Vow to fight revised energy park plans

People looking at the revised plans during a consultation in July

People looking at the revised plans during a consultation in July

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Rutland residents have vowed to fight revised plans for an energy park, where nine wind turbines are planned.

Renewable energy development company RES is due to submit two separate proposals to Rutland County Council for installing nine wind turbines and creating a solar farm on the former Woolfox Lodge airfield, near Stretton.

Previous plans had been for 14 wind turbines on the site just off the A1 which, the Hertfordshire-based company said, had been scaled back following public consultation.

A spokesman said: “RES believes this solution balances the national need to generate more renewable electricity while minimising local impacts. The idea of combining them is to optimise the sites capabilities.”

The solar farm will be spread over 67 hectares and the wind turbines will have a maximum tip height of 130m (427 ft).

RES expects the renewable electricity it generates to meet the average needs of almost 90 per cent of all the homes in Rutland.

But nearby residents, who formed the Woolfox Windfarm Action Group when the original plans were proposed, say the “massive wind turbines will be up for generations and not contribute much”.

They say the turbines will be seen from as far away as Rutland Water, and would ruin the look and feel of the villages that have been classed as conservation areas and which Rutland County Council has classed ‘particularly attractive countryside’.

Chairman of the action group Colin Ashpole said: “We are not against renewable energy, but this will be the largest industrial development in Rutland since the reservoir and will remain in place for a generations.

“Rutland owes the success of its tourism - worth some £93 million to the local economy - to its two market towns, rolling countryside and picturesque villages, as well as water sports, bird watching, heritage, walking and cycling.

“The construction of massive turbines, visible for up to 20 km will directly endanger jobs in tourism and runs counter to Rutland County Council strategy.”

Mr Ashpole said their main objection was against wind turbines which are “noisy, kill birds and damage the landscape” and as solar panels don’t pose the same threats, not all residents were opposed to them.

The campaigners fear the turbines and the cables that connect them to the substation at Stamford will be a blight on the landscape.

The decision on whether the connection will be made via underground cables, overhead lines or a mixture of the two is still being discussed with the network operator Western Power Distribution.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England does not favour wind turbines where it “ruins people’s experience of countryside and landscape” and is opposed to agricultural land being replaced with solar farms, a spokesman said.

It is of the view that Rutland, which gave up 3,000 acres of its countryside for a reservoir in the 1970s, is again being asked to give up “a substantial chunk” of its countryside for a wind farm.

RES will submit its two planning applications to Rutland County Council in the coming days.

Whether they will be decided by the local authority or at a national level will depend on how the application is perceived, the spokesman said.

Applications where the capacity exceeds 50 megawatts of renewable electricity are classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Proposal and decided by the Government’s planning inspectorate. Below that capacity the decision is taken locally.

The spokesman for RES said: “We have prepared two separate planning applications for the wind turbines and the solar 
panels.

“Whether it is treated as two applications or a single proposal is a decision that Rutland County Council will make.

“We have been advised to carry on treating it as two separate proposals.”

A spokesman for Rutland County Council said they were expecting the application soon and planning officers will make their recommendation on whether it can be decided locally or nationally once they have looked at it.