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Farmer opts out of wind farm

A farmer has pulled out of plans to site wind turbines on his land as he does not want to profit at his neighbours’ expense.

Steve Ellsmoor was approached by energy firm Nuon Renewables about allowing part of a wind farm on the Staffordshire-Shropshire border to be built on his land.

The 49-year-old, who lives at Dorrington Hall Farm, said he initially considered the proposal, but later pulled out when he began to have doubts about the project.

His comments come ahead of a meeting this week to consider the first part of the plan.

He said: “I showed interest as I didn’t know what was involved. Then people started to worry about property prices and I decided it wasn’t for me.

“I don’t want to make money out of someone else losing money on their property. I have still got to live here.”

He said he also had concerns about how Nuon Renewables was going about the scheme.

He said he had been told by a Scottish wind farm developer who visited the site that it was best practice to make sure the turbines were at least 1,000 metres away from any houses.

Nuon Renewables wants to erect nine wind turbines on land near Knighton and Bearstone and if the plan goes ahead some will be closer than 1,000 metres.

Mr Ellsmoor said: “If you measure 1km from where the turbines will be, there are many houses in that circumference.”

And he said his own farm would be just 800 metres from the turbines.

He said: “I think it’s a scandal that these wind farms can come in so close to people’s houses.

“We could have problems with noise, which could make our property unsaleable.

“I had a valuation done on the farm and if this proposal goes ahead, our property could be worth 15 to 20 per cent less than it is now.

“If you equate that to all the properties in the area there will be millions of pounds knocked off property prices. I am very disturbed about the whole thing.”

He said the landowners who had decided to allow the turbines on their land were under a lot of pressure from villagers who were worried about the scheme.

Mr Ellsmoor said: “They have been offered a lot of money if it goes ahead, and I’m not sure it will.

“At first I thought if it was going to go ahead I might as well look at having them.

“But I wouldn’t like to think anyone else was losing money because of my actions.”

Mr Ellsmoor’s farm, which has sheep, cows and cereals, has been in his family since 1920. It regularly hosts visits for children, including many from schools in the Potteries.

He said: “This puts everything into uncertainty. The wind farm could destroy the area. I’ve been having sleepless nights about it.”

North Shropshire District Council will consider plans to put a mast to measure wind speed on the site at a special meeting on Wednesday in Market Drayton.

It emerged last week that officers at North Shropshire District Council are recommending the proposal for a temporary 50-metre mast be approved, ahead of the full wind farm scheme.

A report to councilors says that despite objections by almost 400 residents and campaigners, and five local authorities, it should be given planning permission. The temporary mast would assess wind speeds.

The report states: “There would be no significant detriment to visual or residential amenities or impact on protected species or sites.”

A spokesman for Nuon Renewables said no firm plans for the wind farm had been drawn up yet.

He said guidelines for how far turbines should be from homes was 500 metres.

The British Wind Energy Associations, in its guidelines for wind farms, does not specify an exact distance.

The Nuon spokesman said: “We are a little bit unfortunate as there has been an awful lot of misinformation about this project. Some of the landowners have felt somewhat intimidated.

“Nuon is looking at a potential wind farm site in that area and fieldwork and research is continuing. But whether an actual proposal will be submitted, we don’t yet know.

“It is still very early days. The mast will help establish what the wind speed is and whether a farm is viable in that area. If the conditions are not suitable, there is no point putting a wind farm up.”

He said he could understand residents’ fears about the project.

The spokesman said: “Property prices falling is an understandable concern. But as I understand it, while people are jumping up and down saying it will affect house prices, it will. But after a period of time, things go back to normal again.”


18 February 2007