The world’s most famous white horse hill carving will be the scene of a protest by disgruntled residents, ramblers and dog walkers on Sunday against the creation of a huge wind farm nearby.
Westmill Wind Farm is being built at a former RAF airfield near Swindon, not far from the dramatic 3,000-year-old, 360ft-long Uffington White Horse.
The £5 million green power scheme, hailed a milestone for the industry, involves five 164ft turbines (just a foot smaller than the peak of Nelson’s Column) emerging in the countryside.
Furious Shrivenham resident Joanna Lambert cannot halt the scheme, which was given the go-ahead nearly four years ago after a decade-long battle for approval by environmentally conscious farmer Adam Twine.
But she is keen to rally against what she feels is a desecration of a beautiful area of countryside and is urging like-minded people to voice their protests and to oppose similar schemes.
The 47-year-old feels she cannot stand by and do nothing in the face of the massive turbines which are now going up and will swing into action later this year.
She said: “I was devastated by the effect the turbines have had on our landscape and felt that to weep in private was not enough.
“I am organising this gathering to see if there are other people who feel as sad as me. Of course I would be thrilled if in future other vales are not destroyed and if these turbines were decommissioned and taken down.
“But for the here and now all I would ask is that people who are sad about this issue come together so we can at least be sad together.
“It’s visual vandalism. These huge turbines completely dominate the landscape. The scenery in this beautiful vale has been destroyed. You can see them from the White Horse, which is why I’ve organised the demonstration there.”
The Siemens-built turbines, the blades of which will rise 266ft at full height, will generate 12,000 megawatts of green electricity a year, enough to power a community of 2,500 homes.
Mr Twine, 47, who owns the 450-acre Westmill organic farm at Watchfield, had been battling since the mid- Nineties to create the Swindon area’s first wind farm.
He passionately believes that mankind’s future lies in renewable energy.
“We have to take steps towards combating climate change by exploring a whole range of renewable energy, including wind power,” he said.
To turn his dream into a reality, he linked up with a green power company Energy4All to form the Westmill wind farm co-operative. Such was the overwhelming demand for the £4.4 million of shares, during which people living within 50 miles were give preference, many would-be investors were left disappointed.
However, the plans divided not just local communities but saw green campaigner go against green campaigner.
A vociferous campaign was mounted against the wind farm, which is being built about 700 metres from the nearest houses in the Vale of the White Horse.
Some residents were appalled at the sheer size of the turbines.
The gathering will take place on White Horse Hill, Uffington from 11am on Sunday. For more information Mrs Lambert can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Barry Leighton
31 January 2008
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