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GOOD NEWS FOR GREEN ENERGY - BUT IS IT BAD NEWS FOR THE VILLAGES?

July 2, 2009 5:23 PM

Liberal Democrat Member of Stockton Borough Council Councillor John Fletcher today commented yesterday's planning approval for a wind farm between Hilton and Seamer. This went through on the Chairman's casting vote after the Council's Planning Committee's tied vote of 5-5. John said:

"I went into the meeting predisposed to allow wind turbines. We are buffeted frequently by wind. Liberal Democrats strongly believe in expanding the renewable energy programme, and this must be done whenever and wherever is practicable. We have great natural resources. Developing our renewables as quickly as possible must therefore be the highest energy priority. This isn't fantasy talk. The technology exists. Now is the time for investment in renewables and practical action.

However, I had read all the lengthy agenda reports and listened carefully to the debate. The more I heard and read, the more I realised that people hadn't got their act together to put this wind farm on this spot. To build five turbines 145 metres high (seven times the height of the "Angel of the North") between the villages would involve bringing each of 18 blades 45 metres long through High Leven and along the little road which winds through Hilton village during normal working hours. Coupled with all the other construction traffic and the need to reverse the process after the 25-year expected life of the wind farm, I felt that local people would be inconvenienced disproportionately over a long period. I therefore voted against this particular application, even though I am in favour of "green" energy.

A total of four councillors from three other political parties who missed the meeting did not send substitute Members. There can be no party whip on planning applications; nevertheless a difficult decision like this is too important to shirk."