Wind turbine campaigners have attacked Swindon Council for not setting down a policy for a minimum separation between turbines and homes.
The move follows an apparent change of direction by the authority in the last few weeks.
In August, Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said he would not be surprised if a 1km separation distance was included in the final draft of the local plan.
The plan is the overarching document guiding the town’s development until 2026.
However, members of the Ill Wind group, which campaigned successfully against the Honda wind turbines, were shocked to find the policy contains no minimum distance, but instead relies on the council’s judgment.
The policy says: “Proposals for wind turbines […] shall be permitted only where there is no unacceptably adverse impact due to noise, shadow flicker, amplitude modulation, reflected light or electronic disturbance on: the built and natural heritage, and/or the amenity of properties, and/or areas important for tourism or recreational use of the countryside. Visual impact shall be minimised through siting, landscaping, design and use of materials.”
It continues: “Large scale wind-turbines (individual or collectively) are unlikely to be supported in close proximity to residential properties, but will be assessed on a site by site basis according to the height of the turbine and local factors such as land-form, orientation, vegetation and other buildings.”
Ill Wind member Nigel Hole, of Stratton, said: “I’m sat here wondering what the point of further consultation is when, with the previous draft of the Core Strategy, the consultation process was totally ignored.
“I went to the council offices to look at the responses. There’s over 2,400 responses and over 800 of these specifically asked for the 2km separation distance between wind turbines and residential housing and that’s not been taken into account with the revised draft.”
Another Ill Wind member, Andy West of Stratton St Margaret, said: “I have no faith in it whatsoever. If you take time to read it you will see it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”
Coun Heenan said: “Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to include separation distance without risking the whole of the local plan being thrown out by the planning inspector next year as unsound. Everything possible was done to make it happen, and I am pleased that Swindon’s new wind turbines policy is among the toughest in the country.”
He said the council had listened to residents’ concerns and the document did provide protection against turbines being sited in “close proximity” to homes.
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