The public gallery at the Town Hall was full as the Whitchurch Town Council Development Committee, led by the new Mayor Cllr John Clark, met to discuss the proposed Bullington Wind Farm. With nearly 20 members of the public, plus Borough and County Councillors present, the Councillors were deciding whether to lodge an objection to the planning application for the 14 turbine site south of the town, planned by energy company EDF.

Town Council Development Committee.

A wide range of opinion
From the public seats, Helen Butler from the Clock Barn wedding venue presented her concerns to the Committee, claiming that the farm would result in loss of views, cause damage to health, lower house values and have a devastating effect on wildlife and horse riding in the area. The Clock Barn business would be threatened and she claimed that the local economy would be £3million worse off.

Anthony Groves, a local commuter and member of the campaign group Keep Hampshire Green argued that while not opposed to renewable energy sources, the real key issue was the environment and that there are other better sources of power. He said the turbines would be higher than Didcot Power Station.

Hampshire County Councillor Tom Thacker, also a Keep Hampshire Green member, said power output was not a planning matter, but that the wind farm “will blight Whitchurch” and gave a long list of reasons for objecting to the application.

Mike Stead, local Whitchurch resident, claimed that 70% of the UK strongly supported onshore wind power and had no issues with wind farms. “There is a silent majority” who were in favour said Mr Stead, and he explained how he had enjoyed the visual amenity of wind farm sites when travelling in the countryside both at home and abroad.

Divisions amongst Councillors
Amongst the Councillors there was division, with Cllr Mike Kean saying that the comments on the “silent majority were important” but that the threats to the economy would sway his vote. Cllr Linda Thomas was opposed to anything that would have a long term effect on the landscape, and Cllr Barry Jackman, while admitting it was a difficult situation, found himself against the proposal.

Two Councillors who were not voting members of the Development Committee spoke against the Town Council submitting a formal objection – Both Cllr Claire Isbester and Cllr Dave Titcomb asked that their views be recorded, saying there were people in favour and that the farms have an ethereal charm as well as there being a desire to have wind power.

“Not friendly to the Parish”
Cllr John Clark summed up and proposed that the Development Committee submit a formal objection, on the grounds that the proposal was “not friendly to our Parish”, and did not comply with a number of planning policies. The proposal was passed and will now be forwarded to Basingstoke and Deane for consideration.

Still time for residents to comment
While the Town Council’s views are now known, anyone else still has the opportunity to lodge their comments, either as an objector or as a supporter by Friday 24th May.
This can be done through the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Planning website.
Visit: BASINGSTOKE & DEANE – Bullington wind farm.

Comments (6)

  • Penny Turner

    Good decision. The power generated by these things rarely exceeds that used in their construction – even if their operate maintenance free for the whole of their expected life.
    Wind-farm = subsidy farm.

  • Claire Isester

    Penny’s comment is a bit misleading. An evidence review published in the journal Renewable Energy in 2010, which included data from 119 turbines across 50 sites going back 30 years, concluded that the average windfarm produces 20-25 times more energy during its operational life than was used to construct and install its turbines. It also found that the average “energy payback” of a turbine was 3-6 months.

  • Mike Stead

    Noting that the *only* grounds the council could really consider was visual impact.

    The deciding vote was cast on the last-minute question from a Cllr to the manager of Clock Barn who had spoken at length opposing the application: ‘Would the turbines be visible in this photo [of Clock Barn]?

    Her answer was yes, but was not backed up by any proof, or survey, or civil planner’s photo mock-up. Clock Barn is surrounded by mature trees and large farm buildings. Based on this image from Google Streetview http://goo.gl/maps/8Z51n it is highly unlikely that any turbine would even be visible from Clock Barn. The entrance to Clock Barn itself faces away from the wind farm site. At 900m distance the noise from the turbines outdoors would be equivalent to a fridge, which as any local knows would be more than drowned out by the nearby A34.

    On that basis, the town’s representatives sent the message to B&DBC that Whitchurch doesn’t want the wind farm.

    The wind farm, if approved, would generate approximately £16,000 a year in community funds. Two hours drive away in northamptonshire the local community gets over £11,000 a year from a smaller wind farm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burton_Wold_Wind_Farm

    Maybe the owners of Clock Barn would like to donate £16,000 a year to community projects?

  • Penny Turner

    “review published in the journal Renewable Energy”. Hmmm; an independent source, with no vested interest at all… lol.

  • Claire Isester

    It is an easy misunderstanding, but this journal is not an organ of the industry. It is a reputable scientific journal totally independent of industry dedicated to scientific research on this subject. Like the British Journal of Cancer does not promote cancer but publishes scientific articles, evidence based and peer reviewed, dedicated to learning more about cancer. Or in this case, renewable energy. Hope that helps.

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