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August 5, 2011

Save our Scenery!

By Spear's

The village of Winwick Warren in Northamptonshire is little unchanged since the 15th century, when the manor of Winwick was owned by Sir Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte d’Arthur. But now the landscape that inspired Malory is under threat from a proposal for a cluster of wind turbines that will be 126 metres high.

Winwick Warren in Northamptonshire has no shops, no pub and the centre of village life — as it has been for centuries — remains the 13th-century church of St Michael and All Angels with its spire and bell tower that gently rises above the skyline. Little has changed about the sleepy historic hamlet, a rural idyll with a Grade 2* listed manor and mill set in one of the most unspoilt and beautiful parts of the west Northamptonshire uplands, since the 15th century, when the manor of Winwick was owned by Sir Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte d’Arthur.

Yet this historic landscape that inspired Malory is under serious threat from a proposal for a cluster of wind turbines that will be 126 metres high. To get the size of these tax-subsidised modern Goliaths into perspective, the tallest oaks in England grow to about 45m. The proposed turbines are twice as tall as Nelson’s Column — the equivalent of putting 25 double-decker buses on top of each other.

We are not opposed to the idea of renewable energy or wind farms — especially if they are offshore — despite the fact that there are very serious scientific doubts about their working effectiveness and viability. As Der Spiegel has stated: ‘Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram despite all their wind turbines. In fact Germany has had to build many more coal and gas fired plants.’

It is critical that if wind farms are going to be built across the country, the sites chosen are the right ones, and that those benefiting are not simply landowners and developers who care little or nothing for the damage they are doing to our landscape. If the government does not provide sensitive and well thought out guidelines as to how Britain must manage its questionable commitment to spend £100 billion on renewable energy by 2020, then England’s green and pleasant land is in serious danger of becoming a 21st-century version of Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’.

With the Localism Bill threatening to usurp planning guidelines set down by English Heritage, there is an urgent need for a co-ordinated and sane national policy with regards to the positioning of wind farms. As seen by the tens of thousands of protestors in Wales who have appealed for a review of the pro-wind energy policy that is blighting the Welsh landscape (and scarring Shropshire), the momentum against wind farming is growing. That is why Spear’s is launching our Save Britain’s Historic Landscape Campaign. As the government continues to do little to protect our landscape heritage, we will be setting out to highlight the folly of a misguided government policy that needs reversing before even more damage is done.

As Sir Roy Strong has eloquently argued in his recent book Visions of England, the idea of what it is to be English today is inexorably tied in with the landscape and our relationship to it. We need to learn from other countries across Europe — Germany and Denmark in particular — that are now deeply regretting their former enthusiasm for an industrial wind policy that has only served to destroy an essential and irreplaceable part of their national identity.
Email to find out more about the campaign and our petition

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