Forest Centre Wind Turbine

Under Application CB/12/00718/VOC – The Marston Vale Trust seeks to remove Condition 9 under planning permission approval CB/11/04077/FULL

The second application to erect a Wind Turbine of up to 120.5 meters including industrial size substation was approved by Committee in February – see below. The approval included several conditions of which one was regarding the noise element. This condition is now in contention by the applicant and will receive a further decision by the Planning Department. Among other items – the applicant is seeking to overturn their responsibility in the event of a complaint regarding noise levels. 

For more details click here to visit the Central Bedfordshire Planning Page in respect to CB/12/00718/VOC   

Please Click here to view a local resident’s Submission to the Planning Department

Wind Turbine in the Millennium Country Park is approved – again

The Central Bedfordshire Council Development Management Committee approved the Wind Turbine application at its February 1st meeting. 

Marston Moretaine Parish Council had previously objected on the following grounds: 

  • The sheer size of the wind turbine would have a major overbearing impact on the visual amenity of the area;
  • It would detrimentally affect the views from the vale to the surrounding Greensand Ridge; and the panoramic views from the ridge across the entire vale, especially those seen from Ampthill Park which would be materially impaired.
  • There were concerns that close residents may be subject to potential noise emanating from the turbine especially during evenings and night time. Local residents were also concerned about shadow flicker;
  • Given that the country park is a haven for many different species of home and migrating birds the council expressed concern over whether the turbine will alter their natural flight. This also relates to bats and the relationship to the turbine.
  • Concern was expressed regarding the access route to be taken and if this is through the village centre;
  • The Council believe that the wind turbine is located within 20m of a water course – this was contrary to information contained within the application itself;
  • A sub-station was included in this application. It is believed that one was not included in the original application;
  • The site address was incorrect;
  • Since approval of the last application it was drawn to the Parish Council’s attention that the Forest centre is to receive £10,000 of electricity from Covanta. The need for the turbine had therefore been eradicated. 

The position taken by surrounding Parishes was as follows; 

No objection

Cranfield PC
Houghton Conquest PC  

No comments received

Wootton PC
Ridgmont PC
Hulcote and Salford PC
Brogborough PC
Lidlington PC
Bedford Borough Council
Milton Keynes Council
Millbrook PC
Stewartby PC  

Neighbours 

There had been 11 letters of objection from residents and organisations within Marston Moretaine including the Marston Moretaine Action Group, and 3 letters of objection from residents in Lidlington and 1 letter of objection from a resident in Stewartby. 

  • The objections were on the following grounds:
  • The application offers no actual specification regarding height or design of the turbine, so effectively with an application for up to 120.5m turbine, they could erect a 120.5m turbine;
  • The previous application did not include a substation, the proposed size exceeds the size of a sub station allowed under permitted
  • development; concerns regarding the proposed short time scale of the project and the impact this will have on the proper procedures and consideration given to the wildlife currently inhabiting the affected land.
  • An industrial structure in an area where the Country Park is trying to repair a damaged landscape;
  • Existing/ redundant industrial landscape;
  • It will be completely out of scale in relation to its surrounding and dominate the landscape for miles around contrasting with the nearby conservation areas and countryside;
  • Concerns regarding noise and shadow flicker;
  • Concern over the turbine catching fire or falling over; impact on local wildlife;
  • Close proximity to bridle ways and footpaths;
  • Not economically viable as a single turbine 

There were 2 letters of support received one from a resident in Bedford and the second from Covanta on the following grounds: 

  • Amec has an excellent track record in engineering, values sustainability, supports customers to manage climate change through technological solutions, and is committed to reducing our carbon footprint – concerns regarding their ability to build the turbine on time and to an adequate standard are unfounded;
  • The turbine is offering substantial energy, comparable to that of Covanta without the pollution
  • At public information days in the Marston Vale in 2005 and 2006, 87% thought a wind turbine would be a good idea;
  • No significant impact on the Resource Recovery Facility and continue to support renewable energy projects and therefore raises no objection to the wind turbine. 

In the 3 minutes available Hugh Roberts Chair MMAG but speaking as Parish Councillor emphasized; 

  1. That it was wrong to use iconic and large landmarks such as the Cardington Hangers to justify the turbine implicitly suggesting the view had already been degraded.
  2. Account should be taken of the turbine scheduled for Stewartby landfill and the predicted turbine at Brogborough Landfill – a negative cumulative adverse impact and both submitted since the original existing permission.
  3. That the reference to the Covanta application being approved by the IPC – emphasised in the Officers report to the Development Committee – should be discounted as a material consideration as this was still subject to parliamentary appeal and that the turbine should be seen as a money spinner rather than a generator of green electricity.
  4. Asked for a revised traffic plan that would prevent the apparatus being transported through the village.
  5. All of our Central Bedfordshire Councillors spoke on the application raising questions over what would be the actual height of the new application
  6. The visually intrusive nature of the turbine
  7. The statistical insignificant level of public support.
  8. The dilemma of objecting to a smaller turbine for which there was an existing permission which could lead to legal costs of appealed
  9. The contradiction between a forest centre and an essentially industrial structure 

There were strong views expressed in support of the turbine by other Councillors who found it difficult to object to an application smaller than already permitted and this was in my view a decisive consideration.

Country Park Wind Turbine Planning Application – Committee Date 01/02/12

The Development Management Committee of Central Beds Council will be deciding the Country Park Wind Turbine application on Wednesday, 1 February 2012.

The agenda will be displayed in the week before the meeting and the proposed venue wil be the Council Chamber, Priory House, Monks Walk, Shefford. Watch this space for further details

Country Park Wind Turbine Planning Application – Deadline for Comments Extented 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: http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/PLANTECH/DCWebPages/AcoINetCGI.gov

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 http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/showimage.asp?j=cb/11/04077&index=413094 (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. http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/showimage.asp?j=cb/11/04077&index=413094 (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” http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/showimage.asp?j=cb/11/04077&index=413094 (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.” – http://infrastructure.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/111013_Rookery-Decision-and-Reasons.pdf (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” http://infrastructure.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/ipc/uploads/projects/EN010011/2.%20Post-Submission/Development%20Consent%20Order/Consent%20Order/Covanta%20-%20a%20copy%20of%20the%20counterpart%20Deed%20as%20executed%20by%20Marston%20Vale%20Trust.pdf – 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

Update December 2010/January 2011

Central Beds Planning reply to concerns over turbine consultation suggesting residents may be at fault for not following instructions!

Click Here to view reply

Update November 2010

MMAG Sends Formal Complaint – Planning Process re Marston Mill

Please Click Here to view recent letter sent by MMAG to Trica Turner, Council Leader Central Bedfordshire Council regarding the Marston Vale Country Park Wind Turbine

Decision on Wind Turbine Under Scrutiny

Serious questions are being asked about how Central Beds Council Planning Committee on November 10th approved a planning application for a wind turbine in the Millennium Country Park – described by Heart FM as the height of 27 double decker buses. Democracy failed for many objections registered on line with Central Beds Council when they were mysteriously lost. Furthermore the vote was knife edge with eight councillors for the turbine and eight against so the casting vote went to the chair who voted in favour. After the vote was taken another councillor arrived who would have voted against.

Councillors Roger Baker, Alan Bastable and Peter Neale reflected eloquently our local opposition and serious concerns were raised by Peter Scott of the CPRE and local equestrian groups challenged whether the moving blades will frighten horses and seriously impact on the suitability of Stewartby Water Sports Club as a venue for sailing events. Revealingly of the two letters of support one was from Covanta who also propose to set up a Forest of Marston Vale Trust Fund with £250,000 in the first year of operation of the Covanta monster incinerator and £50,000 each year thereafter. He who pays the piper calls the tune because residents are increasingly appalled at the Forest Centre adopting a neutral stance over the Covanta incinerator.

The Millennium Country Park seems overly keen to chase the next fast buck rather than plant trees. On the driveway into the Country Park there is a bill board which declares ” Its about using trees and woodland to repair a damaged landscape…and you can help” How does the erection of a huge wind turbine – an industrial structure contribute to reforestation? Of course it will make a commercial contribution to the Park!

In our campaign against the Covanta incinerator we need to beware of the Trojan Horse that lurks in the Millennium Country Park and keep a close eye on Central Beds Council when it considers bids for waste disposal from Covanta. We don’t want to be stabbed in the back by our own council and end up with a wind turbine and an incinerator!

Hugh Roberts
Chair MMAG

Update June 2010

Although residents letters indicated that comments regarding the Country Park Wind Turbine would need to be submitted by 4th June – it appears that the site is still accepting public input.

If you have not already submitted your comments – using the method below.

Update May 2010

Country Park Wind Turbine Planning Application – Deadline for Comments June 4th 2010

You can enter your comments on line at: http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/PLANTECH/DCWebPages/AcoINetCGI.gov

In Application Quick Search enter the application reference 10/01359 then click search

Then on the green highlighted line that says Application Number CB/10/01359/FULL click on the blue CB/10/01359/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

MMAG have submitted the following objection to the planning application:

The Marston Moreteyne Action Group (MMAG) wish to make representations with regard to this proposal for the erection of a wind turbine within the Marston Vale Millennium Country Park. MMAG is a group of volunteers committed to ensuring sustainable development and campaigns against proposals which threaten our rural landscape and our distinct village community.

Our comments are as follows:

(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 Energy from Waste plant proposed for 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.

(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. 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 ?

(5) 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 ? The wind turbine is also 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 ?

(6) The planning application makes reference to the Draft Over arching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1) and the Draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3) which have yet to be placed before Parliament. There has been a change of Government which may issue alternative statements – should this application not be deferred until the new planning rules are clarified ?

(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.

So we will certainly see and hear it – whether we will benefit from any green electricity is less clear and of course that does depend on the wind blowing !

Hugh Roberts

Chair MMAG

The Proposal

The Marston Vale Forest Trust has started the process for securing approval for a single wind turbine within the Country Park. However, the size will shock those who knew the idea was around and the implication in their documentation that it could be the first of many will also be a surprise.

Several sets of documents concerning the application are available to view (taken from http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/index.asp)

Original Application Documents
Additional Documents Added since Application 1 (caution large file)
Additional Documents Added since Application 2
Location Map and Zone of Theoretical Visiability

The opening statement is interesting and we are unclear on what evidence it is based:

“Marston Vale Forest Trust (The Trust) is committed to the environmentally led regeneration of Marston Vale in Bedfordshire. The Trust considers that wind energy has a significant role to play in creating a more sustainable future for the area. It is therefore seeking to install a singular wind turbine in the Millennium Country Park at Marston Moreteyne”.

The height would be 120.5 metres, just a little shorter that the proposed chimney stack(s) of Covanta’s incinerator. It would generate far more electricity than required by the Forest Centre though the additional electricity put into the National Grid would be just a token amount. This is quite a departure from the original brief comments from The Trust in the last year regarding the possibility of a turbine which understandably most residents would have understood to be about making the Forest Centre sustainable – not the Marston Vale!

Click Here for additional information – including maps of proposed location and zones of theoretical visiability.

If you have a view on the proposals – were you expecting a wind turbine / farm when you knew a Country Park was being proposed for the area – you may wish to take a moment to convey them to:

Tony Talbot
The Forest Centre,
Station Road
Marston Moreteyne
Bedfordshire MK43 0PR

Email: info@marstonvale.org

Phone: 01234 767037

Fax: 01234 762606

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