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Inquiry into proposed Ecotricity wind farm near Stinchcombe gets underway  

Credit:  By Liza-Jane Gillespie, Gazette, www.gazetteseries.co.uk 12 January 2012 ~~

Battlelines were drawn this week over plans for four giant wind turbines in the Berkeley Vale, as an appeal hearing got underway.

Last April green energy company Ecotricity was refused permission by Stroud District Council to build four 120-metre high wind turbines near Stinchcombe because of their impact on the landscape.

The firm appealed against the decision and independent inspector Richard Thomas is presiding over a four-day public inquiry this week at Ebley Mill in Stroud into the proposal.

However, it is likely the inquiry will take longer and will have to be adjourned until later in the spring because of the amount of evidence to be heard.

David Hardy, barrister for Ecotricity, dismissed claims that the wind farm would be a blot on the landscape.

Speaking on the first day of the inquiry on Tuesday, Mr Hardy said the national need for renewable energy outweighed any impact on the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and historical buildings.

He said the area was already built up because of the A38, M5 and railway line.

He said: “Wind farms will have to be appropriately sited and accepted in rural parts of England.”

Mr Hardy went on to say being able to see turbines from a property was not a sufficient reason for refusal.

Jack Smyth, speaking on behalf of Stroud District Council, told the inquiry that the turbines would be taller than Gloucester and St Paul’s cathedrals.

He said: “It’s worth remembering the reason why the wind farm is so controversial in landscape terms as its sheer size is up to 120 metres.”

Mr Smyth also criticised Mr Hardy and his team for overloading the inquiry with paperwork.

He said: “The volume of documentation relied upon by the appellant at this inquiry is unreasonable and disproportional.”

As well as the council and Ecotricity, Mr Thomas has allowed several interested parties to take part in the inquiry including campaign group Save Berkeley Vale (SBV), which attended in force with more than 40 members filling the council chamber.

Martin Pearse, representing the group, said Stinchcombe was in a conservation area with many Grade I and Grade II buildings, and added that the development would compromise the village.

During the inquiry evidence and comments will also be heard from villagers, local business owners, Stinchcombe Parish Council, Cotswold Conservation Board, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and John Berkeley from the Berkeley Estate.

Source:  By Liza-Jane Gillespie, Gazette, www.gazetteseries.co.uk 12 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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