A PLANNING inspector has told Wiltshire Council to consult the public on a controversial amendment to the Core Strategy that could spell the end of wind farm development in the county.

The Core Strategy, which governs future planning and development, was amended shortly before it was agreed by councillors on June 26 to create minimum separation distances between wind farms and homes.

Wind turbines that are greater than 150 metres high must be three kilometres away from homes and those that up to 50 metres high must be one kilometre away.

The amendment has angered green energy campaigners, including Wiltshire Community Wind Energy, which says it would “bring an end to wind power in Wiltshire before it has really begun.”

And the newly formed Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance - a group of local residents, businesses, and community groups - said the scale of the separation distances would effectively end prospects of wind farm development in Wiltshire. Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, from the Alliance, said: “Planning policy should be open-minded and unbiased, yet this amendment, rushed through at the eleventh hour, seeks to place prejudice against one form of development at the heart of our planning system.

“The Alliance has been formed to show that there is wide-spread opposition to this amendment, which isn't just anti-wind, but anti-fairness.

“The justification for this amendment was public safety. However there has not been a single incident, anywhere in the world, where a member of the public has been seriously injured by the normal operation of a wind turbine.” Alliance members wrote to the Planning Inspector’s office questioning the scientific basis of the amendment and the lack of public consultation.

The planning inspector’s office replied that it has told Wiltshire Council that the public should be consulted on the proposed change.

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “The Wiltshire Core Strategy has been drawn up over the last three years through consultation with local people, businesses and organisations.

“In response to comments received, a number of changes to the draft core strategy were proposed and agreed at June’s full council meeting.

“These changes include updating the strategy to improve consistency with the National Planning Policy Framework and a motion which gives interim guidance on how far wind turbines should be from homes.

“As expected, the inspector has now asked the council to consult on these changes.

“The council is in discussion with the inspector as to how it will carry out this consultation. “The council will publicise the details of the consultation when agreed by the Inspector.

“Once the feedback has been gathered, the Wiltshire Core Strategy will be examined in public at a date and venue to be confirmed by the Inspectorate in due course.”