Campaigners are fearful that liberal new rules threaten to open the door for building more wind turbines around Swindon.
The objectors claim obscure changes buried deep in Swindon Council’s Core Strategy would mean that tight planning rules about where turbines can go will be replaced with a soft-touch set of guidelines.
Among those voicing concern is Stuart Young, vice-chairman of South Marston parish council, and one of the critics of the proposed wind turbines at the Honda plant on the outskirts of the village.
“We need to look in more detail but our initial impression is it opens the doors to more wind turbines and other renewable sources across Swindon,” he said.
“We have concerns about Honda’s wind turbines. We’re worried about the potential for a significant number more. It’s quite worrying, especially if they’re near to areas of population.
“The new guidelines seem to be more liberal. There were fairly tight guidelines before. You had to take account of noise, shadow flicker, the proximity to dwellings. Our initial impression is this guidance is a lot more liberal, so there could be a lot more wind turbine developments in Swindon.”
The Core Strategy, which is the blueprint for future development of the town between now and 2026, is now out to public consultation.
It contains suggested wind farm sites on the southern and eastern outskirts of the town. The proposed 120m turbines at the Honda plant would be twice the height of the existing turbines in Watchfield, near Shrivenham.
Campaign group Ill Wind was set up to fight the Honda plans, and its chairman 52-year-old Neil Burchell, of South Marston, is also worried about the new guidelines.
“We are not against wind turbines per se. But we do have major concerns about them being as close to houses as it’s proposed,” he said.
“Some of the safeguards about visual amenity and intrusion on people’s lives, it’s been suggested, will be disregarded as part of the Core Strategy.”
In a statement, the council said: “We’ve put the draft Core Strategy out for consultation precisely so we can get the views and concerns of residents about what is being proposed – the plans are not set in stone.
“At this stage we need people to feed back their comments to us so we can produce an amended document for them to consider.
“They must feed their comments back to us formally, and the details about how to do this are on our website or in the Core Strategy documents that are in our public buildings.”
l AMONG the main rules governing wind turbines is a piece of guidance called CF12. In short, the advice it gives is: Wind turbines… shall be permitted, where visual intrusion is minimised, there is no adverse effect on the amenities of neighbouring properties due to noise emission, visual intrusion, shadow flicker reflected light or electronic disturbance, and provision is made for the restoration of the site.
But it will now be replaced by new guidelines called DMP1 and DMP2, which state in short: Proposals for wind turbines will be assessed under national policies and against… potential social and economic benefits (including local job creation), community benefits, the need for secure and reliable energy, environmental impact.
Campaigners claim this is more favourable to the idea of wind farms than the previous set of rules.
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