September 18, 2006

Ramblers join anti-windfarm campaigners

Anti-windfarm campaigners in the Westcountry have gained a powerful new ally as the Ramblers Association prepares to announce its opposition to more turbines.

The walkers’ organisation, which boasts almost 140,000 members across the country, is to issue a policy document next month calling for the government to use other non-fossil energy, including nuclear power.

Christine Elliott, the group’s chief executive, said windfarms were putting a “stranglehold on the landscape.”

Her views have been supported by local members of the group, such as Eileen Linfoot, Devon area secretary for the Ramblers Association.

“We have always had an opposition to large scale windfarms,” she said. “They are all over Devon and Cornwall already and we have to be careful not to spoil the beauty of the landscape. They can be noisy, distracting, cause problems for birds, and can spoil a country scene. Bringing out this policy statement seems like a logical step, but I would like to see support for other renewable energy like hydro-electric and solar panels.”

The opposition of the Ramblers Association to windfarms could anger environmental groups such as Greenpeace, who have traditionally supported windfarms. Good Energy, a South West company which supplies 100 per cent renewable energy to its customers, is calling for more windfarms as part of a range of renewable energy sources.

Company spokesman Hugo House said people had to take responsibility for their demand for energy. “Windfarms play an important role in providing clean sustainable energy and reducing the UK’s dependence on imported power,” he said. “Some people say windfarms spoil the landscape but no power station is going to be beautiful.

“We cannot keep burning coal, as that is driving climate change, which could have a much bigger effect on landscapes in the future unless we increase generation using renewables. As consumers we need to take responsibility for our power in order to retain our beautiful scenery.”

Campaigners in the Westcountry hope the influence of the organisation will be felt here. The Group Against Windfarm Proliferation (GAWP) are fighting against plans to put up five 71 metre high turbines near the village of Otterham in North Cornwall. Chairman Keith Goodenough said he was delighted to have the support of the Ramblers Association. “It is fantastic news,” he said.

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