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Vote for a greener economy in Wiltshire

There’s just one question to ask when council candidates come knocking…

A four-yearly rite of Spring sees prospective council candidates knocking on Wiltshire’s doors ahead of polls on May 2nd. And if there’s one issue that divides the county, as it does the country, it’s wind farms – although there isn’t actually a single commercial wind turbine in the county...

Image courtesy of nirots by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nirots by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And little prospect of one either, as the route to developing wind farms here was effectively barred last summer by a last-minute change to Wiltshire’s Core Strategy. The new policy, voted through by the Conservative-controlled council without prior consultation, imposes a turbine exclusion zone of up to 3km around houses, ostensibly for health and safety reasons. The effect is shown clearly on this map - taking into account other restrictions such as AONBs and conservation areas, almost no scrap of land remains where a wind farm could be built.

The Core Strategy will be subject to a six-week public examination by the Planning Inspector starting in May – when the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance hopes this restrictive policy will be overturned. They’ll be making a strong case that the amendment is unscientific and goes against national planning policy, which says that wind farm applications should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In the meantime, when prospective council candidates come knocking on your door asking for your vote, ask them what they think about wind turbines.

And if they need a reminder, here are some reasons to support wind power in Wiltshire:

  • Wiltshire is already the second-worst county in the Southwest when it comes to generating green power – and is missing out on jobs and other economic benefits as a result. According to a recent study by RegenSW, employment in renewable energy has been growing at an annual rate of 40 percent in the region, despite the grip of the recession. But it could be even higher – we’re losing out on tens of thousands of green jobs, partly due to restrictive local planning policy.
  • Wiltshire Council’s own study identified wind power as one of two main potential sources of renewable power (the other was biomass).
  • Wind power is one of the safest forms of energy generation, and there’s no evidence to support the need for separation distances.
  • Wind farms, as with other developments, should be subject to fair planning scrutiny, considered on a case-by-case basis, and sited only where appropriate.
  • What happens in Wiltshire is being closely followed by other local authorities. If this policy is not overturned by the Planning Inspector then there’s a real risk that a precedent will become established which could have serious implications for our country’s ability to achieve its renewable energy targets.

Surveys consistently show that most of the British public support wind energy. So don’t be part of the silent majority – use your vote to let the council know what you think.

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