Stoke Heights, Milton Keynes

We've submitted a planning application to build a wind park near the village of Stoke Goldington, to the north west of Milton Keynes.

We think the site represents a good location for a wind energy development – adjoining the M1 motorway with good wind speeds, good access and a grid connection.

The submission follows more than a year of on-site studies and environmental research, to ensure our final proposal of 15 turbines brings about the greatest environmental benefit for the least environmental impact (read about the advantages of wind energy).

This is a vital step towards energy independence - securing our future energy needs, from our own local source - the wind.

 

Planning updates

Completion of additional environmental information - 30 November 2012

Following our last blog entry, we have completed the additional environmental information requested by the Local Planning Authority (LPA). This additional information will be assessed by the LPA and we are continuing to work with consultees to ensure that experts in each area are happy with the application.

We hope that the application could be presented to a planning committee early in 2013. Watch this space for more updates next year.

Review of Planning Application and Environmental Statement - 13 April 2012

The Local Authority commissioned a review of our planning application and Environmental Statement. The review by independent consultants agrees with our conclusions on a significant number of issues.  However, it has also resulted in the LPA asking for clarification on a number of points. We hope to be able to submit a response to that request during April 2012.

Addressing concerns at Stoke Heights - 08 August 2011

We’ve been made aware that there are a few concerns locally regarding our Stoke Heights wind park proposals, including from a group called ‘Save Our Salcey’.
 
Although we have not been contacted by the group on any particular issue, we would like to address a few of the concerns (and rumours) that have apparently arisen:

Impact on Salcey Forest

It’s understandable the people may have concerns about the potential impact on Salcey Forest. So it’s worth saying that we have formally consulted with the Forestry Commission, which has not expressed any objections to our plans.

This photomontage image below, created using specialist industry software, shows the ‘before and after’ views from the treetop walk within Salcey Forest, which is 2.4km away from the nearest proposed windmill.

Photomontage showing before and after views of Salcey Forest which are indistinguishable from one another.

This is an unimpaired view across the tops of the trees – the view of the turbines will be significantly reduced from inside the forest at ground level, apart from on the very southern fringe of the forest itself.

The windmills would be around 2km away from the most popular area of Salcey Forest, around the car park, cafe and treetop walk close to the busy M1 motorway, and with mature dense forest in between, we believe it is extremely unlikely that there will be any issue with noise for users of Salcey Forest.

Bridle paths

There has been some suggestion that local bridle paths will be lost if our application is approved. We would like to reassure people that is not the case – in fact, none will be lost and another will be created to the north of the site as an alternative option for riders. Again, we have consulted with the British Horse Society which has no objections to these plans.

Impact on tourism

Studies and experience at existing wind parks has shown that any impact on tourism is likely to be a positive one.

Our own windmill at Swaffham in Norfolk has a viewing platform that has been climbed by more than 50,000 paying visitors since it opened. Our windmill next the M4 motorway at Green Park in Reading has its own visitor centre and guide, which regularly gives tours to local schools and other groups.

If you have any particular queries or would like any further information, please feel free to contact using our details above.

Planning application submitted - 04 July 2011

Following more than a year of on-site studies and environmental research, and three public exhibitions, held recently to discuss the plans with local people we have now submitted our application for the Stoke Heights Wind Park. Milton Keynes Council’s Planning Department has 16 weeks to formally consider the application, which can also be viewed by members of the public at its offices or online at the Milton Keynes Council website.

Public Exhibition - Stoke Goldington Village Hall - 09 May 2011

We were really pleased with the excellent turn out to our exhibitions and thank you to all who took the time to attend. In response to feedback in order to ensure that those people who were not able to attend the previous two events, can come and discuss the proposals we have decided to hold a further event on:

Monday 9th May 2011 at Stoke Goldington Village Hall, High Street, Stoke Goldington from 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

The exhibition will be the same as at the previous two events, with members of the ecotricity team there to discuss the proposal, answer any questions you may have and we would be pleased to hear your views.

Following on from our public consultation we have also gained a greater understanding of local residents concerns. In order to address some of these concerns we have prepared a non technical fact sheet which provides you with some further information:

Preparing to submit a planning application - 25 March 2011

Following the completion of a series of environmental assessments, Ecotricity are now preparing to submit a planning application to build 15 wind turbines.

Prior to submitting an application to Milton Keynes Council we will be holding two public exhibitions about the proposal on the:

Thursday 7th April 2011 at Stoke Goldington Village Hall, High Street, Stoke Goldington from 1.30pm to 6.30pm and;

Friday the 8th April 2011 at Hanslope Village Hall, Newport Road, Hanslope from 1.30pm to 6pm.

Members of the team will be there to discuss the proposal and the Environmental Impact Assessment with local residents, answer any questions you may have and would be pleased to hear your views.  If you are unable to make it please do not hesitate to get in contact directly if you require any information regarding the proposal.  We are aware that wind energy can be a complex subject and at times it can be useful to get a direct answer from the developer involved.

Further research assessments - 28 September 2010

Over the summer we have been carrying out further investigations into the ecological resources on the site. These have now been completed and the results will assist us in finalising the layout.  Also, with the cooperation of neighbouring landowners we have carried out background noise monitoring which will inform our noise impact assessment. 

We are very grateful for this assistance and are confident that this consensual approach to the assessment process will ensure that the amenity of these residents - who could be our future neighbours - will be protected. We will use the information from these studies to help finalise the site layout, and once this has greater definition we will have further discussions with the community and their elected representatives.

Mast approval - 03 March 2010

After over a year in the planning system, our application to temporarily install a wind mast at the site has finally been approved by a Planning Inspector. Remember this was an application for the mast to be on the site for a period of just eighteen months. Had Milton Keynes Council followed Government guidelines, the mast would already be scheduled to come down in about six months time anyway, our project would be much closer to making a positive contribution to carbon emission reduction, and everyone would have saved a significant amount of time and effort. However, we are where we are and we’re satisfied with the eventual outcome.

The Inspector found that the mast would have no risk to aviation safety as had been alleged by the Council and local aviation interests, and that in any event, a minor restriction on the recreational interests of a couple of landowners with a helipad and their own runway shouldn’t stand in the way of a renewable energy development which would have benefits to the wider community and the UK as a whole. So common sense prevailed and we hope that in light of the Inspector’s findings, our proposals for wind turbines on the site will be considered positively and dispassionately as Government guidance says they should.

Stoke Heights Mast Refusal - 21 August 2009

The MK Planning Committee came to a decision on the temporary 70m Mast last night; unfortunately the decision was to refuse the application on the grounds of air safety.

Although the application for the mast is going to appeal, the purpose of last night’s committee was to see what decision the committee would have made without the appeal.
Regrettably the decision was for refusal, although it was quite close with 3 against, 2 for and 1 member abstaining from the vote.

The committee made the decision to refuse on aviation grounds despite the fact that their own council had appointed an independent aviation expert who concluded “a minimal effect on the woodland lodge helipad and a minor effect on the Littlewood airstrip, neither which should preclude the erection of the temporary mast.”

The final outcome of the mast application will now be decided by the Planning Inspectorate through the appeal process.

Stoke Heights Mast Complications - 29 July 2009

We have decided to take the wind mast application to “non determination”. The Council should have made a decision on the 18th March 2009, almost 5 months ago. This takes the decision out of the hands of the local authority and the decision will be made by the Planning Inspectorate.

Mast Application deferred for a second time - 26 June 2009

Disappointingly the Stoke Heights Mast Application was deferred for a second time at Committee last night.

Despite receiving another Planning Officer recommendation for approval and advice from the council’s legal team to approve the application, the decision on the temporary anemometry mast, to monitor wind speeds on the site, will be completed once the Committee has received further independent advice from the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA have already been consulted and have not objected but the Committee require more information from the independent aviation body.

Disappointing delays - 22 May 2009

Unfortunately the Stoke Heights Mast Application was deferred at Committee last night.

Despite receiving a Planning Officer recommendation for approval, the decision on the temporary anemometry mast, to monitor wind speeds on the site, will be completed once the Committee has completed their Site Visit.

Support from Dr Caroline Lucas MEP - 03 April 2009

It's always nice to get some local support, this is what Dr Caroline Lucas MEP had to say about our plans for Stoke Heights.

"Climate change requires urgent and radical action, including massive investment in renewable energy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by generating electricity from the wind, for example, is also a way to create long term, secure jobs in our region, so I am happy to back this proposal for a wind farm in the South East."