A wind turbine firm’s offer to pay £30,000 a year to rural communities near Stafford has been branded an insult by residents.
Three 130m high turbines could be installed on land at Knightley Hall Farm, near Gnosall, if plans submitted by REG Windpower are approved by Stafford Borough Council.
The firm is offering £30,000 a year to local communities for the turbines’ 25-year lifespan, residents were told at a public meeting last night.
But MP Sir Bill Cash dismissed the windfall as “peanuts” and urged residents to band together to fight the plans.
Speaking at last night’s meeting he said: “There is a great deal of expertise and a lot of consultants around the country – most of this information is available to all of us.
“I take greatest exception to the despoliation of our landscape. There is no way you will get me to agree to these proposals whatsoever.
“As I came over the horizon and looked at these magnificent views of Staffordshire, from Aqualate to Norbury to Gnosall to Knightley, I thought of these appalling monsters being thrown up.”
More than 50 people attended the meeting at Gnosall’s Grosvenor Centre, where not one person spoke out in favour of the turbines.
It was arranged by Gnosall Parish Council to collect residents’ views on the plans to submit to Stafford Borough Council.
Initially the parish council had until today to get its response in, but parish council chairman Roger Greatrex told the meeting they had been granted an extension, to September, by the borough council. Residents have until August 12 to submit their comments.
Councillor Greatrex added that Stafford Borough Council had sub-contracted a planning officer from Salford to deal with the application as “they do not feel they have sufficient officers with the expertise to handle the case.”
Other areas affected by the plans include the parishes of Norbury and Forton, The Norbury Park Estate is spending up to £20,000 on planning consultancy and would be willing to share its information with Gnosall and Norbury’s parish councils, the meeting heard.
Gnosall man Will Mockett said: “As an engineer, I am vehemently opposed to (the turbines), not only the aesthetics in the countryside but the health concerns. There are now lots of reports coming out, where being 1.5km from these will disturb your sleep.
“It is 2km from the first turbine to the doctors’ surgery, where people will be going to get medication for health issues. £30,000, to us as a community, is an insult.”
Fellow villager Gail Gregory, from Gnosall Residents Against Indiscriminate Development (Grid), said: “There are going to be people in the village that will say ‘£30,000 a year to the village, that sounds excellent’. But it isn’t just going to Gnosall, it isn’t just a straight forward ‘do you want £30,000?’
“The health concerns are the most worrying thing about these turbines.”
Ian Mobley, who recently moved to Gnosall from Manchester, said: “I have lived in the village for 13 weeks and it feels to me as if we are in heated agreement. We need to make this go away, make it hard for them so they will go somewhere else.”
But villager Jeff Rhodes, a chartered town planner, wrote to the borough council in support of the turbines.
He said: “Projects such as this help meet fundamental national policy objectives as well as providing local renewable energy generation capacity, in line with local planning policies, and also supporting employment in the renewable energy sector.
“The project is small scale in wind farm terms, being only three turbines and not particularly large turbines as wind turbines go.
“At a time when public sector funds are being slashed and important facilities in Gnosall are being lost due to lack of public sector support funding, private sector sources of funding are increasingly crucial, perhaps even the only show in town, and should not be dismissed lightly. Indeed, it would be remiss not to give them serious consideration.”
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