Hunts wind turbine petition ‘has no chance’

A 795-SIGNATURE petition urging Huntingdonshire councillors not to allow large wind turbines to be sited within two kilometres of a habitation has little prospect of success.

Organiser Colin Watters, who says he toured 30 parishes in the district collecting the signatures, claims the proposal is not anti-wind energy.

“A significant number of those who signed the petition believe that wind energy has an important role to play in reducing the effect of climate change,” he has told the council, which will formally consider the petition at its meeting next Wednesday.

“However, all agree that there should be size and distance limits from houses.”

The petition proposes that HDC adopt size and distance limits spelled out in a Bill presented to the House of Lords by Lord Reay, the Wind Turbines (Minimum Distances from Residential Premises) Bill.

The signatories want distance limits to apply to any turbine over 100 metres tall. In practice, this applies to most applications considered by HDC planners – most recent applications have been for structures of around 125 metres in height to the blade tip and 80 metres to the hub centre.

The petitioners are urging the council to consider a special motion at its next full meeting – which will be the annual meeting in May – namely:

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“This meeting agrees that wind turbines 100m tall or over cause an unacceptable loss of amenity for residents of dwellings located within 2km. Where turbine heights exceed 130 metres, they will adversely affect residents at an even greater distance requiring these turbines to be sited even further away from dwellings.

“This meeting supports the Wind Turbines (Minimum Distances from Residential Premises) Bill, currently before the Houses of Parliament, and actions the chairman of the council to write to the Government stating the councils support for the Bill and asking the Government to support the Bill.

“This meeting asserts that a lack of planning guidance defining the minimum acceptable separation between wind turbines and houses is contributing to an excess number of unsuitable planning applications for wind turbines being received, with consequential adverse impact on the councils planning department budget.

“This meeting requests the planning department of Huntingdonshire District Council to draw up and issue as a matter of urgency an interim local planning policy document based on the provisions of the Wind Turbines (Minimum Distances from Residential Premises) Bill, the consultation period to be 28 days.”

The petitioners stress that less tall turbines would not be affected by the move.

“This would not prevent wind farms being built, as some might claim,” Mr Watters, from Molesworth, told The Hunts Post.

“For example, turbines up to 100m tall (the size of those at Burton Wold/Burton Latimer Wind Farm) could still be erected within 2km of houses, but taller ones would need the agreement of local residents.”

But planners are unlikely to take the petition seriously unless there is a dramatic change in Government planning policy as a result of a current review.

HDC’s head of planning services Steve Ingram last night reiterated the council’s policy on wind farms to HDC’s environmental scrutiny committee.

“Wind farms are acceptable forms of development unless you are in a designated area – which we are not – so we are likely to attract proposals,” he told The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday). “If the Government changes national guidance, we will react to that. It is committed to revising all national planning policy, which will be a trigger for us to review local policy.”

The council also works to a policy document prepared about five years ago, describing what sizes of wind farm would be acceptable in individual aspects of the Huntingdonshire landscape.

As to the Bill before the Lords, which has little prospect of progressing unless adopted as Government policy, Mr Ingram said: “It would mean there was nowhere in mainland England outside the national parks where you could put a turbine. It has nil chance.”