Wind Turbines an Issue for us all in Torridge

Last week, I embarked on my annual mobile surgery tour of the constituency, covering the length and breadth of Torridge and West Devon. This gives local people the opportunity to come and see me in their own villages rather than having to travel to the regular surgeries which I hold throughout the year in Great Torrington, Tavistock, Holsworthy and Bideford.

I was able to speak to hundreds of constituents. Although I was approached about many issues, the one which was consistently brought up by local people was wind turbines. The strength of feeling was apparent in almost every community I visited, with groups of people turning up together to talk to me about the impact of a specific proposed turbine development.

In recent discussions with Council leaders I was told that Torridge District Council is facing approximately 60 wind turbine applications, not counting those already granted, many for machines over 400 feet tall such as those proposed at Meddon and East Panson – and there may be more to come. If these were to be allowed, their cumulative effect would fundamentally change the nature and character of our landscape – on the unspoiled quality of which thousands of local people depend to attract tourists to their rural businesses. In addition, we must contend with the proposal for the Atlantic Array just off our coast, the potential impact of which on local communities we are only just beginning to be able to measure.

Yet, TDC as a small district council, knows, as do the developers, that each time it refuses an application it is likely to face an appeal to a planning inspector which, if it loses, will result in a huge bill for legal costs that it can ill afford to pay. In addition, the developers know they are facing isolated small communities who are unlikely to have the resources for long legal battles. They count on the fact that residents of other parishes will not often feel themselves to be involved. Hence the increasing number and size of turbine applications.

But we now must confront a new and daunting prospect, which unless we resist, could result in the complete transformation of the place in which we live without our active participation or consent. We must wake up to the fact that we cannot remain indifferent to a turbine application in the parish next door. It is an issue that involves us all. For, there are now so many that the whole of our district is affected. For this reason, I believe we have now reached a tipping point. This is no longer a matter of specific local importance but a general question of principle for all of the residents of Torridge. Do we wish to live in a landscape no part of which will not be visibly populated by these giant machines?

It is to bring about a proper public debate on this question and to draw attention to the cumulative impact of the sheer number of applications that I shall again be raising the subject both at Westminster and locally in the next few months. It is also because we can no longer see the problem of another giant wind turbine just over the hill as a problem for someone else that I shall be registering a formal planning objection to each and every major commercial wind turbine application in Torridge and West Devon from now on.

Surgery Dates

Geoffrey holds regular surgeries. To book an appointment please click here or call 01822 612925.
Saturday 28th July
Bideford, Torrington
Saturday 8th September
Holsworthy, Tavistock