I attended the ‘Renewable Energy in the Blackdown Hills’ meeting this evening in Luppitt Village Hall (with fellow East Devon Green Party member Kerry Gibbons). The public meeting organised by Luppitt Parish Council started at 6pm and I could only stay until 8pm so may have missed a few questions at the end, but I came away thinking it was an extremely positive event. I would say approximately 80 people were there.
There were six speakers who explained their involvement in the Blackdown Hills and/or planning in the area. Then at about 7.30pm the floor was open for questions to the panel. I’ve blogged about this issue previously in Luppitt Renewable Energy Meeting explaining that this has all come about because of local Farmer Gavin Brake wanting to apply to have a single wind turbine on his farm, some distance from the village of Luppitt, which is in the Blackdown Hills, area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
I learnt a lot this evening about how local organisations seem to be very supportive and even proactive where renewable energy is concerned. Here’s a few snippets of interest which caught my attention this evening:
Paul Baker – the director of DARE, the Devon Association For Renewable Energy started the meeting off talking about what DARE does and it’s part in RE4D Renewable energy for Devon. Paul explained that they do all they can to promote renewable energy in Devon.
Amanda Newsome from Natural England talked about how Natural England gives areas the AONB status. Amanda made clear that climate change is a serious threat to the world today and that they support low carbon energy alternatives in “appropriate locations”. They only comment on planning applications of national significance not micro generators (like the one proposed in Luppitt).
Lisa Turner, a planning officer for the BHAONB – the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty told the room how 37% of the region is a National Park or an AONB, which both have the same status. There are 36 AONB’s in the UK which is 15% of our land. Their policies support renewable energy as long as other factors are not affected.
Andy Carmichael – from the EDCC (East Devon District Council) planning department explained how microgenerators were now removed from planning and don’t necessarily even need permission anymore.
The R.S.P.B.’s senior conservation officer for the south west region Gavin Broomfield shared the view of Natural England in that climate change is the biggest threat to all life on earth. They predict that by 2050 15 – 37% of the world’s species will have become extinct. Gavin’s section was so interesting – I’ll have to write a dedicated piece on it but basically he said that “the R.S.P.B. welcome and support wind farms”.
Questions came at the end and far from a strategically thought out wave of objections, or at least a bit of furore which I’d expected, there wasn’t really anything very interesting said against renewable energy or putting up a wind turbine in the area. I believe there is a group against wind turbines in the village and surrounding areas but after listening to the overwhelming support from the 5 professionals on the panel, I hope that maybe they all went home to digest what they’d heard before thinking about whether to oppose any applications.
Please add your comments below about the Luppitt issue or wind turbines and wind farms in general.
Photo credits: Luppitt Summer Madness by Nigel Lenton
Wind Turbines by locksparkfarm.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/wind-farm/