Anti windfarm campaigners in the Guisborough area claim more than 90 per cent of people who attended an information event are still opposed to plans to build wind turbines near the town.
Campaign group FIGHT (Fight in Guisborough to Halt Turbines) held a survey outside a public exhibition by developer Banks and asked everyone who came out whether they were opposed to, or in favour, of the turbines.
However County Durham-based Banks Renewables claimed to have “a pleasing level of support” from people who attended the event.
About 70 people took at look at updated plans for the proposed new wind farm to the north of Guisborough. It would be on agricultural land on the northern side of the A171 road.
Banks said the “potential economic and employment benefits” of the project were high on the agenda for representatives of about 20 local firms who attended the event.
The company said about 40 jobs would be created during the construction of the Bank Field Wind Farm, and local firms would be able to bid for contracts worth about £3m.
It said about £7.8m of business rates would also be generated from the windfarm over its 25-year lifespan. And the company has pledged a sweetener of £85,000 each year to benefit the community if the current wind farm design was approved by councillors.
But Peter Berry, of FIGHT, said: “Banks Renewables’ exhibition was sparsely attended mainly because only the houses north of Westgate (about 30 per cent of the population) were informed of it.
“That, plus the fact it was held on a weekday meant the working population found it almost impossible to attend.
“90 per cent of those leaving the meeting were against the turbines, and two per cent of those in favour were hardly unbiased as they were companies looking for work.
“The 40 jobs created are not guaranteed to be local and will only be phased in during the construction phase – this seems very little recompense for the detrimental affects the farm will have on tourism and house prices.
He warned that the wind farm conjured up an image of “countless wind turbines eventually garlanding the Cleveland Hills.
However Banks countered that the meeting had been positive. Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “Banks has a long-standing policy of using local suppliers for our projects wherever possible, and recent economic analysis of the wind farms that we have completed elsewhere in the UK show that we live up to that promise, with dozens of contracts awarded to a wide range of firms in the surrounding areas.”
“We have had a pleasing level of support for our plans from many local people who recognise the environmental, social and economic benefits it would bring to the area, and we are continuing to work with the community to understand what issues are of most importance to them, so that the community fund can be prioritised accordingly.”
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