August 17, 2015

Wind farm opponents dismiss survey claiming few people object to developments

Lincolnshire Echo | August 16, 2015 |

Opponents of onshore wind farm developments across Lincolnshire have expressed surprise at the results of a survey which has claimed that only 8 per cent of people are against turbines on farmland.

The Good Energy poll also found just 4 per cent of the public opposed solar farms – and 7 per cent were against biomass plants.

They had asked 2,000 people their views on the renewables industry and its impact on their lives.

The results come after the Government’s announcement that it is introducing new rules to make it extremely difficult to build new onshore wind farms without widespread public support.

All of the proposed developments across the county have sparked major opposition including campaign groups.

Lincolnshire County Council nailed its colours to the mast with a policy clearly opposed to any further onshore wind schemes. But all decisions rest with district council planners.

And Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh has vehemently opposed the Hemswell Cliff – awaiting the outcome of a Planning Inspectorate appeal – and proposed Brown’s Holt near Corringham schemes which are both in his constituency.

“Who pays the piper calls the tune, so it’s no shock that a poll commissioned by a wind energy company would find results the client liked,” Sir Edward said. “If they came and asked people here in Lincolnshire, particularly around Hemswell, they would find the locals united in opposition.

“Onshore wind farms are a blight that threaten the natural beauty of our part of England and I am proud to back the residents fighting them.”

Protect Nocton Fen has just been successful in persuading Swedish firm Vattenfall to drop its plans for 20 turbines each 150 metres tall close to Nocton village, just eight miles south-east of Lincoln.

Durable opponent Melvin Grosvenor from Baumber 10 miles away described the survey as “without credibility”.

Mr Grosvenor is also chairman of the Marsh Wind Farm Action Group, still fighting smaller East Lindsey wind farm sites at Ludborough, Asserby and Fulstow near Louth after securing the demise of a scheme for Croft Bank near Skegness last week.

He said: “We’ve seen these surveys consistently over the years and we find that they ask leading questions to which most people would respond that they are in favour of renewables.

“And I know it’s an extreme example, but if you asked someone if they preferred to drink water or poison, you’d get an obvious answer.

“This survey has no credibility whatsoever because we don’t know where the 2,000 people live.

“They are getting the answers they want because they’re obviously not from people in the countryside who are legitimately raising their concerns and being heard.”

Good Energy admitted to asking specific questions on solar and wind power, which have both seen subsidy cuts in the last month including the end of renewable energy’s exemption under the climate change levy in Chancellor George Osborne’s recent Budget.

But Good Energy head of innovation Will Vooght claimed: “These stats indicate that opposition to renewable energy remains consistently low, showing it’s a vocal minority dictating policy – flying in the face of public support.”

Friends of the Earth renewable energy campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “Wind and solar power are incredibly popular and it is frankly astonishing that the Government continues to make it harder for people to use it.”

Meanwhile, in the build-up to the COP21 climate change talks in Paris in December, the UK remains likely to miss EU renewable energy targets.

The nation produces only 7 per cent of its energy from those sources against a target of 15 per cent by 2020.

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