A firm proposing to build a £24 million wind farm in the countryside near Burton has come under fire for employing an outside consultant to whip up support for the scheme.
Airtricity is proposing to build eight 300ft wind turbines at Bagots Park, near Abbots Bromley, and the international energy firm has been given permission to put up a testing mast on the site.
The company has enlisted the help of John Everett, a Durham-based consultant who runs a website, Promoting Wind Energy, to garner support for its scheme.
So far, more than 200 letters of support have been received by East Staffordshire Borough Council, but Robert Hardwick, who represents the authority’s Crown Ward, in which the mast would be situated, is unconvinced.
He said: “I was a little surprised that Airtricity needed to employ the services of a professional environmental campaigner from outside of the area to try to demonstrate local support for their proposal to site a wind test mast.
“There is a debate to be had, but trying to diminish local people’s genuine concerns with statements like ‘we cannot afford a not-in-my-backyard attitude’ is not helpful – especially when the author comes from Durham.
“It would appear that a lack of wind data available to Airtricity with regard to Bagots Park means that the company will need to put back their application for some time in order to collect their own data to see if they can make the site viable.
“This should give us plenty of time for local informed and balanced debate into the pros and cons of wind energy.”
When contacted by the Mail, Mr Everett declined to comment, saying he needed time to “get his thoughts together”.
Airtricity project manager Alex Fornal was also unavailable for comment yesterday.
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 the turbines would be completely out of proportion to the surrounding countryside, and will be hugely intrusive to anyone living near them.”
By Tom Sloan
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