Windfarm

Wind turbines can be loved or hated, but in the case of Retford Model Flying Club ( RMFC ) life or death of our flying site. Most flying clubs fight a planning application but our story is from 2 angles, one negotiating with the wind farm company the other fighting for our field.

Wind turbines can be loved or hated, but in the case of Retford Model Flying Club ( RMFC ) life or death of our flying site. Most flying clubs fight a planning application but our story is from 2 angles, one negotiating with the wind farm company the other fighting for our field.
In the summer of 2007 a weather mast was erected about half a mile from our flying site, the club thought it was something to do with the local power station, in early 2008 the true purpose of this mast was revealed when a planning application was submitted to Bassetlaw District Council to erect 12 turbines with a tip to floor height of 780ft and would be the largest on land in the UK.
An EGM was called to discuss the planning application, it was agreed to try and contact the wind farm company as our flying site had planning permission and change of use to recreational use. Prowind Germany was not aware of our existence and after a number of emails they came back with an offer to buy our field. A suitable field was found with all aspects of the sale being linked to PW being successful with the planning application which was passed by BDC. There was an appeal against the wind farm which RMFC expected to be up held, it was announced that the application had been rejected and flying would continue at Leverton. The members had decided to negotiate and it would have been a win- win situation if planning had been granted.

Lightning does strike twice
The phone call came out of the blue, the wind farm situation was back with a planning application for 3 turbines in the area around our flying site. The applicants were not Prowind but a subsidiary Prowind UK (PWUK).

The First thing to do was call an EGM but as our constitution states a 14 day notification but all members were updated by email and any help that was offered was logged. It became evident in later months how important it is to keep a time log as to contacts and action taken. All members attending the EGM were up to speed with what points of action the committee was suggesting . There were 3 options on the table.
1. Do nothing and hope the council would reject the plan
2.Negotiate with PWUK
3. Fight the application
After little debate the result was a resounding victory for option 3 as the chance of a new field had been lost after planning of the original application and it was obvious this new threat would not be so generous due to the number of turbines ( 12 reduced to 3 )
Our problem was that all previous objectors and council committees had not heard anything from RMFC but only that we did not object to the planning application, this time we would fight to save our flying site. A wind farm committee was formed with ideas being logged. We deceided to contact PWUK but all emails to the new company were ignored so our battle plans were formed but as we did not object to the previous application we were at a disadvantage.

After speaking to the BDC planning dept we were aware of a number of issues, we could not object to the fact that we did not like the turbines or that they would be a blot on the landscape. Facts and stratergy win battles. As already mentioned we had changed the use of our field to recreational and had full planning consent, so why should we have to fight to use our field when we were there first. It was made clear that we do not have planning permission for flying in the air space around our field !
Our wind farm committee made a plan as to how to win our battle.

The plan
1. Contact everyone who had an interest in this planning application and arrange meetings with our MP & local county councillor as well as the parish council who we must thank for their help and the BMFA. Steve came along to our meetings and answered a great number of questions and gave reassurance to our members that we could count on BMFA support . The planning dept was very helpful and we treated them as not the enemy to keep information lines open and they kept the club up to speed with the application progression.
2. RMFC ask members to write a letter of objection in their own words as the planning dept decides as to whether a letter is written from a master copy all these letters are deemed to be one objection. In our case we managed 62 letters of objection from club members and friends.
3. Support from other clubs and associations was requested with everyone responding with a letter of objection, thank you to BMFA-UKCAA-GBRCAA-Large Model Ass-British flying Club
4. BDC had a core strategy document outlining the future within Bassetlaw. The report supported keeping recreational areas and if the land was lost it had to be replaced, the wind farm planning application was in conflict with the councils strategy document.
5. The parish council helped us by arranging a detailed report about our sport of model flying and as why these turbines have such a devastating impact on our clubs ability to operate as a model flying club would cease flying at our field. Included was a copy of the BMFA rule book and our club rules as to no fly zones and safe flying areas.
6. Our club researched the wind turbulence patterns and produced a report and map with turbine locations and high lighting the areas where turbulence would be a danger to model aircraft.
7. As our clubs sport model flying is recognised by Sportengland so we tried to make contact but were unsuccessful. Help from our local athletic club allowed us to progress and speak to the SE planning department. We were asked to send all our information regarding the planning application, although our sport is not a main stream sport they were prepared to help. Our flying site is in the same category as water sports and golf courses. After a few days a letter of help arrived SE would also be allowed to speak at any future planning meeting also they should have been consulted about PWUK application as it involved the loss of a sport field.
7. Involve the local press
8. The local community were against the planning application
9. Contact other interested parties such as the ramblers and horse riders using adjacent bridleways and footpaths with may have been lost or moved to allow the turbines to be sited.
10. The RMFC through time report can be viewed on our website www.rmfc.org.uk

BDC planning department were having as much success as RMFC contacting PWUK and by the end of December 2014 the planning application was rejected due to no communication from PWUK.
RMFC is now looking to the future after winning the battle, statery and planning were the key points. The BMFA are there to help but it’s down to members to fight for their clubs survival, we have been fortunate in securing our future after agreeing to move and then fighting for our flying site.

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