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County leader accuses government of failing to listen

The leader of Cumbria County Council has accused the Government of failing to listen to local people by imposing wind farms on communities, despite overwhelming opposition.

Eddie Martin, who represents Dearham and Broughton, claimed that the wind farm industry was “essentially bankrupt” financially and technologically.

Yet taxpayers were being forced to pay increased electricity prices as energy companies aimed to meet renewable energy targets, he says in a letter published in today’s Times & Star.

The result, he said, was likely to see each family paying an extra £9 per week for energy by 2020.

This would increase the number of Cumbrian people living in fuel poverty, while the Government continued to allow developers to build turbines despite opposition.

He said: “No-one can deny the imperative to seek alternative methods of energy production and, particularly, the increasing use of renewable energy sources in order to reduce carbon emissions and secure a greener future.

“Where I would take leave to disagree with government is in the imposition of wind farms on rural communities especially despite their overwhelming, objective and well-argued opposition.

“Cumbria now has more wind farms than the combined totals of 22 other counties even in the face of this considerable opposition.”

He said it was hard to defend Government policy given the apparent impotence of communities, including local planning authorities and the taxpayer subsidy that wind farm developers were paid at a time of savage public sector cuts.

He added: “The proposed new planning regulations, and the presumption in favour of development, will make it even more difficult to resist.”

Pointing out that there were no wind farms in Energy Secretary Chris Huhne’s Eastleigh constituency in Hampshire, Coun Martin said it was difficult to convince communities and local politicians that planning inquiries into wind farm applications were more than cosmetic exercises, that the Government was not obsessed with irrational EU targets and that local democracy was not “meaningless despite the plethora of Whitehall rhetoric”.