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Campaigners in Stinchcombe condemn wind turbine offer from Ecotricity

Campaigners have dubbed an offer of money from a green energy firm to compensate communities living with wind turbines as “laughable” and said they regarded it with contempt.

Ecotricity, which proposes to build four wind turbines on farmland between Stinchcombe and the M5, has offered to voluntarily start a programme of community grants related to wind turbines ahead of its official launch in May to include the Berkeley Vale development if it goes ahead.

The Government scheme, which has been devised to encourage people to adopt wind energy, will ask wind energy firms to donate £1,000 per megawatt per year for up to 25 years. Ecotricity said in the case of the Berkeley Vale wind park this would equate to around £2,000 per turbine, per year, however it would only be made available if the application is approved at committee and not sent to appeal.

Spokesman for campaign group Save Berkeley Vale, Jack Sant, said the offer was “laughable”.

“I think people will actually regard this offer with contempt,” he said.

However Ecotricity spokesman Mike Cheshire said the timing of the offer had not been planned but coincided with the Government announcement two weeks ago.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “With all the current talk of libraries, community centres and sports halls being closed because of government cuts, here’s a great way for local communities to replace that funding. “Local wind projects will from now on not just bring the benefits of local green electricity, but also the funding of vital social projects that government cuts would otherwise shut down.”

The announcement comes ahead of a meeting of Stroud District Council’s development control committee next Tuesday, in which councillors will decide whether to give the wind park planning permission.

Planning officers at the council have recommended the application be approved on the grounds that sufficient data has now been provided to say noise will be within guideline levels.

Save Berkeley Vale has condemned the report as “totally inadequate”.

Mr Sant said: “How 12 councillors can make a fair and informed decision on this application based on the report is beyond me.”

He said they were very disappointed that the turbines’ proximity to residential properties had not been taken into account and said they were staggered by the officer’s opinion that the view over an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty would not be harmed because people could look through the slender and slow moving turbine blades.

A spokesman for Stroud District Council said: “The officer’s report weighs up the relevant factors for the application and puts forward a balanced professional assessment. “The committee will use this information as a starting point and they can also refer to any other information or feedback they see as relevant. “Any further information presented to us in the run-up to the planning meeting is forwarded to the committee members for their consideration.”