The energy company behind a controversial, multi-million pound wind farm proposal has denied it would pull the plug on the plans if it missed a Government subsidy deadline.
Airtricity has claimed the Bagot’s Park site, near Abbots Bromley, would still be an economically viable project even if subsidies are cut for onshore wind farms built after 2010.
Project manager Alex Fornall said the site “ticks all the right boxes” for a successful renewable energy scheme.
He said: “There will be a subsidy reduction after 2010, but this does not render Bagot’s Park site unviable.
“There are precious few wind farm sites in the West Midlands, and, even without subsidies, Bagot’s Park would still tick all the right boxes.”
He said he was ‘reasonably confident’ that the 18.4 megawatt wind farm would supply enough electricity to power an estimated 17,000 homes – a figure first mooted in an environmental statement made by Airtricity.
“People need to appreciate that no form of power supply will generate electricity 100 per cent of the time,” he said.
“Often people confuse a resource’s actual output with its potential use. It is a reasonable estimate of the amount of energy it will generate, 17,000 is a reasonable approximate figure. I don’t lose sleep over the viability of wind farms.”
The plans have sparked a storm of controversy among farm owners close to the site, who claim their rural way of life is under threat.
The proposal is also being opposed by East Staffordshire Borough Council leader Alex Fox, who has raised concerns over the impact the wind farm would have on the local heron population – with at least two turbines in the birds’ flight paths.
“We have observed the birds’ activities for two seasons monitoring their behaviour and we would shut down these turbines during the birds’ flight times,” Mr Fornall said.
“These measures would result in energy reductions, but it is a sensible strategy to reduce the risk to the herons.
“We are volunteering to monitor future heron activity at this site over the next year to acquire even better information on when the herons fly across the site.”
Protester Martin Horan, of High Trees Farm, in Hobb Lane, whose home will overlook the farm if it gets the green light, said: “Mr Fornall’s responses are purely spin. It is cavalier disregard for near neighbours to jeopardise the environment with such a huge development based on inadequate data.”
Councillor Fox said: “If they are claiming Bagot’s Park Wind Farm is viable without subsidy, then it is reasonable to conclude any subsidy paid out will just increase their profit margin.”
By Danielle Harrison
27 March 2008
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