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Wind issue splits vote

Some 150 people packed a public meeting to hear about a wind farm at East Stoke – a “thorny issue” which is dividing the Purbeck community.

The crowd heard arguments for and against the plans for six 125m turbines up at Masters Pit quarry from Infinergy, the green energy company behind the plan, and action group Dorset Against Wind Turbines (Dart).

The meeting, at D’Urberville Hall, Wool, on Monday, was called by East Stoke Parish Council and chaired by Councillor Barry Quinn.

He estimated half of those present were from the parish, which will feel the greatest effects should the scheme get the go ahead.

He said: “I would say the majority of people appeared to be against the development.

“It’s a thorny issue. I think it’s probably a plan which isn’t going to be decided upon in the near term.”

Dart members took an unofficial straw poll at the end of the meeting and counted 94 per cent against the turbines and just eight in support.

Terry Stewart, chairman of Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England, which is working with Dart, said: “There was certainly strong feeling.

“We are extremely glad local residents are facing up to some of the realities of these proposals.”

Will Bond, the landowner who is working with Infinergy on the Alaska Wind Farm project, said: “Obviously I welcome the opportunity to talk to people and hopefully put their minds at rest on the issues raised since the project was first announced.”

Infinergy will be inviting East Stoke councillors and residents to visit Burton Wold wind farm in Kettering on Saturday to see turbines for themselves.

Project manager Herb Lindlahr said: “We say don’t listen to us, don’t listen to the anti-wind farm camp, listen to the turbines and make up your own mind.”

Pro-wind farm group Say Yes to Wind Power launched in Wareham on March 22.

Founder Peter Barker said: “We were overwhelmed by the positive response from the public. I would say 85 to 90 per cent were supportive and in less than two hours we received over 180 signatures of support.”

An application for the wind farm has been submitted to Purbeck District Council.

No date for the decision has been set.

By Juliette Astrup

Bournemouth Echo

2 April 2008