Villagers are to meet this week over the latest development in plans to build a £24 million wind farm near Abbots Bromley.
A formal application to construct eight 110 metre (361 feet) high wind turbines has been received by East Staffordshire Borough Council. Last weekend, local people viewed the proposals of natural energy company Airtricity in Church House.
Now an extra meeting of the Parish Council will be held on Friday (February 22) in the village hall at 7.30pm to give the residents of Abbots Bromley the chance to air their own views – and to listen to those of others.
Parish councils in other villages are also being included in the consultation.
Airtricity has meanwhile been given permission for a second temporary 70m anemometry tower to gain additional data about wind speeds on the site of the proposed wind farm.
*A consultation period on the proposals ends on March 6.
Those against the application
Opponents cite a series of objections, including noise, impact on wildlife, danger to aircraft, loss of land value and the effect on the adjacent popular Staffordshire Way footpath.
They are also concerned about the ‘major’ health and safety risk of large turbines near a well used public footpath. Their concerns follow the collapse of two large turbines in other parts of the UK in recent months.
Borough councillor Robert Hardwick, deputy leader for development and regeneration, told the Trader: “This is not some barren wasteland but significant in terms of wildlife and the impact on many people. It is thor-oughly intrusive in a valued landscape”.
He cited a report which says such subsidies are adding £60-70 to the average householders’ bill – and will continue to rise. “We must be sure that we are going to get some meaningful contribution of electricity on this site.
“Moreover, we must be mindful that subsidies that account for up to three fifiths of a wind farm’s income and that are paid for by consumers are well spent.
“With fuel poverty on the increase, those on low incomes and the elder-ly sometimes have to make decisions about putting food on the table or heating their homes.”
Mark Newstead is chairman of the Abbots Bromley and Marchington Woodlands Wind Farm Action Group group. He said: “This development is entirely about making money and although the government initially had good intentions with regard to renewables, the cost in relation to benefit, makes them pointless in lowland areas with poor wind speeds such as Bagot’s Park. The subsidies however, make them attractive to developers and landowners.”
Those for the application
A spokesman for Airtricity told the Trader that the numbers of supporters for the scheme consistently outnumber opponents. He cited an example when, during local exhibitions about the plans, 45 per cent of visitors were in favour, with 40 per cent against and the remainder ‘don’t know’.
He also said that responses to the plan for the latest anemometry tower inclucded 206 letters of support and 168 letters of objection. The previous application received 320 letters of support and 235 against.
Keith Thompson, of Abbots Bromley, who is backing the plans, said he found it hard to understand why people objected to wind farms when the “biggest eyesore he has ever seen” – Rugeley Power Station – is “just down the road”. He said: “This wind farm would be totally out of the way with hardly anyone able to see it. We have Rugeley Power Station burning fossil fuel coming in from abroad. We should therefore should be sponsoring these other sources of power like wind farms as at least they would be under our control.”
He added: “This is a heritage issue. We should be persevering with ‘green’ issues otherwise there won’t be much for our children and grandchildren to inherit.”
The spokesman for Airtricity said those backing the plans saw wind energy as a means of tackling the climate change issue. He added: “It is about securing our energy supplies with people not wanting to become dependent on imported gas and coal.”
He said the plan would also benefit local people in terms of contract opportunities, such as landscaping, as the company would use local firms wherever possible. There would also be a “small number” of operational jobs.
20 February 2008
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