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Villagers prepare to fight wind farm bid  

Credit:  By Lewis Rudd, The Wokingham Times, www.getwokingham.co.uk 2 November 2010 ~~

Villagers are calling for an assessment of the potential health risks from four wind turbines proposed for Arborfield.

Members of Arborfield Parish Council are planning a public meeting with the applicant, Partnerships for Renewables (PfR), so villagers can debate their issues with the proposal and draw up a list of objections.

Members of Householders Against Rushy Mead (HARM) campaigning against the wind farm have said a full health impact assessment needs to be carried out independently.

PfR has put forward its blueprints for four wind turbines on land at Rushy Mead near Arborfield and Lower Earley following more than two years of data gathering and consultation.

Should planning permission be granted, the University of Reading owned land would have 130-metre tall turbines and produce enough electricity to power around 4,000 homes.

At a meeting of the parish council on Tuesday, October 19, representatives from the PfR explained how the wind farm could save as much as 9,400 tonnes of carbon being used each year.

Marcus Bello, who is part of the development team, told a small gathering of residents who attended the meeting how three turbines would be built to the west of the River Loddon, accessed via a new site entrance in Cutbush Lane.

The fourth, he said, would be installed to the east of the river.

Mr Bello said: “We understand the council will try to make a decision by the end of January next year, which would be at the end of the statutory 16-week consultation process.

“A lot of time and thought has gone into the design and the proposals take into account all the environmental aspects of the site.”

Residents at the meeting strongly believe the wind farm is too close to neighbouring homes, has potential health risks and is not needed.

They also feel a valuable piece of land popular with dog walkers and horse riders would be lost.

Those living in the affected areas continued to learn more about the application and speak with those behind the proposals at three public exhibitions held in Arborfield, Shinfield and Earley last week.

Jan Heard, member of HARM, told The Wokingham Times how protesters feel the application has numerous shortcomings.

She said there is no health impact assessment submitted with the application and there is insufficient information about potential flood risks and a lack of wind speed data.

At the meeting she put forward the idea of the parish council commissioning a health impact assessment to members.

She said: “There is evidence from around the world to show ill health has been caused by wind farms being sited too close to homes, and this was confirmed by a talk given by Dr Chris Hanning, leading expert on sleep deprivation, to HARM earlier this year.

“If we can commission a risk impact assessment it would underline the fact that there isn’t one in the planning application.”

Councillor John Kaiser, parish council chairman, said it would be necessary for an open meeting to be arranged with PfR so representatives and residents can formally put their concerns to the project team.

He also suggested members met with councillors in Shinfield and Earley to discuss the application and draw up even stronger representations.

Cllr Kaiser said: “Planning regulations were designed for people wanting to build a shed in their back garden or a house. They are not designed for wind farms. This is unique.

“These questions, however, do need to be answered, one way or another, and I think for national interests, if anything else, these questions need answering.

“Our part in this process is to ensure the people it affects are given maximum exposure to speak with the people behind it.

“If it is still given planning permission after that then we have done the very best we can.”

Cllr Kaiser added: “It is going to take a lot of hard work, but it is our job as a parish council to represent the people who have strong representations or are saying they are unhappy about this or unhappy about that.”

The deadline for making comments on the proposal has been extended by Wokingham Borough Council to Tuesday, November 30.

Source:  By Lewis Rudd, The Wokingham Times, www.getwokingham.co.uk 2 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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