Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cippenham turbine refused

As expected, the Slough Borough Council planning committee unanimously refused planning permission for the Barratt/Cippenham wind turbine last night.

More details later, but I made a submission for an adjournment. The council officers report was quite thorough in detailing many of the local environmental impacts, but failed (in my opinion) to reflect that "wider environmental and economic benefits, whatever their scale, are material considerations and should be given significant weight." - from Planning Policy Statement 22: Renewable Energy

As far as I can see, the wider implications weren't considered at all.

Hopefully they will next time though ...

P/08770/066- Land adj to extension of Eltham Avenue, Cippenham, Slough

To the Planning Committee, Slough Borough Council

I propose that the hearing for this application be postponed, as the Officer's Report does not take sufficient account of the wider context that this application has been made in, and fails to meet the required considerations, as required by Government Planning Policy Statement 22 (Renewable Energy). I suggest that a new report be written, taking all the relevant factors into consideration.

In particular, the report states that "the development is considered to have an adverse affect on sustainability and the environment". However, in section 7.1, it correctly quotes Government Planning Policy Statement 22 (Renewable Energy) as saying that "wider environmental and economic benefits, whatever their scale, are material considerations and should be given significant weight.". Unfortunately, at no point in their report do they mention what these may be. I believe that the report is therefore flawed, and should not be admitted as valid guidance until they have been addressed.

It appears to me that the author of the report has concentrated solely on *local* environmental issues (such as shadow flicker and noise), but has failed to address the *wider* issues at stake. My personal assessment of what these issues are:

*) fossil fuel methods of producing electricity emit significant levels pollutants. These include CO2, which the most recent IPCC report states quite clearly is responsible for growing levels of climate change, and must be reduced. Other pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide, are also produced.

*) the UK is legally committed to producing 15 of all it's renewables by 2020. This means that wind-power must contribute 36% of all the energy in the UK by that point -

*) the UK now produces most of it's electricity using natural gas. The UK's indigenous supplies of gas have now been more or less exhausted, making us reliant on Russia for our supplies

*) 5.4 million people are now living in fuel poverty (10% or more of their income being spent on fuel bills - Whilst this is a probably not much of a consideration for the kind of people who worry about house prices, a sizable proportion of Slough's population fall into this category, and a development of this nature will start to help them. This must be one of the core concerns of local government.

*) The UK is committing itself to reducing CO2 emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Projects such as this are essential to this happening.

In short, the political climate is changing faster than the environmental one, and whether we like it or not, projects such as these are going to be not only more common, but in all likelihood *compulsory* in the future. Subject to the developers meeting the relevant concerns raised, and making commitments to improve energy efficiency in the local area, I personally believe this project should be approved.
However, since the report fails in its duty to provide a proper assessment of the "wider environmental and economic benefits" of the project, it seems only right that this hearing be put back until a period in which a valid report can be produced.
many thanks

Toby Evans

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