Campaigners have called for a halt to controversial plans for a wind farm on the Yorkshire coast amid an increasing backlash against eco-friendly energy schemes.
Opposition is growing to the multi-million pound development which would see 475ft turbines built on agricultural land close to Hunmanby, near Filey.
An action group is now being formed to block the wind farm scheme after more than 300 villagers attended a public meeting earlier this week to learn more about the proposals.
The campaign’s leaders have issued a stark warning that public support will quickly erode for green energy projects unless there is an objective debate about projects like the Hunmanby wind farm.
The vice-chair of Hunmanby Parish Council, Michelle Donohue-Moncreff, chaired a public meeting and is one of the action group’s organisers. She said: “There is very emotive language associated with the environment, and the moment you start criticising a scheme you are accused of being a climate change denier.
“But it is only reasonable for taxpayers to ask questions about the nation’s energy policies, especially if our money is helping subsidise schemes.
“It is incumbent on the Government and local councils to explain what these policies are.
“If there is a full and frank discussion about the proposals, people would feel a lot easier. But at the moment we all feel as though we are being kept in the dark.”
One of the country’s leading green energy firms, Banks Renewables, announced proposals at the start of the year to build up to 14 turbines at Hunmanby.
But politicians have questioned whether wind farms remain a viable option in addressing the nation’s energy needs.
Coun Godfrey Allanson, who represents Hunmanby on Scarborough Borough Council, is also a member of the Local Government Association’s Special Interest Group on Coastal Issues. He chaired the group for seven years up until 2009, and held a series of meetings with senior Government figures, including former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, to discuss green energy projects.
He travelled to Denmark five years ago to witness the boom in wind farm developments, but said that the country is now scaling back its reliance on turbine power.
Coun Allanson said: “I have seen clear evidence that climate change is happening, but I do not believe that wind farms offer the answer.
“There is a question mark over whether they provide a viable source of energy throughout the whole year.
“We should be spending money on other alternatives, and not simply building turbines because it is seen to be the right thing to do.”
Coun Allanson said more research and investment should be aimed towards other green energy technologies, such as bio-fuels, solar panels and hydro-electric schemes.
However, Banks Renewables has stressed that developments like the wind farm at Hunmanby will play a “crucial role” in meeting future energy requirements.
Development director Phil Dyke maintained that while the wind farm project is in the early stages, every effort had been made to engage with residents.
Two public exhibitions have already been staged and further consultations are planned.
Mr Dyke added: “We are always open to direct contact from all interested parties looking for information on or clarification about any part of our proposals, or wanting to provide feedback on them.”
The company has also unveiled plans for a five turbines on the outskirts of York at Copmanthorpe, which have attracted widespread opposition.
Planning applications for both schemes could be submitted by the end of the year, and they could be operational by 2013 if permission is secured.