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Blowing hot and cold in wind farm debate  

Abbots Bromley Parish Council is set to fight plans for a wind farm on Bagots Park.

The parish council held a meeting for residents to voice their opinions last Friday, February 22.

And it resolved to object to the planning application, for renewable energy company Airtricity, to erect eight 365ft-high wind turbines on the area straddling the Staffordshire Way.

It is the latest development in a longstanding row over the proposal.

In a statement, the parish council cited visual impact, the remains of an ancient glassworks and the threat to wildlife amongst the reasons opposing the plans.

Mark Newstead is chairman of the Abbots Bromley and Marchington Woodlands Wind Farm Action Group. He also objects to the intended turbines.

“Most members of the general public seem to think the more wind farms, the less power stations there will be – but that’s not the case,” he said.

“There’s only sufficient wind for the turbines one day out of three so you need a back-up supply. As much fossil fuel energy must be made, as if there were no wind farms, because the wind is so unpredictable.

“People turn the lights on at home every day, not one in three,” Mr Newstead added.

But Abbots Bromley resident Keith Thompson is in favour of the wind farm. He says the wind farms will still be worthwhile in Staffordshire.

Referring to Airtricity Mr Thompson said: “They’re scientific people, they’re going to have done their homework.”

In November, Airtricity was given permission to erect a 230ft tower for monitoring wind speeds and gathering data. It was granted permission for a second tower last month just as it lodged a full application for the whole project with East Staffordshire Borough Council.

If the wind farm goes ahead, the turbines will stand at a height approximate to the length of the pitch at Villa Park and blade diameter the length of a Boeing 747 aircraft. The action group and parish council believe the farm will not reduce carbon emissions enough to make the potential detrimental effects worthwhile.

“Wind farms are just white elephants – the British government just wants to be seen to be doing something green,” said Mr Newstead.

But Mr Thompson says any noise or loss in property value would be a small price to pay for reducing carbon emissions.

“The parish council keep complaining about property values and noise but they’re not looking at the bigger picture.

“I’ve visited a few wind farms and I don’t think they’re unsightly at all. Most people in the village would barely notice it anyway,” he said.

“There are far worse things to look at – electricity pylons aren’t exactly nice and then there’s Rugeley Power Station, which everyone around here can see,” he added.

Mr Newstead meanwhile remains convinced that land-locked Staffordshire is not the place to find effective, renewable energy.

“Offshore wind farms are alright because they generate more wind.” he said.

“But these things are subsidised to the hilt.”

“I think tidal power should be looked into further, wind is not constant, but the tide is and always will be,” he added.

According to the British Wind Energy Association, wind energy is the most developed and fastest growing energy technology which is why it is favoured above other methods such as tidal power.

Mr Newstead suggested that nuclear energy has its benefits.

“If the government is serious about reducing CO2 emissions, then they’ll have to go nuclear whether they like it or not.”

Nuclear power provides huge amounts of energy from very little fuel and does not emit CO2. Unfortunately, it leaves behind dangerous radioactive waste.

Mr Thompson said: “I have five grandchildren and renewable energy is the way forward for their futures.

“Some people are saying nuclear power would be better – well, that won’t be much fun for them, will it?”

Project manager for Airtricity, Alex Fornal, said: “In our communications to date, we have found that many people are supportive of the development.

“This support is founded on concern about climate change and ensuring security of future energy supplies.

“We recognise that there are some local concerns and will be having ongoing consultation with local people and community groups and will be happy to address any queries they have.”

By Jane Hartwell

Lichfield Mercury

28 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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