Monthly Archives: September 2015

Village appeal to help Syrian refugees

Claire Ratcliff with one of the bags for Syria

Thorney couple Matt and Claire Ratcliff are organising a village appeal to try to put together bags of clothes and supplies for Syrian refugees.

They are buying special zip-top bags and want people to volunteer to make up a bag.

Alternatively, if you can’t do that, then any clothes – especially warm clothes – or cash will be welcome.

They decided to take direct action after listening to a news item on Radio 4 and are working with a charity called Anaya Aid. This is a registered UK charity which takes donated shoes, clothing and other essential items to Turkey, where it is distributed to Syrian refugees.

“Many people are walking hundreds of miles to find refuge. We are approaching winter and these poor people will be desperately cold, so warm clothes and shoes are urgently needed,” said Claire.

They are hoping to put together 100 bags and the idea of using a sturdy, zip-top bag is that it can be used afterwards to keep clothes and other items dry and safe. Claire is asking for a donation of 75p to cover the cost of the bag and she’s happy to drop them round to people in the village and to collect them.

“We haven’t got much time; these people are in desperate need, so we want to get these bags onto the next container, which means we have a deadline of Tuesday next week (September 29),” said Claire.

If you are able to help or would like more information, Claire and Matt can be contacted on 270611 or 07454 820426. Their e-mail address is

Now council should reject other wind farm proposals …

Wind turbine

Thorney Parish council has urged planners to reject proposals for other wind farms near the village.

Following yesterday’s news that the French Drove wind frarm extension had been blocked by the Secretary of State, the parish council issued this statement:

“Thorney Parish Council is very pleased that the immense efforts made by local opposition groups, parishioners, City Councillors and Stewart Jackson, have resulted in the Secretary of State refusing permission for the installation of 4x100metre high wind turbines at French Farm, French Drove.

“As they are opposed for many of the same reasons and with equal determination by the local community and their representatives, we trust that the wind farm applications at Gores Farm and the adjacent Willow Hall Farm sites will be similarly rejected, when the City Council determines the outcome of these two applications.”

MP says wind farm decision is victory for community


Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson (pictured) issued this statement following news that the government had rejected plans for additional wind turbines at French Drove.

“I’m really pleased at the decision by HM Planning Inspectorate which vindicated all our efforts.

“It shows that if the community works together with a strong argument and marshals their case well, then a poor and inappropriate application can be defeated by the existing planning system.

“That said, had the Secretary of State not responded to my request to use his powers to Call In the plans, it might have been a very different story.

“I’m not against wind turbines full stop – but they have to be placed in appropriate locations and these were not.

“I’d like to thank all those on the campaign team – especially Don and Julie Turner.”

Stewart Jackson played a critical role in helping block the French Drove wind farm. Plans for four more turbines had been approved by Peterborough City Council when Mr Jackson intervened and persuaded Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the Conservative/Liberal government, to block the decision and send it to a planning inquiry.

By the time the inquiry had made its recommendations, a new government was in power and onshore wind turbines faced a tougher test to win approval.

Eric Pickles’ successor Greg Clark decided the French Drove plans did not meet that tougher test.

French Drove wind farm blocked by government

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

Planning permission for an expanded wind farm at French Drove has been blocked by the government.

The rejection of the scheme by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government comes despite recommendations from Peterborough City Council and the Planning Inspector that the turbines should be built.

His decision now means it is highly likely that plans for other wind farms at Gores Farm and Willowhall will be dropped.

The principal reason for the rejection of the four turbines at French Drove was the visual impact, so it seems the Gores Farm/Willowhall wind farm, which would comprise 14 turbines, would have no chance of clearing the planning process.

Residents opposing the French Drove expansion were lucky that the planning process was interrupted by the general election and a change of policy regarding onshore wind generation.

The turbines were originally given planning permission by Peterborough City Council, but Peterborough MP, Stewart Jackson, asked for that decision to be called in by the government, which meant a full planning inquiry had to be held.

Despite the planning inspector John Braithwaite recommending approval, the change in government policy meant that minister Greg Clark was able to go against his inspector’s advice.

Energy company REG Windpower, does have planning permission for two turbines at French Farm, French Drove and has started work on those. Bases have been installed, but work stopped when they decided to apply for permission to build four more turbines. It is now unclear whether the company will continue with the two turbines which have permission, or abandon the project.

In rejecting planning permission Greg Clark made it clear that the principal reason was the visual impact on local properties. In his written report rejecting the application, he states: “The Secretary of State notes the significant adverse impact on some residents and concludes that the adverse impacts, in his planning judgment, result in unacceptable overbearing impact on nearby property and therefore amount to non-compliance with policy.”

The minister did agree that the development had negligible impact on Crowland Abbey, Thorney Abbey or the Crowland and Thorney conservation areas. He also rejected concerns about the impact of turbines on radar systems guiding planes into RAF Wittering airbase.

“Having weighed up all relevant considerations, the Secretary of State concludes that the factors which weigh in favour of the proposed development do not outweigh its shortcomings and the conflict identified with the development plan and national policy. He considers that there are no material considerations of sufficient weight which would justify granting planning permission.”

There is still the possibility that REG Windpower may apply to the High Court to challenge the validity of the Secretary of State’s decision. They have six weeks to make that challenge.

New link road ruled out by city council

Peterborough City Council planners have ruled out a new road to link proposed housing developments in Thorney.

The Parish Council had written to city planners to ask for their support for a new road from Wisbech Road at the eastern end of the village, running along the southern edge of Thorney.

This would have linked housing estates planned at Sandpit Road and Woburn Drive. If it was continued to join Whittlesey Road, it would also open up fields behind Thorney Park for potential housing.

The decision is bad news for residents of Woburn Drive. This road will now be the only access to an estate of 80 homes.

Janet Maclennan, senior development management officer at the city council, told the parish council that it was now too late to insist on a change of access point as planning permission had already been granted for access via Woburn Drive.

“I acknowledge that the Parish Council raised concerns regarding the use of Woburn Drive at the outline planning stage. However, it was considered by officers of the Local Highways Authority that Woburn Drive did have capacity to accommodate the additional traffic resulting from the housing development.”

The development at Woburn Drive by Larkfleet Homes is expected to start at the end of this year.

A planning application for the Sandpit Road development has not yet been submitted, but is expected soon. Proposals put before the village for consultation, included a new link road from Wisbech Road, so Sandpit Road would not have to take additional traffic.

See our earlier story on this issue:

Free workshop on River Nene artwork

River Nene

The Thorney Society is staging a free workshop this Sunday so local people can contribute to a project to create a piece of artwork representing the River Nene and its various habitats.

The event is at the former Methodist Chapel by the bridge and runs from 10am to 3pm. People can drop in whenever they wish.

The idea is to get memories and suggestions to the Mapestry, an artwork which will represent the River Nene and its habitats. It is being co-ordinated by a professional textile artist working with Froglife, the national charity concerned with reptiles and amphibians.

For more information email: or call 01733 602102.

Defibrillator Awareness Evening next week

Keep Thorney Beating, the campaign to buy a defibrillator for the village, has now installed the machine at Thorney Medical Centre.

Next Thursday, September 10, there’s a special meeting at the Bedford Hall at 7pm to which everyone in the village is invited.

The evening is to explain how the machine works and how it is used. It is also an opportunity for people willing to volunteer as VETS (Volunteer Emergency Telephone Service) to find out more about that role. VETS would be notified when the defibrillator needs to be used and help make sure it’s used properly and returned safely for future use.

So far around nine people have put their names forward, but if anyone else is interested, they can contact organisers Lynn or Mick Batterbee on 270670.

Lynn is also keen to hear suggestions for where they can position signs telling people the location of the defibrillator.

“Most people in the village will know it’s at the Medical Centre, so these are probably going to be more use for people visiting Thorney. We need to find the right places, so any suggestions would be helpful.”