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Why I turned down lucrative turbine bid

A farmer has revealed why he turned down the chance to cash in on a potential multi-million pound deal to develop a wind farm on his land.

Joe Orson, county councillor for the Asfordby division, was approached by a developer who wanted to seek planning permission for up to nine wind turbines, all over 100m tall, on land at North Lodge Farm, Old Dalby.

Mr Orson, who is also Melton borough councillor for Old Dalby ward, received a draft contract for the wind turbine scheme which could have generated him an annual income of up to £225,000 or more than £5m over the 25 year lifespan of the wind farm.

That was two years ago and since making his decision not to put pen to paper, Mr Orson has supported all residents in the Asfordby division who have wanted to object to wind turbine applications.

He said: “The wind farm developer’s approach came out of blue but they’d already done their homework on wind speeds.

“There was initial excitement and at first I thought ‘that sorts out my care charges in Hunter’s Lodge in my later years’ but then the reality began to set in.

“I started to form a view that I couldn’t allow up to nine turbines to go on my bit of the borough because of the impact on Old Dalby, Nether Broughton, Queensway, Upper Broughton, the rural landscape and on the farm itself. We’re all mortal but the rural landscape carries on after us. I just couldn’t do it.”

He added: “I can understand any farmer or landowner wanting to maximise their holding, even though they would not get the same money now as the subsidies and feed in tariffs have changed substantially, and I have no problem with smaller turbines below 15m used to fund their own businesses but I wouldn’t want wind turbines next to me and that’s how I judge it.”

Concerned about a surge of wind turbines potentially spreading across the rural Leicestershire countryside, the county council is lobbying ministers, expressing their belief that smaller turbines below 15m would be more acceptable and that turbines shouldn’t normally be built within 2km of homes.

Melton Council is already drawing up some new guidance to help it deal with future applications for turbines.

Recent planning applications turned down by its development committee include proposals for a 77m-high (252ft) turbine at Hindle Farm in Thorpe Arnold, a 77m-high turbine at Park Farm in Thorpe Satchville and a 46m-high structure at Hall Farm in Thorpe Satchville.

Appeals are already underway regarding both Thorpe Satchville schemes.

And Peel Energy is still considering whether or not to appeal Melton Council’s decision to refuse its planning application for a nine-turbine wind farm earmarked for land between Asfordby Hill and Ab Kettleby.

Ecotricity, which was granted permission to erect nine turbines near Old Dalby two years ago, has previously said it hopes to bring its scheme forward in the near future.

A proposal to erect a single 34m-high wind turbine at Baytree Farm, Stygate Lane, Pickwell, was approved subject to conditions by Melton Council in October.

Other applications received by the council in recent months include plans for a 34.5m turbine at Eye Kettleby Lakes.

Mr Orson said: “So much now depends on the two Thorpe Satchville appeals. Whichever way the planning inspector goes, it will be the first time we will have a precedent in Melton.”