THOUSANDS of Lincolnshire residents spoke out against wind farms when over 90 per cent voted in opposition in a survey by the County Council.
Now, local opposition groups say that they hope this ‘sends a clear message to West Lindsey District Council’ regarding plans to build wind farms at Hemswell Cliff and Corringham, near Gainsborough.
Just under 4,000 people completed Lincolnshire County Council’s survey, with 89 per cent of people agreeing with the authority’s ‘anti-wind farm’ position. A spokesman said: “Around 63 per cent of people also felt wind farms had no role to play in meeting our energy needs.”
“In a clear message to developers and local planning authorities, 87 per cent of people said the county council’s guidelines should be taken into account when new wind farms are considered.”
Lincs County Council Leader Martin Hill said: “Clearly our residents feel something has to be done about the unrestrained spread of wind turbines across the county. It also looks that, as far as our residents are concerned, the county council is on the right track.”
He continued: “We understand the need for renewable energy. However, we can’t ignore the impact wind farms are having of our beautiful and historic countryside for what appears to be very limited gain.
Coun Hill added: “We need to make sure we balance our need for green energy against inappropriate developments that ruin the very environment we’re trying to protect. We’re confident our guidelines will bring that balance.”
However, despite the result of the county council’s survey, planning applications for wind farms around Gainsborough will still be down to the decisions of West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) - but it is hoped that the weight of public opinion and the county council’s official anti-wind farm stance would put great pressure on WLDC.
Responding to the potential impact of any anti-windfarm policy from the county council, a WLDC spokesman said: “As a planning authority, we are legally bound to make decisions on any planning applications based on their merits and the National Planning Policy Framework.”
Responding to the results, campaign group No To Local Wind Farms chairman Peter Baldwin said: “That’s an incredible majority, but I’m not surprised.”
“This should send a clear message to West Lindsey District Council, but they should already be aware of their constituents’ opinions after receiving thousands of letters of opposition.”
Mr Baldwin added: “Either way, if they needed further confirmation, then they’ve just got it.”
The Standard have also been contacted with a West Lindsey District Councillor with very strong feelings about local wind farm developments.
Wishing to remain anonymous, he said: “Would they ever be built without taxpayers subsidies? I don’t think so.”
He continued: “Hard up families who have seen their energy bills more than double in the past few years are now having to pay big energy company’s who make massive profits money to make more hefty profits, whilst they end up in fuel poverty and severe hardship.”
“The money RWE would give to the people affected by the windfarm is money the local people have already paid in taxes, its like being robbed and then the robber giving you a tenner back and you are expected to be grateful.”
The councillor added: “Green energy is good and can save people lots of money, be kind to the environment and free us of dependency on fuel imported from unstable country’s, but large scale onshore windfarms are not the answer, they are just giant cash point machines for big energy company’s littering our countryside on an industrial scale.”
“It’s environmental vandalism.”
RWE nPower, who submitted the application to build a 10 turbine wind farm at Hemswell Cliff, have said that they would offer a ‘community benefit package’ for the area - aimed at providing ‘a long-term, sustainable and reliable source of income for the local community’.
They say that the Hemswell Cliff wind farm would be built on land 13km east of Gainsborough and would stand up to 126.5m tall. RWE claim that it would be capable of generating up to 25 megawatts of electricity - enough to meet the average annual consumption of 11,600 homes.
A 17 wind turbine farm has been planned by SSE for Brown’s Holt, near Corringham.
A report will now be presented to Lincs County Council’s executive members asking them to endorse a move to make the council’s current position official policy.
If they agree, this will go before the full council on 22nd February for approval.