At the October Planning meeting the Planning Officer warned that ELDC could be placed in special measures. The speech was made to the Councillors immediately before the first Application was discussed. He stressed how much money this would cost the Council. The message was clear: you must approve more Applications.
What a coincidence that the first item was for an enormous solar farm, which the Planning Officers were recommending for Approval. What a coincidence also that objectors to the plan had already received letters, before the meeting, saying that the Application had been approved. More than a suggestion that it had been decided in advance, eh? A mistake, they said in a follow-up letter, but had we not questioned it, we should not have turned up to say our bit, thus making it even easier for them to pass it.
And pass it they did, and also another such scheme near Wainfleet. In vain did we point out that the figure of 8MW output was in fact the Peak output, the average being only about 10% of that figure. A Councillor asked the developer’s representative if this was the case. She said she believed it to be the Average. The Planning Officer had the paperwork in front of him which stated it was Peak output, but he made no effort to correct this deception.
In vain did we point out that there had been no noise survey done, the Officer said it was not necessary: it is, and this was a factor in the refusal of a recent Appeal for a solar farm.
In vain did we point out that the claim that the land could continue to be grazed, by about 50 sheep per hectare was obvious nonsense since the average rate even without the panels is only about 12 sheep per hectare.
In vain did we point out that there is no quota to meet on the number of solar farms: the Council does not HAVE to accept them. They are certainly not “the future”, in fact the emphasis is rapidly shifting to roof-mounted schemes. With all those roof on the farms and industrial estates, what’s the problem?
And besides, the panels in use are hopelessly inefficient. We are told they do not require actual sunlight to work, but we are not told how poorly they then work: a visit to the Humber Bank Visitor Centre, which is covered in panels, revealed that a total of 39W was being produced on a bright but sunless afternoon: not even enough for the average domestic light bulb.
So the Planning Officer’s little pep talk has already produced its desired result. He was determined to get the Application passed at whatever cost, and the Councillors’ questions mostly came up against a brick wall: lack of a noise survey was deemed acceptable, the question on the output of the installation received an incorrect reply, and the ridiculous claims as to the number sheep to be grazed was simply brushed over. At Yarburgh we have had 21 wind turbines foisted upon us, and now an area the size of twenty football pitches is about to be turned into an industrial site.
We were told we had to have all these wind turbines because this is a windy area. However, we do not have the lower grade farmland which is supposed to be suitable for solar farms, so why are we being targeted all over again?
West View, Yarburgh