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Roads to Nowhere

Lincolnshire puts its faith in tarmac not turbines

Sian Berry's picture

7 June 2012: The County Council has voted to restrict wind turbine development while planning new roads all over the countryside.

A30 road by Highways AgencyYesterday, Lincolnshire County Council voted through a policy of not allowing wind turbine development within 2km of any homes or within 10km of a group of more than 10 dwellings (read the news here on the BBC news website and the local Rutland and Stamford Mercury newspaper).

Normally, energy policy isn’t something we would comment on at Campaign for Better Transport, but this does seem a very odd decision when compared with the council’s enthusiasm for building new roads, in which concerns about landscape, views, noise and wildlife habitats don’t seem to be important at all.

Roads have a far greater impact on the countryside than wind turbines. While large turbines can affect the view, and do generate some noise and disturbance to animals, particularly birds and bats, new roads create a much wider range of problems, also disturbing and severing habitats for plants, rodents, foxes, rabbits, frogs and toads, hedgehogs, deer, beetles, snails, butterflies, bees, and many other animals. And of course many millions of animal deaths each year occur on the roads themselves.

And it's not just animals and plants. From a more human perspective we can add to these problems the way new and enlarged roads affect the view, create noise, divert footpaths and bridleways for people enjoying the countryside, cause chemical pollution from water running off the carriageway, air pollution from exhaust emissions, and light pollution to disturb nocturnal creatures and star-gazers alike.

All in all, a policy that restricts turbines while encouraging roads seems a terrible option if preserving the beauty and vitality of the landscape is a priority.

But that’s exactly the position that Lincolnshire has now adopted. Council leader Martin Hill sets out in his most recent message to the county how his hopes for economic recovery rest on a range of bypasses, widenings, link roads and out-of-town business parks. New roads are already planned in the next few years for greenfield sites around Lincoln, Grantham and Spalding, and Boston is clamouring to be next.

This is not a plan for truly sustainable development, based on reducing the need to travel and drive, bringing in smarter transport options and spending less each year on fossil fuels of every kind. Instead it’s a short-sighted and disappointing plan to help lock the county into expensive car dependency at the same time as turning its back on the chance to be a leader in clean energy.