Campaigners are renewing their fight against controversial plans for a wind farm in the Derbyshire countryside .
West Coast Energy has appealed against a decision by Derbyshire Dales District Council not to grant it planning permission for four wind turbines on Carsington Pasture.
The Wales-based energy firm says the 330ft turbines would generate enough electricity for 5,500 houses.
But a group of villagers in Carsington, Hopton and Brassington fear they will be too close to homes, with the nearest property only 600m away.
Other concerns centre around noise disruption, the impact on wildlife such as red kites and bats and a potential fall in the number of tourists.
A petition has been started and 750 names added ahead of an eight-day planning inquiry next month. And 400 letters of objection have also been collected.
Janice Southway, from the Protect Carsington and Hopton Action Group, said: “This proposal will not just impact on the three conservation villages but also the millions of visitors who come to enjoy this area.”
In a bid to gather extra signatures, a stand has been set up in Carsington at weekends to inform people about the plans, with 80 per cent of support so far coming from tourists.
More than 50 residents also attended a consultation evening on Wednesday at Carsington and Hopton Primary School to find out more about the proposed turbines.
“We do need to start thinking about alternative energy. We are not against wind farms but this is not the right location,” said campaigner Rebecca Cole-Morgan. “There are lots of other places more suitable.
“We have been accused of being Nimbys and we resent that. It’s not just our backyard, it’s everyone’s backyard. Over a million visitors come to this area every year for its natural beauty.”
The impact of the development on the archaeological importance of Carsington Pastures, and lack of knowledge of mine shafts within the hillside, are other worries.
Steve Salt, planning and development director at West Coast Energy, claimed all of the fears would be discussed in depth at the planning inquiry, which starts on July 1 at Matlock Town Hall.
He said: “There’s an obligation on us to try to address climate change and Derbyshire has a target for renewable energy provision. We are trying to meet that target.
“We believe we have got an appropriate location for a small wind farm site and any issues will be tested at the inquiry.”
The public hearing will be presided over by an official from the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.
More information about the campaign is at www.protectcarsingtonandhopton.co.uk.
13 June 2008
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