Category Archives: News

MOD withdraws objection to French Farm wind turbines

Wind turbine

A key objection to the development of wind turbines at French Farm has been withdrawn.

As the planning inquiry opened in Peterborough today (Wednesday), it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence was no longer objecting to the development.

The RAF had originally raised concerns about the effect wind turbines would have on precision-approach radar, which guides aircraft into RAF Wittering, also surveillance radar at RAF Cottesmore.

However, Cottesmore has now closed and Wittering’s role is much changed, although the base remains operational and is a diversion airfield and also a logistics hub, with massive Boeing C17 Globemaster transporters using the runway from time to time.

Both Wryde Croft wind-farm at Thorney – which is under construction – and the two wind turbines at French Farm which already have planning permission (a total of 15 turbines) fall within the vision of Wittering’s precision-approach radar but at 13 nautical miles from the base, the effect is not now thought to be severe.

Developers REG Windpower met with the Ministry of Defence in late January and agreed a condition which the RAF is happy with.

John Taylor, a retired Royal Navy Commander and director of Wind Power Aviation Consultants, acting for the developers, said the fact that the MOD has now agreed a condition is a very positive development which protects operations at RAF Wittering and enables this issue to be removed from consideration at the inquiry.

The news dealt a blow to groups opposing the development as the RAF objections were an important part of their campaign.

The inquiry is looking at a planning application for four wind turbines at French Farm, French Drove, to the north of Thorney. Planning permission has already been given for two wind turbines on the site and REG wants to build four more. The turbines have a height of 60 metres to the central hub and 100 metres to the tip of the blade at its highest point of rotation.

Peterborough City Council approved the application, but because of the strength of feeling and local opposition to wind-farm developments around the village, the decision was “called in” by the Department of Communities and Local Government. Effectively, this means that the city council’s decision was blocked and the decision on whether to grant planning permission would be made by a government planning inspector following a public inquiry.

Opposition to the development is led by Thorney North Landscape Protection Group and their case is being put to the inquiry by Ian Kelly, a chartered town planner and head of planning at Graham & Sibbald, chartered surveyors.

In his opening statement, Mr Kelly said that Peterborough City Council had not applied the correct level of informed and independent scrutiny to the initial application. He said Thorney North Landscape Protection Group would present evidence to show that the development was not consistent with government planning policy and guidance for renewable energy developments in that the assessed harm outweighs the benefit; also that the development is not consistent with the development plan for the area.

City Council criticised for sitting on the fence

Peterborough City Council came under fire for adopting a neutral stance at the inquiry.

Marcus Trinick QC, who is representing developers REG Windpower Ltd, said the council had granted planning permission, yet now its position was declared as neutral. “In my view this cannot be,” said Mr Trinick. “It is in favour of the proposed development.”

He pressed Louise Lovegrove, senior development management officer to re-affirm the council’s support, but she would not do so.

“We voted to grant planning permission, but then the decision was taken away from us,” she said. “In the light of this we have taken a neutral stance. It is up to the inspector to decide.”

Ian Kelly, representing Thorney North Landscape Protection Group (TNLPG), was no happier with the council stance and demanded a decision. “Is the council happy for the decision to be approved – yes or no?”

The planning inspector, John Braithwaite, said Ms Lovegrove did not have to answer that question.

“Is your professional opinion neutral as to the outcome?” asked Mr Kelly.

“Yes,” said Ms Lovegrove.

“So you have changed your professional opinion since you recommended the application be granted?”

“Only in the extent that the decision making process has been taken away from the council,” replied Ms Lovegrove.

Part of the Thorney group’s argument is that Peterborough City Council didn’t properly assess the application, in particular that more up-to-date environmental information was ignored and that Ms Lovegrove’s report as the case officer did not include a separate report from the council’s landscape architect. Ms Lovegrove said that the application had been considered by a landscape architect, but that his findings had been included in her report.

It was a bruising morning for Ms Lovegrove, who was forced to admit that this was her first wind-farm case and her first public inquiry.

There was also some scrutiny of her report into the impact of the development on local homes where Ms Lovegrove has used the so-called Lavender test. This is named after a planning inspector who ruled:

“When turbines are present in such number, size and proximity that they represent an unpleasantly overwhelming and unavoidable presence in main views from a house or garden, there is every likelihood that the property concerned would come to be regarded as an unattractive and thus an unsatisfactory (but not necessarily uninhabitable) place in which to live. It is not in the public interest to create such living conditions where they did not exist before.”

Ms Lovegrove said this test had been applied in the Treadwell Farm planning inquiry in South Holland District, which had been published shortly before the city council were to consider the French Farm application. Mr Kelly asked her how she would define the tipping point of visual effect that would make somewhere an unsuitable place to live.

“I believe this would be where turbines reach such an extent that they become the dominant feature. I appreciate this is a subjective matter and residents may set the bar higher than I do.” She did not believe this was the case with regard to French Farm.

The inquiry adjourned for lunch

Landscape architects clash on visual effect of French Farm wind turbines

During the afternoon session, two landscape architects submitted somewhat different assessments regarding the impact of the French Farm wind turbines.

Mark Steele for Thorney North Landscape Protection (against the proposal) and Marc van Grieken for developers REG Windpower, submitted evidence that differed substantially in its conclusions.

Mr van Grieken’s evidence stated that: “at none of the properties assessed residents will experience impacts which could be said to be overbearing or dominant, or to dominate.

“The development will not affect the outlook of these residents to such an extent that the property would become an unattractive place to live.”

Mr Steele’s evidence was picked over by Marcus Trinick QC for REG Windpower who savaged a number of findings.

He claimed the evidence had mixed up some properties so incorrect visual impacts had been reported; evidence on the design of the wind-farm had considered only two-thirds of the development; the same wording had been used to describe views from different points and there was no proof to support an assertion that high levels of visual impact would be present up to four kilometres away from the site.

Fashion show rebooked

The fashion show to raise money for Keep Thorney Beating – the campaign to buy a defibrillator for the village – had to be cancelled on Monday evening.

Lincs Fashion, who were providing clothes and models, had to pull out at almost the last minute.

The show as been rebooked for March 16 at the Bedford Hall (7.30pm start). Tickets are £2.50 in advance or £3 on the door. Anyone already with a ticket from last night’s show will be able to use it on the revised date.

Work on track at Wryde Croft wind farm

Work is on track at Wryde Croft wind farm, a development of 13 turbines to the east of the village.

Turbines are scheduled to be delivered in June and July and will be erected during the summer.

The wind farm, which is costing £5 million to develop, should be generating electricity by the end of the year and has the potential to power more than 13,000 homes.

Alison Jones, Community Relations Manager for developers RES, said additional work to strengthen culverts and resurfacing on New Cut had put the project a little behind schedule, but they were back on track now.

Work at the site currently involves laying roads for work to begin on the turbine bases and Alison was keen to stress the efforts being made to lessen impact on the environment. Contractors R G Carter, a Peterborough-based company, is using existing farm roads where possible and where new access roads need to be laid they will be put on a membrane so they can be taken up and the land restored for agriculture once work is finished.

Around 30 people are employed on the site at present but once complete RES will monitor operations from Scotland. Turbines turn themselves automatically point in the direction to get the best wind.

RES is committed to giving £130,000 a year to the local community. Of this, £78,000 will go to homes and businesses through the Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS). Alison Jones said it wasn’t yet known which properties would be eligible, but the company would be writing to the properties later in the year. LEDS gives discounts on electricity bills of around £100 a year.

The remaining cash will be available in grants to local organisations and RES will be setting up a panel to determine who gets what. Parishes within six kilometres of the wind farm are being invited to nominate representatives to sit on the panel.

Grants in other areas have ranged from a few hundred pounds to buy football strip for a local youth team up to thousands for a new floor in a village hall.

RES has a website for the development at


Inquiry starts on French Farm turbines

Wind turbine

A planning inquiry starts on March 4 into the application to build four wind turbines at French Farm, French Drove to the north of the village.

The application was being dealt with by Peterborough City Council last year, but was “called in” by the Department of Communities and Local Government and will now be decided by an inquiry.

The application, by REG Windpower, is for four turbines with a maximum height to blade tip of 100 metres; also vehicle access tracks, hard-standing, construction compound and ancillary development. Planning permission has already been granted for two turbines at French Drove and work has started on the bases for those.

As part of the inquiry, a public meeting is being held at the Bedford Hall on Thursday, March 5 starting at 7pm, where members of the public are invited to give their views.

The planning inquiry itself is being held at the Executive Suite, Peterborough United Stadium in London Road, Peterborough and is scheduled to sit for 12 days, starting on March 4. It will run March 4-6; March 10-13; March 17-20 and March 24, although if it has heard all evidence, the inquiry will close earlier. The inquiry opens at 10am and after the first day sittings will commence at 9.30am.

Details of both the planning inquiry and public meeting are listed in the events section on this website.

The French Farm site is one of five sites around Thorney where planning permission has been granted or is being sought in order to build wind turbines. To the east of the village, RES is currently building 13 turbines at Wryde Croft and these will be operational at the end of the year.

There are also applications for turbines at Willowhall and Gores Farm to the south and west. These are being considered by Peterborough City Council.

Thorney photo book snapped up!

John Clarke and Margaret Fletcher selling copies of Thorney in Focus in the Rose & Crown.

Thorney in Focus – a new book of photographs of Thorney and surrounding fens sold out within five-and-a-half days of its launch.

“This was beyond our wildest dreams!” said Margaret Fletcher one of the team who produced the book.

For anyone who missed buying a copy, there’s good news – a reprint has been ordered and there are now more books on sale at £22 each.

Copies are available at Ancarig tea rooms, or ring 01733 270634.

The book was inspired by a photographic book of Peterborough and surrounding villages, produced by the city’s civic society and photographic society. John Clark, who worked on that book, helped with Thorney in Focus and the book was designed and produced by Christopher Lane of Artinfusion, which is based in the village.

Michael Sly, Dorothy Halfhide and Margaret Fletcher of the Thorney Society worked on content and Bert Brookes was final proofreader.

Most of the photographs in the book were taken by John Clark, but others were provided by a number of local people, including Morris Spridgeon, Janet Rook, Michael Sly, Michael Stevenson, Kathie Williams, Darren Grigas, Del Millard, Chris Boucher, Sean Riches, Susan Morris, Mary Herdman, Margaret Dewing, Marion Peacock, Margaret Fletcher and Janice Gordon. A number of images were also supplied by the North Level Drainage Board.

The book has a foreword by His Grace Andrew Russell, the 15th Duke of Bedford, who said: “A most impressive work, quite stunning photography.

“I think it’s a wonderful document which completely captures the essence of the village. It made me homesick for the Fens.”

As well as the book itself, people can also buy mounted prints of any published image. These are available from Christopher Lane at in several sizes, mounted. Prices are: 7×5 £4 each or three for £10); A4 £6.50 each (two for £10); A3 £9 each (two for £15).

A spokesman for the Thorney Society said: “An idea, even coupled with enthusiasm, doesn’t guarantee success. This project involved a certain amount of financial commitment and uncertainty, which was taken on board by friends of the Society. It’s lovely to feel that their trust and kindness have been rewarded.

“The generosity of the small team involved were central to the project. Nothing could have been achieved without the huge choice of stunning photographs by John Clarke and the skills of Chris Lane, our graphic designer.

“Nostalgia and curiosity may be encouraging sales, but some of the books have already gone to connections abroad. We hope that people whose family roots are in Thorney will be interested when they make family history enquiries in the future.”

Christopher Lane (of Artinfusion) presents Maurice Spridgeon with a print of Whittlesey Wash, one of Maurice’s photographs for the book.

Christopher Lane (of Artinfusion) presents Morris Spridgeon with a print of Whittlesey Wash, one of Morris’s photographs for the book.

Thorney in Focus is launched at the Christmas Fair at Pigeons Farm. Left to right: Chris Clarke, Michael Sly, John Clarke, Margaret Fletcher, Christopher Lane, Dorothy Halfhide, Susan Morris.

Thorney in Focus is launched at the Christmas Fair at Pigeons Farm. Left to right: Chris Clarke, Michael Sly, John Clarke, Margaret Fletcher, Christopher Lane, Dorothy Halfhide, Susan Morris.

Library to go self-service?

Thorney Library will become part self-service under plans by Peterborough City Council to reduce costs.

The library, in Church Street, is currently open 21 hours per week and is open each day except Sundays and Tuesdays.

Plans put forward by the council will mean the library is open for longer – 25 hours – but it would be staffed for only 10 hours per week. For the rest of the time it would be self-service, with users swiping in using a key card.

It’s not clear whether the current librarian – Jane Ward – will remain in her post.

The plans for Thorney Library are part of a wider plan by the city council to shave more than £350,000 off the costs of running Peterborough libraries.

A council spokesman said the way people were using libraries was changing. More than 90 per cent of book loans are now made using self-service kiosks.

“Library staff now spend much more time helping people to use computers, or supporting groups meeting in libraries, than they do dealing with ‘traditional’ library enquiries. The challenge we face is how to provide an excellent, modern library service, with less money.”

There’s currently a consultation exercise in progress (closing March 20). You can go online to register your views, although the options are to agree to city council proposals or not. There is no other plan apart from the one put forward.

You can read full details of the city council’s plans by clicking here. The link will also provide access to the online survey or you can access it directly by clicking here: survey.

New head at Duke of Bedford

Mrs Bailey

The Duke of Bedford School has a new head teacher – Mrs Cathy Bailey.

Cathy took over at the start of the year, replacing Jackii Crockett who has moved on to St Botolph’s Primary School in Orton Longueville.

This is her first appointment as a head teacher, but she had previously been acting head teacher for two years at Sawtry Junior School.

Cathy was born in Cambridgeshire, but her parents moved to France when she was quite young, so she grew up a fluent French speaker. She returned to the UK to study and decided to go into teaching after graduating.

Cathy is the mother of two sons and lives in Bretton. She spoke to the Thorney Post after a few weeks in her new role:

Q: How are you finding life at the Duke of Bedford School?

A: I am hugely enjoying it! The children and staff have all been very welcoming and I am gradually meeting more and more of our parents who have been very friendly too.

Q: What do you like best about the school?

A: I love the building, with the huge windows in the classrooms and hall, but most of all I love the atmosphere in school which is purposeful and buzzing.

Q: Did you know Thorney before applying for the job as head teacher and what were your first impressions of the village?

A: I used to drive through Thorney when on my way back from the seaside. I always admired the cottages along the main road which are very attractive.

Q: Do you miss France? How often do you go back?

A: I do miss France and my family who still live there. I try to take my boys over there or they visit us here most years.

Q: What made you want to be a teacher? Would you recommend the profession to a young graduate?

A: Teaching is hard work and you have to be committed to it, but in my opinion there is no other job I would rather do.

Q: How do you unwind at the end of a busy week? What are your interests outside school?

A: I generally like to spend time with my family and friends, either going out for a nice meal or staying in and relaxing.

Q: If you were given a £10,000 gift for the school, what would you spend it on?

A: When I’ve been here a little longer I might have different ideas. For now, I think it might be useful to have a roof over the fantastic swimming pool we have, for those rainy summer days!

Q: What would you take as your Desert Island Disc?

A: These days we can compile our own playlists but I suppose that’s not allowed! I don’t think I’d survive for long without Daft Punk.


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