Almost all of today’s entry will be an excerpt from the letter I sent the Planning Inspectorate last year. I’m posting it here following a trip back to the White Peak, in which I could not escape the Carsington monsters following me around wherever I looked. The letter is an official document and has been logged on the Planning Inspectorate’s system; as such it is an integral part of the national discourse on wind power, most definitely in the public interest as evidence of the harmful impact of various wind farms on the Peak District.
My personal approach to (ex) Planning Inspector Robin Brooks is to keep this public slaughtering of his reputation strictly on-topic and related to professional matters. He screwed up in his job. If his superiors disagree and think he did a good job, then it’s them, not him, to blame. One way or another, a bad job was carried out, with horrendous impacts. Someone, somewhere has to take responsibility for the colossal error of judgment in allowing Carsington Pastures Wind Farm to f**k up vast swathes of the Peak District.
Robin Brooks is the man with his name attached to the Planning Appeal that allowed this blight to be built, once again against the wishes of the local community and without their consent, and so until I hear otherwise, my search for environmental justice is pointing me in Mr Brooks’ direction.
In publicly shaming Robin Brooks, I’m not seeking to hurt him, rather to educate him; to reach out and make him aware of the harmful impact of his actions on the mental health and well-being of thousands of British citizens who look to the National Parks for recreation, relaxation and a vital escape from industry. It’s not too late for Mr Brooks to emerge from hiding and admit, on the record, that he goofed and now stands opposed to the wind blight he previously sanctioned.
I’m a great believer in sinners repenting and being forgiven, and that’s what I’d love to happen regarding Carsington: (1) apologies and acknowledgment from all concerned that they have seriously harmed our most visited National Park; (2) remedial action to remove all traces of the wind blight from the National Park; followed on my side by (3) forgiveness for their mistakes. That’s the journey I’m heading on, but things need to happen in the right order. The apologies must come first. Then the remedial action. Finally, forgiveness.
So let’s hand over to the original letter, addressed to the Planning Inspectorate as an organisation, and my very own Freedom of Information requests regarding the inexplicable approval of Carsington Pastures Wind Farm.
CASE #02: CARSINGTON PASTURES WIND FARM, WIRKSWORTH
CASE REF: APP/P1045/A/07/2054080
CASE OFFICER: ROBIN BROOKS
Proven negative environmental impact:
In order to truly understand the devastating environmental impact of the Carsington Pastures Wind Farm, and how its approval on appeal by Mr Brooks breaches every principle of planning best practice since the Second World War, it is necessary to have a detailed knowledge of the social history of the Peak National Park and its formation.
The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 set out two “statutory purposes”:
1. to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area, and
2. to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the park’s special qualities by the public.
There is also a statutory duty: “to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the national parks.”
Approving an unwanted power station, rejected by the community, less than two miles from the Peak District, on a prominent ridge visible from north of Bakewell, east of Matlock, south of Ashbourne and west of Buxton, must rank as one of the most outrageous, possibly criminal planning mistakes in recorded history.
Almost the entirety of the Southern Peak District is now blighted by the unsightly appearance of the huge, obtrusive industrial development looming over the otherwise idyllic National Park, breaching the core principles above by defiling the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area, and spoiling opportunities for millions of people to escape nasty industrial views and enjoy the park’s special qualities.
Extent of area blighted by Carsington Pastures Wind Farm:
I shouldn’t need to inform the Planning Inspectorate about its duty to conserve the integrity of the UK’s National Parks at all costs – if at any time the Planning Inspectorate does not put their conservation first and foremost in its decisions, then it is a malignant agency that is not fit-for-purpose, proactively and deliberately harming the environment and inhabitants of the UK; as such, I would not want a penny of my taxes to go towards propping up such an unpatriotic organisation.
I sincerely hope this degradation of the Peak was inadvertent and accidental rather than deliberate or malicious, however the approval of Carsington Pastures Wind Farm has undoubtedly had an extremely (and entirely predictable/avoidable) negative impact on the landscapes of the National Park, and so the fact remains: the Planning Inspectorate has provably damaged the United Kingdom and harmed the millions of citizens whose appreciation of its unique landscapes has been ruined all for the profits of one firm, Engie Renewables (based over 100 miles away).
Causing harm to the environment & inhabitants of the UK is totally unacceptable to me, therefore I am now taking action to enforce the compulsory removal of the unwanted, unneeded Carsington Pastures Wind Farm.
I am reaching out to you as a representative of the Planning Inspectorate, in the sincere hope that you appreciate the true severity of Mr Brooks’ harmful decision and its extremely negative impact on the UK’s best interests. It is my hope that official arrangements can consequently be made for the removal of the destructive wind farm, without the need for the community to sideline the Planning Inspectorate and take over sole responsibility for the enforced removal of the harmful wind turbines, with no outside assistance.
The people of the UK do not want or need the wind farm at Carsington Pastures, as expressed unequivocally by Derbyshire Dales Council’s strong rejection of the application, and the electorate’s rejection of pro-wind policies at every general election since 2010 (plus the Brexit vote, which was a vote against, amongst other things, EU energy/environmental policies). Mr Brooks’ decision is unpatriotic, antidemocratic, unethical, unnatural, unsupported by science and therefore totally unacceptable. CONSEQUENTLY, CARSINGTON PASTURES WIND FARM HAS TO BE FORCIBLY REMOVED.
(21) In Paragraph 47 Mr Brooks states: “Both their visual impact and their effects on landscape character would diminish fairly quickly to east and west, and would be perceived by those travelling through the landscape as affecting a relatively limited area.” In Paragraph 52 Mr Brooks states: “…significant visual effects would be likely up to about 3-5 kms radius of the appeal site though this
does not in itself equate to unacceptable harm to landscape character”
These are provable errors made by Mr Brooks personally, factually incorrect misstatements of Carsington Pastures Wind Farm’s impact on the landscape. I will testify that these descriptions of the wind farm’s impact are incorrect, if not downright dishonest/deceptive.
The true fact is that Carsington Pastures has ruined the iconic “White Peak” landscapes from such important vantage points as Axe Edge (20 miles away), Thorpe Cloud (10 miles away), Crich Memorial Tower (9 miles away) and Longstone Edge (15 miles away). What Mr Brooks has spectacularly failed to take into account is that the very attraction of the Peak District is to offer every citizen of the UK and overseas visitors the chance to feel “on top of the world”. To deprive people of that sensation by erecting such prominent, high-altitude industrial structures is to belittle and disrespect every single citizen of the UK. In such a context, the visual effect of even the slightest blight is amplified and of heightened negative impact due to the uniqueness and remoteness of the National Park.
The song “The Manchester Rambler” by Ewan MacColl, recognised as the anthem of the original Kinder Trespass which led to the creation of the Peak District National Park, sets out in lyrics the ethos (enshrined in law) behind National Park policy: “I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday.” The menacing sight and presence of huge industrial equipment operating unremittingly, even on a Sunday, is a direct attack on that freedom from “wage slavery”, bringing corporate industry and the health/safety risks inherent in high-voltage electricity generation to what is supposed to be a National Park, an area of recuperation and freedom away from such toxic blight, thus ruining the meditative, liberating qualities of the landscape. To deprive people of this basic freedom is, quite frankly, immoral and directly hostile to the well-being of UK citizens.
Therefore it is factually incorrect to say that the turbines do not equate to unacceptable harm to the landscape. They do, just by being there in the landscape, denying people the chance to survey the rolling hills as far as the eye can see. There is scientific evidence that it is medically good for people to experience nature (source: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.abstract), and therefore it is indisputable that by allowing a significant man-made presence to degrade the natural environment of the Peak District, Mr Brooks has directly and unacceptably harmed the health of UK citizens.
How can I therefore enforce a full enquiry into how Mr Brooks came to base his report on these harmful falsehoods about the true extent of Carsington Pastures’ adverse impact on the National Park, including a list of locations that he visited in the course of his casework?
(22) What procedures are available to me to enforce the reversal of Mr Brooks’ wrong decision, based on his false statements incorrectly describing the extent of the adverse impact of the wind farm, rather than its true impact (unacceptably detrimental to the beauty of dozens of significant peaks within the National Park, inappropriate blight visible from distances of up to 20 miles
Proven depreciation of all properties from which turbine is visible:
The inhabitants of Derbyshire Dales and the southern Peak District (stretching as far as Staffordshire) are now “second class citizens” as a direct result of having this ghastly blight imposed on them against their will, with their homes depreciated directly as a result of Mr Brooks’ decision to allow the construction of the inappropriate wind farm.
[Source: “Gone With The Wind” – report by the London School of Economics proving the adverse effect of wind turbines on house prices http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/58422/]
Carbon footprint of construction/maintenance/decommissioning:
(23) Please provide the independently verified carbon footprint of the
construction, maintenance and disposal of Carsington Pastures Wind Farm (plus ancillary infrastructure), including the land restoration that will be necessary to return the land to its original state.
Unproven environmental benefit claims:
Up until the carbon payback date of the wind farm it has ZERO environmental benefit, in fact due to its carbon footprint and widely visible blight, it has a provable negative impact on the environment. Its sole claimed benefit is that it will apparently one day offset CO2 emissions.
(24) Please provide the independently verified guaranteed output of
Carsington Pastures Wind Farm (including the percentage of this
output generated by fossil fuel-powered turbine rotation, ie when
the turbines’ rotation is not powered by the wind, but either by
diesel or by drawing power from the grid);
(25) Please provide the independently verified amount of CO2
emissions that will be guaranteed to be saved as a result of this
wind farm’s operation.
(26) Please provide the contractually agreed date by which the wind
farm is guaranteed to have offset the CO2 emissions involved in
its construction, maintenance, decommissioning and land
(27) Please provide the legally binding penalty for the wind farm’s
failure to meet the agreed carbon payback date.
Evidence of negligence/corruption:
I wish to make a formal complaint about the following comment, so unbelievably crass, insensitive and ignorant that this raises serious doubts about the mentality of the Planning Inspectorate and those working for it. From Paragraph 46: “a good number [of tourists] would probably accept it [the wind farm] as a dramatic addition.”
Even more astoundingly wrong and ignorant, from Paragraph 72: “Against this background I find it hard to believe that, in general, views would be so disturbing as to unacceptably diminish the aesthetic and recreational experiences of the majority of visitors, including their appreciation of the particular qualities of the National Park.”
Such a lack of empathy and awareness of the desire of the National Park visitors to escape from repulsive, towering man-made, corporately owned structures as displayed by Mr Brooks above, is pathological, bordering on sadistic, in its casual indifference towards the adverse effect of his decision upon the millions of visitors to the National Park, whose experiences have all been spoilt as a result of his ill-informed subjective opinion. It is a fact that Mr Brooks has sided with the interests of Engie Renewables over the millions of visitors to the Peak District, when he personally was entrusted with the authority to conserve the integrity of the National Park for ALL citizens of the UK.
Therefore, as a CUSTOMER of the Planning Inspectorate who pays the organisation to protect my country from inappropriate blight, I do not want a penny of the tax money I pay you going towards this horrible man, who has personally insulted ME, until he has been dismissed pending full psychiatric assessment relating to his unacceptable contempt towards his fellow UK citizens. Spoiling millions of people’s “peak experiences” must rank as one of the most evil, immoral actions imaginable, and this is ALWAYS unacceptable to me. Even if miraculously no existing law has been broken, then I ask the Planning Inspectorate to take a serious look at the spirit of its behaviour, its ethics and conduct, and to appreciate the very real and true pain and suffering it has caused to millions of people needlessly. This is a matter of conscience and soul-searching as much as about the law – WHY ARE THESE NASTY PEOPLE DOING THIS TO THE COUNTRYSIDE? WHY WOULD ANYBODY JOIN THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE IN ORDER TO IMPOSE INAPPROPRIATE BLIGHT ON A COMMUNITY WITHOUT ITS CONSENT? HOW IS THAT ETHICAL, FAIR OR JUST?
(28) How can I as a tax-paying citizen object as strongly as possible to such offensive comments, totally and diametrically opposite to the principles of the above National Park legislation? People do NOT visit National Parks to look at disgusting, corporate industrial equipment that resembles huge disembodied spiders. I am utterly gobsmacked that a professional Planning Inspector could seriously add to an official report, which had the power to radically change the appearance and character of the UK’s first and most visited National Park, such subjective, qualitative and unverified comments about a large number of visitors “probably” accepting it.
(29) Who is Mr Brooks’ line manager? Can you send me evidence that Mr Brooks’ line manager has been alerted to my complaint and Mr Brooks has received appropriate disciplinary measures as a result of grossly understating the impact of a wind farm he approved?
(30) How can I arrange a training session with Mr Brooks and his line manager, to visit with me some of the beauty spots that have been destroyed as a result of Mr Brooks’ wrong decision, to provide education and information for Mr Brooks that he clearly is not aware of, and to improve the quality of future decision-making so that such a mistake is never, ever made again?
Feedback from members of the community:
“It was notable that local authorities rejected the proposals only to have it sanctioned by Whitehall. Collusion, anyone?”
“Oh I am absolutely convinced of it being government collusion / stitch up. The land around here has remained agricultural since, forever. If you apply to build a house it is never granted planning permission. One day planning is requested for a test mast – turned down. An appeal is lodged and all of a sudden permission granted. Never happened like that since I’ve lived here (about 6 years)”
“The financial details reported don’t tally with the [Engie Renewables] website; wonder what’s hidden in all this?”
“If these things are so benign I wonder why they have to list all these caveats too?“
“It really is absolutely disgusting isn’t it. Money grubbers able to ignore the wishes of the vast majority of locals and local authorities with the connivance of govt. departments“
“Because most of the people who have the areas they live in blighted by these huge, artificial, ugly, wasteful monstrosities hate the ruination of the natural landscape and the tax we have to pay to foreign companies and rich landowners alike, for bugger all benefit.”
(27) What is the Planning Inspectorate’s official response to these residents’ allegations of collusion/impropriety regarding the “foregone conclusion” of the approval of Carsington Pastures Wind Farm on appeal? Would Mr Brooks be prepared to testify in a court of law that at no time was he coerced or influenced, nor rewarded financially, for approving Carsington Pastures Wind Farm?
Proposed Environmental Restoration Solution:
TOTAL RESCINDING OF PLANNING PERMISSION FOR CARSINGTON PASTURES WIND FARM & ITS COMPULSORY REMOVAL, WITH A 25 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE FOR NON-COMPLIANCE
Proposed Disciplinary Action Against Robin Brooks:
DISMISSAL FOR GROSS NEGLIGENCE RESULTING IN HARM TO THE BRITISH PUBLIC
The letter continued, with another four wind farm planning appeals put under the microscope. As I say, the law had already changed by the time I’d sent the letter, and none of these wind farms would now be permitted. But what about steps to get rid of those that slipped through the net, such as Carsington? Maybe we just have to wait until the end of the contracts, not very long in the great scheme of things.
The important thing to take forward is that we as a society must make it clear to our Planning Inspectors that their most important job is to conserve our National Parks and Green Belts. Any decisions that have a negative impact on our special landscapes will simply NOT be tolerated. Furthermore Planning Inspectors are expected to be transparent and accessible, the way I am (open invitation to any reader who wants to meet up for a coffee and a chat!). Running away from your responsibilities to the general public is absolutely unacceptable.
Eco-vandals will be hounded, pursued and their lives made hell, until they face up to the impact of their actions.
The simple solution is to respect the countryside and to refuse any type of landscape degradation whatsoever!
Thankfully, since Sajid Javid came along to bang some heads together and restore some sense and empathy to the scene, it’s been a while since I’ve had to publicly shame any Planning Inspectors. Brendan Lyons was the last, thanks to his Jaytail Farm abomination.
To Robin Brooks I say once more: admit you got the Carsington case totally wrong, apologise wholeheartedly, make the case for the immediate removal of the wind farm, and I will forgive you.
YOUR HOMEWORK FOR TODAY:
Here’s your homework for today: get yourself to Greenfield, the last outpost of Oldham, nestled underneath the Dark Peak at its most rocky and mountainous. Everyone knows Snowdon and Helvellyn, but how many people are aware that within the boundaries of Oldham lie some of the most dramatic, almost-vertical mountainsides in the country?
The A635 (known locally as The Isle Of Skye Road) winds its way past Dove Stones to the right and Pots & Pans to the left, rapidly climbing in altitude until it reaches the top of the infamous Saddleworth Moor. This is a truly “top of the world”, outer-space landscape, as if only tenuously connected to solid Earth. I’ve mentioned before about alpha brain waves, and how these ethereal landscapes help alter our frame of mind into a healing, relaxing, lightly hypnotised state.
Sadly, almost as soon as you pass the county line into Kirklees, the blight begins and its negative impact on your mindset becomes apparent. The first three turbines to catch your eye are miles away to the north at Round Ings Hill Farm – a high point locally that nonetheless is a good couple of hundred metres lower than Saddleworth Moor. These turbines take too much of your attention, spoiling the view from this part of the National Park. THEY MUST COME DOWN!
Once past the Wessenden Head turning, the land to the south of the Isle Of Skye Road starts falling away, offering what, just ten years ago, were amazing, unspoilt views across the uppermost Holme Valley towards the Dark Peak plateau, stretching from Holme Moss towards Snailsden.
There are now a good two dozen individual wind turbines visible, as well as the previously studied Royd Moor, Spicer Hill and Hazelhead wind farms. Please do get here for a true vision of just how badly this area has been affected by wind power infrastructure, so you can experience the impact for yourself.
One by one, these turbines will be targetted for removal, starting at the top with Whitegates Farm, just a few metres from the edge of the Dark Peak, and working our way down the valley. I have given the owners of Whitegates Farm some feedback:
I wish to make a formal complaint about your inappropriate wind turbine, which has had an unbelievably negative impact on the landscapes of the Dark Peak and Holme Valley south of Huddersfield. Views from as far away the A635 Isle of Skye Road near Wessenden Head have been utterly trashed by the hideous high-visibility white metal towers that have come to dominate the area in the last decade.
Your turbine in particular is far too close to the National Park to be acceptable, and therefore I request politely that you remove it at once, avoiding the need for further action to force the removal of the unwanted blight. I have been monitoring the turbine and have noticed several occasions in which it is spinning rapidly in no wind – what is powering it at these times if not the wind? And what is the environmental benefit of the high visibility white paint? It is totally inappropriate and wrong for the landscape, absolutely unacceptable.
Do you have any understanding of the negative impact your wind turbine has on the public? Why should everyone else suffer just for your benefit? Therefore I am taking steps to ensure your wind turbine is decommissioned ASAP, the first of which is to inform you of the harm you are causing, and to ask you politely to remove the turbine voluntarily. I do hope this matter can be resolved without the need for legal help. I will be featuring this correspondence in my blog MindWind – Monitoring The Impact Of Wind Turbines On Mental Health.