Five farms between Axbridge, Cheddar and Wedmore could have wind turbines by the end of 2008.
Somerset County Council is looking at the possibility of harnessing wind power on the farm estates it owns. The authority’s estate includes 74 farms, 12 bare land holdings and three cottage holdings across the county.
Invitations will shortly be sent out to companies who have registered an interest in working with the council to set up turbines. After evaluating the tenders the council will select a favoured partner in the summer.
The successful bidder will then work with the council to harness wind power and identify the best-suited sites.
The council adopted a wind energy initiative in April 2004, and plans to produce between 11 and 15 per cent of Somerset’s electricity from renewable resources by 2010.
A council spokesman said: “The 74 parcels of land that make up the County Farm Estate are going to be looked at to see what potential they have for wind power.”
“The yellow areas on the map (above) are not areas where wind turbines will be located. If the developer comes back saying that, having checked them all out, none have potential, there will not be any turbines.
“The council is looking at generating around 12MW of total output. This means that, out of those 74 parcels, very few would be in line for a turbine.”
The county also owns farm estates near Mark, West Huntspill and Lympsham.
Chairman of Wedmore Green Group, Steve Mewes, said: “There is always some controversy with wind turbines, but one large one is much more efficient than having smaller ones on individual roofs. It’s not ideal to have wind turbines scattered all over the countryside, but we got used to electricity pylons, so people will get used to turbines.
“One large turbine would be able to provide power for the whole of Wedmore. It’s a small price to pay to help the planet and we all need take responsibility at a local level.”
Rob Vohra, a spokesman for protest group kNOll to windfarm, set up when a firm called Ecotricity revealed plans to build five wind turbines at a site near Brent Knoll, said: “We are surprised that Somerset County Council is pursuing this course of action bearing in mind that Dale Vince, the managing director of Ecotricity, has already concluded that most of the sites earmarked by the council are unsuitable for wind generation.
“We stand by our belief that wind farms should not be sited close to communities or in historical or sensitive areas.”
Somerset County Council will now start the process of selecting a company to work on the wind turbine scheme.
After a study of the earmarked areas, the county council would have to apply for planning permission through Sedgemoor District Council.
If any applications are approved, wind turbines could be built by the end of 2008.
19 April 2007
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