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Gillingham votes to reject wind turbines proposal

Emotions ran high at a council meeting in Gillingham on Monday night when proposals for wind turbines at Silton were discussed.

The town council’s development control recommendations committee voted unanimously for plans for four wind turbines at a hill in Silton to be refused and for the decision to be handed over to North Dorset District Council’s development control committee for consideration.

Representatives from action group Save Our Silton (SOS) were present, as well as residents who would live near the development – which is three miles from Gillingham – should proposals go ahead.

More than half a dozen people spoke out against the plans while the applicants, energy company Ecotricity, did not send a representative.

A spokesman for the company said that a representative was unable to attend each of the five parish and town council meetings it had been invited to, but that a planning officer would attend on behalf of the company at an extra-ordinary meeting for Zeals Parish Council at the village hall next Thursday because the parish was closer to the proposed site.

The spokesman added: “We were offered a slot of three minutes to speak at Gillingham Town Council’s meeting and given the level of interest that our proposal has generated, that did not seem sufficient to properly present the facts about our proposal and wind energy in any detail and help address common concerns. We hope that we will be given the opportunity to do this properly next week at Zeals.”

A tearful Debbie Allard, owner of Whistley Farm, said the proposed site was only 800 metres from her property and holiday lodges.

“We are worried about the impact of noise as we are downwind of the site and we will also be in the shadow of the turbines, which will tower over us at a height of 546 feet.

“There has been no official tourism impact study carried out but we have asked our holiday makers what they would think if their view was obscured by turbines and they said that they would choose to go elsewhere.”

Richard Howman of Milton On Stour said that the application should be withdrawn and re-submitted following full consultation between Ecotricity and the MoD. He said that the development would interfere with MoD radar.

The spokesman for Ecotricity said that although the MoD was not considered to be a statutory consultee by North Dorset District Council, it had consulted officials anyway, who had stated that they had no concerns about the proposed site and or potential radar interference.

Local resident Herbie Light said that he had seen no mention of community benefits the wind park might bring.

“Is this purely a money box situation?” he asked.

“The community seems to say that this should not be built – it will not bring anything to local people.”

The spokesman said that at present, there was no government agreement in which wind energy companies could provide other facilities for the community in conjunction with wind park construction.

“Dorset does not generate its own energy, so the wind park is for the county and the country’s greater good. People will benefit from reduced CO2 emissions and from cheap energy bills.

“We have looked into the possibility of providing other facilities for communities where we build wind turbines, but as of yet, this option is not available to us.

“It is difficult, because we wouldn’t want to be perceived as trying to buy people’s silences.”

The extra-ordinary meeting of Zeals Parish Council will take place on Thursday 19th August at 7pm in the village hall.