based in Bristol, and the PI then sets a timetable to be agreed between the appellant (EDF) and the Local Planning Authorities, leading up to the hearing date. A date has been proposed for a three week hearing starting in mid-October. Once this has been agreed, the PI appoints a Planning Inspector who will arbitrate the decision.

The “start date” for the process was 26th January, and the first critical date for us is 9th March by which time all public submissions need to be made. Please write in to reinforce your comments made in your previous objection. (See HOW TO OBJECT section)

Keep Hampshire Green has applied to be a “Rule 6 Party”, which gives us the opportunity to make substantial representations at the planning inquiry, and for our barrister to cross-examine expert witnesses put up by the developer.

Once the Inspector has heard the evidence at the hearing, the report will be written up over the following 3 to 6 months, making a recommendation to the Secretary of State to accept or refuse the appeal.

What are our chances of getting a refusal?

As things stand, EDF should have almost no chance of success; ten strong reasons for refusal were listed by the Councils. This is an area of high landscape value, there are many unresolved issues and there are several important stake-holders who object to the proposal. Unfortunately the election in May could change the odds. EDF are gambling on a change of government, which might move the goal posts in their favour. With a potential wind-fall of tens of millions of pounds for EDF, it is worth proceeding to appeal.

If there is a change of Government , approval is still far from certain because of the significance of the objections to a wind farm on this site. However, it will make KHG’s professional representation at the appeal all the more crucial. We should bear in mind that there are politicians from all the main parties who care deeply about the countryside, and agree with us that this is the wrong place for a wind farm.

February 2015KHG Fund raising now an urgent priority

We are extremely grateful for the generosity of those people who have helped us reach this stage. Without this help the outcome might have been very different. However, it is now urgent that we restore our fighting fund to maximise our chances of success at the next stage. For more information click HERE.

December 2014TCI decide not to appeal Woodmancott wind farm

TCI’s decision not to appeal Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision to refuse permission was good news. However, the applicant has stated that they still consider the site to be suitable for a wind farm, and will be reviewing the project following the general election in May. TCI will also be watching closely the outcome at Bullington Cross. SOS Hampshire Downs, the group coordinating the opposition to this proposal will be remaining vigilant and prepared. There is a possibility that a similar or larger scheme would be submitted later in the year. More details can be found at www.soshampshiredowns.co.uk

August 2014EDF’s Bullington Cross wind farm application turned down by Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley councils.

Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley councils all voted to accept the planning officers’ recommendations and refuse permission for EDF’s Bullington Cross wind farm application at the end of a long day at the Winchester Guildhall on 16th June. The Councils’ reasons for refusal are strong and numerous, and should hold up at any appeal. A summary for each council can be viewed here.

Statements were made by a wide range of objectors, Parish Councils, District and County Councillors, all of whom spoke against the proposal. Eight speakers spoke in favour, and it was notable that five of those were commercially involved in the industry, and a further two were hoping for financial involvement in the project.

Almost all of the ‘letters of support’ for the project are identical pro-forma letters. These have become a feature of wind farm applications all over the country, and are usually produced with financial support from the industry.  This creation of artificial grass-roots support is known as ‘astro-turfing’.

We now wait to see if, and when, EDF will appeal. Past experience shows that they almost always do. In this case it would be an outrageous waste of tax payers’ money, forcing the councils to fight an expensive appeal, when the grounds for refusal are so strong.

August 2014Woodmancott wind farm turned down by Basingstoke council

On Wednesday 25th June the Basingstoke planning committee voted to refuse planning permission for the Woodmancott wind farm, just 4 miles to the north-east of the proposed Bullington Cross site. More details can be found at www.soshampshiredowns.co.uk

This is also excellent news, and further strengthens the councils’ position should TCI Renewables or EDF decide to appeal.

August 2014Government figures released in April 2014 show renewable electricity targets for 2020 have been exceeded, 6 years early.

The Renewable Energy Foundation has analysed the latest data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and produced a report on the latest figures for renewable electricity installations across the UK. There has been an astonishing increase in consented renewable capacity in the last two years, and consented installations will now over-shoot the UK’s 2020 target by 5%. Exceeding the 2020 target further will cause the £7.6 bn annual subsidy cap (set out in the Levy Control Framework) to be exceeded.  There is also half as much capacity again in the planning system, none of which is now needed. This would include Bullington Cross wind farm.

The report can be read HERE.

“Supplementary Environmental Information”February 2014

EDF were due to provide further information at the end of October, but did not deliver this until December. This made it necessary for objectors to muster their responses over the Christmas and New Year period. The planners allowed some extra time beyond the statutory period to allow us to make our submissions, and KHG submitted its rebuttal documents on 24th January. Our submissions consist of further landscape and ecology reports, as well as our main document which summarises our points. This can be read HERE. Other responses are still coming in, but so far no organisations have withdrawn their original objections.

What was in EDF’s recent submission?

In the end there was very little new material in EDF’s “supplementary information”. It was mainly defensive, attempting to dispute the numerous grounds for refusal that have been put forward by KHG and others. Predictably, EDF has hired expensive consultants to say that everything is fine (would they say anything else?). This of course changes nothing. In an attempt to dispute the aviation concerns of Popham Airfield and the MOD, EDF has hired recently retired members of the MOD’s Infrastructure Group, which deals with wind farms.

EDF has provided further photo-montages which continue to under-represent the true impact of the development. No photo-montages can truly reflect the fact that this development would dominate a landscape which currently has very few detracting features. KHG’s consultant concludes that there would be a “major significant adverse effect on the landscape extending 10 km from north to south, and 8.5 km from east to west of the site”. This adverse effect is in conflict with national and local planning policy, and is sufficient grounds in its own right for refusal of EDF’s application.

KHG's rebuttal document

The arguments in our recent submission cover the following issues: national and local planning policies; the exaggeration of benefits by the developer; landscape impact; cultural heritage; noise; aviation; ecology and ornithology; impact on local businesses; grid connection.

Important submissions have also been made by other parties on some of these issues, for example Popham Airfield, Tufton Warren Wedding Venue, the North Wessex AONB, Chilbolton Observatory, and Hurstbourne Priors Parish Council. These can be viewed on the planning websites.

European Commission changes renewables targets

The European Commission’s report on the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies was published on January 22nd. After 2020 countries will no longer be bound by targets to produce 20% of their energy from renewable sources. Politicians have started to recognise that the present targets are not only a very poor way of reducing carbon emissions, but the policy is also becoming cripplingly expensive as developers rush to cash in on the generous subsidies. Countries will still be bound to reduce carbon emissions, but are free to achieve this in the cheapest and most effective way. This is much more likely to benefit the environment rather than just line the pockets of renewable developers. Read the recent article on the subject in The Telegraph.

Where developers have been trying to push through proposals on unsuitable sites, this will remove one of the main arguments they have been using; that renewable targets outweigh local environmental concerns.

This is a change to celebrate, but we can expect it to be some time before the vested political and commercial interests give way to a more rational approach to tackling the causes of climate change.

Energy supply crisis

As the crisis in the national electricity supply deepens and global carbon emissions continue to increase, the scandalous waste of time and resources building wind farms in unsuitable locations is becoming increasingly obvious. Wind farms are an expensive and unreliable source of electricity at the best of times, but putting them in areas with poor wind resources makes them even more costly and further increases the cost of back-up power. However, the huge financial benefits to the developers remain in place. How long will it be before this absurd policy is changed?

Read this article by energy economist Gordon Hughes: “Why wind power is so expensive”

Clarification of planning policy for windfarms

In June 2013 new guidance was issued on windfarms, making clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protection and planning concerns of local communities. This suggested that the Government’s “localism” agenda would now have teeth. However, it soon became clear that this change was having little influence on decisions on the ground.  On October 10th Planning Minister Eric Pickles announced that he would be calling in “a number of appeals in order to assess the application of the planning practice guidance at national level.” This should give local councils the reassurance that, if they refuse permission for wind development on the basis of local concerns, they are less likely to be over-ruled by Government planning inspectors on appeal

At the same time, it is proposed that there should be a five-fold increase in “contributions to local communities” by wind developers. The previous recommendation of £1000 per MW installed has been increased to £5,000. However this is still voluntary. The statement suggests that “Communities and developers work together to decide how the money should be used.”

OUR VIEW: We are fighting to protect our countryside, which is priceless, against an opportunistic developer pursuing profit. EDF were proposing £56,000 community funding (£2000 per MW), which would have been less than 1% of Bullington windfarm’s estimated annual income, half of which is subsidy anyway. It was a trivial amount relative to the loss sustained by our communities through the industrialisation of the countryside. This would now need to increase to £140,000 per annum, about 2.3% of Bullington’s annual income. This should make no difference to our acceptance or rejection of the development, which should be based on matters of principle, not bribes. An unacceptable scheme does not become acceptable simply because the developer pays more money.

Anybody who cares about the countryside, and cares about a genuine solution to our environmental problems should recognise these “financial incentives” for what they are; crumbs from the table, and still a tiny fraction of the subsidy windfall which would come to the developer and the landowner. There are suggestions in the government announcement that households might get “up to £400” off their electricity bills. Adding up the number of households in surrounding villages to Bullington soon reveals that this is a highly unlikely scenario in this case. 

For further details, please click HERE to read Eric Pickles DCLG official written ministerial statement on planning changes.

Onshore wind capacity targets met 7 years earlyJune 2013

If any further confirmation was needed that windfarm subsidies have been over-generous, here it is. The Government’s target for onshore wind capacity was 13GW to be installed by 2020. We have 6.3GW (4074 turbines) in operation, 6.7GW (2857 turbines) under construction or awaiting construction. When these are built, we will already have 13GW of installed capacity 7 years ahead of schedule. There are also a further 5.7GW (2995 turbines) in the planning system. We do not need any more onshore windfarms in the UK, especially not in areas of relatively low wind-speed, like Hampshire.

To continue adding to the national stock of wind turbines will further drive up electricity costs and make no difference to the amount of investment required in other more reliable forms of generation.

Local news: Opposition to wind farm confirmed in surrounding local communities.May 2013

Parish councils have recently voted to decide their positions regarding the proposed Bullington Cross windfarm.  Wonston Parish conducted a survey amongst its residents which showed that 80% opposed the scheme, 5% were neutral and 15% supported it.  The parish council have therefore voted to object to the planning applications.  Other parish/town councils which have voted to object include, Whitchurch, Hurstbourne Priors, Barton Stacey, Bullington, Micheldever, Freefolk and Laverstoke and Overton.

Please continue sending emails/letters to your Parish, District or County Councillors and your MP to let them know what you think. Links are provided on our SUPPORT US page. Our voice is strengthened by weight of numbers.

Hampshire County Council's decision to rule out industrial wind turbines on 21,000 acres of council land is a welcome move. It sends a clear message that the Council does not believe that the damage these wind turbines inflict upon the countryside is justified by the feeble and intermittent electricity supply or the questionable carbon savings.

Further reassurance to Hampshire residents could be provided if the Council followed the lead of Wiltshire, Lincolnshire and Scotland, with a 2km exclusion zone between large scale turbines and homes. We live in a densely populated part of the country yet have a landscape which is valued very highly by residents and visitors alike.

How tall is a 126 metre turbine? See photos of our barrage balloon flying at the height of the proposed wind turbines on our PHOTO GALLERY page. [Balloon flown at 125m as close as possible to the nearest proposed turbine and on the same contour of the hill.]

There is increasing evidence from Europe that the rush for wind has been economically and environmentally counterproductive. See the links to articles in The Economist below and also The Telegraph’s article of 11th September to understand the effect of uncontrolled spread of wind farms in Germany.

Press Articles

26th Jul 2014

The Economist "Sun, wind and drain"

Read article
6th Dec 2013

The Guardian "Wind turbines trash the landscape for the benefit of billionaires"

Read article
12th July 2013

Spiegel Online International: One of Germany’s most respected journals reveals the shattering of the green energy myth in Germany.

Read article
30th Jan 2014

Western Morning News: Cornwall discovers the dangers of bribes to local communities.

Read article
27th Jan 2014

The Daily Mail: The reality of property prices in the vicinity of wind farms.

Read article
2nd Feb 2014

BBC News: Irish communities suffer from noise and landscape blight.

Read article
12th Oct 2013

The Telegraph: “Number of planned new onshore wind farms has doubled since 2011.”

Read article
12th Oct 2013

The Economist: “How to lose half a trillion euros. Europe’s electricity providers face existential threat.”

Read article
1st Oct 2013

The Daily Mail: Outrage at EDF’s windfarm proposal in Warwickshire

Read article
26th Sep 2013

Master Resource: “Windfarm Mortality: Environmental Disinformation, Ecodamage.”

Read article
16th Sep 2013

Yorkshire Post: “Turbines ‘putting tourism industry at risk’.”

Read article
11th Sep 2013

The Telegraph: “Romantic Germany risks economic decline as green dream spoils.”

Read article
22nd Aug 2013

The Telegraph: “Secret wind farm report into house price blight.”

Read article
6th June 2013

The Guardian: The U-turn on wind turbines won't stop their march over every hill and valley.

Read article
3rd May 2013

The Lancaster Guardian: “Council can determine how far turbines are from homes.”

Read article
5th Jan 2013

The Economist: “The unwelcome renaissance: Europe’s energy policy delivers the worst of all possible worlds.”

Read article
26th Dec 2012

New York Times: “High Energy Costs Plaguing Europe”

Read article
1st Nov 2012

The Guardian: “In the wind turbine debate, who dares utter the B-word?”

Read article
31st Oct 2012

James Delingpole, The Telegraph: “Wind Energy Claims are just a lot of hot air”

Read article
22nd Oct 2012

The Independent: "We've toppled the turbines in Norfolk. But we had to go round the houses"

Read article
22nd Sep 2012

The Sunday Telegraph: “Germany's wind power chaos should be a warning to the UK”

Read article
22nd Jul 2012

The Telegraph: “Wind farms do bring down property values”

Read article
3rd Mar 2012

Matt Ridley, The Spectator: "The Winds of Change"

Read article
28th Feb 2012

The Guardian: “Wind turbines bring in 'risk-free' millions for rich landowners.”

Read article
10th Feb 2012

The Daily Mail: “Is this the UK's most useless wind turbine? It cost £130,000 in subsidies last year... to raise electricity worth just £100,000.”

Read article
“Wind farms will devastate the countryside pointlessly”
Professor James Lovelock, Scientist, Environmentalist, author of The Gaia Hypothesis