Basildon could be swamped by huge unsightly wind turbines if it becomes a guinea pig for renewable energy, a councillor has warned.
Tory councillor John Dornan urged caution as Basildon Council seeks to become a green silicon valley with model low-carbon buildings and renewable energy manufacturers setting up base.
The council’s regeneration arm, Basildon Renaissance Partnership, is working with Renewables East, set up by the Government, to see if the district is suitable for firms to transform the town into one of the country’s green hotspots.
So far, £15,000 has been spent on studies, with more costs in the pipeline.
Morgan Cass, a renewable energy manufacturer, set up base at the former Nevendon Service Station in Honywood Road, Basildon, last September.
Mr Dornan warned being a market leader had its risks.
He said: “I remember when mobile phones were big boxes, but they were the market leader.
“All of a sudden they got smaller and smaller and the market leaders were no more.
“We could end up with huge turbines when the technology advances elsewhere.
“We could also end up with large areas of development we don’t need in Basildon.”
He recommended waiting five years to see how technology progressed and learn from other area’s mistakes.
Simon Hughes, manager of the partnership, said: “We are not looking at developing wind farms, but the manufacturing side, with companies making the equipment.
“With any new industry there is a high level of risk and the employment strategy being carried out will test the market, viability and risk.”
He was challenged after it emerged Mr Cass submitted plans to the council for a 15m wind pump to power its offices last week.
Stephen Hillier, councillor responsible for the environment, raised doubts because most manufacturers had moved away from Basildon.
He was concerned wind turbines on houses could spring up like TV satellite dishes all over the district.
Councillor Stuart Sullivan raised concerns about ongoing costs of the project.
But Carole Randall, of Renewables East, said: “Of course there will be renumeration required, but we are flexible.
“We also have access to a number of funding streams.”
By Jon Austin
28 January 2008
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