Huge applause erupted when Sister Anne Marie Eden countered unfeeling corporate ambition with simple humanity. Mease Valley residents have again been outraged by German attempts to blight a corner of rural Staffordshire thousands of people visit each year for its tranquil beauty. And it was the softly spoken nun who inspired their renewed fight back.
An Osnabruk-based company wants to site giant wind turbines near Haunton to get at taxpayers’ cash.
But Sister Anne Marie Eden wants to preserve the Mease Valley’s quiet stillness for the souls who seek respite at her convent.
A packed protest meeting wearily rehearsed again the arguments that beat off Prowind at their first attempt to build in the valley.
But campaign champion County Councillor Matthew Ellis told them the prospects now looked grim.
He also quoted a dark warning from the Germans, who still seemed to be stinging from their earlier costly defeat: “We did not spend this amount of money just to walk away from it.”
The UK government is now subsidising foreign turbine firms to the tune of £500 million at year.
And yet serious doubts about their equipment’s efficiency on inland sites go unanswered.
Wind farms rejected
The county council refuses to allow large wind farms on its land for environmental reasons.
Rural bodies warn of turbines desecrating the countryside
Anti-windfarm protesters claim Prowind MD Johannes Busmann’s only thought is to help himself to generous taxpayer handouts.
Anyone who has met Sister Anne knows her one and only thought is to serve others.
She sees first hand the precious gift of healing and calm those who come to her for help gain from staying at the convent.
And few people could ever understand their mental turmoil as she does.
For 12 years she was an army chaplain, sometimes comforting soldiers heading for the front line – sometimes the bereaved families of those who did not return.
It is work she wants to continue at Haunton. She and her five fellow sisters stand ready if called on to receive soldiers traumatised by the horrors of Afghanistan.
But she fears that Prowind’s colossal turbine blades, chopping the wind like Chinook helicopter rotars, would forever mar the peace desperately sought by those in need.
Her simple message to Prowind was: “People come to us for quiet tranquility.
“What is going to happen if we do not fight for our countryside?
“We need beautiful natural things to look at.”
The packed hall at Harlaston erupted into loud applause.
Johannes Busmann and his team pulled out at the very last moment from their previous bid to build in the Mease Valley before their plans could be officially thrown out.
In doing so they left taxpayers to foot an estimated £90,000 bill in wasted administration fees.
Busmann had also broken promises to consult residents about his plans.
He totally ignored letters from the local MP – Christopher Pincher was even unaware that the businessman had advanced plans for another bid to locate turbines near Haunton.
Busmann has also refused to respond to journalists’ inquiries.
But at the Harlaston meeting last month residents heard how increased taxpayer subsidies for smaller scale wind farms made siting one near Haunton a more lucrative proposition than ever.
Vast profits to be had
Tory plans to ease planning laws also look set to bring a windfall for foreign companies such as ProWind.
Organisations including the National Trust are voicing fears for the future of the countryside.
Tory plans to adopt, “a presumption in favour of sustainable development” could see the number of wind turbines in the UK more than trebling from 2,000 to 6,500.
And Britain is not alone. In September ‘VM’ received a message of support from Canada for the Mease Valley campaigners.
Jane Wilson, Chair of the North Gower Wind Action Group, Ottawa, said: “We stand with you in your fight to preserve your community from industrialisation for taxpayer subsidised, inefficient and unreliable wind power generation.”
She added that Busmann aimed to build up to ten, 190-metre-tall turbines near her neighbours’ homes.
He is now also determined to install two, 100-metre-tall, 500mw turbines in the heart of the unspoiled Mease Valley.