South Cambridgeshire District Council has voted to join a campaign to make it easier for councils to authorise wind turbines.
Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Fane told a meeting of the full council on Thursday (September 26) that current rules restrict approving wind turbines in the area.
He said more than 150 MPs and others are calling for changes which would allow South Cambridgeshire and other regional government authorities to approve construction.
He stressed the motion was not calling for wind farms, but for energy generation for up to five megawatts.
He said: “To give some scale of what we are talking about, five megawatts would be typically two of the turbines in a large wind-farm.”
He said: “If we are to deliver [net zero carbon emissions by 2050] then we need to follow up with actions. Not only to reduce emissions but increase our contribution from renewable sources of energy within this district.
“That means we have to tackle some issues which may not be universally popular, and that includes the provision of energy from on-shore wind.”
A number of Conservative councillors spoke out against the motion.
Councillor Heather Williams said: “I would not be serving my residents well in voting for this having seen the controversy and the upset, that potentially has caused locally when it’s been mooted before.
“On other issues I’m more than happy to support when it comes to meeting that target.”
Conservative leader, councillor Peter Topping, said he had broadly supported efforts to reduce carbon emissions at the council, but said: “I personally do not believe that in a place like South Cambridgeshire that on-shore wind is something that is going to make a huge difference”.
He said there were other areas of the country where he supports the idea, but said “this proposal is a step too far”.
“I actually became a councillor to oppose the wind farms,” councillor Nick Wright added.
“I’m not happy with this”.
Labour’s Gavin Clayton said: “We can in future take the turbines down and we can have undisturbed views forever more. But if we don’t do something now we can’t simply reverse the effects of climate change.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Pippa Heylings, who has spearheaded the council’s environmental efforts, criticised those who spoke against the idea.
“I’m just really disappointed and surprised,” she said.
“If we want to build this number of houses in South Cambs we have to look at all the alternative ways of producing green energies, and wind is one of these”.
The council leader, Bridget Smith, added: “I would not be serving my residents well if I did not approve something that might save this world for us and for our children.”
Independent councillor Deborah Roberts described the move as “totalitarian”.
“These wind farms are not going to save the planet,” she said, “what will save the planet is industry, who will come up with good ideas and actually, one of things that we will live to regret is the destroying of the coal-fired power stations in this country.”
She said it was an example of “trying to impose things on our residents without checking with them”.
The motion passed with 26 votes for, and eight against.
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