The Dever Society is particularly concerned about these two windfarm proposals, not only because the industrialisation of the countryside would downgrade our landscape, but also because it could ease the way for further speculative developments in this part of Hampshire.
Many parts of Britain have been inundated with planning applications for windfarms and, where they have been successful, landscapes are being transformed at alarming speed. There are huge financial gains to be made by developers and landowners if they succeed in pushing through their proposals (the energy gains are minimal) so determined opposition is necessary to hold back the tide.
Hampshire has, so far, escaped relatively unscathed. We have low wind speeds, a dense population, and fortunately most land owners respect their neighbours and the beauty of the countryside.
Politically, across Europe the mood has been turning against windfarms. This is partly because of the effect they can have on homes and landscapes, but more importantly, it is becoming clear that, on a national scale, they are environmentally and financially counter-productive. However, the planners have to work within the parameters of present policy, which still favours windfarms, and is slow to change. For this reason, the planning decisions on the two proposed windfarms in our area are still finely balanced. Given the unspoilt quality of our rural area, it is our belief that landscape impact alone should be enough to justify refusal.
Bullington Cross Windfarm
The planning determination for EDF’s proposed windfarm near Bullington Cross has been delayed again until June 2014. No firm date has yet been set. This is because of the late submission of EDF’s “Supplementary Environmental Information” (due in October, but delivered in December), and the weight of material that the planners now have to deal with.
The committee meeting will involve all three councils (Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley), and will probably be held at the Guildhall in Winchester. The lead council is Winchester, but each council will make a separate decision on the day.
There have been strong objections from many quarters, including Keep Hampshire Green, Popham Airfield, the MOD, Chilbolton Observatory, the North Wessex Downs AONB, South Downs National Park, English Heritage, the CPRE, and ten surrounding Parish Councils. However, EDF has massive resources, and has employed experts to try to break down opposition. It has also funded a “green energy group”, which has been campaigning vigorously on EDF’s behalf.
It is still possible to object to EDF’s windfarm by following the simple instructions on the Keep Hampshire Green website: www.keephampshiregreen.org. If you have already objected, there is no need to respond again unless you have new information. Objections must be raised on the basis of planning considerations (KHG website has guidance) rather than broader issues. If you would like advice on how to object by post please contact: Keep Hampshire Green, Figsbury House, Wonston, Sutton Scotney, Winchester, SO21 3LS.
Woodmancott Down Windfarm
Like Bullington, the planning decision on the windfarm proposed at Woodmancott has been subject to delays, and for similar reasons. In addition, local councillors will be fully occupied in the lead up to elections on 22nd May, which is likely to mean that planning determination will have to wait until the dust has settled.
The determination date has moved from October 2013, to January, and now March 2014. There is a strong chance that this will move to June. Unlike Bullington, it is being dealt with by just one authority, the Basingstoke Borough Council. Objections have been received from SOS Hampshire Downs, the South Downs National Park, the RSPB, CPRE, the MOD, Popham Airfield, ten Parish Councils, the Ramblers’ Association, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the British Horse Society and all local MPs.
You can also still object to this proposal by visiting www.soshampshiredowns.co.uk. For advice on how to object by post, please contact: SOS Hampshire Downs, Preston Candover Post Office, Preston Candover, RG25 2DN.
We will provide further updates, answer questions and take comments on Bullington and Woodmancott windfarms at the Dever Society AGM on 19th March.