The Frogmore Turbine

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Saved! – The glittering jewel in South Devon’s crown. “A triumph for common sense, the rule of law and justice”


South Hams District Council IS to protect the South Devon Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), Salcombe Estuary and Frogmore Creek. The Winslade Farm wind turbine planning application is turned down after a Local Public Inquiry at Follaton House.

To read the full decision and the Inspectors Report click here

The applicants describe this as a “small” turbine! At the Inquiry in September this was changed to “Medium” size!  To see for yourself the true size – click here for the  Turbine Video

Right all along’

The Winslade Inquiry decision means that the South Hams Planning Officers, and the many Councillors, who opposed the development, were right all along. Their expert assessments of the impact of the proposal have been upheld, by both the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The South Hams Planning and Landscape Officers, and the AONB team had agreed that the proposed wind turbine development would have contravened South Hams planning policy and seriously damaged the countryside. It would have caused harm to important protected areas of Devon’s landscape, local historic sites, and most importantly, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Friends of South Hams are delighted

The Friends of South Hams are delighted to have played a significant part in helping uncover the faults in the handling of the application. In helping to bring about this decision, they have encouraged important improvements and changes in the local planning process.

The Local Inquiry held at Totnes, and the determination by the Secretary of State, means that the South Hams AONB is to be protected – for the benefit of the whole community.

Kingsbridge Gazette 27/1/17

THE long-contested wind turbine at Winslade Farm, Frogmore, has been refused by the Secretary of State after the application was called in. The wind turbine — which has been the subject of two planning applications, approvals, appeals and court judgments — was called in back in December 2014.And now the Inspectors report and the decision by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP. has called attention to the main issues of the landscape and siting within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, heritage assets and minimal public benefits. Asked this week who will foot the bill for this costly action, a South Hams Council spokesperson said they could not give a detailed answer as a council by-election means that they are at present ‘in purdah’.

To read the full 27/1/17 article click here

The Friends of the South Hams opposed the application

FRIENDS OF SOUTH HAMSFRIDAY 27th JANUARY 2017

Friends of South Hams said:

DEREK WEAVING OF FRIENDS OF SOUTH HAMS SAID: ‘South Hams Councillors are well aware that when their planning committee considers planning applications, they have a legal obligation to protect and enhance our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Yet, on two separate occasions the South Hams planning committee approved the Winslade turbine application, in defiance of unanimous and compelling advice from their own planning specialists, from experienced independent professionals and from statutory bodies such as the AONB. The Planning Inspector’s report, endorsed by the Secretary of State, is emphatic that the council did not give proper consideration to its legal obligations when it put the short-term profitability of a private farming business above the wider interests of the community. If the council’s decision to approve the Winslade Turbine had been allowed to stand, a precedent would have been created for the construction of large turbines right across the AONB.

Aims of the planning system

One of the key aims of the planning system is to balance private interests in the development of land against the wider public interest. In performing this role, planning necessarily affects land and property interests, particularly the financial value of and holdings and the quality of their settings.

Opposing views are often strongly held by those involved. Whilst councillors must take account of these views, they should not favour any person, company, group or locality, nor put themselves in a position where they may appear to be doing so. It is important, therefore, that planning authorities make planning decisions affecting these interests openly, impartially, with sound judgment and for justifiable reasons. The process should leave no grounds for suggesting that those participating in the decision were biased or that the decision itself was unlawful, irrational or procedurally improper.

Froga Mere

Early warning of fundamental problems

Ian Bryan SUNDAY, 29 JANUARY 2017

The SHDC say “Studies have shown that an organisation that truly welcomes, values and uses complaints to inspire and guide improvement will be more successful than one that does not.”

An effective complaint management system is an essential part of providing a quality service. It shows that we are responsive to service users, that we take their concerns seriously, that we welcome their feedback on services and are willing to use the information gained to continually improve service delivery.

The benefit to our customers should ultimately be improved services and increased satisfaction with those services. Having an effective process for managing complaints not only benefits the complainant, it can have real benefits for the organisation:

It provides free feedback on service delivery

It identifies areas needing improvement

It presents an early chance to put things right

It strengthens public support for the organisation.

Complaints often provide an early warning of more fundamental problems in service design and delivery. If the evidence from complaints is made readily available to the decision-makers in an organisation, it gives them an opportunity to make improvements before problems escalate”.

For the full SHDC policy paper, click here

Early Warnings Ignored?

On the 13th June 2014 a detailed Corporate Complaint about the Council’s handling of Winslade wind turbine application was sent to SHDC. The complaint followed the adverse decision, taken by the SHDC Development Management Committee on Wednesday 14th May 2014, to approve the wind turbine application.

The complaint was made some six months before the Council voted in December, for the second time, to allow the development.

The 2014 Corporate Complaint included:

Dear Catherine Bowen, The South Hams District Council has a range of duties to conserve, protect and enhance this highly protected designated area. Following the decision to approve the Winslade Farm turbine application, I ask you to consider investigating the matters I raise in this letter. I believe that the contrary decision to approve the application was improperly arrived at by the planning committee, in that it failed to consider all material planning issues in accordance with law. It also considered non-material issues.”

The letter went on to detail most of the material planning issues touched on in the Inspectors report, published on the 20th January 2017, following the Follaton House Local Public Inquiry, some two and a half years after the complaint.
When the same information contained in the complaint was sent to the Secretary of State, he called the application in for his determination within hours of the SHDC December 2014 decision to approve the application!


Again the SHDC complaints policy say’s “Complaints often provide an early warning of more fundamental problems in service design and delivery. If the evidence from complaints is made readily available to the decision-makers in an organisation, it gives them an opportunity to make improvements before problems escalate. ”Missing the chance, which the June 2014 complaint offered has, it seems, cost the South Hams community very dear in 2017.


“Decisions that are in the interest of the whole community”

FRIENDS OF SOUTH HAMSSUNDAY, 29th JANUARY 2017

The few councillors who voted for approval in May and again in December 2014 now have, as a result of the Follaton House Local Public Inquiry, very clear local and national guidance as to how developments in, or close to highly protected areas, must be considered. They are also reminded by the Inspector and the Secretary of State about the “great weight” they must give to the protection and enhancement of the AONB and all designated areas.

Clearly, the ‘National Trust nine tests’ must be promoted as a way of helping planners protect the AONBs. The Inquiry decision has again underlined that local Councillors have a duty of regard and must protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They must also take planning decisions that are in the interest of the whole community – not just for a small section, or one particular private business.


‘Turbine debacle exposes council’

Thursday, 9 February 2017 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd

Sylvia Grahamslaw, of Kings Close, Sherford, Kingsbridge, writes:

Failures, bias and arrogance led to the Frogmore wind ­turbine application being called in by the secretary of state. It might help if some further explanation was provided, as some very important principles are at stake here.

The failure by Frogmore and Sherford Parish Council to ­represent the expressed and informed views of the community, planning officers and statutory bodies resulted in the recommendation to support the application. This failure led directly to the referral of the application to South Hams Council’s development ­management committee.

The arrogance and prejudice shown by some members of the DMC – in particular farmers and members of minority ­political parties with their own narrow-minded agendas – was truly breathtaking, and with our then district councillor representing ‘the silent majority’, who apparently did not object to the application, all ultimately led to the DMC’s close vote to approve the application.

When interviewed for BBC Spotlight, DMC chairman Cllr Steer and a local farmer justified the DMC decision because of the need for green, clean, effective energy and helping our dairy farmers reduce costs. All very laudable, but they are personal views, so what about his committee’s responsibility to uphold the law?

Following the secretary of state’s decision, in regard to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a degree of humility might have been more appropriate, or indeed some form of concession that the DMC had simply got it wrong and would learn a lesson.

For many, this case has ­damaged public confidence in local government and the leader of the council should seriously consider some changes – ie improvements – to restore some confidence and objectivity. For example, councillors on the DMC from the farming community should always declare a personal interest if any application has implications for that community.

We already know that the DMC chairman, vice-chairman and other councillors are farmers, which some already regard as unhealthy in the circumstances of this case. The council leader might also like to consider replacing them on the DMC, which supported this application, as they were directly responsible for wasting many tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Personally, and in the ­interests of both openness and providing a better record, I also believe the minutes of both parish and district council ­meetings should name who voted for or against any ­proposal and their reasons. Some of the frankly ludicrous justifications were laughable.

This judgement has implications for many future planning applications nationwide, where district councils will now have to show more respect for their legal obligations. There was no moral imperative in this case, with no justification for DMC councillors to ignore those obligations, or the views of the majority, while selectively promoting their own.


Will Winslade Go Green?

FRIENDS OF SOUTH HAMS·FRIDAY, 27 JANUARY 2017

IAN BRYAN – A FROGA MERE FRIEND OF SOUTH HAMS’

The Chairman of the South Hams planning committee, Councillor Steer, speaking on BBC Spotlight (22nd Jan.) suggested that all the applicants for the wind turbine had wanted was to “reduce the carbon output” from their factory milk farm.

At the Inquiry, the applicants claimed the wind turbine would make substantial reductions of C02. The Inspector’s Report found the turbine would actually provide “little if any public benefit and that “the overall public, as opposed to private benefits, would be modest.”

I sincerely hope that this very important local business will now seriously consider the alternative ways that are available to them to produce the green power their intensive farming method demands.

The applicants told the Inquiry they were quite able to make the green alternatives work. Many other farmers have been able to achieve “substantial” reductions in their own dairy’s high output of climate-damaging greenhouse gas, particularly methane. Methane, as most people know, is about 22 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Both the government and NFU are currently promoting and supporting these viable alternatives. They are better ways to achieve the green power the farmers need, while at the same time “significantly” reducing damage to the countryside and the environment.

‘Remarkable lack of understanding’

Friday, 3 February 2017 By Keith Turner, of Sherford, in South Hams Newspapers:

The reasons given by the Secretary of State and planning inspector for refusing the Winslade Farm turbine show either a remarkable lack of understanding or a blatant disregard, by the District Council’s Development Management Committee for the planning statutes and guidelines that protect Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty from inappropriate developments. 
The full letter


A most informed view from Sherford!

Bill Grahamslaw, of Kings Close, Sherford, writes:

The decision by the secretary of state for communities and local government Sajid Javid to finally refuse the application for a wind turbine in Frogmore is a triumph for common sense, the rule of law and justice – but at what cost? The cost to local council tax payers is incalculable but ­significant; and what about the reputation of those elected councillors who twice chose to support this ill-founded project by ignoring the advice of their own experts? That isn’t democracy in action, it rather suggests elements of anarchy were at play. Shame on you.

https://sites.google.com/site/southhamsturbine112/help-is-needed-now---to-support-your-objections/Looking.PNG

South Hams leads the way

The important recommendations and decisions in the Winslade case will now have planning significance nationally. The outcomes, in this case, will undoubtedly help to improve the lives of many communities around the country. Local communities now have a much greater say in determining where wind turbines may be located.

The Inspector received 106 letters opposing the turbine and only 3 in support.  The local community was overwhelmingly opposed to the development. At the Inquiry, this fact undermined the applicant’s claims of support. The Inquiry decision has again underlined that local Councillors have a duty to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and to take planning decisions that are in the interest of the whole community – not just for a small section, or one particular business.


National Trust Report

The Winslade case has highlighted the vital importance of the nine “National Trust” (National Planning Policy Framework based) simple planning tests for councillors to apply when considering proposed developments in, or close to, the AONB.

For more detail click here – National Trust Planning and AONB


Crowdfunded

In December 2015 the ‘Friends of South Hams’  Crowdfunded independent witness reports from planning, heritage, and landscape experts. Their evidence was presented to the Planning Inspector at the Totnes Local Inquiry, in the South Hams District Council Chamber, Follaton House, last September.


The importance of the South Devon AONB Management Plan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Natural Environment in his Ministerial Foreword to the South Devon AONB Plan wrote: “The South Devon AONB management plan demonstrates how the AONB Partnerships, and local amenity groups, can continue to protect these precious environments, despite the significant challenges they face. With a changing climate, the increasing demands of a growing population and in difficult economic times the AONBs represent just the sort of community-driven, collaborative approach needed to ensure our natural environment is maintained for generations to come”.

We are in it for the long run!

When voting to give approval to the wind turbine development in 2015, one Councillor suggested that without the wind turbine the land could return to “trees and scrub”. At the Follaton House Inquiry, the senior partner at Winslade Farm wrote, in his statement to the Inspector, “We cherish the land” and “the farm is in my stewardship pending the next generation. We have no plans to sell or leave”.

More effective ways to reduce the farm’s greenhouse gas emissions.

As well as protecting the AONB, the long-awaited decision will allow the applicants at Winslade Farm to consider more appropriate, and efficient ways, to produce the high levels of energy their existing factory farm dairy operation consumes. They are now free to evaluate alternative green energy systems that use the farms waste slurry, to help “significantly” reduce the farm’s emissions of damaging and climate-changing greenhouse gas. 

The Inquiry heard that the wind turbine would only have made an indirect and modest reduction in carbon emissions. The farmer told the South Hams District Council in December 2014 “we’d probably use slurry, because that’s what we’ve got an abundance of.” He confirmed, under cross-examination at the planning Inquiry that, as an important additive to the process, they could easily produce more than enough grass silage “as much as you need” to make the process work. 

Applicants withdraw their expert evidence

At the Inquiry, The Applicants Agent, in cross-examination, agreed he was not professionally qualified to present landscape or heritage expert evidence at a Statutory Public Inquiry. He also admitted that he had a personal interest in Winslade Farm, and agreed with the ‘Friends of South Hams’ Barrister that he was, therefore, unable to act independently or in accordance with his own professional codes of conduct (Royal Institute of British Architects – RIBA). After a short recess, the applicants withdrew their BBH (Dartmouth) evidence.


The Planning Inspector at the Totnes Inquiry was surprised!

The Planning Inspector expressed surprise that a councillor had declared a personal interest in the wind turbine application but had “remained in the May and December 2015 planning meetings – and had voted!”

The Inspector also expressed surprise that the South Hams District Council took a very unusual “neutral” position at the Public Inquiry. He said he “had not known a Local Authority do this in all his 20 years of planning Inquiries” The Inspector “shared the Friends of South Hams concerns that the lack of openness and transparency could eventually jeopardize public trust in local government and the planning system.” 

No clear and convincing reasons given by Councillors in 2014

Councillors may oppose the expert assessment and recommendations of the professional planning officers. Indeed, there would be little point in their involvement in planning matters if they could not. However, if they do disagree with their experts, then they should place, separately on the planning record, written cogent, objective, clear and convincing justifications for their adverse decision. No separate explanation was placed on the planning file, by the Councillors, after their May and December 2014 decision to approve the wind turbine.

The cost of ‘getting it wrong

It is disingenuous of some councillors to blame others in the community for the costs involved in rectifying their own failure to provide proper, evidenced-based, material planning grounds for ignoring the officer’s recommendations.  


Congratulatory messages of support for the ‘Friends of South Hams’


To the Friends of South Hams.

“A huge well done” for all your hard work and perseverance – and I’m glad that you have found the National Trust AONB work and the nine NPPF Tests useful.

Karin Taylor, Head of Planning at the National Trust
For more information about the National Trust ‘nine planning tests’ click here

From the South Hams Society

We are delighted that the Friends of South Hams succeeded in bringing about the Local Inquiry – and that the Inspector has so clearly decided in favour of the evidence they presented to him. Well done to you all.

We have long campaigned and hard for the Secretary of State to call in an increased proportion of planning applications affecting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. AONBs are a national resource, and the policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework for their conservation are as clear and as detailed as they could be. However, from our own observations in the South Hams, and from the research done for the National Trust For the NT Tests click here it is clear that local planning authorities are too often allowing damaging development of the sort which the planning policies are intended to prevent. The Government’s wish to preserve these special landscapes is not in doubt.


Vivian Rathlyn  Chair  South Hams Society
The South Hams Society web site – click here
Tel: 01548-842405                                                e-mail: viv@rathlyn.eclipse.co.uk



Well done to the Friends of South Hams

The Plymouth and South Hams Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is delighted that the South Hams planning system protects and enhances our wonderful and important landscape.  Thriving Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are so vital to everyone who lives in, works in or visits them. Placing a wind turbine high on the hill ridge overlooking Frogmore Creek and the Salcombe Estuary would have been an act of business opportunism and landscape vandalism.  It would have only provided a small reduction in the existing carbon emissions.  The Local Public Inquiry has helped secure and protect the landscape, sites of historic interest and this critical local public amenity.  The conservation of the South Hams as a living, working environment has, at least in this case, been secured.
Sally Axell The Plymouth and South Hams Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural EnglandFor more information about the CPRE click here

From Bob Harvey: Bob is AONB Partnership Committee Community Representativefor the amenity groups within the South Hams AONB: “The Winslade wind turbine result makes it clear that planning decisions must be consistent and objective, made on the facts of Law and Policy, and not on superficial and subjective opinions. It should be remembered that the National Planning Policy is, as it say’s, only POLICY. Whereas the status of the AONB Protected Landscape is in an Act of Parliament and therefore is LAW. Law trumps Policy!”
For more information about the AONB Partnership Committee click here 


Thanks to team effort

The Friends of South Hams have sent their sincere thanks to all who supported them during this long-running case. The 106 supporters who wrote to the Inspector. Everyone who sent their views and objections to South Hams District Council in 2013 and 2014. To those who sent successful representations to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking for the application to be ‘called in’ for his determination. 
Thanks must also go to the critically effective and expert FOSH team. Susan Ring, Charles Banner and the expert witness presentations, of Nichola Burley, Alex Graves and Michael Hawes. As the Inspector’s report shows, it was their diligent professional work, and robustness under cross-examination, that enabled the Secretary of State to conclusively decide that the development was not in accordance with South Hams planning policy or law. Thank you to Ian Bryan, who represented the Friends of South Hams and demonstrated that the Statutory Local Inquiry process is open and transparent – and that by following Government Guidance, it is possible for a layperson to play a positive part in the quasi-legal Inquiry process.

Be in the know!

Well, informed council taxpayers and voters with robust, wide open, uninhibited access to information is the best safeguard of any constituency. Freedom of information is very useful and necessary for all democracies. It is also your individual right. 


Public Inquiry Documents 
South Hams District Council – Winslade DocumentsVideo of the Endurance E3120 Wind Turbine  A Whki – brief overview of what Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty ar

Have we got old news for you! 

Bob Dylan – ‘Ring them bells’ (1989)

 The Nobel Laurent sang in 63 “The times they are a-changing”. Now it seems they may be changing in the South Hams for the better. In addition to the recent Winslade wind turbine Local Statutory Inquiry, held in the Council Chamber at Follaton House, Totnes, there have been a series of planning decisions in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) around the country. The National Trust were very concerned that these nationally highly protected landscapes were not receiving the level of protection from inappropriate development indicated by Government policy in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Their ‘Green Balance’ report identifies nine simple planning tests’ which should be applied to proposed development within, or close to protected countryside, especially AONB  It is very encouraging to learn from a Kingsbridge Gazette article*, that the South Hams “AONB team is incorporating recommendations and a series of tests from the National Trust report into planning responses, as well as into a draft ’Planning Guidance’ document and the AONB Management Plan. The team hopes the guidance document will be adopted by South Hams Council, helping ensure the planning authority also applies the tests.”

This is excellent news, albeit a little surprising, as the South Hams District Council should already be applying the tests during their assessment of development applications in the AONB, so as to comply with National and Local Planning Policy and Government Guidance. Maybe we should not ‘ring them bells’ just yet!

The government should consider updating national planning guidance to include nine tests to ensure areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) are adequately protected from inappropriate development.

Dairy farming produces tonnes of CO2Each dairy cow releases about 100 kg of Methane per year. That’s roughly equivalent to 2300 kg CO2 per ‘cow year’. Using the 500 cow number, from The Applicants Statement of Case, the farms emissions would be approximately equivalent to 1150 tonnes of CO2. A typical modern wind turbine with a capacity of 0.05 MW is expected to avoid emissions of about 47 tonnes of CO2 in an average year. While the turbine will make a small, but valuable, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the farm has a long way to go (about 1103 tonnes of COin fact) before it can claim to be ‘green’ or make “significant” CO2  and “carbon footprint” reductions.
Latest news 24th OctoberFollowing the local planning Inquiry at Totnes, the Inspectors report has been sent to the Secretary of State for him to consider. He will do so on the basis of material planning grounds and the South Hams District Council adopted plans. He will make his determination on or before the 26th January 2017.
Areas of Outstanding Natural BeautyThe primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape, with two secondary aims: meeting the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside and having regard for the interests of those who live and work there.
Keeping informed. You have a general right of access to information held by all public authorities. Well informed council taxpayers and voters with robust, wide open, uninhibited access to information is the best safeguard of any constituency. Freedom of information is very useful and necessary for all democracies. It is also our individual right. 

News. 14/08/16

The Friends of South Hams, and the Local  Community behind the campaign to oppose the Winslade wind turbine would like to thank everyone very warmly for their generous help and support. As a result of the united and lengthy campaign, the ‘Friends of South Hams’  have finally been able to make its objective planning case, with expert evidence, to the Inspector, and on to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP. He received the Inspectors Report on 24th October, and make his determination “on or before” January 2017.After careful consideration, the Friends of South Hams, and the local community opposing this planning application feel it is appropriate to wait until the Secretary of State has made his decision before making any more comments about the determination.

From an informed ‘interested party’ (the then MP)

“The fact is, it is extremely rare for the Secretary of State to call in an application and reflects the issues of national importance that have already been raised and will be addressed at the Public Inquiry.”


Community support

A very big thank you to everyone who made donations to the Friends of South Hams campaign fund. Your very generous support helped us to present a full range of independent expert material planning evidence to the Inspector at the Public Inquiry, and to address all the issues he had particularly asked to be informed about.   “The Inquiry process is based upon the Inspector and Secretary of State reaching an impartial and informed decision, taking into account all relevant evidence put before him.  All parties to the appeal process should, therefore, be working constructively to support this approach and process and not to seek to gain an advantage, to behave “tactically”, or to avoid material issues”. (Planning Inspectorate Good Practice Advice Note 08) 

The wind turbine proposal in Short:

Placeing a 112 ft wind turbine, close to a hill ridge, high above the iconic Frogmore Creek, itself a Coastal Preservation Area, breaks almost all the planning rules about where wind turbines can acceptably be located.

The Friends of South Hams feel strongly that the country urgently needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, produce more renewable low carbon energy even, under the agreed local guidelines, in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

We do not oppose wind turbines in principle. But the proposed turbine, with it’s blade tips 308 ft above Frogmore Creek, would go against almost every piece of national and local planning and site guidance in existence for an AONB. These are just some of the reasons, among many, why this case is nationally and locally so important. 

We believe a previous Secretary of State for Communities, Sir Eric Pickles, had the balance right when he said: “Meeting our energy goals should not be used to justify the wrong development in the wrong location.” 

From the Governments Plain English Guide to Planning

Planning ensures that the right development happens in the right place at the right time, benefiting communities and the economy. It plays a critical role in identifying what development is needed and where, what areas need to be protected or enhanced and in assessing whether proposed development is suitable. 

Local people should take the lead in shaping their neighbourhoods and elected councillors have a key leadership role in this process. The role of councillors in district, county or single tier councils will vary depending on whether they sit on the planning committee (which makes decisions on planning applications) or not. However, all councillors have a role to play in representing the views and aspirations of residents in plan-making and when planning applications affecting their ward are being considered. 

 Changes in the Localism Act 2011 clarified the ability of councillors to be able to discuss matters which may relate to a planning application prior to voting on that application at committee, as long as they can show that they are going to make their judgement on the application with an open mind, listening to all the evidence and not having  pre-determined their decision. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/391694/Plain_English_guide_to_the_planning_system.pdf

Latest News 4th August

The Friends of South Hams and all the ‘Rule 6 parties’ at the Inquiry have completed their submissions to the Inspector. The closing date for their ‘Proof of Evidence’ is the 9th August. 


A fantastic response!

74 donations to the ‘Crowd Justice’ appeal have been made so far, but there is still time for you to help.      Click here to add your personal support to the campaign

A very big ‘thank you’ to the Friends of South Hams supporters who have made donations to the campaign fund so far.

It is still possible to actively demonstrate support for the South Hams. Simply email “Add my name” along with your address to:                                 friendsofthesouthhams@gmail.com

You will receive an acknowledgment email – but no spam! To keep up to date with the latest news, please revisit this website. 

Winslade Farm Turbine – an end to global warming – or short-sighted opportunism?

The well-farmed countryside shown in this image is an area described, by Devon County Council, as  “The jewel in the crown of Devon.” The managed, living landscape is very highly protected, and nationally designated, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – for the benefit of everyone. The proposal to place a 112 ft wind turbine, close to the hill ridge, high above the iconic Frogmore Creek, itself a Coastal Preservation Area, breaks almost all the planning rules about where wind turbines can acceptably be located.

The visual intrusion of a turbine of this size, with it’s highly visible blade tips in motion, some 308 ft above the shore, on one of the high points overlooking the highly protected estuary and surrounding countryside, would, as predicted by the local Planning Officers, have a seriously adverse impact on the tranquil, unspoiled creek, its setting, and the surrounding landscape, which form such an important part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. All AONB are valued, loved and shared by many millions – by those who work and live in them, and by all those who visit.

The situation at Frogmore Creek is complicated because the applicants for the turbine are a family of dairy farmers. The majority of farmers are the very people who helped, through the ages, to create the area of outstanding beauty which the nation now values so much. None the less, it would be short-sighted and opportunistic if they were now allowed, and even subsidised, to undo those centuries of good work by so many.

We hope that common sense will prevail and that alternative low carbon systems, which are now available, will eventually be selected, and which can provide the ‘green energy’ needed for the farm, without causing the harms identified by the planning officers, to the very highly protected area and sensitive site.

After CO2, methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas – having doubled in concentration since the 1800s. This has mainly been caused by emissions from livestock and rubbish decay in landfill sites.

 Methane is responsible for 24% of global warming to date. Most of the methane produced by agriculture is from the normal digestive processes of livestock – the rest comes from animal excreta.

(From <https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reducing-air-pollution-on-farms> and updated guidance )                       

Dairy cows present some troubling environmental challenges. A well-fed dairy cow produces about 54 kilograms of manure every day, or 18 tonnes per year per animal. Researchers have estimated that a single cow can emit 100 to 200 liters of methane per day.              

The environmental benefits of transforming methane to energy are obvious, Environmentalists see farm-based methane production as an elegant cycle of reuse that transforms a series of waste products into useful power and electricity.
On-farm anaerobic digestion offers a significant step towards more sustainable farming. It is for these reasons that the UK Government and the agriculture industry see anaerobic digestion as the ideal way to treat slurry.

As stated in DEFRA’s Shared Vision for Anaerobic Digestion, the NFU would like to see 1000 on-farm digesters by 2020. Work done by the RASE and AEA Group2 indicates that for the greatest impact, low-cost AD plant should be targeted at dairy farms, starting from about 100 cows and upwards.


News 14/1/2016

Thank you to the 105 Friends of South Hams who sent representations to the Planning Inspectorate, opposing the wind turbine application. The number of South Hams residents expressing opposition, on valid material planning grounds, has almost doubled since December 2014. The Inspectorate received one letter supporting the proposal and Stokenham Parish Council wrote that they had “no objection”. The final number is still to be confirmed, but it looks as if the local community is, as a Councillor said at the December 2014 planning meeting, “overwhelmingly opposed”. Very significantly, 12 representations opposing the proposal have been received, by the Inspectorate, from other South Hams farms.
Again, a very big ‘thank you’ to the Friends of South Hams  supporters who have made 74 donations to the campaign fund so far.

Many thanks also to the South Hams Society for their very clear objections to this wind turbine proposal and their support for the Friends of South Hams.   To read the SHS view click here.

As always “Conserving our landscapes for future generations” are the Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England. To visit their web site click CPRE . Robin Hogg’s paper (25.09.2013) is an excellent source of solid guidance – click   ‘CPRE Devon “Help Desk” – Renewable Energy Planning Applications’.

Recent history 
On October 5th 2015 the Winslade Farm wind turbine planning application was ‘called-in’ by the previous Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP. He has arranged for a Local Planning Inquiry to consider this very contentious wind turbine application. After it has taken place the Planning Inspector will give the Minister his considered recommendations and Greg Clark will make a final decision.

What the planning Inspector wanted to know

On the information so far available to the Secretary of State, the following are matters which he particularly wishes to be informed about for the purposes of his consideration of the application:

• its consistency with the development development plan for the area. Click here for the South Hams District Council Plan                                                          
• the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies for conserving and enhancing the natural environment, including those set out in section 11 of the NPPF; Click here for NPPF 11

• the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies for conserving and enhancing the historic environment, including those set out in section 12 of the NPPF Click here for NPPF 12

• the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government 

policies for meeting the challenge of climate change, including those set out in section 10 of the NPPF Click here for NPPF 10

• the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with the Written Ministerial Statement on local planning made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 18 June 2015                                            

Click here for Greg Clark’s statement

• the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with the Department’s amended online guidance on renewable and low carbon energy;                                                                                                                                     

 Click here for the Planning Guidance

Aims of the planning system

One of the key aims of the planning system is to balance private interests in the development of land against the wider public interest. In performing this role, planning necessarily affects land and property interests, particularly the financial value of and holdings and the quality of their settings.

Opposing views are often strongly held by those involved. Whilst councillors must take account of these views, they should not favour any person, company, group or locality, nor put themselves in a position where they may appear to be doing so. It is important, therefore, that planning authorities make planning decisions affecting these interests openly, impartially, with sound judgement and for justifiable reasons. The process should leave no grounds for suggesting that those participating in the decision were biased or that the decision itself was unlawful, irrational or procedurally improper.

Sir Eric Pickles, when Secretary for State for Communities, said:

Meeting our energy goals should not be used to justify the wrong development in the wrong location.”

Ministerial Foreword to the South Devon AONB Plan:”I am pleased to see that this management plan demonstrates how AONB Partnerships can continue to protect these precious environments despite the significant challenges they face. With a changing climate, the increasing demands of a growing population and in difficult economic times, I believe AONBs represent just the sort of community-driven, collaborative approach needed to ensure our natural environment is maintained for generations to come”.

Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Natural Environment

Contrary to Policy                                                                                                      The Planning Officers concluded the turbine would be “detrimental to the character of the area”. Their report states that the turbine “would not conserve or enhance the designated landscape the Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and that the localised benefits of the scheme are outweighed by the greater harm to the visual quality and landscape character of the AONB”. Further, that it “did not accord with the South Hams Development Plan or Local & National Guidance”. The resulting impact of these adverse effects would be contrary to Planning Policy.

“We fully support the South Hams District Council’s Planning and Landscape Officers  in their decision to refuse the Winslade turbine planning application, for the reasons given in their report.”

The applicants describe this as a “small” turbine! At the Inquiry in September this was changed to “Medium” size!  To see for yourself the true size – click here for the  Turbine Video

While the turbine was almost impossible to see in the applicants photo montages presented to the South Hams District Council, this image is given scale by the engineers standing on the turbine hub platform.  Visible 24 metres (80 feet) below is a very large farm building which gives a clear impression of the turbines height. The view to the hills beyond undermines the applicants claims that the turbine would hardly be seen. The proposed site is at the head of Frogmore Creek 118 metres at blade tip height, close to the hill ridge above the Estuary, which is only 670 metres away.

Be in the know!

Well informed council tax payers and voters with robust, wide open, uninhibited access to information is the best safeguard of any constituency. Freedom of information is very useful and necessary for all democracies. It is also your individual right. 

“Passionately committed

The South Devon AONB Partnership and its Staff Unit are passionately committed to the conservation and enhancement of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Partnership recognises the increasing demand for growth and development throughout the UK and is determined to work within its powers and remit and through the National Association for AONBs to conserve and enhance this protected landscape. It is clear that the Partnership needs to improve and expand the opportunities for communication regarding planning matters. Ways of taking this forward are summarised at the end of this Statement.

Click here for the full Kingsbridge Gazette report  and the AONB statement 24/2/17 

Responding to planning Planning in the  South Devon AONB

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