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Ex-energy minister fights local wind farm

John Hayes, the former energy minister, has warned a council it is “unsafe” to plan a new wind farm because the Government is about to crackdown on unpopular developments.

In his role as energy minister Mr Hayes described wind energy as “a bourgeois Left article of faith” and promised to make sure no more turbines are put up against the will of the local community.

His remarks did not go down with the Lib Dem Secretary of State Ed Davey and he was shunted into Number 10 as a minister of state in the Cabinet Office.

But this has not stopped his fight against wind farms and he is objecting to a development of nine 400ft turbines by Wind Ventures in his own constituency of South Holland.

In a letter to the chief executive of South Holland District Council, Mr Hayes suggested that new rules of wind farms will make developments that communities object to “unsafe”.

“You will be aware that when I was Minister for Energy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change issued at call for evidence on onshore wind, the response to which is to be published shortly. I worked on this before my promotion to the Cabinet Office; retain an interest in it and fully expect the Government to make a number of significant changes to the future prospects for wind power. Given this I advise you that any precipitous decision on this application would be unsafe.”

DECC is due to publish planning prospoals shortly on wind farms that could affect applications. It could include payments to communities and stricter environmental assessments.

Mr Hayes said the community is against the wind farm at Delph, Lincolnshire because of the impact on wildlife.

He pointed out the wind farm is near to two nature reserves that sustain populations of rare birds like the golden plover, greenshank and black-tailed godwit.

He said the local community is also concerned about the visual impact of the turbine on the skyline, disturbance of local walks and bridle paths and the “swoosh and bang” noise.

“I believe that this proposal will have a detrimental impact on local wildlife habitats of birds, bats and other forms of wildlife, which reportedly include those of weasels, stoats, newts and other species.”

The Wildlife Trusts and Natural England have written to the council expressing their concerns. Stop Pinchbeck Wind Farm is also fighting the wind farm.

But Adrian Butler, the Wind Ventures project manager for The Delph, told the local paper The Spalding Guardian, the company is not withdrawing and will press ahead with its application.

The company is offering the community around £45,000 per annum for the 25 year operational life of the wind farm.

He said: “At the moment, we are in the process of drafting a detailed response to the comments made by Natural England, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Lincolnshire Bat Group and the ecology expert for Stop West Pinchbeck Wind Farm.”