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Burnham protesters express anger over wind farm firm’s ‘tactics’

Protesters fighting energy firm Ecotricity’s controversial plans to build a new wind farm near Burnham-On-Sea have expressed their concern at the ‘tactics’ being used by the firm after it lodged its formal planning application this week.

Ecotricity’s plans for the Black Ditch site outside East Huntspill have been slightly amended to include four turbines instead of five, but a second firm, EDF, still wants to build additional turbines at the site – as shown in the protesters’ photo montage above.

John Wakefield from the West Huntspill Wind Farm Action Group this week questioned the timing of Ecotricity submitting its planning application to Sedgemoor District Council so close to Christmas.

He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We have been awaiting the planning application from Ecotricity for some time and are not surprised they have chosen to put it in so close to Christmas in order to gain maximum advantage of holidays and distractions away from matters that would normally take priority. These are exactly the sort of tactics these companies take to maximise their chances of success to fill the pockets of their shareholders.”

His comments came as Ecotricity this week appealed to the ‘silent majority’ to speak up and send positive feedback about the proposals to the district council.

But Mr Wakefield said: “It is ironic that this multi-million pound company appeal to the ‘silent majority’ to support them when it’s very likely those very same people do not realise that they are funding the profits of companies like Ecotricity in overpayments to their electricity bills.”

“About £84 per year from every electricity bill payer goes towards the subsidies that pay for these inefficient machines which, by Ecotricity’s own admission, would not be otherwise built as they are not economically viable.”

West Huntspill resident Julie Trott added: “I wish to pass on my objections to the proposed wind farms in the inappropriate locations at West and East Huntspill in Somerset. My objections are not just personal but are based on my knowledge of the use of wind turbines researched over a considerable period.”

“My home is approx 650m from the proposed wind farm at West Huntspill. I have lived in the area for over 25 years and I am very concerned that my family and I will suffer from the effects of noise through sleep deprivation, shadow flicker and loss of residential amenity.”

“The turbines would completely dominate not only the local area but the region as whole to the detriment of those who live in the locality and visitors to the area. The location of the proposed turbines will make them the tallest and some of the most visible man-made structures in Somerset.”

But Dale Vince, founder and MD of Ecotricity, said: “We’re very pleased to finally be submitting this project for planning approval. During the consultation phase we’ve listened carefully to the views of local people and as a result we’ve reduced our proposals from the original five windmills to four. By doing this we will ensure these windmills are good neighbours for people and wildlife.”

“At the same time, this project will still make a vital contribution to the provision of clean energy in Somerset, which currently has just one windmill in the whole county. The four we propose will be able to power more than 6,700 local homes each year – this is equivalent to more than 15% of the households within Sedgemoor District.”

“We hope that the council will recognise the real need to develop good sources of local clean energy and that the planning committee in particular will reflect that the vast majority of people wish to see developments such as this – and that those people the committee does hear from on this will be a tiny, but very vocal minority.”