X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Features

The wind turbine that could ruin Norfolk

The Bodham wind turbine will destroy views for miles around

20 April 2013

9:00 AM

20 April 2013

9:00 AM

Want to see a beautiful corner of old England? Come to north Norfolk, its gentle landscape dotted with houses, halls and cottages built from flint and clay dug from north Norfolk soil. Visit Baconsthorpe Castle, one of the most magical places in Britain, down a lane, up a track, round a corner and in a time warp. Walk, cycle or potter along winding country lanes under grand skies that have inspired poets and painters for centuries. Come, but come now — because, barring a miracle, north Norfolk will very soon be wrecked beyond recognition.

In an act that demonstrates the utter lie of the coalition’s claim to be committed to localism, a central government planning inspector has overturned the North Norfolk District Council’s decision to refuse permission for a gigantic wind turbine at Bodham, in the heart of our unspoiled countryside. When the scheme first emerged in August 2011, I wrote here of my disbelief that anyone could seriously consider ripping up our timeless skyscape with a 284-foot structure with a blade-span the width of a jumbo jet. The tip of the turbine would be 579 feet above sea level. It would degrade views for miles in all directions.

‘They’ve got to be kidding,’ I wrote. ‘No chance. The planners wouldn’t wear it.’

And the planners didn’t. Unanimously. I was there. Every man Jack on the district council said ‘No!’ Not one parish council spoke in favour of the turbine. One thousand, four hundred and fifty-five people wrote in to object to it. No other local planning proposal has ever generated such a response.

Proposals of precisely this kind had been foreseen and forbidden by the local authority in its planning policy, which declares that turbines ‘sited so prominently that they are apparent for miles’ should not be allowed, and particularly not ‘near the Cromer ridge’ — on which the Bodham turbine would be built.

[Alt-Text]


But the developer appealed, an outsider was bused in to review the decision, and he overturned it. On 8 April, the turbine was granted planning permission by an inspector who judged the opinion of local people and their elected representatives to be wrong. ‘This is not a referendum,’ he told the hearing. Indeed, it was not.

Nor was it a good advertisement for the 2011 Localism Act, which Nick Clegg told us would ‘mark the beginning of a power shift away from central government to the people, families and communities of Britain.’

Well, Nick, come here and tell that to Barbara, whose home is set to be dominated by a monstrous, throbbing machine with blades that will cut a 170ft hole in the sky 600 yards from her front door. Pop round the corner and explain to Paula, Simon and their young son how power has shifted from central government to families like theirs, when their home life is ruined by the overwhelming presence of turbines built in pursuit of insane central government policies.

And while you are here, drive six miles up the road to the council offices at Cromer — you’d have a good view of that turbine for most of the way — and explain your Act to the councillors our community elected. You could start with the summary on the parliament.uk website: ‘The Bill will devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities more control over housing and planning decisions.’

Perhaps it would be fairer to ask your colleague Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to come here and explain why the views of our community and our local government count for so little. Because one reason that your words on localism ring hollow is that his new National Planning Policy Framework has just come into force. You wouldn’t think there’d be a problem from what he wrote on 26 March in the Daily Telegraph: ‘Firstly, our reforms safeguard our glorious green spaces and countryside… The intention is to let residents, not remote Whitehall officials, decide… which cherished sites need to be protected.’

But when our residents decided our glorious countryside and our cherished sites needed to be protected, it wasn’t our view that prevailed. And when English Heritage argued that even under the new national planning policy, the damage to the setting of Baconsthorpe Castle and ancient local churches was not justified by any benefits claimed by the Bodham turbine, the remotely appointed inspector rejected their opinion, too.

For Pickles’s reforms are built upon ‘a presumption towards sustainable development’, and the person sent to tell us how that presumption should be weighed against any local disadvantages was empowered to write of Barbara’s bungalow and Paula and Simon’s cottage, ‘I do not think the properties would become unattractive places to live.’ Well, they do, and they told him so. And to them, they are not ‘properties’; they are ‘home’. But hey — what do they know?

In theory, the principles of sustainable development set out in the National Planning Policy Framework are laudable: ‘living within the planet’s environmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society, achieving a sustainable economy, promoting good governance, [and] using sound science responsibly.’ But the framework will struggle to live up to any of those ideals, because the notion of ‘sustainable development’ has been hijacked. Profiteers with no interest in social justice, and irresponsible, unsound scientists have conned and scared ill-informed MPs into passing environmental legislation that is wrecking the economy while doing little or nothing to save the planet.

Where is the social justice in driving millions into fuel poverty by forcing them to pay for subsidies that make windfarmers filthy rich? How can you achieve a sustainable economy when you drive jobs overseas by driving up electricity prices here? How is sound science being employed responsibly by building unreliable, inefficient wind turbines as part of a catastrophically incoherent energy policy that leaves us wondering not if, but when all the lights will go out? And where is the ‘good governance’ in talking up local democracy while riding rough-shod over it?

In a nation edging towards post-democracy, such questions need to be asked. Whatever our ministers say, their actions bring to mind the scorn for ordinary folk in China, where populated valleys are evacuated and flooded to produce power for the state. The comparison is imperfect, of course, because hydroelectric schemes produce reliable electricity at an affordable cost. And in pre-democratic China, nobody pretends that little, local people count.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close