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Ecotricity to contest Silton wind farm refusal

The wind turbine battle is set for another round after Ecotricity lodged an appeal against North Dorset District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for four turbines on farmland in Silton.

Plans for the 120-metre turbines were rejected by the authority in March after a planning meeting that lasted more than six hours. The application received more than 1,700 letters of objection and only one member of the public spoke in favour of the plans at the meeting in Gillingham’s Riversmeet Leisure Centre.

Ecotricity says it has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate because it believes Dorset is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to green energy provision. The business claims that the Silton wind park would generate enough energy to power more than 6,700 homes and save around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere each year for a quarter of a century.

The planning application was rejected by every parish council in the area, by South Somerset District Council and by the Wiltshire Unitary Council before being rejected by North Dorset District Council. It followed an unsuccessful application in 2009 to build six turbines on the same site.

Ecotricity’s proposals led to the formation of local action group Save Our Silton, which coordinated a high profile campaign against the plans.

Save Our Silton spokesman Brian Trueman said the organisation is preparing for another fight.

“This really is a sad event. Every democratically elected organisation in the area voted to oppose this application – we couldn’t have been clearer as a local community. Despite that, it will now go to a government inspector who could override the wishes of the whole community,” he said.

“North Dorset District Council will be defending its decision at the appeal but we intend to play a part. We have fought it all this way and we won’t stop now.”

According to Save Our Silton, which won the support of North Dorset MP Bob Walter, apart creating a blot on the landscape and a threat to the local tourist industry, wind turbines also fail to make a significant contribution to green energy targets.

Mr Trueman added: “Wind energy just doesn’t work. The wind doesn’t always blow so it’s unreliable and back-up power – almost certainly gas – needs to be running all the time. Carbon savings are negligible.

“The visual impact is huge. The local area depends on tourism to a large extent. These turbines should not be plonked on such a tranquil site.”

Ecotricity claims that, despite vigorous protests, the majority of people in Dorset support onshore wind farms. It also believes that wind farms are the best way to meet the county’s green energy targets.

Ecotricity spokesman Mike Cheshire said: “We are appealing the decision because this wind park, with just four graceful windmills, would be the very first in Dorset and would boost the county’s existing green energy resource by almost 50 per cent at a stroke.

“The majority of Dorset people say they support wind power, but action needs to match words if the county genuinely wants to play its part in creating safer, cleaner sources of energy for itself and future generations. We can’t allow where our energy comes from to continue to be decided by whoever shouts the loudest.

“The issue isn’t targets – it’s about where the energy we use to heat and light ourselves comes from tomorrow and the next day, in the face of spiralling fossil fuel prices. We need to make Britain more energy independent with more clean, safe sources of our own, and like everywhere else, Dorset needs to play its part.”