HAYES IN THE HOUSE: Protecting our green and pleasant land

John Hayes leads the celebrations as a plan for win turbines at Sutton St Edmund is turned down
John Hayes leads the celebrations as a plan for win turbines at Sutton St Edmund is turned down
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John Keats, the great romantic poet, wrote ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’ and the joy of the English countryside has inspired artists and writers from John Constable to Thomas Hardy.

Here in the Lincolnshire Fens we are fortunate to enjoy big skies and brilliant vistas and though some, on first encounter, don’t grasp the appeal of the Fens’ glorious openness, over time the scale and drama of the place we live in becomes deeply seductive.

Sadly, nowadays there are some who would like to transform our inheritance into a distant memory of a green and pleasant land.

I went into politics to make a difference, so when the Prime Minister appointed me as Energy Minister in 2012, it gave me the chance to do something about wind turbines.

It wasn’t just the costs of onshore wind that concerned me, I was also alarmed that such industrial structures could be forced on communities which, as a recent London School of Economics study confirmed, face falling house prices as developments intruding on the skyline destroy views enjoyed for generations.

Surely, it is time to admit that wind turbines are simply ugly?

As Energy Minister, and subsequently working in 10 Downing Street, I have striven to reduce the threat of this blight on Britain.

Last year the Government issued important new planning guidance to make it easier for communities to resist unwanted wind developments and for councillors to reject them.

This guidance obliges due consideration be given to landscape, topography and cumulative impact and we’ve boosted compensation for those affected.

We have also reduced the excessive subsidies previously given to wind power, responsible for a torrent of opportunistic applications to build turbines in locations where the wind is weak and development makes no economic sense.

This week I was honoured to be voted Environmental Campaigner of the Year, for my efforts to protect our countryside from the blight of onshore wind.

In doing so I gave voice to the millions of people who simply want to protect our landscape from brutal utilitarian structures, so that its beauty can be enjoyed by future generations.