Not one Abbots Bromley resident went on a trip to Scotland to view a wind farm similar to one that could be built in their village.
Ireland-based Airtricity offered to take up to 50 villagers on a visit to its Dalwinton wind farm, near Dumfries.
However, only 14 people – including Airtricity representatives – boarded the coach for the journey.
Visitors from Hanbury, Anslow and Burton went to take in the site – but not one person from Abbots Bromley was there.
Protesters said residents ‘saw through a cynical public relations stunt’.
However, bosses fired back by saying those who failed to show were worried that they would approve of the wind farm.
Protester Martin Horan, of High Trees Farm, in Hobb Lane, whose home will overlook the farm if it gets the green light, said: “I am not surprised on how many people went on the trip.
“I wouldn’t have thought anyone in Abbots Bromley thought favourably of the plans.
“It was a public relations stunt – it could not be anything else. They knew the only people likely to go would be the enthusiasts.
“I think people saw through it and saw it for what it was.”
Peter Davies, who represents Burton on Staffordshire County Council, was one of the few to make the trip to satisfy his curiosity.
He said: “I was impressed by the openness. The site in Scotland has only been generating electricity for about a year or so and it allowed people to see exactly what a wind farm entails.
“It will not be intrusive and I was absolutely amazed by how quiet it was. There was no vibration whatsoever.
“There are so many misconceptions with wind farms and I am disappointed that more people didn’t turn out.”
East Staffordshire Borough Council leader Alex Fox, who is opposing the plan in his role as Bagots ward councillor, said the trip could not demonstrate how a wind farm would impact on the proposed Bagots Park site.
He said: “It really doesn’t matter what people think about a wind farm in Scotland, because this application is for a wind farm in Abbots Bromley and the two sites are completely different.
“It is inappropriate to put eight wind turbines on the Abbots Bromley site.”
Project manager Alex Fornall said: “I am proud that we did what we did. We did the right thing by the community. We gave the opportunity to people to see a real wind farm.”
There are 15 turbines, standing 10 metres taller than those proposed for Abbots Bromley, at the Scotland site, compared to eight in East Staffordshire.
Mr Fornall believes Bromley residents shunned the trip as they were ‘intimidated by the clinical atmosphere surrounding an emotive issue.’
He also told The Mail that those who opposed the plans may not have attended as they were concerned the Scotland site ‘may surprise them.’
The developers are now waiting for a decision – due in autumn – on the proposals to be made by East Staffordshire Borough Council.
If given the go ahead, construction work would begin within six to eight months and would take a year to complete.
By Keith Bull
23 June 2008
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