Renewable energy is key to a thriving countryside.
We’re working for a countryside that everyone can enjoy free from the effects of air pollution and climate breakdown. And this means getting more of our energy from wind, sunlight, and hydropower.
CPRE Warwickshire has always adopted a pragmatic view towards wind and solar farms. We support them when they are to be appropriately sited and vigorously oppose them when they are not.
Back in 2013 residents local to the tiny village of Knightcote particularly and CPRE member John Bolton specifically, (aided and abetted by the Branch it should be said) were part of the successful team that won the appeal against a wind farm development, called Starbold. Reasons given by the Secretary of State for refusing the appeal were that it would have had an adverse effect on the living conditions of residents nearby; that it would have had an adverse impact on the character and amenity of the local landscape including public views from the Burton Dassett Hills; and that it would have adversely affected the settings and the function of the adjacent Beacon Tower.
All pretty clear then and a judgment that we would support today.
The demise of subsidies for wind and solar farms in 2015 ended most of the speculative developments within the county. However the Government is now consulting on changing this policy, to allow wind farms and solar schemes to once again qualify for subsidy, under what has been dubbed ‘Contracts for Difference’. So we might expect more development proposals.
In our view that is fine, providing current planning rules (under the NPPF) are adhered to and the locations are deemed suitable under Local Plans and approved Neighbourhood Plans and most importantly have the approval of the local communities affected.
There are plenty of warehouse or factory roofs that could cope with solar panels and few would object to ribbons of panels along side our motorways.
Vital as it is that we reduce further our dependence on fossil fuels, we must continue to value our countryside and not lose our farmland, and we will oppose unsuitable proposals in the future.