On the 19th January 2004, I wrote to the Head of Legal Services at Powys County Council.
“These bridleways are falling into disuse because they are no longer safe for most equestrians. The majority of horses simply will not face noisy wind turbines which also generate flicker. They take flight. Judge Michael Buckley has stated in a recent judgment that these machines “generate noise, visual intrusion and flickering of light and that they are an incursion into the countryside which ruins peace.”
Lord Walker in the Court of Appeal stated “ basically horses will flee in panic when they are frightened – this is common knowledge”. It is also common sense to everybody using these bridleways, save for Powys County Council who have, in my opinion, with the exception of one or two honest Rights of Way Officers, cynically refused to accept the well understood problem.”
This is an extract from my letter to Powys County Council’s Monitoring Officer. It represents an official complaint, dated October 2004.
Public Bridleways Nos. 43 and 105, Near Landinam, Powys
I received advice from Catherine Davies and Mark Chapman, Rights of Way Officers, who suggested that I use discretion as to when I used this route and further that they were aware that some horses were more sensitive than others. Mark Chapman stated in a telephone conversation, confirmed by me on the 15th February 2003, that there was a problem with the noise and visual effects of these turbines and it was at this time that I drew the Council’s attention to the infringement of my rights pursuant to Section 130 para 1 of the 1980 Highways Act.
The Council have a duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of these bridleways. The Council’s actions have abrogated my enjoyment of these bridleways.
The Council must be aware that there is ample evidence to show that equestrians are at risk when riding in close proximity to this machinery. These recommendations are tabulated below:-
- The British Horse Society.
- The Countryside Council for Wales.
- The Countryside Agency.
- The National Assembly, Planning Inspectorate.
- Powys County Council’s Policy E3 Wind Power.
I refer to the original planning decision. I have had some difficulty trying to establish exacting where these turbines are related vis a vis the bridleways. The Council have accepted assurances from the Developers that they have been sited in accordance with the original application. It is probable that the Council do not know where these turbines are located since there is no evidence of any supervisory survey.
Furthermore, the separation distances between the turbines and the bridleways has been deemed to be 80 metres. This criteria was established by the Developer and accepted by the Council on the basis that it was the Developer’s policy to minimizeze the disturbance to horses, especially during start-up. It is surprising that a Council should give a grant of permission for a development for which the applicant acknowledges that an equestrian problem is being created. I cannot find the basis of this policy and I do not believe the Council have any idea what it is either. It was accepted without the Council applying any kind of risk assessment or safety audit. The Council have been seriously negligent.
This Council, its Officers and Members have systematically refused to engage with the equestrian issues raised by myself and many others. They are incapable or unwilling to appreciate equestrian interests, which are seriously affected by the proximity of wind turbines to bridleways.
The Freedom of Inormation Act has revealed evidence which the Council has denied me since October 2002
On the 10th March 2003, Mark Chapman, a Rights of Way Officer, wrote to the Planning Department and stated that he had found one turbine to be only 31.5 metres from the bridleway in total contravention of the planning decision.
On the 9th January 2003, the same Rights of Way Officer wrote to Jeremy Patterson, a solicitor, and Head of Legal Services – “We are aware of the problem in the siting of wind turbines near to rights of way used by equestrians. Several horse riders have reported difficulty at some of Powys wind farms.”
Mark Chapman also wrote on the 25th February 2003 to the Head of Planning Services seeking advice as to how he might solve the problem of the proximity of turbines to bridleways and other rights of way used by equestrians since the proximity of these machines to these routes renders them unusable to some equestrians.
Powys County Council in their preface to the Freedom of Information Act state that they are already honest and open in all that it does and the information it holds. My experience suggests otherwise.