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Turbine to be debated

Plans which could pave the way for an 85m tall wind turbine on Oxford’s skyline have been ordered to be debated in public.

Oxford City Council has ‘called in’ proposals submitted by Midcounties Co-operative to build a 60m test pole at its headquarters in Botley Road, Oxford.

The Co-op hopes to get planning permission to test wind speeds at the site ahead of installing a wind turbine which will power offices and shops.

The proposed turbine mast would be 60m high with 25m rotors and be near the A34 at Botley Interchange.

The plans for the test pole will now be discussed in public at a meeting of the city council’s central, south and west area committee during the summer.

The plan was called in for debate by city councillor Paul Sargent, who said: “It’s a very important issue and we have to make sure we open up a debate about where it should be put.

“It is correct to say the turbines can be put in urban and rural areas.

“Oxford’s skyline has been protected for many years by planners.

“If it is to be done, I don’t think the city is best served for the decision to be made behind closed doors with officers. It is better if it is discussed in public.

“In general, I support trying to get more energy from renewable sources but we must have a debate about what combinations we use.”

No date has been set for the public hearing but is likely to be held at the monthly council meeting in July or August.

The decision to call in the plan was backed by councillors Tia MacGregor, Claire Kent and Stuart Craft.

Tony Joyce, chairman of the Oxford Civic Society, said: “The important thing is now the application has been submitted, everybody can write in.

“What matters is the comments received by council officers between now and the time the report will be put in front of the committee.”

John Mathias, energy and environment manager for the Midcounties Co-operative, said: “We welcome public consultation and will be happy to work with the city council on whatever is required to help us succeed with our plans to install a wind turbine to the rear of our head office building.

“We would appreciate the opportunity to attend these events and explain why we believe a wind turbine would be beneficial to the environment as well as our business.”

The turbine would be expected to power 75 per cent of all the energy for Co-operative House head office and Motorworld car showroom, both in Botley Road, and the Co-op supermarket in Botley.

By Matt Wilkinson

Oxford Mail

24 May 2007

oxfordmail.net