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Stroud nostalgia: Twenty years since Ecotricity’s battle for first wind turbine in Nympsfield

It is 20 years since Ecotricity’s first windmill was erected in Nympsfield after a fierce five-year battle saw the village thrust into the limelight.

Anti-wind turbine protestors staged a round the clock vigil in the churchyard of St Joseph’s church, where workers were attempting to connect a cable from the wind turbine site to the national grid.

A last-minute call from the priest of the Catholic church to Stroud’s police chief prevented a mass arrest of the protestors just a week before the turbine was erected.

Police warned protesters they were breaking the law by blocking workers but just minutes before the police were due the Rev Edwin Gordon called Superintendent Adrian Grimmitt to say the protestors had his consent to remain in the churchyard.

In front of a large pack of national journalists and camera crews, Inspector Dave MacFarlane, of Stroud police, admitted the protestors were doing nothing illegal and could not order their arrest.

Days later the protest was abandoned after four mystery men switched off the Christmas fairy lights which were lighting the area in the churchyard.

When the protestors switched the lights back on, they found eight chairs and the campaigners’ tent had been taken.

The possessions were found the next day dumped in a nearby ditch.

A week later, on December 13, the turbine was erected despite concerns over its visual impact and noise, as well as claims it would cause bird deaths and affect television reception.

It drew a mixed reaction, with Stroud MP Roger Knapmann describing the turbine as a ‘visual contamination,’ while Stroud’s green parliamentary candidate John Marjoram called the structure ‘majestic.’

“Renewable energy like this is the only way forward,” he said.