OPPOSITION groups against proposals to build wind farms around Gainsborough are urging members of the public to ‘speak out while they still can’.
The move comes after last week’s Standard reported that Lincolnshire County Council was inviting the public to have a say on the future of wind farms.
Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) chiefs say they want to call a halt to the ‘unrestrained spread of wind turbines across Lincolnshire’ and would like to make this their ‘official policy’ with the backing of the public.
However, even if this does become LCC’s policy, 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.
A number of community groups have been set up around Gainsborough in fierce opposition to the development of wind farms in Corringham and Hemswell Cliff.
“If enough people speak up and it becomes clear that the majority of people not only around Gainsborough but in Lincolnshire are against wind farms, then WLDC will have to take notice,” said No To Local Wind Farms chairman Peter Baldwin.
“While they can’t dictate to West Lindsey on their decisions, I’d hope that this would have a massive impact and put pressure on them, especially as members of the Lincolnshire Joint Planning Committee are putting together future planning guidelines.”
“It will be the members of West Lindsey District Council who approve or disapprove these local wind farm applications and they will have to sit up and take notice that the majority of people right across the county are not happy.”
“Whether you’re from near Hemswell or Corringham or not, I would urge anyone to speak out now - there are lots of possibilities of where wind farms could end up around here in the future and it could be near you.”
Planning applications for wind farms under 50Mw are determined by district councils, with the county council as a potential discretionary consultee. Planning applications for wind farms 50Mw and above are determined by the Secretary of State, with the county council as a statutory consultee.
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.”
Lincolnshire County Council leader Coun Martin Hill said: “Although supportive of alternative energy, we do question the efficiency of turbines and their impact on the county’s residents, landscapes and tourism industry.”
He continued: “In June our executive members agreed a set of guidelines we hoped would be taken into consideration by local planning authorities and developers when deciding where to locate new developments. To give these more weight, we now want to turn our stance into an official council policy. However, it’s only right that we should first ask residents their opinion.”
You can have your say at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/windfarms or call 01522 782226.