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Article for the News & Crier: Wind Farms, Hinchingbrooke and ‘New Abbotsley’

18th June 2014

If we are to protect Britain's energy security, cut emissions and ensure long-term, affordable energy supplies, renewable sources, such as wind, in conjunction with non-renewable types like nuclear, gas and carbon capture and storage, will all form important components of our future energy requirements. Renewable wind energy already plays a role in this balanced energy strategy, and now delivers power to four million homes across the country. Under this government’s plans, it will deliver power to three million more houses by 2020.

However, while wind farms play an important role in supporting our renewable energy needs, I do appreciate that they cause considerable consternation for many local communities, and I share many of the concerns that local residents have had about the overdevelopment of onshore wind farms in Huntingdonshire.

I have consistently supported those communities where constituents have had reason to oppose proposed plans for wind farm developments. This has included my support in opposition to wind farms in Catworth, Graveley, Woolley, Kimbolton, Hemingford Grey, Buckden, Perry and Southoe. We have, however, also seen how in the past local decisions against wind farm developments have been overturned on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

This is why I welcomed the recent announcement that the next Conservative Government will change the planning system so that any future wind farm developments must be approved by the local council. The combination of this new national planning policy and councils’ own Local Plans will allow councils to prevent unsuitable development which harms the landscape or heritage. The Government has already taken action to give local communities more say on wind farms through updated planning guidance, and ministers have ensured that local people are consulted earlier and have more say so that only appropriately sited developments proceed.

There are now enough planned taxpayer funded onshore wind farms to meet our renewable energy commitments, and ensure a balanced and secure energy market for future generations. That is why the next Conservative Government will end any additional bill payer subsidy for onshore wind, and give our local councils the decisive say on any new wind farms. The energy bills of hardworking families will not rise as a result of this policy.

Last month saw the welcome announcement that Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust has been named the ‘best Trust in England for quality of care’ at the 25th annual CHKS awards in London. The awards rank all healthcare providers within the United Kingdom, with an expert panel judging on 12 key medical indicators ranging from mortality rates to how long patients had to remain in hospital after treatment. Hinchingbrooke was the only small hospital to make it onto the final shortlist for the quality of care award, beating off fierce competition from national Foundation Trusts such as Chelsea and Westminster. This is excellent recognition for the impressive and significant transformation that has taken place at Hinchingbrooke since Circle started their contract.

From my visits to the hospital and from what I hear from constituents, it is fantastic to see the high levels and quality of care that are being delivered by Hinchingbrooke and the dedicated team working there on a day to day basis. It is great to see the hard work of all the doctors, nurses and staff being recognised and applauded.

Many readers will have seen the recent proposals for ‘New Abbotsley’. Until this competition entry had been announced neither I nor Abbotsley Parish Council nor Huntingdonshire District Council had any knowledge of the plans prepared to create a garden city, in or around Abbotsley, of some 85,000 new homes.

From my investigations, it would seem as though this proposal is unlikely to go anywhere.

Having said that, I along with everyone who I have spoken to would be totally opposed to such a proposal. To make this feeling quite clear, I have started a petition which you may wish to sign up to by going to: www.jonathandjanogly.com/abbotsley-garden-city-petition

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