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Opposition blows up around plans for wind farm

Plans to build a wind farm in an East Herts village have stirred up fierce opposition among local people.

R.H. Bott & Sons are looking at developing a three-turbine wind farm on land off High Elms Lane between Watton-At-Stone and Benington.

In January the farm was given the go ahead by East Herts District Council to install a 50-metre high anemometer for 12 months to gather wind speed and direction information.

Planning proposals for the turbines which would generate wind-powered electricity are likely to be submitted in September.

Farmer Andrew Bott, 43, whose family has owned the farmland for more than 100 years, says he first realised he could help the environment through wind power after watching the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth.

Mr Bott told The Herald: “We were quite affected by the film and mates who live nearby had inquired about wind farms and showed me some information on them. We looked into it and found we had a good site for them.”

After discovering their site had the required wind speed and direction as well as access to supply lines, it seems the plans for the site will go to the district council.

The site has had to be surveyed by ecologists and have environmental impact assessments carried out.

Mr Bott, who lives in Benington, said: “The main thing people talk about is the noise. If you exceed the recognised levels you have to switch the turbines off, if they are not working then they have to come down.”

But an action group has formed to oppose the imminent proposals.

Stop Benington Wind Farm committee member Professor Sandra File said: “As well as being a blot on the landscape, the turbines will destroy the essentially rural nature of the area, it will be almost impossible to avoid seeing these turbines.

“This is a popular area for leisure groups from Hertford, Ware and Stevenage. Dog walkers, ramblers, horse riders all come to the area as it is just 10 minutes from those towns and they will also be affected.”

A similar plan for a wind farm near Weston, a few miles north, was submitted to North Herts Council earlier this year, and subsequently withdrawn.

Herts 24

9 August 2007