Honda’s controversial plan to site three wind turbines at its South Marston car plant has been spectacularly voted down in a packed public meeting of Swindon Council’s planning committee.
The car giant had hoped to build the 120m-high turbines to keep spiralling energy costs under control. The plant, which produces hundreds and thousands of cars and engines a year and employs 3,000 people, is a major user of electricity with a £8.5m annual energy bill.
The turbines would have had a capacity to produce a total of 6.9 MW, Ecotricity says – sufficient to meet the annual needs of 5,400 houses and saving 7,200 tonnes of CO2 a year.
In a report to the committee, Honda said its plant aimed to slash its carbon emissions by 24% within nine years with alternative energy supplies as key to this. the car giant siad it had already reduced the amount of energy needed to produce a car by 37 per cent since 2000 by designing-in energy-efficient processes at its plant – but further savings would be harder to achieve
Honda teamed up with wind energy pioneers Ecotricity to submit the planning application, which has been strongly opposed by some people living near its site backed up by opponents of wind power.
The group claimed the move is essential to maintain the Swindon site’s position as one of the world’s most efficient car plants while also meeting tough internal targets to reduce its carbon footprint.
An earlier planning committee meeting which was due to discuss the turbine plan had to be adjourned on safety grounds when hundreds of protestors arrived at the council offices in Euclid Street to voice their fears.
The rescheduled meeting took place at the Wyvern Theatre last night, with hundreds attending.
With nine councillors voting against, the plan was defeated, leading to a standing ovation among the protestors.
South Marston resident Des Fitzpatrick, a member of the Ill Wind campaign group that opposed the plan, said: “I am delighted with the result, it is tremendous.
“I just hope Honda, in light of this, will not appeal and will begin repairing the damage they have done to the community.”
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