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Wind energy developer faces counter-exhibition  

Passions were running high as an energy company staged an exhibition about its wind farm plans – and protesters responded with their own counter-demonstration outside. Nuon Renewables used Woore Village Hall on Friday and yesterday to set up a display showing local residents how the countryside will look if plans for seven 105-metre-tall turbines are given the go-ahead on farmland near Knighton and Bearstone.

Turbines had been superimposed on to panoramic photographs of the site from various angles, and experts in fields such as noise and visual impact were on hand to answer questions.

The company says its preliminary research is almost complete and it hopes to submit a planning application to Shropshire County Council in September.

But campaigners from local pressure group Vortex massed outside the venue and canvassed the opinions of visitors leaving the exhibition.

Vortex member Roger Wytcherley, aged 55, of Napley Heath, said the majority of people were opposed to the plans.

“Everybody has been very willing to tell us their feelings, and not many are for the wind farm,” he said. “A lot of people say their questions are evaded and washed over. People are most concerned about noise and loss of equity in their houses. People are not buying houses around here because of the threat of the wind farm.

“We’ve lived here for 12 months, but we would not have bought the house if we had known. It’s a £500,000 house, so if prices drop we’re looking at a substantial loss of equity.”

Tony and Shirley Budd, aged 74 and 71, of Norton in Hales, said they had looked at the displays, but had not managed to speak to any officials. Mr Budd said: “There seemed to be an awful lot of waffle and it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t know.

Mrs Budd added: “The turbines are a blot on the landscape. They should put them where there are no people, like off-shore.”

Posters placed by Vortex around the village claimed Nuon had organised the exhibition at short notice and avoided publicising it widely in an attempt to keep opponents to the plans away.

The company has already installed a meteorological mast to gauge wind strength in the area.

Al Hanagan, of Sustainable Relations Ltd., who organised the exhibition, said: “Property prices are a key issue of concern, and naturally so. There is some instability before the planning application, but once it has been accepted prices usually stabilise.”

He said there was no truth in the allegation that Nuon had deliberately tried to keep visitors away from the exhibition through low-key publicity.

“For the last couple of weeks, we have been working flat out to get things done and bring them into the public domain at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

Ahead of the meeting, it distributed 3,300 brochures to householders in the area, outlining the scheme and its environmental benefits.

Karen Holst, who works for Nuon, has been researching the visual impact of the plans and says the firm has already altered them in an attempt to blend in more.

The turbines are expected to generate 32 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity every year, which should meet the energy needs of 6,800 households – saving the equivalent of 27,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to a coal-fired power station.

“We were initially looking at nine turbines but we reduced that down to seven,” she said.

“And the height has been reduced from 120-metres to 105-metres.”

But she admitted it would take more than one exhibition to change the minds of the most ardent opponents.

emily.rawlins@thesentinel.co.uk
09:30 – 01 July 2007
thisisstaffordshire.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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