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North Devon villagers oppose Scottish Power wind farm

A packed public meeting in Halwill this week sent out a unanimous message to windfarm developers – keep out of Devon.

The meeting at the Halwill Junction Village Hall on Monday saw more than 200 angry locals turn out to oppose plans for a wind farm at the nearby Chilla Moor site.

National energy company Scottish Power are looking at the possibility of installing 15 turbines at the site, measuring around 400ft high.

The meeting was chaired by Dr Harry Riches, a local retired consultant physician, who opened the meeting by saying: “Renewable energy projects are entirely acceptable provided they do not have adverse effects on local residents or degrade the local environment.”

Dr Riches went on to outline the general problems associated with turbines, particularly noise, that could affect many residents and visitors and the health problems that he believes can also arise.

He said: “I am particularly concerned about the close proximity of the enormous turbines to the Burdon Grange Nursing Home for the young disabled.

“The site will also have a negative effect on the visual amenities of the landscape and this could discourage tourism and depress property values.”

There were also contributions from several other speakers, including Bob Barfoot of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Gary Jennings and Angela French from the Parkham Parish Conservation Association, and Paul Mills, an energy consultant, who stressed the negative effects such a development could have on the local economy.

Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, was not available to attend the meeting but assured local people his support to their campaign.

Mr Cox said: “I have had a visit from the heads of all the local parish councils and promised them that I will be strongly supporting their opposition to these turbines.

“I am a firm believer in the need to combat climate change and even have solar panels installed on my own home.

“However, I strongly believe that onshore wind farms, such as the one proposed at Chilla Moor, are the wrong solution to our green energy problems and that they also do damage to rural communities and the economy.”

Mr Cox also believes that large, commercial wind farms could pose a bigger threat to the future of sustainable energy.

He said: “The only reason the Government is pursuing these wind turbines is because it has failed to invest in appropriate green energy.

“I think that large wind turbines will put the public off the whole idea of combating climate change which could be disastrous.

“The Government has chosen a very negative way of going about this.”

A spokesman from Scottish Power Renewables said: “At this stage it is nothing more than a potential project.

“We have made initial contact with the land owners but the project is still in its very early stages.

“We have a very good track record of being open with our projects and consulting the public is a big part of this.”

Crowds at the meeting at Halwill voted unanimously to oppose the wind farm at Chilla Moor and an opposition committee is in the process of being formed.

Protestors are also planning to launch a giant balloon in early August which will be tethered at the height of the proposed turbines to illustrate their concerns.

Joel Cooper

Western Morning News

3 July 2008