Core Strategy wind farm consultation ends

A SIX-week public consultation on a controversial last-minute amendment to the Wiltshire Core Strategy has ended, with many against plans that could put an end to any future wind farms being built in the county.

The amendment, inserted by councillors, aims to create minimum separation distances between wind turbines and homes.

However, as a result of the consultation requested by a planning inspector, hundreds of people have opposed the plans, saying separation distances were not only unfair but also not based on sound evidence.

Local community groups also responded collectively to the consultation with submissions from the Wiltshire Federation of Women’s Institutes and the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance, which comprises some 37 different community groups and businesses.

Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, campaign coordinator for the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance, said: “People and community groups across Wiltshire are sending a clear message to the council that imposing exclusion zones would be unfair and not justified by the evidence.

“Planning policy should be open-minded and un-biased, and wind farm applications should be judged on a case-by-case basis in line with national policy.”

The vast majority of responses which favoured separation distances came from addresses within a 5km diameter of the county’s only proposed wind farm at West Ashton, which has yet to be submitted for consultation or planning.

Rowena Quantrill, a member of Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon, who analysed the responses, said: “Many of these anti-wind power comments are based on inaccurate information. Even though these worries are largely unfounded, the concern is genuine.

"The wind industry and Wiltshire Council should work together to better inform the public. Wind power continues to be one of the safest ways to generate electricity in the world.”

The consultation attracted attention from across the UK from individuals and groups concerned that if the amendment was to stand, it would set a dangerous planning policy precedent which might be followed by other councils.

The responses from the consultation will now be passed on to the planning inspector, who is expected to hold a hearing early next year.

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