Town Hall planning officers recommend councillors refuse nine-turbine bid for Podington.
Plans to erect a wind farm featuring nine 125-metre turbines look set to go on hold after planning officers recommended refusing the project.
The proposed wind farm at Airfield Farm, Podington, will be reviewed at a borough council planning meeting on Monday, but seems unlikely to get the go-ahead after being deemed “conspicuous and out of place in the rural landscape”.
Local residents have welcomed the recommendation. Victoria Reeves, of Hinwick, near Podington, said: “The visual impact of the wind farm would have been colossal.”
The £20 million project was first proposed more than two years ago. It would produce 52.8 million kWh of renewable zero-emission electricity per year, according to the developer Nuon Renewables. That would be enough to fuel 11,000 homes ““ almost 20 per cent of homes in Bedford borough.
Planning officers have recommended refusing the project citing five main reasons. They are concerned that it will be conspicuous and out of place in the rural landscape; would have a harmful impact on the living conditions of local residents; would restrict the enjoyment of the countryside; have a harmful impact on the setting of listed building Hinwick Hall; and have a harmful impact on the setting of the ancient monument the Wold Moated Enclosure.
Steve Chambers, of the Campaign to Limit Onshore Windfarm Development (CLOWD), said: “This is a common sense response to a proposal that is deeply insensitive to residents and the countryside. CLOWD has consistently argued that these structures are too big and would overwhelm locals and change the very nature of the landscape ““ without any significant impact in the fight against climate change.”
But the team responsible for the project is still hopeful.
Piers Guy, project manager at Nuon for Airfield Farm, said: “It’s not a foregone conclusion yet and we are still hopeful that councillors will be brave enough to go ahead with this project.
“If they don’t we will have to reassess the situation, by either appealing their decision or amending the project and reapplying for permission.
“Climate change is a global issue which is not going away. People are hoping for a silver bullet answer to the problem which is out of sight and out of mind. But that isn’t going to happen.
“We need to change our culture ““ how we use energy, and how we create it.”
Despite many complaints about the project, Mr Guy says he is still encouraged by the support it has received.
He said: “The argument is not as one-sided as some would have you believe. The committee report states that 982 letters of support have been received against 944 letters of objection. Public opinion on the acceptance of turbines is strongly divided.
“I’m urging everybody to think globally and act locally ““ this is a genuine opportunity to make a real difference.”
By Paul McNamara
8 June 2007
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