Things are heating up regarding the Hemswell Cliff wind farm appeal.
As you are probably aware, West Lindsey District Council very sensibly refused the planning application for a wind farm owing to the very broad and deep-seated opposition which local residents and others expressed. RWE have now launched an appeal seeking to have the decision overturned.
I have written to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, outlining our concerns over the wind farm, pointing out its adverse effect on the local environment, the threat to historical sites nearby, and the high potential of damage to as yet unexcavated archaeological remains. I also pointed out the potential impact on air traffic control, given the proximity of RAF bases and Robin Hood Airport.
Most of all, it is vital that decisions on planning permission for projects of such a high impact be made by local district councils and in alignment with the feeling of local people.
I know Eric is very keen to ensure that local decision-making remains the ordinary practice, and that double-guessing local planning decisions will be the extraordinary exception, not the rule.
In this season of European elections – in addition to the all-important local ones – it’s worth pointing out some of the achievements we’ve made in Europe since the Conservatives entered Government.
You can imagine the vast level of waste produced in Brussels, but the Conservative government has managed to secure from the European Union the first-ever cut in the EU’s long-term budget. This will provide savings of over eight billion pounds to British taxpayers.
We have also ended UK participation in EU bailout funds so that British taxpayers don’t have to pay for the irresponsible decisions made by the governments of countries in the Eurozone.
We even vetoed the EU fiscal treaty because it was bad for businesses in Great Britain and failed to provide a level playing field – the first time ever a British prime minister has vetoed a European Union treaty.
Right now we are in the European Union, and so long as that is the case then a Conservative government will seek to get the best possible deal out of our neighbours on the Continent.
Most of us, however, are certain that our entire relationship with the European Union needs to be comprehensively re-examined and fundamentally altered.
The Government is now pursuing re-negotiation of the terms of our membership, seeking to bring back to Britain powers which the previous government foolishly surrendered to Brussels.
Regardless of the outcome of re-negotiation, we have committed that, should we win the general election next year, the Conservatives will deliver a referendum in 2017 in which British voters can decide whether to stay in the European Union or to leave it.
Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats have made any such commitment, and UKIP is incapable of delivering such a referendum.
We must always remain a free and independent country working for prosperity and peace, and that is what Conservatives are working for.
Sir Edward Leigh
MP for Gainsborough