Grantham Journal letter: Eco values

In last week’s Letters page, Lincolnshire County Council scrutiny committee member Coun Colin Davie criticises Conservative Group Leader Linda Neal for being too reliant on officers and not listening to councillors with regard to the provision of wind turbines in South Kesteven District Council.

While Linda Neal is right to point out our obligations as a planning authority, we should look at each case on its own merits. A more proactive approach is needed within SKDC regarding the implementation of renewable energy and identification of our local wildlife sites, the absence of which may result in our district being vulnerable to wind turbine applications.

Wind turbines are only one means by which carbon emissions can be reduced. There are other sources of renewable energy, including solar panels and deep source heat pumps. By identifying which energy resource would be most suitable in each area, the council could help energy providers design the most appropriate energy source.

A more holistic Renewable Energy SPD is required, of which the Wind Turbine SDP is now available for public consultation, would for a part.

SKDC is also the only council in Lincolnshire not signed up to the Lincolnshire Biodiversity Action Plan. As a result SKDC is well behind neighbouring councils when it comes to assessing which of our sites are of ecological value.

There is mounting evidence that bats are particularly vulnerable to wind turbines. The presence of recorded local wildlife sites should affect decisions on the siting of wind turbines but SKDC has few identified.

Neighbouring North Kesteven District Council have 450 local wildlife sites identified. However, the lack of SKDC ecological data has broader ramifications.

When considering the Grantham Area Action Plan, for example, SKDC had minimal holistic information with regards to the specific location of our wildlife habitat and species.

More consideration should have been given to the Southern Quadrant site regarding its comparative ecological importance. Grantham’s special River Witham corridor, currently protected by a belt of agricultural land, will be sandwiched between the new Southern Quadrant development, comprising 4,500 new homes, and a new industrial park.

The fragile ecosystem could be further threatened if a proposed river walk along a narrow strip of land by the former Aveling Barford site goes ahead.

Nick Boles MP and SKDC cabinet member Frances Cartwright welcome this extensive development, which Frances describes in the Journal as being like a “village”.

Her perception is worrying given her decision-making role as a cabinet member. The Southern Quadrant development alone is the size of a town.

Public consultations on SKDC Wind Turbine SDP and Grantham’s Southern Quadrant development are now under way. It is vital that local people do have their say, given the opportunity is here.

Charmaine Morgan

District Coun and Labour Group Leader