Thursday, 28 February 2013

The quiet wrecking of Norfolk

Even if you're a non-believer in terms of global warming - and there is plenty of evidence out there that does not align with the main-stream view - there is good reason to be concerned about future energy supplies.  Whatever you think, the sad fact is that much of the landscape of Britain is being changed in the name of responding to this.

Much of the high and formerly empty spaces in Wales, the West Country and the Northern Hills have fallen to our new idol - wind power. Sadly Norfolk seems to be heading the same way. Recent planning decisions suggest that even with growing misgivings about finance and carbon footprint, the quality of the landscape and the wishes of local communities still do not figure much at the end of the day.

Having lost the battle at Stanhoe, a large area of open 'high Norfolk' is soon to change with the construction of six 100m plus turbines. Less obviously intrusive but significant in its own way, Planning notices have just been posted for a solar farm at Bunkers Hill on the 'Dry Road' from Fakenham to Wells. It could be argued that this site impacts on few neighbours, but it does mean change of use from agricultural to industrial with attendant security fencing, buildings and all the necessary infrastructure - and it is another loss of the few big empty spaces in Norfolk.

Tellingly, the first results of an internet search for solar farms are all adverts for operators seeking sites. "Earn top arable yields from pasture. We won't waste your time", and "Farmer? We farm too - call us." and "Premium rental for land suitable for solar farms in England & Wales"  The message is pretty clear, I think. Couple this with the NFU conference trumpeting how farmers can save us all from impending energy armageddon and its a pretty gloomy outlook for beautiful empty Norfolk.  Or anywhere where money might be made.

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