Mp’s Column - Care needed to develop homes

I had previously made readers aware that Eric Pickles, our jovial Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had called in the Kingerby wind farm appeal for his own personal determination. Eric has since then informed me that he has decided to call in the much more threatening Hemswell Cliff wind farm to be decided by himself.

The planning committee of West Lindsey District Council heard both sides of the arguments in each of these cases, both from the energy companies proposing to build them and from the numerous local residents who have raised their voices against these ominous skyscrapers. It weighed the evidence fairly and, taking note of the strength of opposition, decided to refuse permission for the wind farm applications. The energy companies have now appealed, seeking the intervention of the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the decisions of local authorities.

Eric’s move is to be welcomed by all those who oppose these wind farms. The fact is we have a much stronger chance of killing these turbines once and for all if the decision is in the hands of the Secretary of State rather than the unelected bureaucrats and civil servants at the Planning Inspectorate. This government has insisted time and time again that, when it comes to planning, decisions must be taken locally.

For that reason I have also written to West Lindsey District Council against the proposed development at Saxilby which seeks to add a significant number of homes to the village, constructed on a Greenfield site which is currently in use as agricultural land. This proposal would constitute a significant addition to the village’s footprint and would put further strain on local roads and infrastructure.

I’ve said time and time again that we must think very carefully before approving large scale developments that may have a significant detrimental effect on the character of and quality of life in our local communities. If we make bad decisions today, their effects will be felt generations later and will be exceptionally difficult to remedy.

It’s all the more important then that we subject these proposals to the greatest level of scrutiny feasibly possible. Luckily, local people tend to have their eye on the situation and both residents and parish councillors have been vocal in their communications to the District Council and when keeping me informed. I hope the planning committee will act cautiously and take into account our views, as they often have in the past.

The prospect of unwise overdevelopment has unfortunately only been exacerbated by the work of the Central Lincolnshire Joint Planning Unit, which combines our policymaking in West Lindsey with the councils in the City of Lincoln and North Kesteven.

Their Draft Core Strategy grossly overestimated the level of expansion and development many of our villages can take, and I understand they have now abandoned that plan. When it comes to overall strategy for homes and jobs, I think we would be wiser to chart our own course here in West Lindsey.

Sir Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsorough