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Wind farm firms should pay more, says county leader  

Credit:  Times & Star, www.timesandstar.co.uk 30 June 2011 ~~

The leader of Cumbria County Council has called on the Government to stop imposing wind farms on the county or force developers to pay compensation to blighted communities.

Coun Eddie Martin, who represents Broughton and Dearham, has written a fierce attack on Government energy policy to Greg Clark, Minister of State for Decentralisation.

His letter claims that community grants offered by wind farm developers bear little relation to the vast profits realised during the life-span of wind turbines.

He criticised wind farm developer RES Ltd whose payment of £25,000 for distribution among communities around Tallentire, near Cockermouth, was “a pitiful amount” which added to the sense of grievance which people there felt.

Coun Martin said: “No amount of community compensation will ever attenuate the strength of feeling against wind farms. But it is offensive, if not impertinent, to believe that such a derisory sum could moderate community antipathy.

“Adequate and agreed compensation to local communities should be a pre-requisite planning condition to be arbitrated and imposed by the local planning authority.”

Coun Martin said he was writing on behalf of the Cumbria Leaders’ Board and has copied his letter to leading politicians across the county.

He called for changes to be made as the Localism Bill goes through Parliament to ensure that it results in true local democracy.

The letter followed Coun Martin’s earlier criticism of the result of the Tallentire wind farm planning appeal, when an inspector overturned a decision which had been based on thousands of objections.

Coun Martin criticised the lack of power given to local communities when it came to deciding planning applications.

He accused successive governments of ignoring an all-party county council resolution which called on the climate change secretary to give a commitment to ensure that the Government will reduce its over reliance on onshore wind power, reduce current wind-related targets and invest in other low carbon energy generation.

Coun Martin wrote that there was disagreement with government policy about the imposition of wind farms on communities despite overwhelming, objective and well-argued opposition.

He said it was increasingly difficult to defend renewable-energy policies given the impotence of local communities and planning authorities and the “bizarre, if not absurd/obscene” taxpayer subsidy paid to wind farm developers.

He added: “A two or three reactor station at Sellafield would dispense with the need for more wind farms in Cumbria. So, too, would the development and subsidising of hydro-power in Cumbria.”

He criticised payments made to wind farm developers even when turbines were not producing electricity, the inefficiency and unreliability of wind farms, and claimed each household was subsidising wind farms to the tune of £32 per year.

He added: “Central government is simply not listening. That is profoundly depressing. And fundamentally undemocratic.”

Cumbria already has 90 operational commercial wind energy schemes, Coun Martin said, with three more consented, six under construction, 40 awaiting construction and more than 40 more where applications have been submitted.

These figures did not include small scale schemes, offshore schemes or other forms of sustainable energy generation.

Mr Clark spoke this week at a local government conference in Birmingham, where Coun Martin told him that his letter was on its way.

Coun Martin added: “He did say he thought there was a problem, they would look into it and they would come up with a compromise.”

Source:  Times & Star, www.timesandstar.co.uk 30 June 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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