An action group has been formed to fight plans to build two large wind turbines close to Castle Cary.
Two separate schemes to erect green energy plants at Ansford Community School and on a site between Pitcombe and Hadspen have been proposed, although final plans have yet to be submitted.
Somerset county councillor Henry Hobhouse’s plans to build a 100-meter turbine on a site close to his Hadspen home met with an angry response when discussed at a public meeting last month.
Mr Hobhouse invited residents to consider investing in the £450,000 scheme, which he believes would meet one third of their energy needs and help to fight global warming.
In September, Ansford Community School head teacher Robert Benzie briefed Ansford Parish Council on plans to build a 44-metre turbine on the school grounds.
The schemes have infuriated a group of residents, who believe the large turbines would not generate enough energy to justify their impact on the surrounding landscape, property prices and their quality of life.
Action group spokesman Alan Whittaker said: “We don’t want a turbine stuck right on top of the valley ““ it would be seen for miles. There are better places to do it than here.
“Although people claim they don’t make a noise, we have been told we would suffer. This sort of thing has an impact on property prices and we expect it would decrease the value of our homes.”
Mr Whittaker explained that the action group is consulting experts to find out exactly how efficient wind turbines are.
“We want to know everything there is to know about wind turbines,” he said.
“All of us who are opposing the plans are green but it depends on how you define green. People really seem to lack knowledge in this sort of thing and just support anything that they presume is green.”
“We know enough about wind turbines to say they don’t provide a sufficient answer in a sensitive part of the countryside.”
Mr Hobhouse is so concerned about global warming that he is also planning to build a small-scale methane plant to provide hot water and electricity for his home.
“The main problem with wind turbines is that people don’t like the look of them,” he said.
“When it comes to the environmental impact of energy production, we are on the Titanic, we have hit the iceberg and we are going down. We shouldn’t be worrying about what sort of life raft we are getting on.
“We need to do something and we need to do it now. The world just can’t cope anymore.”
Mr Hobhouse explained that he had hoped to provide a community solution. As well as providing electricity for local homes, the money residents invested in the turbine would be turned into shares and would ultimately generate cash from clean energy incentives.
“It is time that people started to realise the importance of local energy production. We are miles behind the rest of Europe when it comes to this sort of thing,” he added.
Mr Benzie was not available for comment although the school has stated in the past that it believes plans for a “silent running” turbine to cater for its energy needs would set a good example about the importance of the environment.
Ansford Parish Council chairman Jeanette Cronie said she believed the majority of local people supported plans to generate electricity with a wind turbine at the school.
“Green energy is the way forward and we need to encourage it,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it is always the people who are against these things who make the most noise.”
The action group is holding a public meeting in Hadspen Village Hall at 7pm on Friday 9th March.
By Matthew Manning
23 February 2007
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