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.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.