Enough of this wanton destruction of our countryside!

by Edward Leigh MP

Like many MPs, my constituency has suffered from a recent rush of planning applications to build wind farms. Proposals are ongoing at Hemswell Cliff and Corringham, but I was heartened by the recent refusal of planning permission for a wind farm in Normanby by Spital. The most recent application in my consituency, however, is in Osgodby parish, within the bounds of the thousand-year-old Kingerby estate, flanked by ancient woodland. Here the wind farm industry proposes to build a 67-metre-high turbine – the top just a few feet lower than the Church of All Saints, the famous “Ramblers’ Church”, in Walesby.

Walkers along the Viking Way, in our splendid Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will be able to look it in the eye as it stands a few miles away, standing hauntingly over the fields like some sort of H.G. Wells alien nightmare. The wind there is particularly fickle and unreliable, far below the norm for an efficient wind turbine, and so a single wind turbine will not be enough to make it feasible for the proposers. Instead, there will be a whole group of 67-metre-high turbines with their blades cutting across the blue sky. The way to Kingerby Church, noted by Simon Jenkins in his England’s Thousand Best Churches, will be overshadowed by these often useless and before long rusting monsters, standing where the heron used to fly. As the visitor to Kingerby church turns back to look towards Lincoln Cathedral, its profile will be marred by their great swinging blades.

This valley is unusually unspoiled. It is a haven for wildlife and close by is an extensive English Heritage manorial and ecclesiastical site of national importance, together with the beautifully kept nature reserve at Kingerby Beck Meadows just a mile away. Every spring, I am told, thousands of toads pass south over Kingerby Lane, returning to their breeding place. No one knows precisely where this is – perhaps around that warm mud of the old Elizabethan spa by the base of the proposed turbine. If so, that is why the herons nest in the wood behind. These considerations must be borne in mind by those who have to make the decision about the planning application.

I think we have had enough of these giant wind farms which spoil our countryside. As a keen rambler, I am opposed to this wanton destruction. I agree with the environmentalists that we need to preserve nature and the environment around us, but these wind farms blight our surroundings without giving us much energy in return. They provide financial gain for private companies through subsidies at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. Of course, given that I and other like-minded MPs are trying to pressure the Government to spend its money more wisely, I hope these subsidies won’t last much longer.