LOS ANGELES, June 12 – The English have a deep love of their green and pleasant land and no desire to see any dark Satanic wind mills dotting it. That message was repeated this week when parishioners in Devon forced the Archdiocese of Exeter to drop plans for construction of six giant wind towers in three local parishes.
The Archdiocese of Exeter has done its level best to promote the use of renewable energy throughout its area of responsibility, even to the point of invoking God in its website postings on green power.
“As a response to dangerous climate change, and as a part of its call to preserve God’s creation and promote justice for all, the Diocese is committed to cutting its carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 in line with the Church of England’s national Shrinking the Footprint campaign,” it said.
“By looking at wind energy, we are being responsible stewards of the land God has given us to look after, for future generations,” said the Archdeacon of Barnstaple, David Gunn-Johnson, referring to plans to put two small wind turbines on three different sites, owned by the church, in north Devon.
“These three projects look to develop two small Gaia 11kW machines per site,” the Archdiocese said. “The Gaia is a small turbine with a hub height of 18m and a total height of 24.8m,” it said, adding that, “It is a very popular machine with rural businesses, farms and properties.”
But apparently the Gaia wind turbine is not as popular as officials thought as angry residents in the parishes of Chittlehampton, East Anstey and Black Torrington voted against the Diocese’s plan to install towers on tenanted farmland it owns.
At an angry meeting in Chittlehampton, reports said that 150 residents voted unanimously to oppose the Diocese’s plans, while similarly vocal meetings took place in the other parishes.
The parishioners’ successful campaign against the wind turbines was condemned by the Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, in a letter read out at church services in the three parishes last Sunday.
Even as he acknowledged that the plans would be dropped, Langrish accused protesters of “outright verbal abuse” and “bullying” at a series of hostile public meetings attended by diocesan representatives.
One can only wonder why the Church tried to impose such a scheme on residents, especially since the British government announced in April that it would be taking a more hostile line to new onshore wind farms after a revolt by more than 100 backbench Tory MPs concerned at the blight on the countryside.
Then, too, a High Court judge recently ruled that the right of people to preserve their landscape is more important than the government’s renewable energy targets. Perhaps the Diocese of Exeter thought a ruling against the government did not apply to the Church.
The people of Devon have been acquainted with wind power for several months now, following the completion of the 22-tower Fullabrook wind facility, which has been described as the largest onshore wind farm in England, generating enough green electricity to meet the needs of 30,000 homes in North Devon.
But even in Devon, there long has been opposition to the plans for wind power – including the Fullabrook wind farm itself. Local government spent hundreds of thousands of pounds fighting the plans, which the Campaign to Protect Rural England said would “destroy the local countryside.”
That’s still the view of local residents who applauded the decision by the Church to withdraw its plans for the wind towers after continued protests. ‘I’m jolly glad they have withdrawn the application,” said Patricia Eva of East Anstey. “It would have spoilt the landscape.”
Others noted the fact that the Church did not consult local residents, many of whom opposed what, essentially, they saw as a business plan. “They did not ask us before this plan was put in,” said resident Kate Ives, who said “the majority of the villagers feel they were only doing it for money.”
Worse, local residents would not have benefitted from the planned £50,000 a year in income. “The money generated will go straight to the Synod,” said one, who added that hard-pressed parishioners recently had to reach into their own pockets to repair the church clock.
BLIGHT ON THE LAND
Proponents of wind power in the U.K. clearly did not reckon on the effect their plans would have on the public, least of all that their towers would be considered a blight on the land – a form of pollution.
Now, they will have to recalibrate their plans for the future or – like the Diocese of Exeter – they won’t have a prayer of succeeding.
© Glamma Productions Inc. 2012