FORCE Summer Newsletter 2015

We have deliberately postponed sending a newsletter while announcements from the new Government about future wind and solar energy proposals have been coming in thick and fast. However, now that things seem to have settled down a bit, the time has come to review the situation.
It does appear that the new Government has gone some way towards honouring its pre-election promises. Revisions to National Planning Guidance have been published, building upon the changes which first appeared in 2013/14.
This time it has been made very clear that permission should not be given for single or multiple turbines where the proposal does not have the support of the local community. The Right Honourable Greg Clark, Minister for Communities and Local Government, announced in a written statement to the House of Commons on 18th June that, with immediate effect,
‘local people have the final say on wind farm applications, fulfilling the commitment made in the Conservative election manifesto.’
The Minister went on to say that, when determining applications for one or more wind turbines, Local Planning Authorities should only give permission when,
‘following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.’
The Planning Guidance itself can be viewed by following the link below. Please refer to section entitled: Do local people have the final say on wind farm applications?

This change took effect on 18th June and, as part of National Planning Practice Guidance, it is a material planning consideration in most applications for wind turbines from then onwards.
In addition to the newly published Planning Guidance, the Right Honourable Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has recently announced that subsidies for onshore wind energy development will be brought to an early close and that only projects which already have planning consent and an agreed grid connection will benefit from an intervening ‘grace period.’ The reason for this action is that there are now sufficient onshore wind projects, including projects that have planning permission, to meet the targets that the Government has set itself.
The full announcement can be found via following link:

Similar measures are likely to be taken with regard to solar farms. We learned from Amber Rudd’s recent announcement that the Government will be consulting on plans that would see subsidies for some new solar farms close by 2016. Under the Government’s plans, so called “small scale” solar farms will no longer qualify for support from April next year. Small scale solar farms are usually regarded as covering up to 25 acres. Further details are available via the following link:

Congratulations to objectors at Bothel who mounted a sterling campaign against a 73 acre solar park which had been proposed on land adjacent to the existing wind farm at Wharrels Hill. Despite very powerful objections from Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Tourism and the Lake District National Park Authority, this application was recommended to be approved by Allerdale’s planning officers. However, the councillors on the development panel were persuaded to refuse planning permission by the convincing arguments presented by objectors.

The changes already implemented and planned by the Government in respect of subsidy changes for wind farms and solar parks are to be celebrated. They are likely to result in some lowering of the cost of consumer energy bills.
Naturally, the developers are not at all happy with the situation. If they really believe that smothering the countryside with solar panels and turbines is the right way forward, they do of course still have the option to look for funding from sources other than the already overstretched tax payers and consumers who have been footing the cost of renewable energy subsidies for many years.

From the point of view of those of us who have opposed inappropriate wind energy development, the changes underline how important it is for local communities to make their views known and to engage with the planning system. We cannot claim that a community has not given its backing to a wind turbine or solar application where there have not been plenty of objections from local residents.
As always, Friends of Rural Cumbria’s Environment are happy to lend a hand with helping to gather material for objections and to advise on planning matters etc. We are currently working on a new approach to our own objection writing and would like to invite more participation from our wider membership. If you would like to assist us and be more involved in our campaign against renewable energy development which is inappropriately and/or insensitively sited, we would really like to hear from you.

It is very heartening that, in the short time since the Government’s announcements, a crop of local appeals have been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate. They include:
West House Farm, Silloth

Reathwaite Farm, near Rosley

Park House, Aikton

Appeals for single wind turbines at Ainstable in Eden and at Midtown Farm near Great Orton have also been dismissed.
In the case of the appeal for a single turbine at Waverbank, near Fletchertown, the Inspector has contacted all interested parties, for and against the proposed development, inviting further comments in light of the Government’s announcements.
So, all in all, pretty good news this time around.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to invite our members to explore the brand new FORCE website which can be accessed via the following link:

We have packed the website full of information which we hope will be of use to anyone who is fighting an inappropriate wind or solar application. Details on the site are updated regularly. We are hoping that our new web address will turn up more frequently on internet searches.
Please note that our contact email address has also changed to the one we are using to distribute this newsletter. If you have any comments or questions, we would love to hear from you.
Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Friends of Rural Cumbria’s Environment

Local residents must have the final say over whether onshore wind farm applications get the go-ahead in their area.

Good news for all of us fighting wind turbine applications across the county and the country.

Yesterday Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced huge changes to the way wind turbine applications will be dealt with to take affect immediately. In a written statement to the House of Commons he said:

I am today setting out new considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy development so that local people have the final say on wind farm applications, fulfilling the commitment made in the Conservative election manifesto.

Subject to the transitional provision set out below, these considerations will take effect from 18 June and should be taken into account in planning decisions. I am also making a limited number of consequential changes to planning guidance.

When determining planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if:

· the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and

· following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

In applying these new considerations, suitable areas for wind energy development will need to have been allocated clearly in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan. Maps showing the wind resource as favourable to wind turbines, or similar, will not be sufficient. Whether a proposal has the backing of the affected local community is a planning judgement for the local planning authority.

Where a valid planning application for a wind energy development has already been submitted to a local planning authority and the development plan does not identify suitable sites, the following transitional provision applies. In such instances, local planning authorities can find the proposal acceptable if, following consultation, they are satisfied it has addressed the planning impacts identified by affected local communities and therefore has their backing. 

There have been concerns reported that the ending of subsidies might be delayed and how the timetabling of this might affect applications already in the planning system but the above announcement will affect the planning process immediately.

There was also more clarification about the ending of subsidies yesterday see:

Changes to onshore wind subsidies protect investment and get the best deal for bill payers

Congratulations to all the groups across Cumbria (and the country) who have fought to make their viewpoint count and who have lobbied their MPs to make this possible.

New examination of wind farm impacts reveals widely-ignored health and climate change problems

CWW has received the following important report. It has been submitted by Douglas Cross, Environmental Adviser to SDLC in connection with the application for new turbines on Kirkby Moor. It details the effects of vibration and low frequency sound from wind farms and how these are ignored by British planning rules thereby contravening European Directives. It also points out the  environmental effects and the fact that wind farms cause climate change themselves, in particular detailing the potential effect on the micro-climate of the Kirkby Moor SSI.

(the full text of the report has been published on Researchgate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4393.3609)

On-shore wind farms are controversial, especially when they are located close to people’s homes. Some people admire them as examples of modernist elegance, others hate them for their powerful intrusion into valued landscapes. Contradictory and often quite arbitrary decisions by Local Planning Authorities add to growing public concern that the situation is getting out of control, in the political determination to develop ‘alternative’ energy. But are we in fact ignoring something really important in this precipitous race to prove that we can be world-leaders in this new technology?

Planning rules dictate that Local Authorities should ignore objections to applications to build new wind farms because local private property values will fall if they are allowed to be built near to private homes. The author of this analysis, Douglas Cross, now shows that this policy is wrong, and unenforceable. He notes that a recent by the European Court makes it quite clear that if a wind farm development causes physical effects that lead to the loss of value of property, then this is an issue that must be included in the project Environmental Statements.

And that, of course, means that Planners must then consider this factor when assessing Applications. Suddenly the door has been flung wide open for claims for this new form of ‘planning blight’ that are enforceable through the Courts, since European Court decisions must be immediately respected in the national legislation of Member States.

So, do wind farms cause any such a physical effect? A common objection is that large wind turbines are noisy, and strict regulations have been adopted that limit the amount of audible noise that is permitted to reach nearby buildings. But what if this misses a crucial effect that may cause actual harm to health of at least some people living near to these machines? What if the ‘noise’ regulations are entirely inadequate and irrelevant when dealing with inaudible forms of air vibration?

The official method of measuring ‘noise’ completely fails to consider the extraordinary very low frequency pressure pulses emitted by these huge machines. The vibrations are not heard by the human ear – they are not ‘noise’ in the conventional understanding. Instead, they affect our sense of balance and orientation, and cause an effect similar to motion sickness in susceptible people. And the standard method of estimating the entire ‘noise’ problem from these machines has been strongly and repeatedly dismissed as incompetent by many of the world’s leading specialists in low-frequency acoustics. So what is the real problem, the one that our official regulations completely fails to recognise?

Low frequency pressure pulses from large wind turbines are complex and difficult to measure precisely. They penetrate buildings, even when they have good sound insulation, and at far greater distances than audible sound travels. They are actually worse inside buildings than outside them. Their peculiar and unpredictable effects of these vibrations include setting up resonance ‘hot-spots’ inside rooms, where the signals from several turbines interact.

They are indeed a real, physical effect of the turbines on property, and they really do cause harm to health. Public awareness of this effect is spreading, and homes close to new wind farms are becoming unsaleable. And this is the problem that Planners have so far failed to deal with.

This analysis, by one of the country’s most experienced Environmental Advisers, reveals how recent research has established both the existence of this problem and its medical effects on susceptible people. It shows that it is now a requirement of European environmental law that the full medical and socio-economic effects of these machines must now be considered when any new application is submitted to a Local Authority for Planning Consent.

The government’s policy of on-shore wind farm development is now wide open to challenge, on the grounds that the minimum separation distances between large wind turbines and private homes may have to be much greater than has been the case so far, and that these projects must also take care not to cause planning blight that leads to property devaluation.

But this analysis also raises a disturbing second problem, one that has so far been almost entirely ignored. The air turbulence that these large wind turbines cause down-wind of them produce very significant changes in the climate at ground level. In extreme cases, this may be locally equivalent to a century of climate change on the larger, regional or global change. This micro-climate effect may be large enough to alter the ecology at and near the ground level, both within and downwind of large wind farms. The Kirkby Moor Wind Farm project in Cumbria, dealt with in this study, is a registered and protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the proposal’s effects on this very sensitive area are entirely unpredictable. The analysis identifies the need for much more rigorous assessment of the local effects of such developments, to ensure that the environmental changes they cause are not contrary to the established use and value of the land on which they are sited.

FORCE Newsletter May 2015

Now that the Conservatives are free of the Coalition, they have stated that

We will halt the spread of onshore windfarms

Onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix and has been part of the necessary increase in renewable capacity. Onshore windfarms often fail to win public support, however, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires. As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications. (from Conservative Party Manifesto)

Although we will have to wait and see if this actually happens, it is just possible that we might finally be reaching the end of a very long tunnel!

It is also worth noting that the manifesto refers specifically to ‘windfarms’ and may perhaps not apply to single turbines which are becoming an increasingly serious issue in some parts of Cumbria. We’ll see.

On the local front, in Allerdale it has been relatively quiet so far compared to previous years. This may perhaps be the result of the Local Plan ‘bedding down.’ The Council has, however, received a significant number of screening requests within the past couple of weeks. Many of them have been submitted by the same agent.

These are not full applications but simply an early approach by a potential applicant or agent to inquire whether a full Environmental Impact Assessment would be necessary if a wind turbine were to be applied for at a particular location. It is therefore premature to submit a detailed objection at this early stage.

As there have been so many of these requests distributed so widely across Allerdale, we are inserting the links here so that our members can see where there might potentially be trouble brewing. This might serve as a sort of ‘early warning signal’

Bolton Park Farm Access Road To Bolton Park, Mealsgate

Land east of Dovenby Craggs, Dovenby

Land east of Reathwaite Farm, Brocklebank

Land west of Bothel Parks, Bothel

Land to the South East of Lonning House, Threapland

Land near Branthwaite Edge, Branthwaite

Broom Park, Kirkbride

Thwaites Farm, Welton

Lucy Close Farm, Branthwaite

Land to west of Eaglesfield, Greysouthen

Also in Allerdale, a Public Inquiry into the proposed development of a wind farm consisting of four turbines at Lillyhall Landfill Site, Workington, commenced on 14th April. Although the appeal site is located within Allerdale, it is Cumbria County Council that is the Planning Authority defending the decision to refuse the development.

This particular appeal has been ‘recovered’ by the Secretary of State. So, whilst the Planning Inspector will write a report based on the evidence heard at the Inquiry, the final decision will be a ministerial one.

FORCE members in Eden have asked for additional objections to an application for two 45m wind turbines which would be located on farmland to the north of Berrier Road, Penrith. To view the details of this application, please click on the following (rather tortuous) link:

If you wish to object, please click on the ‘comment’ option. You will be asked to fill in your name and address etc. Don’t forget to tick the box which confirms that your comment is an objection to the application!

Wind Policy from Political Party Manifestos

Our friends at Windbyte (North East England and South East Scotland) have produced an excellent summary of how the parties stand on wind power and subsidies. See

The Conservatives are the only major UK party to promise some control of the wind rush in the coming parliament.

Their manifesto states under the heading We will halt the spread of onshore wind farms

“Onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix and has been part of the necessary increase in renewable capacity. Onshore windfarms often fail to win public support, however, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires. As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications.”

March Update from FORCE

Firstly, thank you to all of our members who turned out in support of the Carwath objectors at the February Development Panel.
The result was everything we could wish for – a unanimous decision by the councillors to refuse the application for three 115m wind turbines which would have dwarfed the area around Rosley.

Congratulations to everyone who contributed to the highly successful campaign. During the two years that it took for the application to reach the Development Panel, 588 objections had been submitted together with 28 comments from neighbouring parish councils opposing this highly inappropriate scheme. The five objectors and a district councillor who addressed the Development Panel covered each aspect of the application thoroughly and were very effective in their presentation of the case.

Clearly, a great deal of preparation and hard work had gone into this campaign. There is much to be learned from the Carwath objectors which may well be of use to other FORCE members in the future.

In stark contrast to the success story of Carwath, controversy continues to rage over the three planning consents that were granted by Allerdale’s Development Panel against the planning officer’s recommendation last November. It is one of the great inequalities of the UK planning system that every applicant is entitled to appeal against a decision to refuse planning consent and that this service is accessible completely free of charge.

Whereas the only mechanism that objectors can use to have a planning permission overturned is to file for a Judicial Review. This is an enormously expensive process and, if the objectors are unsuccessful at the end of it, they risk being presented with a bill that can run into tens of thousands of pounds for solicitors’ fees and costs awarded to the other side.

Residents of Oughterside have nevertheless been looking into the possibility of taking Allerdale Borough Council to Judicial Review over its decision in November to grant planning permission for a 35m wind turbine at Oughterside Mill and will certainly be asking the Local Government Ombudsman to examine the process that led to this particular decision.

New on the books is an application for three 110m wind turbines to be located on land at White Lees Farm, Aiglegill Farm and West Farm near Hayton. The collective name for the project is ‘Lancarr Wind Farm.’ The turbines would be adjacent to the existing wind farm at Warwick Hall Farm, Westnewton. Interestingly, the operators of the existing turbines have objected to the proposal on the grounds that the three additional machines will interfere with the output from their own turbines.

Residents of Westnewton are already greatly affected by the presence of the three 107m wind turbines at Warwick Hall Farm. Noise complaints remain unresolved at the present time.

In addition to this, the new application fails to take any account of the planning permission recently granted for a photovoltaic ‘park’ at Pasture House Farm which will take up over 32 hectares of land in close proximity to the existing and proposed wind turbines. Occupying eight fields, the photovoltaic development will also have a significant impact on the landscape and environment within the local area.

Whilst we fully concur with the statement in paragraph 97 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that all communities must contribute to the supply of green energy, there must surely come a point when this responsibility must reasonably be considered to have been discharged!

Local objectors would greatly appreciate the support of FORCE members against this highly excessive and damaging proposal. Please take just a few minutes to visit the following page on the Council’s website:

All you will then need to do is to scroll down to just below the blue panels where it says ‘Comment on Application.’ There are a few boxes to fill in with your name and address etc. Don’t forget to highlight the option that confirms your objection to the application. Then simply submit a sentence or two in the box below giving the reasons why you consider the proposed development to be unacceptable.

There are numerous clear grounds why ‘Lancarr Wind Farm’ should be refused permission including:

•impact on the local landscape

•cumulative impact alongside the neighbouring Warwick Hall Wind farm and other wind energy developments in the surrounding countryside

•impact on residential amenity, particularly in view of the fact that local residents are already affected by the existing turbines

•ecological impact on wildlife, displacement of geese and swans etc.

•the development is contrary to national and local planning policy – in particular Local Plan policies S19, S32 and S33

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or require additional information. One of our members has also asked us to promote a facebook page on which wind energy applications are publicised as they arrive. If you are on facebook, the page can be found via the following link:

Carwath Wind Farm Application – Stop Press!!

The Carwath application for 3 x 115 metre turbines is due to be heard at the Development Panel on Tuesday 10th February. The recommendation is for refusal, but it is always helpful to re-enforce the level of public opposition by having as many people as possible attend the panel meeting.

Full details of the application can be viewed via the following link:

The meeting will be held in the Council Chamber, Allerdale House, Workington, CA14 3YJ and starts at 1.00 p.m.

The Carwath application is the second item on the agenda, but it isn’t possible to predict how long the first one will take!

We hope there will be a good turnout in support of the objectors!

A request for support from USA

The Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy in Wisconsin have been successful in persuading their Health Board to declare a Wind farm (the Shirley Wind project) a “human health hazard” 

They are asking for messages of support and any personal experiences of health problems.
It is possible that if this can be made to stand (there is a similar case in Canada at present) there could be a knock on effect around the world as the health problems associated with wind turbines begin to be recognised.

Regrettable News from Allerdale!

Allerdale Borough Council’s Development Panel met on 25th November, with four turbines on the agenda. All of these were recommended for refusal by officers who properly used the policies contained in the new local plan. One turbine (at Dundraw Farm) was refused on a unanimous vote by members.

The other three, despite the recommendations for refusal, were approved on majority votes. As a result, we will be seeing new turbines at Oughterside Mill, Arkleby House and New Grange Farm, Dearham.

As Councillor Tony North pointed out at the Panel, there is a local plan in place and the proposals made, and reasons given, by Councillor Martin Wood to approve the turbines were unarguably contrary to the plan. One of the reasons given by Councillor Wood to support his proposal to approve the Oughterside Mill application was that there had been no local objections. Despite the fact that this was not the case, the assertion was not challenged and the application was approved.

The applicant at Oughterside Mill is also a councillor and a member of the Development Panel. Councillor Jim Lister addressed the panel on the subject of his application but took no further part in this particular meeting.

After the meeting, a request was made to the Secretary of State to ‘call in’ the application for independent determination. At the time of writing there is a Holding Direction in place which prevents Allerdale issuing the approval notice before the Secretary of State has decided whether or not to call the application in. Whilst call ins are not common, we can only hope that this will be an exception!

The reasons proposed for approval of all three turbines were broadly the same – no local objections, not visually intrusive, of benefit to the farm and no adverse cumulative effect. Inevitably there is some level of subjectivity when it comes to the issues of visual intrusion and cumulative effect. But clearly the planning officers believed that the impacts would be adverse and tried to implement the new local plan in order to protect the landscape and residents.

It was abundantly clear at the panel just how important it is for local people, who would be affected by a development proposal, to make their voices heard.

One significant difference between the Dundraw application and the others was that there were two speakers against the proposed development at Dundraw, whilst there was no-one speaking against the other three. Although this might not have affected the result, had there been speakers, it would have been plain to the Members that there were local objections and that people wanted their voices heard.

Applicants/agents spoke in favour of the applications that were approved.

Sadly, it seems that we cannot simply rely on a recommendation to refuse, but need to keep up the pressure until the final decision is made. This not only includes ensuring that written representations are made, but also having speakers at the Panel meetings so that councillors are left in no doubt about how people feel.

The application at Carwath is still ongoing after almost two years. West Coast Energy have finally submitted the results of additional noise monitoring that was carried out earlier in this year. It appears, however, that there are significant gaps in the information that has been provided. Hopefully this point will be pursued until data is supplied which includes sufficient detail to be meaningful. The fact that the application is still current does of course mean that if you want to object, or add to a previous objection, you still can at:

One piece of good news is that the appeal at Kelsick House Farm, Abbeytown, was dismissed in November this year. The primary ground for dismissing the appeal was significant harm to the character and appearance of the landscape, coupled with modest harm to the setting of the AONB.

An application has been submitted to Eden District Council for a 77 metre turbine at Barrock Fell. This application can be found at:

Planning Application Number:


Site Address:



Installation of a 500kW wind turbine on a 46.9m monopole mast (77m to blade tip) and associated infrastructure including foundation, crane pad access track and underground cabling.

FORCE has been asked to circulate the above details and also to let you know that a public meeting, arranged by the group set up to oppose the Barrock Fell application, is to be held on December the 13th at Armathwaite School at 3 p.m. Rory Stewart M.P. will be at the meeting and it would be great if as many people as possible could attend and show their support for the group and also Rory Stewarts’s proposed bill for a required minimum setback distance between wind turbines and dwellings.

The address for Armathwaite School is:

Armathwaite Primary School




On a slightly different note, FORCE has been asked on several occasions now (including by the press) whether we have a view on applications for industrial scale solar farms such as the ones at Westnewton (approximately 80 acres or almost 45 football pitches – approved) and Bothel (approximately 70 acres or almost 39 football pitches – still pending). Any views from members most welcome.

And finally…………………

Hopefully 2015 will be a good year, fewer applications and more refusals.

Thank you for all your support to date – have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!