Majority against wind power bid

Thursday 25th April 2013 10:00 pm

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Richard Howell, of North Huish, South Brent, writes:

Last week you reported that according to farmer and Ermington parish councillor Nick Toms, his application 'for a wind turbine and previous instalment of the solar panels are not acts of fantasy or vanity, they are matters of practicality'.

He continued: 'Global warming is a big issue and if we can find renewable energy resources close to home then why shouldn't we utilise them?'

Renewables, he argues, 'are a natural farming progression.

Were farming to be no more than a means of milking subsidies that might indeed be true.

However, it is hard to see what planting both solar panels and wind turbines on otherwise unspoilt and productive agricultural land has to do with animal husbandry, growing crops, improving the land or enhancing biodiversity.

Certainly the financial returns for the 'farmer' or landowner might be that much the greater, but so too will be the damage to both the land and the wider landscape.

Deprived of sunlight, little is likely to grow under solar panels but weeds, and these will need to be controlled, in all probability by spraying several times a year. Over 20 or more years the damage to the soil from the cumulative impact of the chemicals is likely to be considerable.

During that time, the landowner will certainly see the rewards. The benefits to the wider community, the countryside in which we live, to the land itself and to our children, are far less certain.

Conversely your suggestion in Rear View Mirror that solar arrays could be uncontroversially accommodated on the roofs of industrial and other buildings makes considerable sense.

For example, according to the South Hams Society, between February 2011 and October 2012 South Hams Council was asked to grant planning consent for some 40 agricultural buildings, whose combined floor area totalled just under five acres. A condition of consent could have been for the roofs of each of those to be put to productive use.

Mr Toms is also quoted as saying: 'I wouldn't undertake these schemes if I thought it was going to cause any problems or upset within the local community.'

If, as you also report his neighbour Brian Thurston from Crickland Farm as saying, the majority of people who attended a meeting were against his proposed turbine, it is to be hoped Mr Toms will be true to his word.


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