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Surprise as wind farm plan breezes through  

A Parish council has offered ‘no objections’ to the construction of a controversial wind farm near Cannock – despite a storm of protests from angry residents.

Paul KempHeath Hayes and Wimblebury Parish Council heard objections directly from local residents in a public meeting last week over an application to erect wind turbines at the former Bleak House opencast mine site.

But district councillor Chris Collis said he was surprised by the council’s vote, which will now be recommended to the district council.

The application is for the installation of a wind farm with three wind turbines and control building on land east of Wimblebury Road, Heath Hayes.

Cllr Collis told the Mercury this week: “I spoke against the proposals at that meeting, as did the majority of people there.

“I find it difficult to understand how the parish council, which represents the residents, can put it forward with no objections.”

He added: “A couple of residents have spoken to me and they are also surprised at the outcome of this.

“I am not against producing cleaner energy but wind farms have to be in the right place. This one simply isn’t.”

He said ‘if’ the wind farm operates at its optimal speed it would only generate enough electricity for up to 3,400 homes.

“I really do not think it is worth the disruption it will cause,” Cllr Collis added.

And he said he was also concerned that the site itself was in the Green Belt, encroached on a Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and was bordered by an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB).

Other problems feared by residents include noise, affect on house prices and ‘shadow flicker’ when the sun rises and sets casting a shadow from the spinning blades on distant homes.

Mr Mike Luckett, of Brisbane Way, was one of the residents who spoke out at the meeting.

Mr Luckett, a retired environmental health officer, said he was not against wind power – but was against the proposal at Bleak House.

He said there were ‘issues’ with the assessment figures over noise pollution and wind data.

“Cannock Chase District Council should look at these figures carefully. The noise issues are complex and I think they should appoint a noise consultant,” he said.

Mr Luckett also feared that, while current plans showed three wind turbines, power chiefs would want more but ‘would not admit it’.

He said: “Once they get three on there I believe they would go for more, once they have got an established wind farm.”

And he also criticised assessment results from ‘similar’ turbines rather than ‘actual’ units – and said he was concerned that ‘shadow flicker’ was not a priority for wind farm applicants Haworth Power.

Figures show it could affect properties for half-an-hour a day, for a third of the year.

“Visually I am against the application. It is an insult to the residents,” he added.

But parish council chairman Cllr Mick Doody defended the decision of the council and said only 20 residents turned up at the meeting.

“They did not all object to the plans. I feel there is a small minority, and we have got about 8,000 people living in the parish,” he said.

“There would have been a good show of people had there been a lot of objections.

“There are a good many for it.”

He added: “I would rather have a wind farm than one of these nuclear power stations. I think about what happened in Russia that killed all those people.”

He said the vote was 7-1 for the proposals.

The plans will now go to Cannock Chase District Council for consideration.

Lichfield Mercury

14 February 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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