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BBC man's wife leads objectors to Conservative leader's plans

"I love this estate and my objections are purely on aesthetic grounds. I know people will criticise me, but this is not about nimbyism," she said.

With his green credentials and a new brand of caring Conservatism, David Cameron has attempted to bring the winds of change to the nation's politics.

In his own back yard, however, he is encountering some -turbulence.

The Tory leader has been plunged into an embarrassing local council planning dispute by the wife of one of BBC Radio Four's best-known voices.

At issue is the extensive renovation of his new city-centre home, which will include putting a wind turbine on the roof.

Barbara Want, who is married to Nick Clarke, the presenter of The World at One and the Round Britain Quiz, is one of three neighbours on the St Quentin Estate in north Kensington to have objected to his "green" plans.

Ms Want, 43, claims that the turbine, which will rise more than six feet from the chimney stack and will have a diameter of three-feet, will be an "eyesore" and a blight on the Edwardian-era area,

"The generator will be in everyone's eyeline and will be out of sync with the character of the area," she said.

Mr Cameron and his wife, Samantha, are moving to the property from a house nearby because they want more room for their disabled son,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

With his green credentials and a new brand of caring Conservatism, David Cameron has attempted to bring the winds of change to the nation's politics.

In his own back yard, however, he is encountering some -turbulence.
  
The Tory leader has been plunged into an embarrassing local council planning dispute by the wife of one of BBC Radio Four's best-known voices.

At issue is the extensive renovation of his new city-centre home, which will include putting a wind turbine on the roof.

Barbara Want, who is married to Nick Clarke, the presenter of The World at One and the Round Britain Quiz, is one of three neighbours on the St Quentin Estate in north Kensington to have objected to his "green" plans.

Ms Want, 43, claims that the turbine, which will rise more than six feet from the chimney stack and will have a diameter of three-feet, will be an "eyesore" and a blight on the Edwardian-era area,

"The generator will be in everyone's eyeline and will be out of sync with the character of the area," she said.

Mr Cameron and his wife, Samantha, are moving to the property from a house nearby because they want more room for their disabled son, Ivan, and their third child, Arthur, who was born in February.

In an application in Mrs Cameron's name, the family has asked permission from Kensington and Chelsea council to install the turbine and three solar panels on the roof. But from the beginning the plan has been dogged by criticism, with some accusing Mr Cameron of blighting the area with "architectural acne".

Ms Want added: "These turbines cost £2,000. It's irritating that it costs so much to show your green credentials. I've young twins and a husband with cancer. Do you think I've got time to be green?"

Mr Clarke, 58, had his left leg amputated in December after he was diagnosed with a sarcoma tumour, a rare form of cancer.

His wife has also taken issue with the Camerons' plans to excavate a large basement beneath their house, which would become a bedroom for Ivan. What Ms Want objects to is a proposal to include "light wells" - windows at basement level that will be visible from the street.

"I feel for Cameron with his disabled son and his need for space. But I live with a man who is severely disabled and kids of a similar age. There's not one light well on this estate and I don't see why there should be," she said.

Her husband is remaining strictly neutral. "David Cameron sent me a card when I was ill. I'm a political journalist for the BBC. I've had all my political opinions surgically removed," he said.

Local gossip had suggested the objections could be the work of Labour supporters or traditional Conservatives upset at Mr Cameron's modernising of the party.

But Ms Want, a media relations consultant, said: "I've nothing against Cameron. I'm a floating voter, considering voting for him next time."

She and Mr Clarke live with their three-year-old twin sons in a house on an adjoining street and will not be able to see the Camerons' turbine from their home.

 Roof Top Wind Turbine

A turbine like the one the Camerons plan to install 

"I love this estate and my objections are purely on aesthetic grounds. I know people will criticise me, but this is not about nimbyism," she said.

Derek Taylor, a council officer, has visited the property and is compiling a report for a planning committee meeting next month, at which Ms Want will appear.

"My report is probably going to recommend the plans for approval," he said.

Dez O'Neill, a Labour member of the committee, said: "Most Labour councillors would be in broad agreement with Mr Cameron on green issues - more so than some of the Conservatives on the council, in fact."

Wind turbines can cut a household's electricity bill by up to a third. They cost between £1,000 and £8,000 but government grants of up to £5,000 are available and more than 7,000 have been made.

There is currently no uniformity in how councils treat applications for wind turbines, but the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill, which is going through Parliament, should reduce planning obstacles for small-scale projects.

Mr Cameron's plans have supporters and could prompt copycat schemes. Claire Jones, 29, a nanny in a nearby home, said: "We're actually thinking of doing the same thing with our basement."

A 75-year-old woman, who declined to give her name, said: "I was the first person to go and look at the plans. But I've decided not to object. If the turbine is noisy he'll have to take it down because it is about 12 metres from my bed."

By the time renovations are finished the four-bedroom property will have cost the Camerons well over £1 million. The family is expected to move in this autumn.

A spokesman for Mr Cameron said: "There's a system for planning applications and he would not want to stand in the way of anyone wanting to object."


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...

JUN 18 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3094-bbc-man-s-wife-leads-objectors-to-conservative-leader-s-plans
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