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Developer Wind Prospect to listen to Thornbury locals’ concerns

After falling under scrutiny for a perceived lack of transparency, a developer has pledged to consult with locals on its proposed wind farm grid connection route in Thornbury.

The Gazette revealed this month that Wind Prospect’s grid connection would be passing not to the east of Thornbury as stated in their planning application but to the west, through sensitive historic sites such as the cemetery, Daggs allotments and Mundy Playing Fields.

A map of this western route was sent to district council planning officers after the company’s application was submitted in September 2010 but was never shown to councillors.

They rejected the application anyway and Wind Prospect is now appealing their decision.

The developer apologized for the ‘honest error’ last week and for failing to provide accurate information in the first place.

The company also vowed to listen to locals’ concerns as they finalise the electric connection route, if they win their appeal, which is currently being reviewed at a public hearing.

Yet, town and parish councillors have expressed their anger and frustration at what they deem a lack of openness.

South Gloucestershire and Thornbury Town Cllr Maggie Tyrrell said: “The news has caused some anxiety and taken some investigating about the situation from us which was unnecessary. “We are not happy that they made this mistake. It does not fill us with confidence for the future.”

Speaking on behalf of the town development committee, she added: “Although we are cross that we were not informed of the route in the first place, there are already cables that go across the land in the west of town.

“From what we now understand from the developer, they are going to use the cables which are already there and not add more. But we need some clarification.

“We have objected to the wind farm because it’s too visually intrusive and continue to object on those grounds.”

Hill Parish Council chairman Cllr Thomas Jenner-Fust said: “Mr Murphy has apologised for the ‘honest mistake’ in his firm’s planning application, however this is not the first mistake we have found.

“Local residents have every right to be concerned that an industrial development is being handled by people who cannot tell east from west”.

Wind Prospect reassured locals last week, saying that the route was subject to changes.

Senior development officer Jonny Murphy stated in a letter sent to the Gazette: “The grid is indicative only and is not set in stone. Given the long timescales involved with wind farm projects, we would not apply for a formal grid connection until full planning permission is given for the wind farm.

“It is not possible at this stage to know whether a planning application will be required or not, because we do not know yet what the exact nature of the route is going to be.

“We do however know that, if the connection were to be an overground route, it would feature wooden poles, not metal pylons. Where possible, the route would be underground.”