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Why can’t country views be protected from wind turbines?

In cities, changes to the skyline are subject to careful planning. Not so in the country.

Clare Oxford — The Spectator — April 10, 2014

‘Surprisingly’, writes Geoffrey Lean (Daily Telegraph, 4 April), ‘two thirds of the country support onshore wind turbines’. It should not surprise him: those would be the two thirds who live in towns and cities, the people whose distinctive, familiar skylines are on the whole safe. When proposed city structures reach the height of St Paul’s they are the subject of deliberation and careful design. Not so in the country.

I live in the East Mendips, a soft target for onshore wind turbines as it has little protection from developers: this is because its hills were sacrificed to quarrying after the war and it therefore does not qualify as an area of outstanding natural beauty. And yet it is outstandingly beautiful.

Like many other areas of rural England, its character is unique, its many highly individual villages set among the wooded ridges, dips and valleys of an undulating limestone landscape where copses, church towers and outcrops on the varying skyline are particularly important. It is currently undergoing an economic revival: families and businesses are relocating here from the crowded south-east, and tourism increases every year.

Again, like much of rural England, its character has been preserved for centuries by countless anonymous curators — charities, village enterprises, churchwardens, smallholders, heritage groups, local councillors — who monitor and consider every new development in the light of a social and visual context they care deeply about.

To these people and their neighbourhoods, the random imposition of standardised industrial structures so breathtakingly out of proportion, so permanently visible and so impervious to local human scale is a shockingly barbaric act of government vandalism.

The relentlessly utilitarian case for siting them indiscriminately throughout the country ignores objections on what are dismissed as unquantifiable ‘aesthetic’ grounds.

The ignored appeals of people who value these things can be found by googling the name of any populated area in England that hosts a wind turbine. The majority of the crowds squeezing in to demonstrate their opposition at district council planning meetings in this part of Somerset, and indeed all over the country, are not wealthy property owners — they are ordinary country people from all walks of life, angry, frightened and impotent in the face of what is happening to their surroundings.

Continue reading here….

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