Sheepwash Farm Wind Turbine planning application:

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Sheepwash Farm Wind Turbine planning application
Planning Reference:
13/00555/FUL
Installation of a 3 bladed 500kw wind turbine with a hub height of 60m and tip
height of 86.5m and associated works and facilities on land south of Hademore
House Bridge, Fisherwick
Response due by 4 July 2013
GENERALLY:
This application was discussed at length at the Full Parish Council meeting held on 1
July 2013. Prior to this every household in the Parish had been advised of the
application by a hand delivered flyer that included contact details for those wishing to
respond directly to the Planning Authority. It is understood that a significant number
of residents have done so.
A number of residents (including the applicant), some of whom would be most
directly affected, attended the meeting to express their views in public forum. This
discussion, correspondence previously received and other soundings taken within the
community indicate a range of views within the community - both for and against plus others with significant reservations.
After extended debate the Parish council took the view that its primary responsibility
must be to concisely and fairly represent the concerns of the community it serves in its
response rather than making an arbitrary – and at this juncture potentially premature –
judgement on the complex issues raised by this major infrastructure project.
The key issues that have emerged are set out below. These are amplified by 3
appendices including:
A: Briefing note for Councillors
B: Notes of Public Forum discussion on 1 July 2013
C: Correspondence received by Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
THE GREEN AGENDA
The Community as a whole is well disposed towards the move towards the use of
renewable energy. Responses to the questionnaire associated with the Parish Plan
Consultation document (copies of both document and analysis of the responses
received have been lodged with Lichfield District Council planners) indicate a 6 to 1
majority in favour, although a minority of replies did specifically express opposition
to wind turbine developments.
VISUAL AND LANDSCAPE IMPACT
The assessment included in the submission has substantially understated the effect on
the landscape in how it assesses the impact on its existing character. The included
photo montages do not adequately represent the turbine’s size or the potential visual
Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
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impact on nearby residents and there is concern about two local equine enterprises
who are worried about the effects a turbine installation will have upon the future of
their business. Current mitigation proposals appear to the Parish Council to be
inadequate in scale, location and extent. Although Staffordshire County Council
policy for the area is one of landscape restoration, the assessment cites the already
substantially modified character as a reason to downgrade the significance of
potentially adverse effects to arbitrarily low levels. (Refer also to Appendix A.)
TRANSPORT AND ACCESS
Although the submission sets out what appears to be a feasible access route for large
vehicles carrying substantial loads, this would be at the cost of considerable
disruption, particularly along Church Street and Fisherwick Road. Almost certainly
this would entail road closures and parking restrictions. Access onto the site would
probably need traffic light control, given its proximity to Whittington Canal Bridge
with its severely restricted sight lines.
Movement within the site would be along (upgraded?) existing farm tracks, which
could pose difficulties in adverse weather conditions if (as the Ecology report
recommends) installation work takes place outside the wildlife-breeding season.
Although large vehicles delivering and erecting turbine components would appear to
be most at risk, the large number of concrete delivery and earth moving vehicles
involved would not be immune. (A total of 154 vehicle movements are anticipated
over the 3 month contract period envisaged. It is however acknowledged that this will
be a short term issue and that the applicant does already operate large agricultural
vehicles in this location on a regular basis.)
ACOUSTICS AND WIND DIRECTION
The specialist report included in the submission predicts that turbine generated noise
levels at the nearest Noise Sensitive Receptor (Hademore Farmhouse) will be less
than typical day and night time background noise levels measured there over a 4 week
period in mid 2012 for a variety of wind speeds.
These are theoretical levels derived from the known Sound Power levels of the turbine
proposed and do not appear to take any account of wind direction, suggesting further
study work may be needed to fully validate them.
EFFECTS ON LOCAL EQUINE BUSINESSES
Two stabling businesses are sited relatively close to the turbine site The Landscape
Report accompanying the submission acknowledges that the impact on one of them
(Coton House) will be substantial. The owners have voiced serious concerns about
the future of their business (which has valued links with the community) should the
turbine project proceed, citing well documented concerns about horses being
adversely affected by such installations.
NB: The turbine would be sited 280m away the nearest point on an adjacent bridle
path. The British Horse Federation recommends a minimum of 3 times the height
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(260m in this context) increasing to 4 times (350m) in the case of National Trails or
Ride UK routes. The National planning Policy Framework guideline figure is 200m.
CONCLUSIONS
The virtues of moving towards renewable energy sources are widely acknowledged by
our community and the enterprise shown by the applicant in this area is to be
applauded.
However it is felt that this move should not be to obvious detriment of other
businesses in the locality. Nor should it seriously disadvantage nearby residents or
unduly compromise existing landscape quality.
As they stand mitigation proposals (illustrated in outline only in an annex to the
Landscape Report)) are less than adequate. More development work is needed to
properly address the legitimate concerns of both the residents and businesses most
affected and the wider community.
Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
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Appendix A
Sheepwash Farm Wind Turbine planning application:
Briefing note for July 2013 Parish Council meeting
SPONSORS, LOCATION AND SCALE
The application was submitted to Lichfield District Council on 15 May 2013 by
Bowler Energy acting on behalf of the applicant JF and BM Gray. This company has
also been involved in the design and installation of substantial solar panel installations
(both fixed and tracking) now in place in various locations around the applicant’s
farm holding. The application has also apparently been the subject of significant pre–
application advice.
Drawings provided in support of the application show the proposed turbine would be
located 500m due south of the junction of Fisherwick Road and the Hademore rail
overbridge in open arable land partly covered by semi permanent poly tunnels. The
nearest field boundaries are the Brook Leasow water course running east – west 80m
to the south and an established hedgerow running north – south 60m to the west.
Hademore Farm house (designated the nearest Noise Sensitive Receptor) is 480m
away to the north east. Sandcroft Cottages and Sheepwash Farm itself (to which it
would be linked by underground cabling) are 620m and 680m north of the turbine
base respectively. Tamhorn Cottages are 600m to the east and Coton House 700m to
the north west.
Technical literature provided shows the mast of the turbine proposed (a German
manufactured Enercon E53) would be constructed of 3 tapering sections each
approximately 20m long with a base diameter of 3.3m and a hub height diameter of 1
87m. Each blade would be 26.5m long, giving a swept diameter of 53m. The
assembly would sit on a 10m x 10m concrete base which would subsequently grassed
over.
Scale Comparators

The hub height of 60m is 4 times the height of the communications mast in the
Telephone Exchange yard on Chapel Lane

The tip height of 86.5m is 9.5m higher than the top of Lichfield cathedral
spire.
DESIGN AND ACCESS STATEMENT AND SUPPORTING DATA
The Design and Access Statement is prefaced by a background review by Robert Gray
of the farm’s development since 1957, its continuing involvement with and support of
the local community and its growing energy needs – currently 500,000 kilowatts per
annum, 25% of which is now provided by solar installations. Letters of support for
this further move towards renewable energy supplies from the farm’s major
customers, WFEG and local residents are also included.
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It is anticipated that the turbine would yield around 1,100,000 kilowatts per annum
with the surplus being fed back into the National Grid. Based on current Feed in
Tariffs he has offered to pay £10,000 per annum into a charitable trust to be set up for
the benefit of the local community for the next 20 years.
Bowler Energy has provided the Design and Access Statement itself. It asserts that
(selectively quoted) National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) parameters will
apply in the absence of a Local Plan. This is somewhat misleading in that Lichfield’s
draft Local Plan, which is currently awaiting ratification by Central Government, does
include policy statements on wind turbine development. The document also concludes
that, although within the green belt, the proposed installation is too small to warrant
and Environmental Impact Assessment, Shadow Flicker is unlikely to be a problem
and that the proposed turbine constitutes sustainable development for which there is a
presumption in favour in the NPPF.
ACOUSTICS
Decibel readings were apparently taken in Hademore Farmhouse garden from 14 May
to 11 June 2012 to establish typical daytime and night time background noise levels
and wind speeds measured 10m above ground level at the site. Both were then related
to the known Sound Power Levels of the Enercon 53 turbine. Once all the jargon is
stripped away from Dragonair Acoustics’ report the results indicate that noise levels
480m away from the turbine over a range of wind speeds (6 – 10 m/sec) would be
below background noise levels. By contrast at source they would equate to that
generated by a burglar alarm 1m away.
TRANSPORT AND TRAFFIC
Transport consultants Royal Haskoning’s report accompanying the submission
envisages turbine components and the all terrain mobile crane that will erect them
approaching the site via Whittington Common Road (now Lichfield Road), Church
Street and Fisherwick Road before turning right at Whittington Bridge onto farm
tracks which would be upgraded to take the loads envisaged.
Although the report demonstrates that such large loads can negotiate the route, it does
suggest short term traffic restrictions will be required. Clearances between the build
outs on Church Street and Fisherwick Road would be minimal (with loads
overhanging) and it may well be necessary to clear the former of parked vehicles at
specified times. This aspect merits further study and consultation.
Total vehicle movements during what is likely to be a 3 month construction period are
assessed at 154 (in and out), with a peak of 32 concrete deliveries in one day when the
turbine base is being poured. The farm has previously absorbed 43 deliveries in a
single day, but an effective traffic management strategy will be essential, given the
proximity of the access to the canal bridge.
Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
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The National Air Traffic Service report accompanying the submission raises no
objections to the proposal. The turbine itself would apparently be lit using infra red
light, so avoiding potential light pollution.
ECOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
The accompanying Ecological Assessment and associated Bird Surveys (backed by
two site visits) do not raise any major concerns. In terms of plant life they point to the
heavily modified nature of the existing landscape. As far as animal and bird life are
concerned they ask that construction work takes place outside the breeding season.
Particular attention is drawn to known badger setts in the locality and the need to site
the turbine so that the extremity of the blade tip is at least 50m from the nearest
hedgerow. A supplementary request is made for the installation of 100 nesting boxes
(50 hole fronted/ 50 open fronted).
Following a site visit on 19 July 2012 the University of Leicester Archaeological
Report advised that although the locality is rich in sites, monuments and listed
structures going back as far as the Bronze Age, there have been no finds within 500m
of the site, although excavation works for the base could change this.
LANDSCAPE AND VISUAL IMPACT
The submission is supported by two lengthy landscape reports, one dealing with
Landscape and Visual Impact locally, the other dealing with Cumulative Impacts over
a wider area. Both present a rather mechanistic assessment using a series of graded
matrices based on:
-Landscape Character/Visual Sensitivity
-Overall Landscape Sensitivity/Landscape Value
-Landscape Capacity/Magnitude of Impact
to establish an overall Impact assessment.
Although one of the multiplicity of appendices (Appendix I)lists some 45
properties/building groups as having high sensitivity only 9 individual houses(7 in a
single grouping) are assessed as being largely affected – mainly along Fisherwick
Road – once other filters have been applied.
The cumulative report focuses more on distant views and links this proposal to 3 other
known major wind turbine proposals:
-Curborough sewage works (74m)
-Thickbroom Farm Weeford (102m)
-Hogs Hill Haunton (2 x 102m)
plus
-Thatchmoor Farm (in operation – 34m)
Concluding they are sufficiently dispersed to avoid the creation collectively of “wind
farm” characteristics.
These assessments are supported by photo montages and wire frame diagrams and
outline proposals for mitigation (essentially limited canal side hedgerow planting in 3
specific locations). Regrettably the former fail to convey the real scale of the
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proposal, being distant views showing the turbine itself as a near invisible element in
the landscape. The latter is inadequate in both the way it is illustrated and the limited
scope envisaged. Much fuller development in this area and engagement with those
most affected will be vital if the proposal is to garner the support of the local
community the applicant clearly hopes to see.
Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
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Appendix B
Notes of Public Forum discussion 1 July 2013
RESIDENTS COMMENTS
David Brooke expressed his opinion that in future the Planning Authority should
consult the community regarding any application that may be controversial, well in
advance. He requested that the Parish Council make reference to this in their response
to the District Council.
Ian Larkin asked the Council if it was going to protect the village from this
application.
Maurice Evans expressed his opinion that the application was flawed with particular
reference to the visual impact on the community.
Darren Martin expressed his deep concerns regarding the impact on his business as a
riding school. He reported on documented papers on the impact on horses in locations
of wind turbines. It was also reported that it was thought the local bridle ways may
come within an unacceptable distance from the proposed turbine. As a possible
consequence, the riding school would be unable to get insurance and the Riding for
the Disabled project would be unable to operate.
Julian Floyd spoke on behalf of WFEG explaining their reasons for supporting the
application including the need to look at using relevant resources for sustainable
energy.
COUNCILLORS COMMENTS
Cllr. Rushton advised that he had visited a similar site in Gilmorton, Leicestershire, to
that proposed at Hademore. That site however had 4 turbines. He had spoken to local
residents and businesses.
Cllr. Walton said that although the community was divided on this application and
recognised it had opposition he felt the community should think of the environment
and support this application.
Cllr. Bennett accepted that wind turbines were needed as an energy source but
expressed his concerns of the appropriateness of the size of this particular turbine.
This comment was supported by Cllrs Millar and Heeler.
Cllr. Taylor appreciated the need to generate renewable energy but again the size of
the turbine was an issue. As Cllr Taylor lived in Fisherwick he had spoken to some
near neighbours who had expressed concerns on the overbearing size of the structure,
and the potential noise nuisance. It was noted that the planning application had
considered the noise issue with a detailed acoustic report, which demonstrated that the
noise level to the nearest residents was less than the current background noise of
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Hademore Farm. Concern was expressed though that this might not take into account
of the wind direction.
Cllr Rushton reported that on his visit to Gilmorton the noise level had not been an
issue - However the visual impact was.
Cllr. Cannon reported that whilst he understood the Environmental issues he had
substantial reservations regarding the plans for construction. The proposed routes for
delivery of such huge component parts appeared to be through areas of the village that
would be very constricted. Additional concerns included the plans for planting. He
felt that this aspect needed further development and should be considered further.
Cllr. Jackson also expressed her concerns on the impact of local business’s and in
particular the two riding schools within the area. Following her research on the issue
of the impact on horses, it was noted that the advice of the British Horse Society
included that a bridle path should have an exclusion zone of 200 metres as a
minimum, in cases where this was not possible it was hoped by the Society that the
developer would provide alternative routes and provide funds to improve other Rights
of Way.
Councillors agreed the application should take into account the effect on other local
businesses, as one application from one local business should not be to the detriment
of another local business.
Various aspects of replying to the District Council on this planning application was
considered including the need to fully express all the views of the community within
the Parish Councils response.
Cllr. Smith expressed his opinion that with all major constructions in recent history
there had been objections, but he was looking at the bigger picture of providing for
the next generation. However, he expressed a genuine sympathy for those who might
be affected by turbine and in particular a deep concern for Darren and Helen Martin
for the future of their Riding business.
Cllr Barr advised his instinct was to support alternative sources of energy, and he had
no objections to the visual aspect of a turbine, but he was concerned on the effect of
the two equestrian businesses.
Cllr. Heeler agreed that one business success should not be to the detriment of
another, but also supported alternative energy sources. The size also troubled him.
Concerns were also expressed that one application in the area could set a precedent.
Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
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Appendix C
Responses received from local residents by email totalled 8 for and 6 against.
For privacy reason they are not published here as we do not have their
permission, but full contents have been submitted to Lichfield District Council.
Further comments were also noted from relevant social media sites.
Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council
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