The Cranes Workshops at Sheepdrove Organic Farm
Wind energy consultation events proved popular and helpful
Taking a very alternative approach to wind energy, Sheepdrove Organic Farm recently held community consultation workshops with a difference. Two cranes were erected to show the maximum heights of a pair of turbines being considered by the business.
“The success of our crane workshops was to demonstrate our ideas in a meaningful way for our working community, neighbours and planning consultees,” announced Jason Ball, the manager responsible for alternative energy and biodiversity.
Range of opinion
“We are especially grateful to all 28 who participated in the community session. Unlike other local proposals, our ideas met with a very balanced range of opinion. Having listened to everyone we must now consider the feedback,” said Mr Ball.
“We can act constructively to satisfy the needs of horse riders, and we will continue to talk with planners and neighbours about other concerns, such as visual impact, the colour of the turbines, and so on, to solve as many issues as possible before an application. Staff resident at the farm will live and work closer to these windmills than anybody, so their opinions are perhaps also important.”
Delegates – including Parish Council representatives and planning officers – praised Sheepdrove Organic Farm for their proactive consultation.
Clare Hardy at Newbury Weekly News reported a qoute from the Lambourn Parish Council chairman, Peter Iveson,”I think putting the cranes up was a good idea…”
“One of the cranes was visible on the skyline from Wantage Road in Lambourn, which could be a problem, but the views from all the other places we went to were OK.”
A member of Childrey Parish Council wrote in the Childrey and Sparsholt newsletter – “Great emphasis has been taken in restricting the impact on the landscape and ecology that wind energy installations would have, especially in view of the siting within an AONB.”
Mr Ball responds, “We are glad that our hard work since 2006 is appreciated. This includes independent landscape, archaeology, bat and bird reports to help us choose between many potential sites. We know of no other cranes days like ours – and we have not yet entered a Planning Application.”
“There’s nothing like seeing something in real life. We took stakeholders to view the locations from a range of viewpoints. Everyone who saw our cranes during the 2 days said they gained a better understanding of the scale and location of the two windmills we wish to install.”
The business, which has won awards for its sustainable conference venue, foods and farming, is situated on open downland. Locations need to be chosen carefully to avoid harm to the landscape character of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The farm aims to make a positive proposal that will be seen as a good example of sustainable development suited to the landscape. The recent wind energy ideas follow a 2006 case study, and consultation with the local authorities since.
“We invite all opinion, positive or negative, at the farm’s blog. The farm will publish a report about the cranes workshop after being checked by independent monitors,” said Jason.
LINK: Please visit the blog’s Wind Energy pages