Campaigners fighting a proposed giant turbine at Uttoxeter quarry have been given strong backing at a packed public meeting.
It was standing room only at Stramshall Village Hall on Thursday night as residents and politicians met to discuss the controversial plans by Aggregate Industries for a 87-metre (285ft) turbine on its Spath site – which would be taller than St Paul’s Cathedral.
Councillors from town to county level spoke out against the proposals, which are currently only at the pre-application stage, as did representatives from groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Ramblers Association.
Uttoxeter Rural division county councillor and county council leader Philip Atkins, advised those against the turbine to make their voice known ‘at every possible opportunity’.
He said: “An 87-metre turbine in the middle of the Dove Valley will have too severe an impact on the town of Uttoxeter, the village of Stramshall, and the Dove Valley itself.
“It is my view, this should be dealt with by the county council’s planning committee and I will be able talk about the impact on the community I represent.” Malcolm Barrett, East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Uttoxeter Town ward, said the turbine would ruin a leisure and nature development promised for the quarry when extraction is completed.
He said: “I attended a meeting three months ago when the quarry owner said it would give the people of Uttoxeter a plot of land to put four football pitches and a cricket pitch.
“That was very good news – until you see that this wind turbine would sit in the middle of all that. It is one hell of a health and safety hazard.” Former Uttoxeter Rural Parish Council chairman Jack Lovatt told the meeting that the company’s foreign owners ‘didn’t care’ about the English countryside.
“Aggregate has changed hands three times since they started that quarry and is now owned by a company in Switzerland – do you really think they are concerned with the future of this valley and your futures?” he said.
Long-term Stramshall resident David Hewitt, a representative of the Ramblers Association, said he was against the proposal as it would ‘desecrate thecountryside’ – but did stress that alternative energy sources had to be looked at.
He said: “We need renewables as unless the Government comes up with a balanced energy policy, with offshore wind, tidal power, nuclear, clean coal included, then the lights will go out in our lifetimes.
“We need to think about that context with what we are discussing tonight.” Uttoxeter Town division county councillor Geoff Morrison said the campaigners had his full support.
He said: “I thought by now we were going to have a beautiful nature and leisure site – then the extensions started and now we have ended up with another five years of quarrying, then another five years – they will be going up the valley before they stop.
“When I visualise this huge, great big turbine, it is going to ruin the valley. I encourage you to oppose this every step of the way.” The meeting ended with volunteers forming an action group to co-ordinate their fight against the proposals.
Those wishing to express their opposition to the proposal are being asked to write to Tim Claxton, Aggregate Industries, Bardon Hall, Copt Oak Road, Markfield, Leicestershire, LE67 9PJ.