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Plans for giant wind turbines near Gillingham rejected by councillors  

Credit:  By Timothy John, Daily Echo, www.bournemouthecho.co.uk 1 March 2011 ~~

Councillors have thrown out an application to build four giant wind turbines close to a village near Gillingham.

Members of North Dorset District Council’s planning committee turned down proposals from green energy firm Ecotricity to put up four 120 metre high turbines near the village of Silton for 25 years.

They said the stated energy producing benefits of the turbines would not outweigh the detrimental impact they would have on the area.

Some 400 placard-waving protesters were at Gillingham’s Riversmeet leisure centre to make their point as councillors arrived at the day long meeting.

Speaking afterwards, Chris Langham, chairman of Save Our Silton, hailed the verdict as a victory for “people power”.

“If people hadn’t been so passionate and so articulate the application may have gone through,” he said.

“Until the system of subsidy changes, companies like Ecotricity won’t give up. The cost of the planning application is small beer compared to the proceeds.

“Take out the subsidy, and there wouldn’t be a single onshore wind farm in this country, except perhaps in the north of Scotland,” he said.

Speaker after speaker had denounced the proposal. Lucy Baxter, 24, said a debilitating neurological condition had forced her to move home to Slait Farm – just 671 metres from the site of the closest turbine.

She said the noise of the turbines would deprive her of sleep and urged councillors: “Think about how these turbines will affect people like me and see if you think they are truly worth it.”

But Anna Baker, 36, spoke on behalf of a 680-strong Facebook group to support the application, describing turbines as “awe-inspiring” and arguing that wind farms would become “a fact of life”.

“This technology and this site is not perfect, but we need to start taking steps in the right direction,” she said.

Andrew Muir, planning manager at Ecotricity, said: “While there will be impacts on the environment these have to be balanced against renewable energy development.”

The Daily Echo understands the council has set aside a sum of £40,000 in its capital budget to contest any appeal from Ecotricity.

Councillors will meet again on Tuesday March 15 to agree the precise wording of the refusal.

Ecotricity spokesman Mike Cheshire said in a statement afterwards: “It’s disappointing that North Dorset District councillors seem set on rejecting new sources of green energy for Dorset.

“This means Dorset is still one of the only counties in England completely reliant on other parts of the country to keep its lights on, with no major source of energy of its own.

“The decision goes against the council’s own planning officer advice, which deemed the site a good one for wind energy and a crucial contributor towards the renewable energy targets Dorset has set itself. If we decide to appeal, this could mean a great deal of wasted time and money for both us and the council.”

Source:  By Timothy John, Daily Echo, www.bournemouthecho.co.uk 1 March 2011

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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