Minister gives support to 'enough is enough'
WIND turbines became a hot topic within Parliament last week, putting the spotlight on a subject which has affected North Devon for years.
A senior Conservative energy minister, John Hayes MP, echoed the words Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox had said weeks before when he claimed "enough is enough" regarding wind farms.
Mr Hayes said not enough consideration has been given to the amount of wind turbines being erected across the country. He has ordered a new analysis of the case for onshore wind power to form the basis of future Government policy.
But he was contradicted by his boss, the energy secretary Ed Davey MP, who issued a statement last week stating there has been no change in the Government's policy towards renewable energy.
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Mr Davey said: "What we're currently consulting on are ways of making sure local communities feel the benefit of hosting wind farms, and whether our understanding of future costs is accurate.
"Onshore wind is one of the cheapest renewables, which is why we've been able to cut the subsidy. It has a role to play in our energy future."
Mr Cox told the Journal he was heartened by Mr Hayes' acknowledgement of the issue.
He said: "My objection is that we are seeing large turbines in the country where developers think they can take advantage of small, rural councils.
"Turbines are changing the face of the countryside and somewhere like Torridge relies on tourism which relies on tranquil countryside.
"The secretary of state is digging his heels in and there is difference of opinion on it between the Conservative and Liberal Democrats. So we are trying to persuade him to review the policy on wind energy, and we are hoping on some movement in the coming weeks."
As well as Torridge receiving more than its fair share of turbine applications North Devon has also been inundated and is home to the biggest on shore wind farm in the country, Fullabrook Wind Farm.
Nick Harvey, the MP for North Devon, was pleased the wind energy debate has been brought into focus.
He said: "I have a lot of sympathy with what John Hayes said particularly that we will soon have more energy being generated by wind turbines than the National Grid can cope with.
"I was particularly pleased to see the issue of noise addressed too. People are particularly affected by noise from turbines and sound is a very complex business.
"The regulations of noise needs to be looked at, what is more difficult to address is the tonal noise, which has been experienced at Fullabrook.
"The Government needs to start signalling towards other forms of renewable energy, particularly marine, and there are hotspots for it on the North Devon coastline.
"There is a need for further debate in Government and I will continue to enter that debate, the industrial wind initiatives need to stop being passed off as community benefit projects and stopped in the planning system."
The Campaign to Protect Rural England has been fighting to protect North Devon from turbine applications when they deem them inappropriate.
Bob Barfoot, chairman of the CPRE's North Devon branch, said the energy minister's words were encouraging to people in the area.
He said: "Enough is enough is certainly the view of the CPRE here in Devon.
"We have not opposed some small projects, but we will continue to object to large proposals which we believe have a detrimental effect on the landscape and an adverse effect on people and their homes."
Penny Mills, from the Torridge branch of the CPRE, said: "There are more proposals in Torridge than in any other part of Devon.
"We said enough is enough a long time ago but they continue to come in because of the huge subsidies available – it's a policy which is not affordable and unsustainable.
"There will not be a part of Torridge from where you can't see a large wind turbine soon, and that is sad because at the end of the day, they are large noisy industrial machines which will change the face of our countryside.
"We agree with the Conservative minister that 'enough is enough' here in Torridge. We hope that our local councils agree before it is too late."