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Meeting between representatives of BT, and Easington and Skeffling Parish Council 9th November 2009 Easington Community Hall.

On this page you will find a summary of the above meeting from our Newsletter Editor followed by the minutes as recorded by the clerk to Easington Parish Council.

Summary of Wind Turbine meeting.

Consultants, Liddell Thomson, recently held an exhibition at Easington Community Hall outlining BTs plans for the proposed 5 wind turbines to be situated between Easington and Skeffling.

Since then councillors from Skeffling and Easington Parish Councils have met with representatives of Liddell Thomson and BT to discuss the matter further.

The meeting was heated and the councillors didn't pull any punches.

Stuart Haywood began by telling BT that South Holderness was being inundated with turbines and didn't want any more.  If all the current planning applications are approved by the end of 2011 the East Riding will have seven times its targeted wind power.

Mike Turnbull said that when the original wind turbines at Out Newton Road were proposed there were many objections and, at appeal, the 20 turbines asked for was reduced to seven.  This was a form of industrialisation and South Holderness is not an industrial area, it's an agricultural area.  This area has become a dumping ground for utilities development.

Colin McKeevor, Environmental Consultant, said that 20% of energy generated by renewable sources is a huge undertaking.  He remarked that our community's contribution would be to a bigger picture.

Keith Fearnley pointed out that the proposed turbines were very close to the villages.  The gas sites already cause many problems because they are so close to residential homes.

BT was asked if they had considered the inaccessibility of the area.  Roads were not major roads, they were winding and narrow.

Lisa Wore of Liddell Thomson replied that they had considered a road access or possibly a new site access to avoid turbines going through the villages.  Tom Martin added that a survey had been done on getting the turbines to the site.  It was technically possible.  In terms of construction traffic they had also considered road degradation.

Stuart Haywood pointed out that there had been a similar agreement with East Riding of Yorkshire Council when the gas site was constructed.  Unfortunately those promises were never honoured.  Why would they would be this time.

When pressed as to whether BT would get to hear the opinions of the two local councils, Lisa Wore assured everyone that the words 'dumping ground' and 'we have got enough', would go into the public document.  She added that should the application go through, BT will liaise with the parish councils.

The minutes of this meeting were circulated to councillors of both parishes and sent to Liddell Thomson by Jan Crowther, Clerk to Easington Parish Council.  We have still to receive a response from BT.

Councillors who attended the meeting said feelings had run very high, but they were determined to get their views across.  In particular they wanted BT to know that the low key method of introducing this planning proposal to the area was slightly worrying.  Lisa Wore of Liddell Thomson stressed  2,250 leaflets had been delivered to houses in the area.  She promised to find out why so few people had received them.

No doubt in the New Year we will either hear that BT has dropped their plans or a planning application for 5 wind turbines will be sent to Skeffling and Easington Parish Councils.

Skeffling News and Skeffling Community website will keep you fully informed about any further developments to this story.

Minutes of Wind Turbine meeting.

Present:  Councillor Stuart Haywood:  (Chair)

Councillor Malcolm Douglas: (Easington Parish Council)

Councillor Keith Fearnley:    (Easington Parish Council)

Councillor Jim Green:          (Easington Parish Council)

Councillor David Longhorn:   (Easington Parish Council)

Jan Crowther:                   (Clerk to Easington Parish Council)

Councillor Mike Turnbull:      (Chair Skeffling Easington Parish Council)

Councillor Peter Payne:       (Skeffling Parish Council)

Tom Martin                       (BT Winds for Change Programme)

Colin McKeevor:                 (Environmental Consultant)

Lisa Wore:                        (Liddell Thomson)

The Chairman opened the meeting by asking if BT wished to make any points. Tom Martin said that they would prefer if he laid out the two parish councils' concerns and they would try to answer any that they could. The Chairman circulated a document written by Alastair McHardy, who had been involved with the gas sites and the Out Newton wind turbines over many years.

Stuart Haywood: the general consensus was that no-one wanted the wind turbines. The whole of the East Yorkshire, but especially South Holderness, was being inundated by turbines. Currently nine schemes were at planning/had been refused/at appeal. If they were all granted and nothing else comes forward by the end of 2011 the East Riding will have seven times its targeted wind power. The target is 43.2 mega watts by 2016. If they do go forward we are looking at 292 mega watts - which he considers is more than saturation point for the area. Easington has four gas sites which brought in 35% of the UK's gas. So far as wind turbines were concerned it has seven. 20 had been originally asked for but that was reduced at appeal to seven because of the visual impact.  Up to 83 were planned in the North Sea five miles off-shore of the parish. They would be highly visible from everywhere in the area. We are surrounded and are becoming more and more industrialised. What is quite a nice area we are becoming industrialised.

Mike Turnbull:  when the original wind farm (which was emphatically not a wind farm, but an industrial unit) was proposed there were many objections and at appeal it was reduced to seven as a result. We in this area could be encouraged to reduce our use of energy by cutting down on electricity usage. There are too many lights around this area. We could remove every other street light throughout the country and reduce the use of power. There was no point in putting in wind turbines, when instead we should all be using less energy. This was a form of industrialisation and South Holderness was not an industrial area. It had been a lovely area, much visited by tourists. However over the past 20 years this area has changed so much - it is frightening.

Peter Payne: this is just a form of industrialization.

Keith Fearnley: why had Easington/Skeffling been chosen?

Tom Martin:  wind is a natural resource. BT were working in many parts of the country and looking for the areas with the best wind. They were trying to find a balance between the availability of wind resources and the effects upon the landscape. He appreciated the points that had been made on industrialisation.

Colin McKeevor: this area had the wind yield which they could turn into renewable energy.

Mike Turnbull: more likely they could turn it into money.

Keith Fearnley: everyone was annoyed by the way that BT had approached our area. We were never told why a mast had been erected by BT - we all thought that it was for communications. There was no leaflet drop to let residents know of plans for the turbines, and if Parish Councillors such as himself and Councillor Douglas had not gone out to do their own hardly anyone would have known about it. People did not trust the way it had been done.

Lisa Wore: they had sent all the documentation out in plenty of time.

Jan Crowther: BT had used the address of a Clerk who left the Parish Council five years ago, so she did not get the original letter for a long time.

Lisa Wore: there had been a newspaper advert and the firm they employed for the leaflet drop had said they sent out 2,250 leaflets. She can only apologise for none of them getting to local people. She could not find a local company to do the leaflet drop. She will speak to the company to check what happened.

Keith Fearnley: he only knew of one person in the area who had received a leaflet, and he was the owner of the land in question.

Stuart Haywood: it was felt that BT was bypassing the parish councils.

Lisa Wore: it was their intention that people should have these leaflets. There was a map of the distribution area which she would email to Jan.

Stuart Haywood: there is no doubt that the leaflets failed to get through.

Tom Martin: it was certainly not the intention of BT to bypass the parish councils. The fact that we have attended tonight shows the concern to liaise with parish councils.

Jim Green: farmers are the only ones to benefit from wind turbines. People living nearby would have their homes, often their only financial asset, drastically devalued. It was legalised robbery of local people. Why should a farmer get compensation when local people are not getting compensated?

Keith Fearnley: farmers would be compensated but home owners would not. These proposed turbines are very close to the villages. The gas sites already cause many problems, because they are too close. Wherever we turn we will see them.

Stuart Haywood: this area had already contributed massively to the generation of power. People will see nothing but wind turbines inland and at sea and the gas sites. This needs to stop.

Colin McKeevor: this cumulative impact will be taken into account in the environmental impact statement. We have produced a factual report.

Keith Fearnley: the scoping document was put together without consulting our views.

Colin McKeevor: we follow strict codes of conduct and submitted the scoping document to the local authority. Concentrates on landscape. Paid for by BT but we do follow guidelines and codes of conduct.

Mike Turnbull: did you find the impact acceptable?

Colin McKeevor: there are impacts reported, and it will be up to the local authority to determine whether or not they want to approve the applications in the light of the impacts reported, the mitigations proposed, and the residual impacts in the environmental assessment. Unfortunately house property values are not a material consideration.

Jim Green: well it should be.

Peter Payne: how many other sites were BT researching?

Tom Martin: it is about 2 or 3 sites in the planning system. We are due to submit another 4.

Peter Payne: Surely the same companies do the assessment? BT commissions and pays them. They are your client. How often do they report an area to be unsuitable?

Tom Martin:  We use different environmental companies.

Peter Payne: is that down to the geographical situation? They could be seen as being biased.

Colin McKeevor: the environmental statement is carried out according to strict guidelines. We consult with local consultees.

Jan Crowther: how often do you suggest a site is unsuitable?

Colin McKeevor: we look at each specific issue, landscape,  traffic, noise, and assesses the impact of each of those. We do report that there will be impact.

Keith Fearnley: so local people are not considered.

Mike Turnbull: why do you want them?

Tom Martin: this is not about profit. It is about commitment to the government to use a higher percentage of green energy.

Mike Turnbull: if this is about using a higher degree of green energy why not buy it from off-shore wind turbines? Or why not put it into encouraging smaller enterprises like Skeffling's wind turbine at its Village Hall? What benefit is there going to be to our community? None whatsoever.

Jan Crowther: your poster gave the impression - what are we doing for you? And the answer is nothing.

Tom Martin: we are anxious to benefit the community in some ways but we don't wish to appear to influence the decision in any way.

Lisa Wore: all the comments made at the exhibition were going to go on the report. Some people had put forward ideas as to how BT could benefit the area in different ways.

Stuart Haywood: the last 9 turbine projects had been refused by the East Riding but on appeal may well go through. Our only hope may be for BT to withdraw this application, having seen the impact on the area if it went ahead. Our MP, Graham Stuart, agrees with us that we have enough industrial development already. What of the guidelines for wind turbines? Strongly suspects that they are tilted in favour of the government of the day

Colin McKeevor: the guidelines had not changed since 1999. 20% of energy generated by renewable sources in a large undertaking. This is a huge undertaking. Your community's contribution will be to a bigger picture.

Mike Turnbull: then we should be reducing our use of energy and not producing it.

Tom Martin: BT has rigorous targets already and were reducing their use of energy.

Mike Turnbull: all BT employees could be encouraged to be more energy-efficient. We would not come along to place turbines without making our own efforts to reduce energy. He itemised many ways that BT were trying to save energy.

Jim Green: what locations were being considered? Were they looking at urban areas? The wind blows just as strongly near Kirk Ella golf course! Put them near the docks.

Tom Martin: we are trying to find more urban sites.

Mike Turnbull: how many of BT's planned sites do you expect to fail? As a company are you confident that you will get planning permission? Have you taken any sites out? Why has Easington/Skeffling stayed in?

Tom Martin: we have not written out any.

Mike Turnbull: so you expect them all to be successful?

Tom Martin: we cannot second-guess the planning process. We have taken sites out when it has been clear that they are unsuitable.

Malcolm Douglas: why has Easington stopped in, given all the industrialization we have.

Tom Martin: we are confident that the guidelines make it suitable given the wind factor.

Stuart Haywood: so BT is not taking notice of the strong feelings of the local community. This had become a dumping ground for industrial enterprises. The visual impact is a planning issue. Who has assessed this?

Mike Turnbull: you contradict yourselves. The area allows for turbines because of the wind. The government said that seven was acceptable but 20 was not.

Malcolm Douglas: we feel that you think you can walk in here because we have so much already.

Mike Turnbull: a dumping ground for utilities development.

Stuart Haywood: have you done any research on how many turbines schemes have been turned down?

We are aware that some issues such as houses value are not considered, but visual impact is. Would you like these turbines outside your door?

Tom Martin: the visual impact has been assessed.

David Longhorn: who by?

Stuart Haywood: this is not an exact science. Would you like them at your back door together with all the gas sites?

Tom Martin: I can't be expected to answer that.

Stuart Haywood: I don't think you appreciate how we feel. The only mitigation would be financial.

Tom Martin: we have taken the concerns on board.

David Longhorn: do the representatives of BT live in a rural or an urban area?

Colin McKeevor: a city.

Tom Martin: country.

David Longhorn: how would you like your environment changed?

Colin McKeevor: I don't think its for me to comment on that.

David Longhorn: I appreciate that but we will have wind turbines all around us. The ones off-shore will be visible. The ones at Roos and Burton Pidsea will be visible.

Stuart Haywood: what is BT's target for wind regeneration in terms of megawatts?

Tom Martin: BT's target is 250 mega watts over 5-7 years.

Stuart Haywood: this would be approximately 50 turbines. If BT wanted they could put all of them off-shore. The North Sea is very shallow. Land-fall isn't a big problem.

Tom Martin: this is something we may consider and its a fair point. However at the moment its an onshore focus.

David Longhorn: have you considered using tidal power?

Tom Martin: no, it isn't sufficiently developed. There are no easy answers. We are installing solar panels.

Jan Crowther: has BT had considered the inaccessibility of the area. The roads were not major roads, and were winding and narrow.

Lisa Wore: there were comments about this at the exhibition. We have considered a road access or possibly a new site access to avoid turbines going through the villages.

Jan Crowther: are you talking about Easington here?

Lisa Wore: no all the villages.

Keith Fearnley: you can't avoid going through them. That is just not going to happen.

Tom Martin: we have done our survey on getting our turbines down. It is technically possible. In terms of construction traffic we have also considered road degradation. A survey will be done.

Keith Fearnley: there will be an agreement with the East Riding and they will pocket the money. We have experience of this.

Stuart Haywood: there would be an agreement with ERYC to improve them, but as always happened nothing would be done. This had happened when the Langeled gas site was constructed. Promises were made but not honoured. Section 106 money goes into the usual black hole.

Stuart Haywood: our coastline loses an average of 2 metres of land every year. Flood protection has been withdrawn by the Environment Agency and it was a non-stop battle to protect our area. Protection for the gas sites was casing more erosion further south.

Keith Fearnley: all present were giving up their time to fight for their community.

Stuart Haywood: no-one will give up. We will fight to preserve what remains of our countryside. We are battling on all fronts.

Mike Turnbull: there will be no provision for removing the concrete bases. David Longhorn: if the gas sites ceased operation then the defence would be removed.

Keith Fearnley: we had a right to a standard of life and it isn't going up, its going down. This is one more nail in our coffin.

Mike Turnbull: It seems to him that the government were trying to do things at the last minute. They should have been planning things for years.

Keith Fearnley: this application will be refused by ERYC. Would BT appeal?

Tom Martin: cannot answer that question. It would depend on the grounds for refusal.

David Longhorn: asked Tom Martin how much influence he has on the decision? What level are you at - how much influence on the decision?

Tom Martin: not high up.

David Longhorn: have we influenced your opinion?

Tom Martin: BT is wanting a constructive dialogue and LW will report back. We will take all your opinions back.

Keith Fearnley: doubted that people at BT would get the feelings around this table.

Tom Martin:  promised to feed them back. He could sense the very strong feelings on this matters and would hope to reflect those emotions. Your views are strongly felt. BT was trying to be as transparent as possible.

Lisa Wore: the words 'dumping grounds', 'we have got enough' are all going into the public document.

Tom Martin: I understand that you feel that you have been let down. We do want to correct any mistakes we have made earlier. We are trying to be as transparent as we can, and respond where we can.

Keith Fearnley: what would the next step be?

Tom Martin: once the planning application went in there would be 28 days to comment.

Lisa Wore: people who left address will be told when the application goes through to give people as much chance as possible to comment. Should the application go through BT will liaise with the parish councils.

Stuart Haywood: doubted that this would happen.

Tom Martin: they had a meeting with a planning authority to draft a protocol. He would hope that something like that would happen.

Stuart Haywood: he would expect that any money would go to the local authority.

David Longhorn: not interested whatsoever in any financial deal.

Mike Turnbull: totally agree. We in Skeffling we are not interested in anything liked that.

Keith Fearnley: you are going through a process, and ticking boxes.

David Longhorn: at least ERYC is turning down turbine schemes.

Keith Fearnley: would like to think that nobody here will back this scheme. We will be so disappointed in BT if this goes ahead.

Mike Turnbull: anything local people want to do in this area have no chance. But gas sites and wind turbines always get accepted.

Stuart Haywood: thanked everyone for their attendance.

Meeting closed at 8.15 p.m.

Love Quote of the Day

BT Wind Turbines?