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Call to arms over wind farm plans

Campaigners against a proposed wind farm are urging people to make their voices heard, as decision day looms for the controversial plan.

A public enquiry will begin on Tuesday to decide the fate of the scheme, which would see four 100-metre wind turbines built on an open hillside near Carsington Water.

The plans were thrown out by Derbyshire Dales District Council in October last year, but the applicant, north Wales-based West Coast Energy, has appealed against the decision.

Representatives of the Protect Carsington and Hopton Action Group, which is campaigning against the scheme, say they have now collected more than 1,000 signatures and 650 independent letters objecting to the wind farm, which they will be presenting at the enquiry.

The group’s leader, Janice Southway, said it was encouraging as many people as possible to attend the meeting to ensure their views were represented.

“People may think ‘it’s going to go through and I can’t make a difference’ but you really can, and if you do object, you can make your voice heard,” she said.

“This particular development has had very little public consultation, and we have been extremely disappointed with the level of engagement from West Coast Energy – despite direct contact from us they have refused to consult with us.

“It’s a public enquiry so anybody who feels strongly either way – for or against – should go along if they want to have their views heard.”

The group says the development would result in noise and vibration, could cause health problems for people living nearby, and would hit tourism by detracting from the visual beauty of the location.

It has been collecting names of people opposed to the scheme from an information stand set up in Carsington village, and via its website at www.protectcarsingtonandhopton.co.uk.

The enquiry coincides with the announcement this week that the government is to push for up to 4,000 new wind turbines to be built by 2020 to help it meet European targets on renewable energy.

However, Ms Southway said her group’s objection was to the specific location of the proposed development and not wind farms in general.

“It’s not wind energy we are objecting to – it’s the site,” she said. “This will have an impact on all sorts of aspects, from the views to the archaeology and ecology of the area.

“We are talking about an area of peace, tranquility and great beauty, and a lot of people would not be happy if this plan went ahead.”

The public enquiry into the scheme is due to be held at the council offices, in Matlock, from Tuesday to Friday next week and the following week.

Anyone wishing to speak at the enquiry is asked to attend on the opening day, from 9.30am onwards, to inform the inspector of how long they wish to speak for. They will then be allocated a slot when they can address the meeting.

By Tim Fletcher

Ashbourne News Telegraph

25 June 2008