- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Conservative minister in local wind farm fight

A Conservative minister has fought a two-year battle against a wind farm in his own constituency.

Alistair Burt, a Foreign Office minister, has publicly opposed proposals for 16 turbines next to a village in his North East Bedfordshire constituency.

But he was left “disappointed” when a government planning inspector ruled that “regional and national targets” for renewable energy “outweighed” the impact the 360ft high turbines would have on local residents in Langford.

Mr Burt said: “I am very disappointed with the result. I think the council and local residents put a very strong case and they put a very strong case very well, and I am disappointed that the Inspectorate has not accepted the arguments which have been offered.”

Last week the minister refused to comment on the Government’s wider energy policies. But Mr Burt has fought a series of wind farm applications in his constituency and last year warned a local council that national climate change policies should have “little or no weight” in determining a local planning application – underlining the belief that there is support for measures against wind farms inside government as well as on the back benches.

The Planning Inspectorate last month granted the construction of 10 of the turbines after the Co-operative Group scaled back its proposals in the face of fierce local opposition by residents.

Locals said the turbines would ruin the landscape and cause unbearable noise.

Tony Spencer, the chairman of Langford Parish Council, said villagers were “devastated” about the planning inspector’s decision and concerned that the developers would apply to enlarge the wind farm once it became operational.

He said: “The village is absolutely devastated – three years’ work has gone. We’re frightened now that, as they’ve got planning permission, probably in another five years they will come back and want the six put back.

“We’ve always said we wouldn’t mind if they were built further away [from houses].”

Praising Mr Burt, he said the Tory MP “spoke for us” at an initial planning meeting as well as the public enquiry.

Robin Brooks, the planning inspector, ruled that the turbines would not cause “unacceptable harm” to the village and surrounding landscape.