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CALL FOR WINDPOWER REVIEW

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A warning that England's scenic countryside is in danger of being turned into a windpower wilderness has been given...
A warning that England's scenic countryside is in danger of being turned into a windpower wilderness has been given by the government's landscape watchdog, the Countryside Commission.

The commission is calling for a review of the government's Planning Policy Guidance 22 (PPG 22) on Renewable Energy so that environmental considerations can be strengthened.

It suggests that limits be set as to wind energy development; that local authorities should offer clear guidance about areas where wind turbines may be acceptable; that designated scenic landscapes or those nearby should be no-go for such developments; and that government should give guidance to local authorities on assessing the cumulative effect of individual windpower developments.

Richard Simmonds, new chairman of the commission, points out that:

-- 17 wind energy sites have already been earmarked within, or adjacent to, areas of outstanding natural beauty

-- A further two sites are within the vicinity of national parks

-- Seven are to be developed on heritage coasts or areas of high landscape value

'We are in danger of industrialising some of our most beautiful countryside by allowing the development of these wind farms,' said Mr Simmonds.

'The commission is not against wind energy - in fact, we support renewable energy technology. But such developments need to be carefully sited, designed and managed if negative aspects are not to outweigh the benefits. Presumption should be against wind energy developments in designated areas and in areas in close proximity to them.'

Wind turbines - some higher than Nelson's column in London - are sited in areas of high wind speed. Frequently, these are in the most scenic areas of the countryside or coast.

'141 turbines are being sited in, or adjacent to AONBs,' Mr Simmonds pointed out. 'The cumulative industrialising effect on our landscape is of much concern and if planning guidance was strengthened to protect key areas, it would help to reduce opposition to wind energy developments generally.'

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