The Government's inability to devise a coherent strategy under which renewable energy projects will be assessed looks more and more shortsighted as the applications continue to roll in – the latest, as we report today, being a wind turbine proposal on an historic battlefield site from the Monmouth Rebellion.
Recent court rulings may offer some guidance to developers and planners. But the lack of a proper national green energy strategy is a recipe for more conflict and more costly planning appeals and legal challenges.
There is hardly an application submitted for a wind turbine or a solar farm that does not spark a protest. West Country-based writer Michael Morpurgo joined with other villagers in and around Iddesleigh in North Devon to register concern about plans for a 145ft high turbine near the community. And this is not a vague protest based around a not-in-my-back-yard point of view that might have been common a few years back. Nowadays campaigners are putting forward cogent and sensibly argued objections on planning grounds, directly related to the specific landscape or community likely to be adversely affected.
Mr Morpurgo, as one may expect, puts it eloquently in his written objection. He writes: "As a result of the recent film and play based upon my book, War Horse, many more people are discovering the unique character of this corner of England, the farming country where Joey grew up before he was taken off as so many farm horses were to the First Word War.
"Such tourism, like the Tarka Trail, is tourism with a gentle footprint… it is not intrusive. However, the proposed wind turbine threatens to despoil the entire area – it will be intrusive to eye and ear, it will disturb the tranquillity and cast a shadow over all who come here, city child or visitor and over those of us who live here and love this place."
This is no knee-jerk Nimby response, just as many other objectors to turbines are not protesting for the sake of it. Nor were others before them aimlessly throwing around objections without thinking through their reasons and constructing a proper argument.
There is still a vociferous group that rejects all green energy projects out of hand. But the more thoughtful and effective response is based on the turbines' specific impact in sensitive locations. That is the issue on which ministers need to be providing guidance, to ensure landscapes that need it and deserve it are protected.
Sensible guidelines for planners also mean we can still hope to make progress in generating enough power to keep the lights on when the fossil fuels run out.