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Staffordshire County Council gets tough on wind farm plans

Applications for county wind farms will be automatically refused unless they can demonstrate real benefits to people living in the area.

A strong new stance will see bids to erect wind farms refused if they look set to threaten the outstanding landscape or economy of Staffordshire.

The tough new move, which was put forward by Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, has now won the approval of the county’s cabinet.

Any applications for county wind farms will now be automatically refused “unless they can demonstrate real benefits to people living in the areas around them”.

It will also be council policy to recommended that large scale wind energy developments should be two kilometres or further from residential areas.

The move comes in the wake of a raft of wind farm applications currently vying for approval across the county, including near Lichfield and Tamworth.

Coun Winnington said: “Staffordshire has some outstanding landscapes and architectural landmarks which cannot be compromised by large scale wind energy developments.

“Similarly we do not want to see them anywhere where they could have a detrimental impact on the local economy, particularly our ever expanding tourism industry.

“We understand the need for renewable energy sources and that wind turbines contribute to lowering carbon emissions. However, they need to be in the right locations and have proper assessments and checks carried out during the planning process.

“Staffordshire is a predominantly rural county and we do not want to see the industrialisation of areas through such developments.”

He added: “The local economy and improving people’s quality of life are top priorities for the county council and we do not want to see them negatively impacted upon as a result of wind turbine developments.”

Just a few of the classifications of a large scale wind turbine development are: any single turbine with a hub height of over 50 metres; any development of more than two turbines with hub height over 30 metres; any development of over 10 turbines regardless of hub height.