Developers blew into town to be met by a storm of protest over contentious plans to build a wind farm on the outskirts of Heath Hayes last Tuesday night, when a former Environmental Health worker dubbed the scheme ‘unsuitable’ for our area.
But despite the expected outcry, some residents supported the application – and Heath Hayes parish council became the first parish council in our area not to object to the development.
Locals met representatives of developers Harworth Power – the subsidiary of UK Coal PLC which hopes to erect three, 200ft wind turbines on land at the former open-cast mining site, Bleak House, which sits between Heath Hayes and Burntwood – at a series of public consultation meetings held across the area last Tuesday night (February 6).
But Ian Parker, Project manager for Harworth Power, said ‘it is simply the fear of the unknown’ that provoked residents’ fears.
Residents of the area flocked to the meeting, held at Heath Hayes Library.
Mr Parker said the turbines were needed as part of a range of ‘clean’ generation sources to create renewable energy to reduce the affect of carbon-based production methods on climate change, and to reduce the energy gap that would be caused with the closure of old power stations.
But some residents were not happy.
“This is the last area of green land around here,” said one resident.
“We implore Cannock Council to have a little bit of respect.”
Another resident said: “There is simply no justification for building this here…there is no purpose.
“And what about the effect this development would have on our house prices?
“We hear all sorts of tales about the amount of noise from these turbines – on a quiet day I believe you would be able to hear them in the town centre, that means that thousands of people would be affected by the sound of these things.”
Residents also expressed concern that if permission was granted for the scheme, the three turbines would not produce enough energy to provide power to very many homes, and would ultimately be a futile development.
But County Councillor Sue Woodward, Cabinet Member, Healthier Communities and Older People, this week urged complainants to be realistic about the proposals.
“What if it does go ahead?” she said. “This isn’t about being defeatist, but about being realistic.
“I want to ensure that if the plan gets approval that very strong conditions on monitoring the site will be imposed, certainly stronger monitoring than happened with the opencase site which did not live up to promises made beforehand.
“I also want to make sure that those communities directly affected – such as Prospect Village, Hazel Slade, Rawnsley, Heath Hayes, Norton Canes and Chase Terrace – will be compensated adequately.”
She also urged residents, whatever their views on the scheme, to make their voices heard and submit their comments to Cannock Chase Council.
But Mike Luckett, who worked for Devon’s Environmental Health before making Wimblebury his home, said: “The site just isn’t suitable (for the development).
“I am fully in favour of wind farms, and the environment and climate change is one issue. But people’s lives are another that’s just as important. This development is about greed, not being green.”
The turbines would have three blades with an overall diameter of 84 metres and their maximum height when the blade is at the top of its revolution will be 102 metres.
Chase Council planning control manager John Heminsley said: “While individual notification letters are being sent to residents, anyone can comment on the plans.
“A decision is likely to be taken by the Council’s Planning Control Committee in March or April.”
By Mike Bradley
14 February 2008
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