Protesters fighting plans for a 196ft high wind monitoring mast in a rural community have won a temporary reprieve.
Severn Trent Water won permission to put up the mast at Aston Hall Farm, between the villages of Aston-by-Stone and Burston after a planning appeal.
The company wanted to test wind levels for two years before deciding whether to build three 426ft high wind turbines on the site, midway between the A34 and the Stoke-on-Trent to Stafford railway line.
Now the company says because of the strength of opposition from residents it will delay its plans until 2012. It aims to use the time to find another site in the Midlands.
Campaigner Paul Shaw, chairman of action group STOPstw (Stone and Trent Valley Oppose Severn Trent Water), is not celebrating victory yet.
“I’m not going to class it as a victory. We’re fighting hard and we appreciate Severn Trent’s position. We’ll still be fighting if the company comes back to the site again,” he said.
“I think Severn Trent is hoping that once it gets another site up and operating it will come back and take our villagers to look at it.
“We still feel this is not a suitable site and the local MPs and local authorities agree.
“We’re continuing to fund-raise for a possible legal battle. We’re at £10,000-plus now and shall continue to our target of between £50,000 and £60,000. If it does come to that, we will get the best people to fight it. Severn Trent knows we’re here and will not go away.”
Keith Washington, who lives 600 metres from the site and is secretary of STOPstw, feels the delay just means residents must wait longer for a final decision.
He said: “It’s frustrating that the worst hit people will have to live with it hanging over their heads for another couple of years.
“Severn Trent’s letter to residents suggests the company wants to show people what a turbine will look like but they can’t get permission to build one.
“People are waking up to the idea that there are more logical places to put them – like on mountains or by the sea rather than in the Midlands.
“I honestly believe it’s a numbers game. The more turbines companies get up, the more money they make.”
Stafford Borough Council initially refused to allow the temporary monitoring mast to be built in November last year but, Severn Trent appealed and the decision was overturned by the government Planning Inspectorate.
The successful appeal allows Severn Trent to build the monitoring mast within three years.
Campaigners have been fighting the scheme since plans were revealed, claiming turbine noise could spark tinnitus, sleep disturbance and migraines. They also fear property values could drop and wildlife be disrupted.
A spokesman for Severn Trent said: “In response to concerns raised by the local community we have decided to delay our investigation into Aston Hall Farm until September 2012.
“We plan to establish a wind turbine site at one of the other sites we have been developing which could then be used as a reference site where the community can see and experience a development first hand.”
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