September 19, 2012

Silton wind turbine inquiry: Turbines would ‘destroy’ tourist businesses

BVM News | 19 September 2012

Wind turbines are driven by subsidies not wind, an objector told the Silton wind turbine inquiry at Sturminster Newton on Tuesday.

Barrister and Save Our Silton member John Jones said his objections were mainly on landscape grounds.

The land on which the four turbines were planned is 433 feet above sea level – one of the highest points in the Blackmore Vale. The turbines are 393ft high and would be visible from a wide surrounding area. Salisbury Cathedral, which is 404 ft to the highest point, is in a bowl of hills.

“This application is likely to be a Trojan Horse, as similar applications would be almost irresistible,” he said.

“Turbines are driven by subsidies, and not by wind,” he said, “targets are one thing, but generating electricity is a different matter.”

For Roger Weeks, a former paratrooper, born in Silton and now living in Gillingham, the main issues were: do wind turbines save the planet, and what would be the scale of the impact of these four on the Blackmore Vale.

“We do not inherit the planet from our parents, we borrow it from our children,” he said. “We need to ask ourselves if we can justify this legacy to our future generations.”

The concrete for the bases of the turbines, which themselves would be higher than the tower of Silton Church, would be made by what was one of the most CO2-intensive operations known to man, he said.

During Mr Weeks’s evidence, Ecotricity team leader, barrister and solicitor David Hardy, was catching up with his emails and so apparently did not hear any of the new points the objector made. Mr Hardy did not question any of the individual witnesses, only asking if they had expertise or knowledge of specific statistical data.

For Save our Silton, Mrs Nicky Baxter told the inquiry that her bed and breakfast business, established over 32 years at Slait Farm, the nearest property to the proposed wind farm, would be destroyed by the development. She would no longer be able to advertise a quiet and restful country location.

She also said that this was not a windy area, and she doubted the viability of the turbines. “This area has never had windmills, all the mills in the past have been water-powered,” she said.

Debra Allard, who lets holiday chalets at her husband’s farm at Whistley, Milton on Stour, said the construction of the wind farm was unacceptable, would completely dominate the views, and would be of no benefit to the local community. She called for the impact of the development on tourism in the area to be weighed in the balance.

Rik Elvidge, who runs Chaffeymoor Grange with his wife, said they had moved here to set up a high quality hospitality business. The house was let for weddings, family and corporate gatherings and house parties, and both the main public rooms and the terrace looked straight out onto the site where the turbines are proposed.

Former sheep farmer Cynthia Brierley told the inquiry that she and her partner David Smith had moved to Valhalla in Silton because of its views.

“But it is not just a view – it’s a vista,” she said. The huge structures of the wind farm would completely dominate their view to the west.

“There would be no escape for us,” she said, urging planning inspector Neil Pope: “Please sir, say no!”

Former Bourton Parish Council clerk Jane Frederick said that residents had studied the proposals, and noted the position of the Blimp close to the site.

“The village as a whole will be dominated by all four wind turbines, and it makes a nonsense of assertions in the environmental statement supplied by the applicant that the effect on the village will not be significant,” she said, calling the inspector’s attention to a statement by MP and Energy Minister Charles Hendry in July 2011 that “We believe renewable energy should not be imposed on communities but should have popular support within communities.”

Jon Broadway, who lives with his family at Four Winds on the B3081, feared sun flicker from the turbines, which would break the morning sun on his house.

This fear was backed up by his father Michael, a retired chartered surveyor and district valuer, whose expertise covered visual intrusion at Lands Tribunals over many years.

The final witness of the first day of the resumed inquiry was Ecotricity Cultural Heritage expert Dr Simon Collcutt.

By Gay Pirrie-Weir.

For more from the opening day of the reconvened inquiry see this week’s Blackmore Vale Magazine and visit this website for regular updates throughout the inquiry.

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