Application handed in over controversial turbines

PUBLISHED: 11:00 10 December 2010

Sedegmoor District Council will formally consider the application for 16 weeks

Sedegmoor District Council will formally consider the application for 16 weeks

© José Luis Gutiérrez

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a wind farm near to a Somerset village have been submitted to Sedgemoor District Council this week.

Green electricity company Ecotricity has called on the ‘silent majority’ to talk out about the plans to build four modern windmills on a site near to West Huntspill.

But some residents have criticised the timing of the application, and reiterated their opposition to the plans.

Ecotricity announced plans to put up the turbines earlier this year at the Black Ditch site next to the M5.

But residents responded with a barrage of complaints, saying that the turbines, which would be as high as 120 metres when one of the blades are upright, would ‘destroy’ the visual impact of the surrounding area.

The district council’s planning department has 16 weeks to consider the application, and Ecotricity is asking everyone in favour of the plans to write to or email the planners to express their support.

The company has scrapped plans for a fifth turbine, but says the four proposed turbines would be able to power more than 6,700 homes in the Sedgemoor district, with each turbine able to power 1,200 average homes.

But opposition from some residents who would be affected by the proposed windmills is still strong.

West Huntspill Wind Farm Action Group chairman John Wakefield said: “We’re asking the silent majority to rise up and protect those who would be badly affected by these turbines, such as Emerald Fisheries, who would probably go out of business if these were built.

“Through asking the people who stay there to enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside and quiet fishing, everybody said they wouldn’t stay if they had the noise of these thumping great turbines overhead.

“We think they have timed this application because they want to get it in before legislation changes, which could make it illegal to have wind farms within two miles of any settlement.”

Julie Trott, spokesman for the action group, said: “The timing of this is very crass as people have less time to write letters and think about things over Christmas.

“We’ve been keeping people informed about the application, and now we’ve got to get everyone to write in and complain about it.”

Ecotricity’s managing director Dale Vince said: “We’re very pleased to finally be submitting this project for planning approval.

“During the consultation phase we’ve listened carefully to the views of local people and as a result we’ve reduced our proposals from the original five windmills to four.

“By doing this we will ensure these windmills are good neighbours for people and wildlife.”

“We hope that the council will recognise the real need to develop good sources of local clean energy and that the planning committee in particular will reflect that the vast majority of people wish to see developments such as this - and that those people the committee does hear from on this will be a tiny but very vocal minority.”

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