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Mr. Forth: I hope that my hon. Friend has not left the subject of size. For the benefit of us non-metric people, will he please tell us not only the overall diameter of the allegedly small wind turbine that will be positioned on or near a dwelling house, but how high it might have to be? I presume that height and size are important when considering visual and possible sound intrusion. It would be helpful if we could get some of those facts on the record so that people are under no illusions about what the Bill asks us to do.

Mr. Chope: My right hon. Friend asks about height. I am not sure whether I have much information about maximum height. However, I have a picture, which I cannot show hon. Members, but it depicts a 12.5MW biomass plant at a place called Westfield. It resembles the cement works at Westbury. I do not know whether hon. Members are familiar with the big cement works in the countryside at Westbury. It has an enormous chimney, which rises 100 m into the sky, and large warehouse-type buildings, which could, at a guess, be 50 ft to 100 ft high. There is another picture of a smaller, 5 MW plant—the Goosey lodge plant. That resembles a mini version of the Fawley refinery. I hope that that gives some visual impression of what such plant would be like.

Mr. Evans: The applications need to be considered before full planning, but not only for reasons of size,
 
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which is important. We worried about birds, but kids playing in backyards could be affected if the blades are large. There could be a problem, depending on where the equipment was sited. Let us ensure that there are proper rules and regulations. Local authorities can then consider where equipment will be sited. I must—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Is the hon. Gentleman making an intervention or a speech? Perhaps he could bring his remarks to a close.

Mr. Evans: I shall, Madam Deputy Speaker. Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most common problems that we encounter in our surgeries is neighbour disputes? When neighbours cannot—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman has made his point.

Mr. Chope: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. We know that neighbour disputes can end in violence and, indeed, death. I spent some time in a previous Parliament discussing the frustrations that people can experience living on each side of a hedge.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. We do not need to hear about the hon. Gentleman's frustrations in a previous life.

Mr. Hollobone rose—

Mr. Chope: I shall give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Hollobone: We have heard that the diameter of a 400W wind turbine is 1.1m and that that of a 1kW wind turbine is 1.75m. [Interruption.] I do not know whether my hon. Friend has noticed that we are being gesticulated at from the other side of the Chamber. The promoter and seconder of the Bill and the Minister are present. Surely someone can tell us what the diameter of the blades of a 50kW wind turbine would be.

Mr. Chope: I hope that we shall get closer to an answer to that pertinent point. Whatever the size, we know that it will be pretty large—or there may be many wind turbines. That could amount to the same thing. I can envisage that, in order to generate 50kW, one might have to install photovoltaic tiles and erect a fence that was 15ft high and 30ft long next door to one's neighbours.

Mark Lazarowicz : The hon. Gentleman has invited me on a couple of occasions to give my views of what the Bill might allow. Allowing a fence of the size that he outlined or, indeed, a 12.5MW biomass power station to be included under the permitted development orders would not be the desired outcome of the clause. I intend to deal with the matter in my contribution. If he is satisfied with that, perhaps he would be prepared to let other hon. Members respond to his points at an early stage in the debate.

Mr. Chope: That is a helpful point and I look forward to the hon. Gentleman's contribution, to which I shall have the opportunity to respond. I believe that the best way of tackling the problem is by leaving out clause 9.
 
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Clause 9 currently discriminates against installations within the curtilage of a dwelling house, but not buildings that contain one or more flats. I hope that the Minister will deal with that point. If one's neighbour lived in a flat, one would have no worries, but if one's neighbour lived in a bungalow or a detached, semi-detached or terraced house, there are potential problems. My home in London, where I stay during the week, is a terraced house and the impact on my quality of life if my neighbours began installing such equipment in their gardens could be significant.

Mr. Hollobone: If one were in favour of permitted development orders, would not it appear extraordinary if blocks of flats were excluded, because their roofs would be perfect, if one were so minded, for siting a wind turbine to provide efficient energy for the dwellers.

Mr. Chope: Again, my hon. Friend makes an excellent point, which I hope the Minister will tackle. Why are blocks of flats—or houses that are converted into two flats—excluded when ordinary houses with land attached are included? Of course, one can get big converted houses, which stand in substantial plots of land. Under the provisions, they could not take advantage of the permitted development rights, but those living cheek by jowl in small bungalows could.

Amendment No. 13 limits the clause in the sense that

of four factors. The amendment, tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst, would be better than nothing. However, I warn him that the expression "have regard to" is a weak phrase, as we discovered in the challenge to the Government requirements on school admissions. That is why the expression in the Education and Inspections Bill, which had its Second Reading this week, has been tightened.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. We have debated the Education and Inspections Bill. We are now debating the hon. Gentleman's amendment to clause 9.

Mr. Chope: Absolutely, and I was addressing my remarks to the expression "have regard to" in amendment No. 13. That expression has been the subject of judicial decision making. As a consequence of that, I ask my right hon. Friend to think again about whether it goes far enough. One cannot ignore it and proceed as before, as the High Court recently ruled.

Mr. Forth: I plead guilty in that sense, but if we must have the clause—perhaps we will accept my hon. Friend's amendment—one decision that we might have to make, and we will have to make it on the hoof, is whether my modest and perhaps rather ineffectual amendment is at least a gesture in the right direction because it could improve the clause.

Mr. Chope: I certainly agree, but I have another reservation about amendment No. 13. By specifying some factors, it could be taken that others are excluded—for example, the need to safeguard the green belt, to preserve the setting of listed buildings and to protect wildlife, the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans). By not
 
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including those provisions, it might be thought that they are excluded. Perhaps that is a slightly technical, whinging point that it ill behoves me to make, especially in respect of an amendment so ably drafted by my right hon. Friend.

What I like about amendment No. 13 are the specific references to visual amenity, noise and health and safety. We discussed visual amenity quite a lot in this short debate, but noise is a big unknown factor. Nothing in the Bill would limit the use of equipment at night. We know how sensitive our constituents are to night-time noise. I have personal experience of that. We once had a family house quite close to a farm that operated equipment late at night to dry bulbs produced in west Cornwall for the early English spring market. The noise was highly intrusive, but the equipment could run at night under permitted development powers because its use was related to agriculture. There was nothing that a concerned neighbour could do, except to plead with the farmer's common sense and to ask him to limit the use of the machines to daytime or to put in proper noise insulating material.

11.45 am

The other good thing about amendment No. 13 is the reference to health and safety. We are talking about big pieces of generating equipment, which may have quite high voltage, especially if they transfer energy to the national grid. All the electricity poles in my constituency have had little red signs put on them with a yellow marking that says, "This is dangerous", and barbed wire has been put around them to protect them against intruders. Do we expect the equipment to be put on land adjacent to the public highway? How will we ensure that children, vandals and so on do not trespass and endanger their health and safety?


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