Fears over green light for wind power

ANTI wind farm campaigners say they fear new planning guidance on renewable energy could give wind power developers the "green light to destroy the countryside".

ANTI wind farm campaigners say they fear new planning guidance on renewable energy could give wind power developers the "green light to destroy the countryside".

New Government guidelines for planners dealing with renewable energy development projects is due to be published today .

The guidelines are expected to open the door for more wind and solar power initiatives and to achieve consistency of approach by local authorities throughout England and Scotland.

Planners are likely to be prevented from introducing "blanket" restrictions on wind farms outside designated as of national or international importance for landscape or wildlife.

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Campaigners trying to stop the development of wind farms at St James South Elmham and Flixton in north Suffolk say they fear the worst from the guidelines.

They are pressing for wind farms to be built off-shore rather than on-shore.

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Jane Bastow, spokeswoman for Villagers Against Inappropriate Turbine Siting (VAITS), the group fighting plans for a wind farm at St James, said: "It is very worrying. We are hoping the new guidelines will not provide a green light for the destruction of the countryside."

It was all very well policy decisions being made in London but it was rural dwellers who were at the sharp end of new wind power developments.

"Our fear is that they will ride roughshod over everybody and not listen to local protests and the people who live in these areas," she added.

But Bryony Worthington, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: "To stop climate change many more enterprising projects that harness renewable wind, solar and plant energy need to succeed."

She added: "These new planning guidelines will make sure good projects get fair treatment in the planning system while still making sure local people are consulted and important parts of the countryside are fully protected."

However, the Campaign to Protect Rural England is concerned that the new guidelines should not weaken existing Government policy to protect the countryside from damaging development.

"As with all major development, new renewable energy plants could spoil rural character," said Jill Hatcher, the group's natural resources campaigner.

"We do not want to see a massive expansion of wind turbines across beautiful and tranquil areas of England.

"Instead, the Government must make sure that new turbines are sited where they do least damage and that no-one should have to chose between the future of the planet and the countryside," she added.

VAITS is organising three meetings to present "alternative" information to residents in villages near the site of the proposed St James wind farm.

Saxon Windpower, the company behind the wind farm proposal, has already held presentations in the area.

The VAITS sessions, all 3 - 8pm will be in Rumburgh Village Hall on November 6, St James Village Hall on November 11 and Metfield Village Hall on November 12.


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