Rural residents worried about plans for a wind farm at a Staffordshire beauty spot remain unconvinced by developers’ reassurances.
Claymoss Properties is currently awaiting the outcome of a planning application to build four wind turbines at Maer Hills, near Newcastle, after dropping plans for an “eco-village” at the site.
The company organised two public exhibitions to inform residents about the scheme, and dispel the “myths” it says are being spread by protesters opposed to the plans.
Members of the Maer Hills Protection Group picketed both exhibitions – at Slater’s Country Inn, in Baldwins Gate, and at Newcastle Library.
They claim to represent the majority of people living around Maer Hills.
But Steve Moors, pictured, managing director of Claymoss and owner of the site, believes most residents are in favour of wind energy and would not object to wind turbines at Maer Hills.
Claymoss had proposed to build a holiday village at the site, with 800 lodges, two hotels and a golf course, but Mr Moors said these plans were now off the table.
He said: “We are just going to build the wind turbines now. We are trying to counteract some of the scare-mongering stories we’re getting from the protesters, who are saying we’re planning a massive housing development. There are no further development plans.
“We have had a few supporters at the exhibitions, but there actually haven’t been that many people attending. We take that as a positive thing, as it shows a lot of people don’t have strong feelings about it.”
Residents who attended the exhibitions could view the plans in detail, pick up leaflets answering common questions, and talk to wind energy and wildlife conservation experts.
Claymoss says the wind speed at the site will allow the four turbines to produce enough energy for 5,000 homes.
The turbines’ maximum height will be 125 metres.
Many of the residents who attended the exhibition were at best sceptical and at worst hostile to the plans.
Robert Birchill, aged 65, of Maer Heath, said: “The proposals are disgraceful. There are better places than Maer Hills to put wind farms.”
Guy Thompson, of Loggerheads, said: “I think the plans are awful. The pictures of what the turbines will look like are a waste of time, because they’re against a white background.”
His wife Pat said: “They’re heavily subsidised and I don’t believe they’re very efficient. They should be built offshore.”
Marie and Albert Sloman, of Loggerheads, said they had not yet made their minds up about the wind farm.
Mrs Sloman, aged 80, said: “We live in Loggerheads, so we won’t be directly affected by it.
“I just wonder whether it’s worth all this trouble just for four wind turbines.”
The application is due to be determined by the borough council in the autumn.
25 July 2008
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