Friday, 24 October 2014

Mega dairies - but not in Nocton

Nocton Dairies Ltd

I remember all too well the ambitious plans for an 8,000 'cow factory' that would have affected our local village for years to come. The topic of the dairy industry dominated my life over many months, until such point when the applicants decided to withdraw their proposals.

The amount of material recorded in the Nocton Blog over the period of the campaign is testament to the considerable time invested by all campaigners, who fought long and hard to influence the local planning authority against the plans.

The specific article 'The battle for the soul of British milk' even refers to our vigorous campaign!

It is clear the UK dairy industry is still facing acute problems. Dairy farmers are under huge pressure, with very low returns that do not even cover their overheads. The industry will need a radical overhaul if it is to continue and survive the competitive world markets.

You may like to revisit some of the blog entries that brought our campaign to an end:

Press Releases

Victory for common sense

Great idea possibly but wrong place... definitely

The battle for the soul of British milk

'The supermarket price wars that let you buy a four-pint carton of milk for one pound are driving farmers out of business. Are American-style mega-dairies the only way for them to survive?'

France's 1,000 cow factory - a second battle of the Somme

'For all France's rhetoric about supporting the small farmer, the authorities are bending legalities to push through the country's biggest dairy farm, writes Evan Jones.'

Collapse of dairy farming could be a rural disaster

'Despite having one of the most efficient production systems in the world, UK dairy farmers are unable to cover their costs and dairy processors are outcompeted by imported products.'

Support for British dairy farmers is vital

'Support for British dairy farmers from the public, processors, retailers and Government is vital since farmgate milk prices have plummeted following the trend on world markets, the NFU has said.'

Dairy industry problems to be discussed in Westminster

'LIZ Truss will meet representatives from the milk processing industry today to discuss the current problems facing the dairy sector.'

The state of the UK dairy industry

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Outline Planning Application - Wellhead Lane

Planning Application: 14/0986/OUT

Following the Parish Council meeting of 21 October, I have been given permission to publish the following correspondence between the Parish Council and North Kesteven District Council:

From: Ian Goldsworthy
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2014 8:59 PM
To: Andrew McDonough
Cc: Kate Tyler ; Nocton Parish Council ; John Money ; Rob Kendrick
Subject: Planning Application 14/0986/OUT - Provison of Affordable Housing on Land at Wellhead Lane, Nocton

Dear Andrew,
Would it be possible, please, to let me have a brief update on the status of this application so that I may let my colleagues know at tomorrow’s Parish Council meeting.

It would appear from the online Planning Portal that amended plans may have been submitted but neither I nor anyone else, it seems, have been able to access the document – continuously receiving a “server problem” message.

As you may be aware, there is a strong level of local opposition to this development as originally proposed and it would be helpful to know the current position.

Many thanks.
Kind regards

Ian Goldsworthy
Vice-chair – Nocton Parish Council

From: Mark Williets
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 10:20 AM
To: Ian Goldsworthy
Cc: Clare Gray
Subject: Planning Application 14/0986/OUT - Provison of Affordable Housing on Land at Wellhead Lane, Nocton

Dear Mr Goldsworthy,
Andrew forwarded me your message.  Firstly, I apologise for the problems you have had using Planning Online.  We do, I regret to say, like many users of the IT package have some bugs in the system which are being addressed.

To ensure that the amended plans you wish to see are viewable, there is a fix we can carry out locally such that the documents you want will be online later today. For your convenience I have asked that you are informed by email of when they will be available.

Again apologies for the problem you have experienced.


Mark Williets
Development Manager
North Kesteven District Council
T: 01529 414155 ext 28296

From: Ian Goldsworthy
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 11:01 AM
To: Mark Williets
Cc: Clare Gray ; Andrew McDonough ; Kate Tyler ; Graham Jones ; MaryAnn (Parish Council) ; Neil Faulkner ; Neil Summers
Subject: Re: Planning Application 14/0986/OUT - Provison of Affordable Housing on Land at Wellhead Lane, Nocton

Dear Mark,
Thank you for your email.

However, in the event that the “fix” does not work and I am not able to access the amended plan (or am out when your colleague’s email arrives) could you please let me know the position regarding this application i.e. what is the main change from the original application and, perhaps more importantly, if it is a material or significant change will the Parish Council (and others) be given an opportunity to make further comments? Obviously, this latter question will not be addressed by being able to view the amended plans. As I have explained to Andy McDonough, there is a significant level of local opposition to the scheme as originally proposed by the applicant and the community needs to be clear as to what is now being proposed. As NKDC have categorised this as a major development the Parish Council are most concerned that the applicant has not sought fit to consult with the village prior to submission of the original application or the amended plan and we are, therefore, very much in the dark as to what is being planned for this part of our village.

Also, can you please let me know when the (new?) application will be considered.

I appreciate that this is short notice given that the Parish Council meets this evening but any information you can provide before then would be most helpful.

I have copied this email to my colleagues on the Parish Council.

Kind regards
Ian Goldsworthy
Vice-chair – Nocton Parish Council

From: Mark Williets
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 12:42 PM
To: 'Ian Goldsworthy'
Cc: Clare Gray ; Andrew McDonough ; Kate Tyler ; Graham Jones ; MaryAnn (Parish Council) ; Neil Faulkner ; Neil Summers ; Steve Watson
Subject: RE: Planning Application 14/0986/OUT - Provison of Affordable Housing on Land at Wellhead Lane, Nocton

Dear Ian,
Thank you for your further queries.  I am told the fix is in place and the files for the application are viewable via Planning Online.  If you experience any difficulty, please let either myself or Clare Gray know.

The amendments are relatively modest.  The application seeks outline permission with all matters reserved so whilst a cul-de-sac is shown and the proposed dwellings arranged around it, the determination rests on whether the site, in principle, is suitable for housing and meets the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the provisions of the Local Plan.  You may be aware that without a 5 year housing land supply this means the NPPF is the document that carries more weight and seeks to promote housing where the presumption in favour of sustainable development is met.

As such, we are not considering the specifics of the layout and house types submitted.
The revisions to the indicative layout pick up comments of the Council’s Tree Officer about the potential for impact on trees and the applicant has chosen to submit a plan which shows areas of block paving and the access road being amended to increase the separation from the trees.

As set out, the determination rests on a matter of principle, is this an appropriate site for residential development, and the amendments do not fundamentally change how we will assess such an application meaning there is no requirement for a re-consultation.  Nonetheless the application remains in the public domain and if the Parish Council and/or residents wish to update or revise their earlier comments we are obliged to consider them.  As it stands, the application will be presented no earlier than the meeting of the Committee on 25 November and we will advise interested parties beforehand setting out the opportunity for public speaking at committee.  If you drop me a line in about 2 weeks time, I should have a better idea of the scheduling for this meeting as, given the current workloads we are experiencing, we are having to manage our agendas carefully.

I appreciate that this is categorised as a major application and there are provisions in the Localism Act that allow directions to be given requiring public consultations on major planning applications.  The Coalition Government have not given directions relating to housing developments so an applicant is at liberty to choose how or if they consult local residents.

I hope these comments are helpful ahead of your meeting tonight.

Yours sincerely

Friday, 17 October 2014

Wind Farm: Nocton Fen

Vattenfall UK

The content below has been reproduced from an e-newsletter received yesterday:

"E-newsletter 9

Vattenfall reduces size of wind development and maintains significant community investment opportunity.

Following the feedback received from local residents during the June engagement events, we have been working with other stakeholders and technical consultants to produce a revised project layout. The new layout has reduced the scheme by more than 10%, and is designed to provide best value to the UK consumer and deliver a substantial community investment opportunity.

Project reduced in size

The changes meant a proposed reduction in the number of turbines from 23 to 20 as well as addressing visual and environmental issues. Turbines have been moved further away from properties and the River Witham as a result of community feedback and technical assessments. The new layout offers more than a 10% reduction in the number of turbines and a reduction in the overall project area by approximately one third.

Retaining local benefit

This multimillion pound investment offers significant potential benefits for the local community and economy to deliver real, long term sustainability. The reduced scheme would still deliver a community fund worth more than £300,000 per year for 25 years of the project lifetime (based on an assumption of 20 x 3MW turbines).

Delivering best value to the British consumer

Delivering energy at the lowest cost to the taxpayer and consumers is an important challenge for government and the whole renewables sector, not just onshore wind. Vattenfall is working hard to reduce the cost of energy from its wind farms.

To provide best value to the UK consumer, the revised scheme retains the originally proposed 149.5m tip height in order to maximise the use of available wind resource, ensuring the scheme can do more with less: less land/fewer turbines; delivering affordable, cost-competitive energy.

Next steps

We will now, alongside our technical consultants, continue assessment work of the potential project impacts. The results will be published as part of the Preliminary Environmental Information in advance of the formal consultation.

Vattenfall will be talking to local stakeholders about the revised scheme in the coming weeks, and expects to publish the revised layout shortly. We will also be providing further information in the coming weeks to address questions raised during the June events, particularly around the potential construction works.

The revised scheme will form a central part of the formal consultation early in 2015 where local residents and other stakeholders will be able to see revised photomontages and 3D models, and have an opportunity to formally comment on the project.

A planning application is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in late 2015.

Exploring opportunities with local residents and businesses

Over the coming months we will be inviting local residents and businesses to workshops in the local area to discuss community investment and business supply-chain opportunities.

Thank you to those residents who have already expressed an interest in getting involved with the work to develop and explore the community investment opportunity – we will be in touch shortly with further information. We are still keen to hear from more residents, so please do let us know if you are interested in shaping the community investment proposals.

If consented, the Nocton Fen wind energy development would offer significant opportunities for local businesses to be part of the extensive supply-chain during the project construction process. We will shortly be starting work with local businesses, business groups and local authorities to explore this opportunity to see how we can best support local businesses to benefit from renewable energy projects in their region."

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wind Farm

UK's wind farm 'folly': Electric bills to soar by £1000 thanks to reliance on wind power

'The green crusade of successive governments is set to double electricity bills for households and cost homes £26billion a year by 2030, it was claimed yesterday.'

Branston solar farm reduced in size

'A solar farm of about 80,000 panels, close to a Lincolnshire village, has been approved. A spokesman for Inazin said they had planned for a larger facility but local power infrastructure could not cope.'

Wind farms outstrip nuclear power

'The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says. The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants.'

Germany's green power surges ahead - at a price that's finally falling

'Germany's transition to a renewable power system is on track, writes Gert Brunekreeft. But it's costing households €218 a year in surcharges, causing voter enthusiasm to wane.'

Taxpayer handouts to fund large-scale solar farms to be axed

'TAXPAYER-funded handouts to subsidise large-scale solar farms are being axed, Environment Secretary Liz Truss announced yesterday.'