Posted by: notsomuchatreehugger | 5 August 2009

letter (and notsomuchatreehugger’s response) from a NIMBY

Below you’ll find a letter in The Guardian from NIMBY organisation ‘Natural England’, Dr Helen Phillips. Dr Phillips objects to the coverage on Andrew Turner and wants “evidence-based” solutions to climate change, which sounds awfully weak, coupled with her protestation that her organisation only blocks windfarm applications that would have “unacceptable” “landscape and environmental consequences”. I like that pairing of ‘landscape’ and ‘environmental’: it really obfuscates the issues, doesn’t it? How much “evidence”, I wonder, would convince Dr Phillips that wind-power is in the interest of the community, the environment, and ultimately, even her blessed landscape, in so far as the threats posed by climate change far outweigh the aesthetic menace of a cluster of tall, white wind-mills? Dr Phillips, surely you can work out that Vestas – as Sean McDonagh stated on this blog – need not be primarily supplying the United States with blades: if campaigns like yours didn’t stultify progress in this country, it would concentrate on demand here. Wind power is an effective way of sustaining: a) a large proportion of the island’s work-force, b) national energy, and c) our much-vaunted decarbonisation drive. You and Andrew Turner MP will have to start facing up to those, like us, who are roaringly WWRHAD (Wind Welcome Right Here Any Day). What you call the natural environment, we agree, is important, and that is precisely why we need wind farms. So if not Cheverton Down, then, Dr Phillips, if you’re so “serious” about climate change, and you “only” oppose nine proposed sites … how about your back yard?

“Your report (Vestas protest MP opposed plan for three new turbines, 4 August) seems to imply that the demise of Vestas is linked to its failure to get planning permission to build three wind turbines on Cheverton Down on the Isle of Wight. But the Vestas plant manufactures turbine blades mainly for the US and the closure of this plant cannot be linked to a wind farm application in England.

“Cheverton Down is a highly sensitive landscape in the heart of an area of outstanding natural beauty. Natural England opposed the turbine application based on the strict criteria we apply to assess impacts in protected areas. Wind and renewables developments should be enabled where possible and we oppose developments only where the landscape and environmental consequences are unacceptable. Out of 85 onshore wind-farm applications currently seeking planning permission in England, we have remained opposed to only nine, one of which is Cheverton.”

“We will shortly be producing guidance, developed in consultation with the energy industry and other stakeholders, to identify how renewable energy can be accommodated alongside the natural environment. If we’re going to get serious about tackling climate change, we all need to play our part in developing evidence-based solutions to cut emissions.”
Dr Helen Phillips
Chief executive, Natural England



  1. I actually had a great chat with someone from the island on my way back to london last night. He said he preferred the first proposed site, but really didn’t like the cheterton downs one. I think we need to get real – some sites are environmentally sensitive – if we can admit this, we can start a decent discussion with the nimby’s – some of whom really do care about the environment, even if only their local one. but if we’re going to get them on board we can’t just slag them off all the time. then they’ll turn even more against wind turbines.

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