May 17, 2012

Hundreds sign turbine petition

By Jenny Moody | | 16 May 2012

The fight against a giant wind turbine in Uttoxeter has stepped up a gear after hundreds of residents signed a petition.

The Uttoxeter Wind Turbine Action Group, with the town’s MP Andrew Griffiths, took to the town centre armed with the petition.

Members gained ‘a few hundred’ signatures and gave residents more information on the 285ft (87m) turbine, on Uttoxeter Quarry, in Spath.

Group member David Brown said that the scores of people they spoke to more than 90 per cent were opposed to the wind turbine.

He said one of the main points that came out of the day was how some residents felt they had been misled by the information provided including believing they would get free electricity to their homes, the sheer size of the turbine and the promised nature reserve with cricket and football pitches after quarrying was completed.

Mr Brown said: “One of the great myths which was exploded was that quite a number of people believed that they would be getting free electricity in their homes. Hard to credit but that’s what they thought.

“This seems to have arisen from statements made about the wind turbine producing electricity to power several hundred homes.

“The key issues which came out were the sheer size of the turbine – the Big Ben clock tower analogy has given some idea to people who are unable to comprehend 87m.

“The potential landscape damage due to the proposed location was major, as was the proximity to the envisaged nature reserve.

“Anger about how the quiet wildlife and leisure haven heritage promised to Uttoxeter was in danger was tangible.” Other issues raised included damage to tourism and footpaths.

Speaking of the petition, he said: “Some people decided to go out with the petition on Friday as they could not get out on Saturday.

“We got a few hundred signatures but just as importantly we got to engage and speak with people about what they know and how they felt about it.

“A lot of people didn’t know much about it and were interested to talk to us to find out more.

“Some people didn’t know about the project and others thought we are against wind turbines in general, which we’re not, we are against this due to its size and proximity.

“The petition was really successful but part of it was speaking to people. It was a nice day so there were a lot of people in town shopping and willing to have a chat.” This is only part of the group’s campaign as signs have gone up around the quarry site expressing the opposition, flags can also be found around verges and some gardens inStramshall and a letter has been sent to Holcim, Aggregates Industries parent company, raising their issues.

The letter states: “This has all arisen from breaking promises – legal ones. When Aggregates Industries’ predecessor was given planning permission to extract sand and gravel on the River Dove it was on legally binding conditions to restore the extraction areas to lakes, reed beds, wildlife, footpaths, cycle tracks etc in short a quiet haven for local residents and tourists to enjoy as a legacy for their children and grandchildren.”

It has also emerged manufacturer Powerwind Gmbh, the chosen partner of Aggregates Industries, has applied for insolvency proceedings in Germany with the reason stated as ‘substantial project delays mainly caused by difficulties within financial institutions which have led to negative impacts on the business.’

It announced its joint managing directors have left the business following its filing for insolvency.

Mr Griffiths has set up a Facebook page, called Say No to the Uttoxeter Wind Turbine, providing information on how residents can help the battle.

Mr Brown added: “We will keep fighting this all the way.”

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