Forest Centre Wind Turbine New Application – Respond by 28th December

Country Park Wind Turbine Planning Application – Deadline for Comments extended to 28th December 2011

Please note this is an amended application for the Wind Turbine that was previously passed only by a casting vote by the Chairman in November 2010

You can enter your comments on line at:

In Application Quick Search enter the application reference 11/04077 then click search

Then on the green highlighted line that says Application Number CB/11/04077/FULL click on the blue CB/11/04077/FULL

Then scroll down to the green highlighted line saying Public Representations and click on Submit A Public Online Comment

Then enter your unique consultee number from the letter you have from the Council OR follow instructions if you do not have a number

The main differences to note between this application and the previous application are:

(A) The applicant has stated that they may wish to erect a smaller turbine than the 120.5 metres previously applied for. Please note they offer no actual specification regarding height or design of the new turbine even though the project managers have stated within the application that due to ‘funding restrictions’ it is now necessary for the turbine to be completed by March 2012 (bottom of page 5) . The application wording is ‘up to 120.5 metres in height’ and therefore having no other heights measurements put forward – if planning is granted again – the applicant effectively will have permission to erect a turbine of 120.5 meters.

(B)The inclusion of a sub-station. (bottom of page 2/top of page 3) The previous application did not include a sub-station. The proposed size of the sub-station at 37.5 cubic metres exceeds the allowed size of 29 cubic metres which would not require planning permission. It is unclear why the applicant is alluding towards a smaller turbine but now requires an industrial size sub-station.

(C) Concerns regarding the proposed very short time-scale of the project (see A above) and the impact this will have on the proper procedures and consideration given to the wildlife currently inhabiting the affected land. Correspondence with the application states“ An ecological appraisal was produced to support the planning application with included mitigation for Great Crested Newts agreed with Justin Tilney of NE and based upon carrying out all construction work including the access track during the period when newts, however due to funding restrictions, it is now necessary to have the turbine built by March 2012. This obviously means that it will not be possible to implement the Great Crested Newt mitigation within the Ecological Appraisal” (bottom of page 5/top of page 6)

Comments regarding the previous application (see below) obviously still stand. – with some adjustments to take into consideration the implications raised by the Covanta Incinerator.

(1) On the driveway into the Country Park there is a billboard which declares, “Its about using trees and woodland to repair a damaged landscape….and you can help”. How does the erection of a wind turbine – an industrial structure contribute to the reforestation of either the Country Park or the Marston Vale ?

(2) Page 11 of the Design and Access Statement describes the area surrounding the site of the proposed turbine as existing/redundant industrial landscape with several large chimneys located on the opposite of Stewartby Lake which are 70-80m high. Reference is also made to the proposed Covanta Energy from Waste plant (recently IPC approved) at Rookery Pit with a flue height of 115m and the number of electricity pylons running across the area. Is this a description of a country park or an industrial estate – if so what has been the point of the country park ? Has it failed in its core objective to restore the previous clay workings landscape ? Is this a true depiction of what visitors see when they walk around the Park ? The dimensions of the turbine has certainly come as a shock to residents who have no recollection of being consulted on the scale of what is proposed.

In addition in their conclusion documentation regarding their decision to grant planning permission for the Covanta Energy from Waste plant at Rookery Pit – the IPC justified the visual impact of the plant with the following:- “…. The main impact from the ridges surrounding the site would be from the stack which would break the skyline. But other existing features do so already, and indeed the proposed wind turbine in the Marston Vale Country Park would be taller than the stack at 120 m.” – (5.72 listed as page 33 [page 34 of document])

(3) The proposed turbine will be up to 120.5m to blade tip anticipating a hub height of 85m and a rotor diameter of 71m and the turbine will be situated on a slightly raised area of land at 41m AOD. It will be completely out of scale in relation to its surroundings and dominate the landscape for miles around contrasting with the nearby conservation areas and countryside.

(4) The planning statement (Page 4) makes commendable reference to the need for renewable energy and the challenge of climate change and the contribution of the turbine generating enough electricity for the Forest Centre (and approximately 907 homes). Why does the Forest Centre need to erect an industrial size turbine or indeed generate its own electricity at all when the Deed of Undertaking between the Marston Vale Trust and Covanta Energy clearly makes the following statement?:- “ Covanta shall pay £10,000 Index Linked to Marston Vale Trust on the date that Commercial Operations commence and on each anniversary of that date for each year in which Commercial Operations are carried out for a period of more than six months (cumulative) and until such time as Commercial Operations finally cease as a contribution towards the electricity costs of Marston Vale Trust in respect of the Forest Centre” – 4.2 Page 11 of pdf (page 7 of Deed of Undertaking). It appears that the wind turbine is expected to provide a guaranteed income for the Marston Vale Trust through the supply of electricity to the National Grid at a commercial scale – is the primary motivation here commercial or environmental ?

(5) Regarding the 907 homes mentioned in the planning statement see above – how will these 907 homes benefit from this green electricity and how will they be selected ? If wind turbine technology is to play a part in the generating of green electricity in the Marston Vale will this be the first of other wind turbines either in the Park or elsewhere? If so how many ? Should Central Bedfordshire Council be concerned that following this precedent there will be multiplicity of applications ?

(6) The Planning Statement (Page 14) refers to the Renewable Obligations Order which places an obligation on electricity suppliers to provide an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources. In effect this leads to a cross subsidy to render wind technology affordable. To what extent is any financial analysis in the application dependent on continuation of this subsidy ?

(7) The application attempts to reassure but not entirely discount the potential impacts from noise and shadow flicker all based on modelling. However residents have all commented on how surprisingly noisy these machines can be continuously especially during the night when there is no background masking noise and distressing for those with tinnitus.

Please Click Here to view offical MMAG submission letter

Please Click Here to view CPRE’s (Campaign to Protect Rural England)  Submission