The quaint village of Iddesleigh in Devon is best known as the opening setting of War Horse, an acclaimed novel recounting the story of a thoroughbred horse caught up in World War I. But now Iddesleigh is the setting for a very different kind of battle – as the book’s author has gone to war against plans for a giant 250ft wind turbine, which he says is only being erected thanks to “corporate greed”.
Michael Morpurgo,71, has already seen off two previous plans to erect turbines amidst the gentle rolling hills of the Devon countryside where he lives. Now a third application has been submitted, this time for a 250ft behemoth planned for Hawkdown Farm in the neighbouring village of Dowland, which would dominate the landscape for miles around, the Times has reported.
“I am not against wind power per se, wind power is something we need and should be investing in,” Morpurgo said. “This is a question of where you put it and a question of proportion. This is countryside which is not big and grand. The houses tend to be quite low, the churches quite squat with maximum 30ft to 40ft towers, no more than that, and the hills are gentle and rolling and the valleys not deep. It is a gentle landscape. Everything is in proportion.
“The trouble is if you put a 250ft turbine on the top of a hill it dominates everything. Wind turbines are fine if they are in proportion to their surroundings, the problem is when this thing is just like a giant straddling the land.”
Still a patchwork of small farms dotted with sleepy villages and hamlets, the landscape in the district of Torridge, where War Horse was set, had changed little since World War I – until the wind turbines started going up. According to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, 82 have already been erected or given planning permission, whilst a further 34 are in the planning or appeal stages, as is the one at Dowland.
Phillip Bratby, the CPRE’s energy spokesman for Devon, said: “It has really become noticeable over the past couple of years how many of these things there are. They are all different heights and colours with different size blades, and it’s now looking like a wind farm that has been built without any planning at all.”
Morpurgo said that what he really objected to was “corporate greed” passed off as environmentalism. “It has become this money-making concern dressed up by them as something which is going to help the environment, which seems to me to be questionable.
“The vast majority of people in my tiny, tiny community don’t want it. That seems to me almost the biggest argument against it. I don’t like the idea of big business coming in and somehow trying to buy off local democracy.”