Monthly Archives: March 2015

French Farm wind turbines – decision by July

Wind turbine

A decision on whether additional wind turbines can be built at French Farm will be issued by July 7, according to the Planning Inspectorate.

The proposed wind-farm was the subject of a planning inquiry in early March, including a public consultation in the village.

The Planning Inspectorate issued a notice this week to say the inspector is now preparing his report and recommendation which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for consideration.

The final decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Local Government and the Community. This was Eric Pickles, but a new secretary will not be appointed until after the general election.

There is already planning permission in place for two turbines at French Farm, French Drove (to the north of the village), but the developers – REG Windpower – applied for permission to build four more. The application was approved by Peterborough City Council, but “called in” by the Secretary of State following the intervention of Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson.

This meant that the city council’s decision was set aside and the application would be decided by a planning inspector, with the Secretary of State having the final decision.

Darren tackles world’s toughest race for charity

Darren G 2

A Thorney man is about to set off on a gruelling 156-mile race across the sweltering Sahara desert.

Darren Grigas (37) of Wisbech Road is taking part in the Marathon des Sables, which has been dubbed the toughest footrace on Earth.

He will be one of around 1,300 entrants from across the world, racing six back-to-back marathons, a total of 156 miles, across the Sahara in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Centigrade each day, sand dunes up to 300 feet high and climbs as big as England’s highest mountains. As many as 20 per cent of the competitors drop out or fail to make the cut-off times.

Darren, a web designer, took up running following a car accident when he suffered whiplash and a back injury. He thought it would be a way to stay more active. At first, he struggled to run two miles, but has gradually built up his stamina to tackle the Great Eastern Run, Burghley Rat Race and Man v Mountain race across Snowdonia. But the Marathon des Sables is on a completely different scale:

To prepare for the race, Darren has been running 50 to 70 miles per week, has three to four session in the gym each week doing high-intensity, full-body circuits and strength training.

He said: “It’s a massive challenge and finishing it at all is a challenge in itself as the drop-out rate is pretty high, but I will be pushing to actually race it rather than just complete it.”

Darren’s first big hurdle was securing an entry. The race is massively over-subscribed and he had to mount a careful plan to be poised at his computer as entries were opened.

They were snapped up in just four minutes, but Darren managed to secure one.

As well as the intense physical and mental challenge of running this unique race, Darren has also set himself the target of raising £10,000 for a charity called Anna’s Hope, which provides crucial help for children with brain tumours. In previous sponsored races, he has raised money for leukaemia research, but was drawn to this because it is locally based. He’s been able to get to know the founders Carole and Rob it (who lost their own daughter to a brain tumour) and has seen the difference they make to the lives of those children.

Darren also likes the fact that it is a small charity with low overheads — he knows that all the money he raises will go to good work and not on admin.

Darren flies into Morocco on April 3 and the race is to start two days later. During the race, he will have to carry 9kg of kit and food as well as water and essentials that include distress flares, medical kit and an anti-venom pump in case of snake bites or scorpion stings.

Some well-known people have tackled the Marathon des Sables including Helen Skelton, the all-action Blue Peter presenter, and rower James Cracknell. This year explorer and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is taking part and Darren has the honour of being in the same eight-man tent.

Anna’s Hope founder Carole Hughes said: “Darren is a remarkable person. I am amazed what he plans to do and I am so grateful that he has chosen to help our charity.

“Every penny he raises will go directly to helping children with brain tumours and will make a real difference. On behalf of Anna’s Hope I wish him the very best of luck.”

​If you think Darren’s efforts deserve a few quid, you can donate to Anna’s Hope through the Just Giving website: www.justgiving.com/darrengrigas. There’s also a fund-raiser for Anna’s Hope at the Rose & Crown on Saturday – see Events for more information.

Darren Grigas

Work starts soon to reduce flood risk – road will be closed

Work on improving drainage in the village will start next month (April) and run through into the summer.

The work will improve safety by filling in the open ditch known as the Stewards House Drain in front of the Duke of Bedford School, but also provide a new culvert under the old A47 and widen ditches to take water away to the north towards the bypass.

Ed Johnson, operations engineer for the North Level District IDB, said the scheme had been under consideration for some time. “In 2009, we had three inches of rain fall on the village in two hours and that caused some problems with high water levels in the drain close to adjacent properties. This would prevent a similar risk in the future even with heavy rainfall like that.”

The Stewards House Drain is situated in the North Level Cross Guns Pump Catchment and it provides important drainage infrastructure to the village of Thorney flowing north under the park to come out on the old A47 near the entrance to the doctors’ surgery and then flowing east alongside the old A47 .  The Stewards House Drain is approximately 1600 metres in length and provides drainage for both agricultural land and urban surface water run-off to approximately 300 houses. The flows in this drain are largely from agricultural and urban run-off and it is also assumed there is a small spring feed near the cemetery.

First stage is to culvert and fill in the drain in front of the school where there have been long-standing safety concerns about children falling into the open ditch. The Board hopes that work will start in April and should take a couple of weeks to complete. One lane of Wisbech Road will need to be closed, along with the footpath.

The rest of the plan involves putting a new, large culvert under the old A47 (now the B1167), just after the telephone exchange, which will run into a widened farm drain and carry water away to the north. This work is likely to take place in June and will involve closing the road for a period.

The open drain in front of the former council houses along Wisbech Road will be left as it is at present, although most water will be diverted through the new culvert. This section of drain will continue to receive annual maintenance from the Board.

“We’re not filling in that section because it will be useful as an overflow in times of high flow like the 2009 storm,” said Mr Johnson.

Work is being funded by a grant from government, contributions from the Thorney Parish Council and the school. The remainder of the costs will be financed by the Board.

Mr Johnson has apologised on behalf of the Board in advance for any delays or disturbance caused by these works.

Death of Morris Spridgeon

Morris Spridgeon

Morris Spridgeon, village shopkeeper for more than 50 years and a stalwart of the Thorney Volunteer Fire Brigade, died on March 13 aged 71.

Most people born in Thorney will have happy memories of the name Spridgeon’s, visiting the shop for sweets as a treat after school, but as a volunteer fireman for 35 years Morris was always ready to dash from behind the counter when the alarm sounded.

In 1976, he was part of the crew that was first on the scene when a US Air Force Starlifter transport plane crashed on land between Thorney Dyke and the River Nene with the loss of 18 lives.

Morris was delivering newspapers and groceries, when he saw the plane come down and dashed straight to the fire station.

He was born in the village, at 12 Parkside (now Wisbech Road) where his father Arthur ran a grocery shop and newsagent’s from a store in their back garden.

Morris went to the Duke of Bedford School from the age of five and left at 15 (in those days, the school served as both primary and secondary). On leaving school, he joined his dad full time in the family business, helping run the store and also making deliveries to farms and farm workers around the village. Each morning, they’d drive to Peterborough Station to pick up newspapers.

The business moved to 2 Sandpit Road when the council built a new shop and offered it to Arthur.

Morris met his wife Pat when he was 17 and they married three years later. They have two children – Marcia and Paul, also six grandchildren (Jemma, Jodie, Abigail, Will, Tyler and Megan) and one great-grandchild, Elsie, who is 18 months. Morris and Pat celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last year.

When Morris’s mother and father retired, Pat and Morris moved to Sandpit Road and ran the shop until he retired six years ago. In his retirement, Morris helped his son Paul with his scaffolding business, when a head for heights and ladder-work from his fireman’s training came in handy.

Morris joined Thorney Fire Service in 1964 and went on to become station commander in charge. He loved the work and was proud to serve his local community, retiring after 35 years.

He was also a trustee of the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society, which he joined when he was 16.

Apart from family, his hobbies included an allotment and photography. He was a keen photographer and took many pictures around the village, including images on display in the Heritage Museum and also Open Farm Sunday events at Park Farm. Some of his images appear in the book Thorney in Focus.

The funeral is to take place at Thorney Abbey on Thursday, March 26 at 2.30pm. Family flowers only please, but donations in memory of Morris are being taken for Keep Thorney Beating, the campaign to buy a defibrillator for the village. Donations can be sent to Trudy Spridgeon (9 Topham Crescent) or Marcia Brown (2a Tavistock Close).

Wife Pat said her husband was born and bred in Thorney, a village he loved and never ever dreamt of leaving. Everyone is welcome to join the family at the Bedford Hall after the funeral ceremony.

Post office closes doors as Gill retires – now we’re off to the pub

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Thorney’s sub-post office closes its doors this week as postmistress Gill Taylor retires after 14 years.

She’s now looking forward to a nice holiday with husband John.

The post office is moving to the Rose & Crown (it opens there on Thursday, March 19) and the current premises will be converted into a cottage and sold.

“It’s a shame as it is the last shop to go in this part of the village, but I’m pleased that the pub has taken it on,” said Gill. “It would have been so sad if the village had lost the post office completely.”

She has enjoyed her time running the business and says she has met some lovely people. “I will miss them, but after running the place single-handed I’m really looking forward to a rest.”

She became postmistress just as the post office was being computerised and has seen the business branch out into lots of different areas. “There are now so many things you can do at the post office – we could offer credit cards, arrange mortgages, you could even book tickets for National Express coaches on the computer.”

Other changes were less welcome. The loss of TV licensing took away a chunk of revenue and other services have gone on-line, bypassing the need to go into the post office.

“It’s almost as if the government has been strangling small post offices; it’s become harder and harder. With everything now commission-based, I don’t think anyone would be able to buy a post office as a business and make it pay.

“It’s lucky Steve at the Rose & Crown can incorporate into that business. I hope people support him and it does well.”

Gill was born in Elstree, Hertfordshire and her first job was in a bank just across the road from the Elstree film studios. She and her colleagues were able to do a little celebrity spotting between customers and she saw Roger Moore when he was filming James Bond, also Cliff Richard making Summer Holiday.

She moved to Thorney 40 years ago when husband John came to work for an agricultural machinery specialist. They have three sons, one daughter and two grandchildren.

She and John were members of Thorney Abbey choir for many years.

Footnote:

Gill Taylor, says she has been absolutely “blown away” by the number of good wishes, cards, flowers and gifts she has received from individuals; as well as a large bouquet of flowers from the parish council.

“Through the Thorney Post, I’d like to thank everyone for their good wishes and kindness, it’s been really lovely. I didn’t expect anything like the response there has been, it’s been wonderful.”

“I’m not on Facebook, but my daughter showed me how many people had posted their good wishes on the page. Thank you everyone.”

Football club faces massive bill for pavilion upgrade

Thorney FC

Thorney Football Club is facing a bill of up to £10,000 to repair the pavilion in the park and there’s a real danger that the club may fold.

Chairman, Michael Bowen said work would have to be completed by the end of the summer and if the club couldn’t find the cash there was a real danger it would not be able to carry on.

The position is a dramatic turn-around from this time last year when the first team was on its way to winning the First Division title with an unbeaten 30-match run. They went on to take a place in the Premier Division of the Peterborough League for the first time.

This season, the first team have exceeded their points target and should achieve a comfortable mid-table position to maintain Premier Division status. The Reserves have struggled but are playing in Division Two – higher than they have ever played.

So with things going well on the pitch, how has the club reached a crisis? Michael Bowen takes up the story: “The price of promotion was a requirement to improve the facilities. For those who are not familiar with the Thorney Park Pavilion it is a wooden hut, erected in 1973 by Peterborough City Council and maintained only when absolutely necessary. It has been in a serious state of disrepair for many years and by the end of last season there were holes in the walls, creating mould patches and damp throughout.

“Remedial work to fix this was only carried out after e-mails were widely circulated as using the normal channels had proved fruitless. The fact that the club would like to improve the facilities should not hide the fact that the pavilion is well past its sell-by date and not now fit for purpose.

“As the necessary improvements were never going to be achievable for the start of the season, the club reluctantly entered into an agreement to play first team home fixtures at Parson Drove for the current season.

“The Reserves were able to keep playing at Thorney Park but, at the beginning of December, the pavilion was closed completely as the power supply, which was routed from the old toilet block, had been deemed unsafe.

“So our Reserve side were also homeless and have subsequently been trawling around various City Council pitches in Peterborough each home game. Work was due to be completed on the remedial work needed by the end of March but no word had been received at the time of going to press.

“With regards to the pavilion improvements, talks have been ongoing with Peterborough City Council and the Cambridgeshire FA with regards to getting the relevant funding in place, but progress has been slow.

“We now have quotes for the work required, ranging from £11,500 to £20,000. We have submitted an application for a grant which will give us 50 per cent of the overall cost. As it stands at the moment the football club itself will then be funding the remaining 50 per cent, with no commitment from the council to assist.

“Unfortunately we are now in a position whereby if we cannot get everything required in place and the work done by the end of the summer we will be faced with the prospect of losing the football club completely. We obviously hope it doesn’t come to this but it has become a very real possibility.”

New campaign aims to Keep Thorney Beating!

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A fund-raising campaign has been launched to buy a defibrillator for the village.

The equipment could save the life of someone who has suffered a heart attack and the plan is to put it on the wall inside the porch at the doctors’ surgery so it’s available any time of day or night.

Behind the campaign are Mick and Lynn Batterbee of St Botolph’s Way. Mick and Lynn, backed by their family, have set themselves to task of raising £2,500 to buy the equipment and install it.

The campaign — called Keep Thorney Beating — kicked off with a fund-raising fashion show at the Bedford Hall in March and there’s a coffee morning planned at their home – 3 St Botolph’s Way – on Saturday, May 16.

The group is keen to hear other ideas for raising money and from anyone willing to help. They are also on the look-out for people willing to act as first responders to help if someone has suffered heart failure.

Mick had the idea of providing a defibrillator after a friend’s life was saved by one sited in John Lewis in Queensgate. The machines (like the one pictured) are now quite common in public places – stations, shopping centres and also at strategic points in towns and villages.

The machine is designed to restart the heart after an attack and is simple to use, being designed to be operated by untrained people. It sits inside a special case, but would be accessible 24 hours a day.

“We thought the doctors’ surgery would be the best place for it and they were kind enough to agree to put it inside the porch,” said Mick. “It’s the obvious place, people will know it’s there and it’s pretty central for the village.”

The group has a Facebook page which you can find at www.facebook.com/Keepthorneybeating. For more information, or if you’re willing to help, call Lynn or Mick Batterbee on 270670.

Post office opens in village pub

The Rose & Crown

The post office opens in the Rose & Crown on Thursday, March 19.

There’s an official opening at 1pm, with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire covering the event live.

Landlord Steve Shreeve is putting finishing touches to alterations to accommodate the post office, which will have extended opening hours and a new cafe alongside.

To start with, it will be open from 9am to 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, although Steve may open later if there’s a demand. Sunday hours are 9.30am to 3pm. The Rose and Crown is closed on Mondays.

It will be offering most of the facilities previously available, but is a “Post Office Local” rather than a Sub-Post Office, so will have a slightly cut-down service. There will be pensions, personal banking, foreign currency and letter/parcel post.

“With NatWest closing in Whittlesey, it will mean people can do their banking more easily in the village,” said Steve. “It will be a lot more convenient too. Because we’re open until 7pm, it means people will be able to pop in after work.”

We’ll still be able to collect parcels from the post office in the pub and Steve thinks that undelivered catalogue deliveries will also be able to be left there for later collection.

The post office counter is in the public bar and this is being fitted out with tables and chairs so people can have tea or coffee, sandwiches and cakes. The cafe will be open from 9am for breakfasts ranging from a full English or a bacon roll to tea and toast. In the winter, Steve promises a roaring fire in the adjoining Hunt Room.

“A lot of people in the village, especially at weekends, go out for breakfast to different cafes, so they’ll now be able to come in and get a full breakfast here,” said Steve.

A ramp has been built at the front of the pub so there’s easy access for wheelchair users and other alterations to the outside have seen the hedge lowered to provide more light and a patio laid by the side entrance, which will have cafe tables when the weather is warmer.

During the summer, the front of the pub is having major alterations. The existing access points for car parking are being blocked and a new entrance created from the road between the Rose & Crown and the Village Store. This will cut across what’s now the side garden and will mean there will be easier access and more parking for both pub and post office customers.

French Farm inquiry – people have their say

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The people of Thorney had their say when the planning inquiry into the proposed construction of four wind turbines moved to the Bedford Hall on Thursday evening (March 6)

The session was a stark contrast to the previous sittings at the executive suite at Peterborough United. The language was less technical – instead of talking about impacts on visual amenity, we were hearing about “the view from my home”.

For the previous two days we’d heard landscape architects talking about setting up viewpoints and assessing visual impacts, rated on a sliding scale; here people were talking about their view of open sky now being interrupted by large wind turbines and the silence of the night – one man said he could hear his father-in-law coughing in his farmyard almost a mile away – potentially gone forever due to the noise from the turbines.

There was no open anger, no raised voices – people spoke calmly but passionately about the effect they fear the development will have on their homes and lifestyle.

Planning inspector, John Braithwaite allowed everyone who wanted to speak to do so and seemed to find many of the points raised useful ahead of his site visit on Friday (March 7).

It was clear that the decision by the Ministry of Defence to drop its objection to the development was a major blow. Several speakers, including MP Stewart Jackson, had prepared their case assuming that the RAF’s precision approach radar at Wittering would be affected by the turbines.

Mr Jackson wanted to know what the agreement reached between the MOD and the developers said. The inspector said the document had not been placed before the inquiry; all he knew was that the MOD had withdrawn its opposition and had taken no part in the process.

“It’s not acceptable that some kind of sweetheart deal has been done between the MOD and the applicant and that the public does not know what that is,” said Mr Jackson. “The public and the planning authority deserve to be fully conversant with that mitigation and it is important that it is in the public domain. It is only that way that we can measure the efficacy of that decision by the Ministry of Defence.”

Mr Jackson was highly critical of Peterborough City Council planning officers and the planning committee that voted to approve the additional wind turbines last year. “The report sent to the planning committee was incomplete and inadequate for a decision of such local significance and therefore the decision was made based on inaccurate information.

Other speakers included:

Duncan Godber of French Drove, whose home is 1500m from the proposed wind-farm. He said he had been brought up on a farm in Derbyshire and since he moved to the fens he had enjoyed looking out at the huge skies and views across the landscape.

“I like to think that my environmental impact on the area has been positive because I purchased three acres of land around my home and have restored hedgerows by planting 3,000 native hedge plants and nearly 70 native trees. The amount of wildlife that this has given haven to is fantastic. We have a barn owl box, which is regularly used. Turbines kill raptors. In the last few years wind turbines have started to surround us: we now have turbines in our view to the south at Whittlesey, to the north-west at Deeping to the west on Hundreds Road and soon to be the east with the new site at Nutsgrove and Wryde Croft. The north-east view is the only horizon which is yet to be darkened by wind turbines. If these are constructed, this view will be devastated.”

Julie Turner of Bell Drove was also critical of the city council. She said “I didn’t have any personal experience of planning matters before this but had supposed that the planning department would ensure that every piece of relevant data would be checked thoroughly on our behalf and that they would be working for us.

“I am very disappointed and extremely frustrated by the way we have been treated. Our questions have not been answered, we have been ignored, what we’ve said has been discounted and often we could see no good reason why this has happened.”

She criticised the way noise assessments had been carried out and said that she believed wildlife reports were incomplete. The access roads were incorrectly described on early submissions and a whole chapter and its appendix had to be resubmitted, an error described by the planning office as a typo.

“I actually spoke to the highways department because I was trying to find out what was going on and I was told it would be the same route for the two turbines which were already in place and turning round. She tried to argue with me until I said I’m looking out of the window at the site and they’re not actually built yet.

“That, for me, describes the expertise and ability of some of the council staff that we had to deal with who did not even know that two turbines were not actually at the location. So this person was making a decision about the highways situation when she didn’t even know what was in place.”

Margaret Long of French Drove was concerned about access to the site. She said that according to the developer access would be via the A16, Falls Drove and French Drove.

“This will require considerable alteration to the road system to accommodate loads of up to 120 tonnes. At the A16 junction, the plan shows the ditch filled in so that Falls Drove can exit directly onto the A16 instead of looping round. However, while Lincolnshire Highways Authority confirm they have been consulted about weight limits and structures, which were deemed capable of carrying the load, the principal highways officer was not asked about the suitability of the roads themselves.

“Moving south along Falls Drove to the double bends, the plan shows how the bends need to be modified to allow more sweep, however Bedford North Level Drainage Board have no knowledge of this even though there is a ditch on one side of the road and a sluice gate on the other. Consent to alter a watercourse, even for 24 hours, is required by the Land Drainage Act 1991 and no such consent has been applied for.

“I would urge the inspector to drive along Falls Drove to see the proposed access route for himself.”

Steve Lyons, who lives on Dowsdale Bank, said his home (a renovated chapel) was 700 metres from the nearest turbine and he was worried about flicker and also potential damage to the foundations of his home during piling work when turbine bases were being constructed.

“Because the sun comes up behind us, we will get considerable flicker. They say it will only be once every 13 seconds, but because there are six it will be considerably more.

“We have just rebuilt the chapel; I’m in the construction business and piling for the turbines will give us vibrations which could damage my foundations, which are not good.”

Mr Lyons said he was also worried about wildlife. There were barn owls, bats and marsh harriers in the area.

“In the evening you can sit outside and it’s perfect; you can hear a pin drop. The birds come in and roost and it’s literally perfect. I’ve moved from the other side of March where there are some massive wind-farms. I drove past one today between Huntingdon and Warboys, there are now 12 there where there were four. They’ll build more, what’s to stop them and it will spoil the landscape.”

David Harrington, Peterborough City Council representative for Newborough and Peakirk, said he was a member of the planning committee which approved the original application for an additional four turbines, although he’d voted against it.

He didn’t feel that the committee was able to make a decision because the heritage and wildlife officers, who had noted concerns in their reports, were not present to answer questions. “I asked the principal planning officer why we had not got those officers present so we could get some more information and he said there was enough information in those reports to make a decision. I did not think that was the case.

“To put it in context, I sat on the planning committee on Tuesday and the leader of the council had a holly bush that was in his garden in a conservation area and we had to have the tree officer there, at the committee, to make a decision; yet for a planning application of this significance we hadn’t got the relevant offers that had made those reports there so we could question them.”

David Sanders, councillor for Eye and Thorney, said he agreed with Mr Harrington and also supported the arguments put forward by Stewart Jackson about the harmful effect the turbines could have on the radar guidance systems at RAF Wittering.

“What concerns me, as a councillor, is that this area has already had three major air crashes – two Harriers, a Tornado and a Starlifter. I do not want to see another.”

John Bartlett, chairman of Thorney Parish Council, said his council was completely opposed to this development, which was only the start, with a great many more in the planning stage.

John Kitchen of French Drove said: “I live in an ex-farmer-worker’s cottage and there is no way on this Earth we would dream of wanting to live anywhere else because of the stunning fenland countryside that it’s a privilege to live in. When people come to visit our house, they stand in our garden and they invariably say ‘wow’.

“We’ve stood in our garden and watched a barn owl fly within two metres of us, we’ve watched buzzards soaring in thermals over the house, we’ve seen hares, foxes in the fields, even deer.

“I’ve got one figure for you and that’s 800. That’s the number of metres the proposed nearest wind turbine would be from our house. If somebody mugged somebody walking down the street, they’d be accused of adversely affecting their quality of life and, with a bit of luck, they’d go to prison; well I feel I’m being mugged.”

Angelo Convertino of Dowsdale Bank spoke about the amazing wildlife he can see from his home. He accused the city council planning committee of not properly looking at the area. “Not one of these councillors came down our road. Andy, who lives on the corner, said they turned up in a van, turned round, ran over his grass and drove off. Not all the councillors were even in the bus and that’s as much as what they did to investigate the area.

“It’s absolutely disgusting; the council is just not fit for purpose. They’ve overridden our lives basically.

“On a nice quiet night I can hear my father-in-law cough. He’s a farmer and lives over a mile away. When it’s windy and blowing in the right direction, I can hear him cough and shut his garage door and these turbines are going to be a lot closer.”

No unbroken line of wind-farms – inquiry is told

Land at French Farm, French Drove - site of a proposed six-turbine wind-farm.

Concerns that wind-farms will merge to form an unbroken line across the fen landscape were refuted on the second day of the planning inquiry into the construction of four additional turbines at French Farm, to the north of Thorney.

Landscape architect Marc van Grieken said the six wind turbines at French Farm would have no cumulative effect on the landscape when viewed against other wind farms in the area.

He had been questioned in detail about the effect the additional turbines would have on both the character of the landscape and on the visual amenity of residential properties.

He said that within a 5km radius of French Farm, there were two existing single wind turbines, one at Poultry Farm and one at Hundreds Farm. The new wind farm at Wryde Cross, which is under construction, would be right at the border of the 5km. “I don’t believe there is any cumulative effect between Wyrde Cross and French Farm and I have no concerns about the single turbines.”

Mr van Grieken had carried out landscape and visual-impact assessments on behalf of developers REG Windpower, including detailed reports of how views from homes around the proposed wind-farm would be affected. He told the inquiry he had written to 42 homes, but only 11 had agreed to co-operate. He’d speculatively visited four more homes while in the area and so had carried out 15 home assessments.

“At none of the properties the turbines would be unpleasantly overwhelming and an unavoidable presence in main views,” he said. “In my view the effect would not be such that the property would become an unattractive place to be.”

His report identifies “significant landscape and visual effects” but says these were limited and in proportion to the scale and size of the development proposals.

The inquiry took written evidence from Dr Simon Collcutt, a professional archaeologist, who said that boreholes had discovered no archaeological features. He said there would be minor impact on views of Crowland Abbey, with the turbines appearing in the background when the abbey was viewed from Crowland Common.

Summing up the case for the developers, planning expert Paul Singleton cited Peterborough City Council’s ambition to become the “environment capital of the UK” and said the proposed turbines conformed to the development plan. “It is also consistent with government policy and objectives with regard to renewable energy capacity and reducing greenhouse gases.”

He said that planning permission should be granted without delay.

The planning inquiry closed this afternoon (Thursday) and will reconvene with a public meeting at the Bedford Hall in this evening. Planning inspector John Braithwaite will undertake a site visit tomorrow (Friday) and report back to the Minister for Communities and Local Government with his recommendation. This is likely to take some months.

REG Windpower already has planning permission for two wind turbines at French Farm and construction has started on those, but stopped pending the application for four more. If planning permission is granted, the wind-farm is committed to paying £60,000 per annum into a community fund.

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