As there may well be a lot of turbine impact later today, I will start by describing what I remember of the blight from memory. Later on I’ll be able to describe what I see today, but first on the agenda: Rhubarb!
I’ve already talked about the Knostrop and Harper Farm turbines, both visible along the southern exit route from Leeds. The M621 twists and turns its way towards the M1, which merges from the left in a road layout known as a TOTSO (Turn Off To Stay On). From the south, it means you have to turn off the M1 to stay on it! Almost immediately after picking up the M1 from the north, the interchange with the M62 appears ahead. Despite the plethora of motorways and sliproads, the Green Belt protection has ensured that all around is a contiguous belt of fields, woodland and rhubarb. Lots of it, as we are now entering the Rhubarb Triangle.
What does it say, that an isolated wind turbine, serving only the owners and workers of Harper Farm, has a more detrimental impact to the landscape, and is more damaging to the integrity of the Green Belt, than the interchange between the M1 and M62???
Just let that thought sink in for a few seconds…
A single, private, “small” wind turbine has more visual impact, on more people, than a three-level intersection between the M1 and the M62, two of the busiest motorways in the country.
And this isn’t just my opinion, look at the Harper Farm blight map and see for yourself just how far its unpleasant visual impact spreads. Whereas you could be standing in a rhubarb field near Rothwell, and be almost blissfully unaware of the motorways passing adjacently. Almost, I suppose, noise being the big problem with motorways. But motorways have nowhere near as much negative visual impact as wind turbines, and that’s what I find fascinating. What is it about the shape, colour, design and location of wind turbines that has such a negative “vibe”? How come motorways can effortlessly blend into the rural landscape, almost resembling rivers, whereas wind turbines immediately cast a drab, tired pall over their surroundings?
One possible theory is that motorways are, all in all, a force for good, of benefit to society, and generally regarded as the most efficient and least destructive way of incorporating a transportation network into our environment. Whereas wind turbines are gratuitously destructive to local landscapes, almost deliberately so, it sometimes appears. Motorway constructors certainly put 100% more effort into aesthetics, sympathetic landscaping and minimising the overall impact of their construction work, whereas the cut-price wind cowboys seem to actively get their kicks from defacing unspoilt places of natural beauty, in as crass and philistine a fashion as possible.
Case in point: the turbine at Park Mill Lane, near Ossett, which someone has very kindly filmed with a Drone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_WFhTDFSc8) – ooh, what does their description say: “Never seen any planning for it”!
HERE WE GO AGAIN! Isn’t it amazing, as I hope you are now starting to see. Practically every turbine has a weird tale attached to it; more often than not there seems to be something a bit off about the process of how they came to be approved and constructed. If only Lt. Columbo was still around, he’d have a field day getting to the bottom of the wind scam. I’m happy to apply Columbo techniques on his behalf, although if my wife was ever a big fan of turbine developers, I’d file for divorce right away!
So we’ve got no further than the edge of Wakefield and once again there’s a turbine-related mystery to be solved… let’s do some investigation.
I must confess, I’ve actually already brought this one to the attention of Wakefield Council, one of several separate letters that I am now assimilating into this all-inclusive blog. Do you want to read what I wrote to Wakefield Council, back in March 2017?
I hope you can help me. I am writing to request as strongly as possible that the wind turbine off Park Mill Lane is removed as soon as possible, as it is extremely harmful to my mental health and well-being, its visual presence highly inappropriate and oppressive, its impact on the environment for miles around highly negative, and it can be proven to depreciate property within sight of it (see London School of Economics report “Gone With The Wind” for evidence of the negative impacts of wind turbines). Furthermore there is no evidence of any environmental benefits of wind turbines whatsoever. I am also struggling to find details of the planning application for this turbine. Are you able to provide me with more information about its planning application, its performance and its environmental impact please?
For the above reasons and several others (please see links below), I am now committed to overseeing the compulsory removal of every single wind turbine across Wakefield over the next twenty years, with mandatory 25 year jail sentences for non-compliance. Wind turbine owners will be asked to remove their horrible blight, and if they don’t, they will be forced to.
This particular turbine caught my attention from miles away, ruining my sense of well-being by disfiguring the landscape. It is unacceptable for me and against my human rights to be forced to experience the torture of turbine blight against my will, and I will fight this eco-menace at every step of the way.
Please advise me what steps are available to me to campaign for the removal of every useless wind turbine across Wakefield, and how can I ensure not a single new destructive turbine is built in the borough.
*Mr Peak Protection* (of course, I gave my real name…I always do!)
To which I received the reply:
Dear *Mr Peak Protection*
I write in response to your email as below.
I should advise that full planning permission for the siting of 1no. 36.4m high (hub) wind turbine on land to the east of Park Mill Lane Ossett was granted on 6 March 2014. Details of the application can be obtained from the Council’s website via the following link: https://planning.wakefield.gov.uk/online-applications/. Please insert planning reference number 13/00524/FUL in the search criteria, view the relevant application and then view ‘associated documents’. All information associated with the application is available to view here including plans, case officer report and consultation responses.
The development benefits from full planning permission and the Local Planning Authority has no grounds upon which to require its removal.
I trust you will be able to obtain the information that you are looking for in the on-line file.
*Senior Planning Officer*
My next salvo:
Dear *Senior Planning Officer*
Many thanks for your prompt, courteous and informative reply. I appreciate at the time the turbine referred to was approved by the local authority. However I still have some queries which you have not answered:
(1) How I can lodge a formal complaint about the negative impact of this wind turbine on my well-being and the overall adverse effect of the local environment? What is the process I should follow in order to ensure the negative impacts of the turbine are logged officially?
(2) How can I keep track of all upcoming wind turbine applications in Wakefield, and what steps are available to me to oppose every single turbine proposal, on grounds of extremely negative impact on the environment and well-being of Wakefield residents?
In addition, could you please advise me how I can monitor the performance of the turbine to ensure it is having an objectively verified positive effect on the environment, which is (I presume) the claimed reason permission was granted for an otherwise inappropriate industrial structure in the Green Belt?
I do hope this matter can be resolved without the need for legal help.
*Mr Peak Protection*
The next reply was awesome (and the reason I enjoy letter writing…IT’S ALL ABOUT DIALOGUE!!!):
Dear *Mr Peak Protection*
The Council’s complaints procedures are detailed on the webpage found via the following link: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/site/contact/compliments-and-complaints. If a complaint is made through this method it will be investigated by the Development Manager and registered accordingly.
A guide to the Public Access pages of the Planning Section of the website can be viewed via the following link: http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/site/contact/compliments-and-complaints. At page 6 of this guide an ‘Advanced Search’ option is detailed. Within that there is an option to search application details by ‘Description Keyword’. I think using the word ‘turbine’ in this section would be the most appropriate way to identify all applications relating to wind turbines. There is an option to register for alerts within a certain postcode area but there is no option to register for alerts based on application type and as you are concerned about the whole District I am unable to suggest any alternative option. Clearly this is not guaranteed but I think it is the only way I can suggest to try keep track of such application types at this time.
As an aside I have carried out a search using this method. Other than an application for a non-material amendment to an extant consent in 2016 it would appear that the Local Planning Authority has not received a planning application for a new wind turbine since 2014. I am also aware that I have certainly not dealt with any new applications for such since the Written Ministerial Statement of 18 June 2015 was issued.
The Case Officer report, available in the on-line file, provides the full planning assessment of this particular application.
There is no requirement for the Developer to provide details of the performance of the turbine to the Local Planning Authority. I can only suggest contacting the applicant directly via his Agent, the details of which are again available in the on-line file for a which I gave a link previously.
I would encourage you to read the case officer report for this application to see the full assessment of the turbine. All planning application assessments have to consider the social, economic and environmental aspects of development as defined by the National Planning Policy Framework. These are all fed into the planning balance in reaching a recommendation on all applications. In relation to wind turbines the environmental benefits are only one aspect of the assessment.
In relation to monitoring thereafter, there is no legal requirement on the Local Planning Authority to monitor the performance of turbines. As with all applications, the information submitted by applicants has to be taken in good faith. Unfortunately the Authority does not have a compliance service for any planning permissions.
As you will be aware there has been a significant change in National Planning Guidance since this application was determined. Namely the requirement for Authorities to allocate suitable areas for wind energy development in Local or Neighbourhood Plans. At present, the Wakefield Local Plan does not have any such allocations and any applications would now have to be assessed in light of this.
*Senior Planning Officer*
I’m sure this is an awful lot of words for people to wade through, but you know, that’s how the turbine operators often get away with it – they overload people with ridiculously long, opaque passages that pretty much bore the public into rolling over and accepting the turbines, without feeling they can stand against this juggernaut of bureaucracy. Labyrinthine policy frameworks are quoted at length, with the main aim of shutting out any kind of informed opposition. It takes patience, brainpower and assiduous attention to detail to slowly, steadily work one’s way through the planning applications, looking for things that don’t stack up, or even just the omission of important data. Yup, Lt. Columbo would be the perfect guy to pull the rug from under the feet of the smug wind criminals. I am honoured to use his sleuthing skills as my inspiration. And once again this means trawling carefully through the planning application and discovering exactly why this turbine was requested.
Just before delving into the murky planning application, we should acknowledge one great piece of news: the letter from the Council refers to the change in policy, which means that Wakefield has no sites earmarked for future wind development, no outstanding applications and nowhere to put them anyway now. THANK GOD! So it’s just the Ossett monster that needs tackling. Right: why was it requested?
Half an hour of trawling through the planning documents later, and I have not been able to isolate the initial request for the turbine. Let’s fire off another message to Wakefield Council and see if they can shed some light on it! I am literally about to compose this message right here, right now! Nice to share my modus operandi in real-time…
Dear *Senior Planning Officer*
You may remember I wrote to you six months ago in order to raise a complaint about the above Planning Application, and you very kindly replied with some very useful information for me.
I am now in a position to assimilate the data about several local wind turbines into a formal investigation about the impact of wind turbines on mental health, and I hope it is acceptable to you that I use information about the Ossett wind turbine in my report. I have just one follow-up question, which I sincerely hope can be answered without taking up too much of your time.
You pointed me to the Planning Application for 13/00524/FUL and I am trying to locate the initial application letter, in order to find out who the applicant was, and the specific reason the turbine was requested. I might have missed it, but I could not locate the original application request in these documents. Would you be able to point me in the right direction. I need to see the specific application request and the reasons given by the applicant for wanting to erect the turbine.
I am copying this email, plus your reply (if that is acceptable) into a public blog. Many thanks once again for being so helpful and considerate!
*Mr Peak Protection*
SENT! Let’s see exactly why this turbine was requested, by whom and for what reason, because it’s not immediately obvious from the above documentations!
EDIT: I’ve had a reply! Massive respect to Wakefield Council, who have consistently been responsive and informative. I am taking the liberty of sharing the link to the Design And Access Statement, so you can read and make up your own mind. It’s 37 pages long, and just one of almost 100 documents required for the construction of the turbine. Yet again, the sole beneficiary of the turbine is just one farm business, with absolutely no benefit to anyone else. Yet again it seems to have taken legions of planners and officials to pave the way for the construction of just one turbine, with a visual impact on thousands. Yet again, the overriding impression one gets is of a lumbering, inefficient, massively wasteful blight on public services, public finances and public landscapes, all for the survival of one struggling business.
Whenever you see a wind turbine, what you’re looking at is the face of failure. No wonder it’s depressing!
One interesting observation to end with: Paragraph 1.9 of the Design And Access Statement claims that the grey colour of the turbine is designed to “blend into a dull, cloudy background”. THAT SAYS IT ALL! The turbine is literally designed to be dull. So get this, Endurance (the DelBoy outfit behind the turbine): your drab turbine will never brighten up a grey sky, but it will ALWAYS darken a clear blue sky with its cheerless, lifeless, one shade of grey.