Controversial plans to erect a 70ft wind turbine close to picturesque Ashdown Forest have been met with strong opposition.
But applicant Richard King, who hopes the wind turbine will pay for itself in seven years, has promised raging residents it will be quiet, unobtrusive and that people will scarcely notice it is there. Mr King added that something has to be done to generate renewable energy – and even insists he is prepared to paint the turbine green to make it blend in with the surroundings.
Residents living nearby remain unconvinced, however.
Jane Holland, a pensioner, of Cat Street, is one of the those who have voiced concern.
She said: “My objection to it is nothing personal. But we live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and can see the forest from where the turbine is proposed to go, and if one goes up, before you know it, they will appear all over the forest.
“Millions of people come here every year to recharge their batteries and I think the whole point of an AONB is to preserve it because it is rare.
“The other consideration is these turbines have been known to kill an awful lot of birds. We have flights of migrating birds coming over and the addition of a wind turbine means they would be under threat.”
Objections to the application have also been raised by the High Weald – a strategic body which aims to protect the AONB – and it was recommended for refusal by Hartfield Parish Council’s planning committee meeting on Thursday night.
The committee said that while it acknowledges efforts to increase energy generation, the proposed turbine is only 1km from Ashdown Forest – and would affect views, and encourage further applications.
Ashdown Forest Tourism Association’s Barbara Hibbart wrote in her letter of objection: “We acknowledge the need for modern technology, such as radio masts, and appreciate the benefits of wind turbines. However, we are very concerned at the current application. It would be located very near Pooh Sticks Bridge in a conservation area, which is also an important tourism site.
“I also understand this installation is not being proposed for green reasons, but for considerable personal gain over a period of years.”
The plans suggest the wind turbine would cost in excess of £18,000 and that savings would only be made after seven years. After 20 years, the cumulative savings could reach almost £60,000.
Mr King said: “We have got to start doing something about renewable energy in this country. We have got to think about the climate and someone has to make the first move.
“We have looked at solar panels, but they are not as effective as wind turbines.
“The nearest house to us is 360m away and it is well shielded by trees, and the turbine is proposed to be painted in an invisible green colour, so it will blend in quite well with the countryside. I think the white ones look awful anyway.
“I can understand concerns that if this is allowed, it could lead to others, but it has to be in the right place. In reality, I think people will find that it’s not noisy and, in fact, if you stand underneath it, you will barely hear a thing.
“All I want to know is that when my great grandchildren ask what has happened to our land, at least they can be told their great grandfather tried to do something about it.
“We have got a long way to go yet. It’s going to be a long haul.”
The HY5 three-bladed wind turbine is designed to produce energy through a wide range of wind speeds, while ensuring minimal acoustic and visual impact upon the surrounding environment.
The proposed location for the 21.3m-high structure is in a field 500m south of the B2110 (Cat Street), 100m from the applicant’s home and 360m from the nearest neighbour.
The application will now go to Wealden District Council for a decision.
What do you think about wind turbines and would you object to their use on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? E-mail us at editor@ egcourier.co.uk or write to the editor at Regent House, 1-3 Queensway, Redhill, RH1 1QT.
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