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Duke puts wind up the locals

As cousins and champions of conservation, they should be allies. But the next time the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Gloucester sit down to discuss wind farms, there may be a sharp exchange of views.

To Charles, the steel plantations fast becoming the scourge of the countryside and the coastline are a ‘horrendous blot on the landscape’. To the Duke, they could become a lucrative addition to his income after plans were submitted to erect five turbines on farmland near his ancestral home, Barnwell Manor, Northants.

The National Trust – of which Charles is president – is opposed to the plan because the proposed wind farm is close to its historic estate Lyveden New Bield.

The Duke, 66, who is supported financially by the Queen out of the Privy Purse, moved from 40-room Barnwell, near Oundle, where he farms a 2,500-acre estate, some 16 years ago. He and his family live in an apartment at Kensington Palace.

More recently, however, Gloucester was approached by a turbine manufacturer who had pinpointed his Northamptonshire acres as an ideal location for a wind farm.

The Duke was asked if the land could be leased – and was informed he would then receive a tidy sum each year, including a government subsidy.

The company, West Coast Energy, can expect to earn up to £2.7 million a year from the project, although how much the Duke would get is unclear. But locals are up in arms.

Campaigner Peter Stephenson tells me: ‘It’s totally the wrong area for a wind farm, not least because we don’t have much wind.

‘The village of Brigstock is less than a mile away, red kites nest nearby and people come every July to see our rare colony of Purple Emperor butterflies. The National Trust, English Heritage and the Ancient Monuments Society are all against it.’

The local council has already turned down planning permission, but West Coast Energy is appealing and an inquiry will be held in November. The Duke is unlikely to attend the hearing. Says a spokesman: ‘It is a matter for West Coast Energy which has made the application.’