An Abbots Bromley beauty spot faces another fight for survival after proposals to turn it into a £24million wind farm were announced last week – the third time in as many years.
Energy company Airtricity is set to submit an application to build ‘up to’ eight 350ft-high turbines on the Bagot’s Park Estate, north of the village.The news comes two years after ABEnergy Ltd retracted their plans for a similar scheme which were met with fierce opposition from villagers.
The multi-million pound project, which would take a year to develop, could create up to 25 new jobs and generate enough electricity to power around 10,000 homes, according to Airtricity.
But the latest proposals have once again been met with disapproval from locals.
Ward councillor Alex Fox told the Mercury: “I’ve not had one person come up to me to say that they’re in favour of it. There are a lot of people against it.
“I’m against any development of a wind farm on this scale – not just in my ward but in East Staffordshire.
“This is an exceptionally attractive, pretty area, the highest point in East Staffordshire and these wind turbines, some 400ft high, will be seen from every corner.
“This is a densely populated rural area and it will be a serious inconvenience – value of properties is going to drop.”
Cllr Fox also revealed that the wind farm’s sustainability is ‘not proven’ with previous plans failing because the quality of wind was ‘not good enough’ for turbines to function ’24 hours a day, 365 days a year’, with only ’60 per cent efficiency’.
The site, pinpointed by Airtricity because of its ‘good wind speeds’, has been at the centre of controversy for the past three years.
Back in 2004, Powergen aired plans to site seven 100ft-high turbines on the land, but, in a U-turn, did not submit an application.
Later that year, ABEnergy of Gloucester wanted to erect seven turbines, at a cost of £12 million.
But the company later retracted its plans to ‘alleviate council time pressures’, it claimed, and not in response to the mounting opposition it faced from local residents and civic leaders.
Now Airtricity’s plans to revive such a development have been put to the public in a number of consultations, including one at Abbots Bromley Village Hall this week, following ‘many months’ of work on the plans.
Mark Newstead, a member of the Abbots Bromley and Marchington Woodlands Wind Farm Action Group, said: “Local people have now seen through the green veneer of the wind industry and now know this is more about making money than creating energy.
“It has nothing to do with philanthropy, it’s politics and profit and nothing more.
“It’s a rural area and they would be completely out of proportion to the surrounding countryside and will be hugely intrusive to anyone living near them.”
Feedback from the public consultations will be used to finalise Airtricity’s application before submitting it to East Staffordshire Borough Council.
By Helen Draycott
13 September 2007
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