MPs back Hunts wind farm opponents at two sites

BARELY 20 years after they got rid of a battery of ground-launched cruise missiles, the villagers of Bythorn and Molesworth in west Huntingdonshire face being towered over by six huge wind turbines.

And 10 miles to the south-east, at Southoe near Buckden, Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has added his weight to residents’ protests against another, three-turbine installation.

RWE Npower Renewables has applied for planning consent for what it calls Molesworth Wind Farm – a prospect that is sure to generate huge local opposition.

The company wants to put up six three-bladed turbines up to 126 metres (416 feet) in height to blade tip, together with a lot of associated infrastructure, on 245 hectares of land south-west of RAF Molesworth, off Warren Lane Bythorn.

According to Geoff Burn, chairman of Brington and Molesworth Parish Council, which will discuss the application on August 2, the documentation runs to 1,432 pages.

“A number of villagers are actively opposed to it because of the proximity to houses,” he told The Hunts Post. “Some could be less than a kilometre away.”

The Stop Molesworth Wind Farm Action Group, which was formed after the idea originally surfaced in 2010, believes the proposal contravenes Huntingdonshire District Council’s own policy on wind turbines in the northern wolds, which is that there should be only one such installation, of no more than three turbines.

Most Read

With permission granted on appeal for four 130-metre turbines near Ellington, that should be enough for the ridge to the north of the A14, said action group chairman Vicky Wood.

“We are opposed to this on many grounds, particularly the huge visual impact on Bythorn and Molesworth, with turbines only 800m-900m from the villages, and interspersed between footpaths and bridleways,” she said.

“A lovely, peaceful, tranquil area will be completely changed for ever. We shall lose our pleasant walks in green lanes from our doorsteps.

“Any other industrial use would be turned down straight away but, because it’s seen as ‘green energy’, it’s judged by different criteria.

“We are also concerned about noise and health issues, which have not been fully explained. I don’t particularly want to be a guinea pig.”

Ms Wood believes the spate of wind farm applications for the A14 corridor – which operators concede is a low wind-speed area – is an attempt to beat a reduction in the level of government subsidy for renewable generation.

The action group has arranged a public meeting at Bythorn Village Hall next Thursday evening, July 12, beginning at 7.30pm.

It will follow an initial discussion of the proposal by Bythorn and Keyston Parish Council tomorrow (Thursday) with a view to formalising a response. “It has been long expected,” said chairman Andrew Ford.

The scheme’s opponents have the support of their MP, Shailesh Vara, who represents North West Cambridgeshire.

“I have opposed the proposed sitings of these turbines for quite some time, and my opposition will continue,” he told The Hunts Post.

“I will be speaking again with the leadership of HDC to reiterate my views, and I hope the council will also take note of the number of local people, in a number of villages, who do not want the turbines.”

The original application envisaged eight turbines at Molesworth, but two were dropped because of a bridleway and the risk to bats.

RWE Npower Renewables says the six turbines now applied for would generate up to 15 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to power 8,700 homes.

If permission is granted, the turbines and other equipment will be shipped from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. On days when concrete for the bases is being poured, construction will generate up to 168 heavy lorry movements a day.

There will be protection for great crested newts and badgers, and the development will benefit other wildlife including birds, small mammals such as bats, invertebrates and amphibians, the applicants claim.

They acknowledge that there will be impact on many of the 170 listed buildings – nine of them Grades I and II* – five conservation areas, four scheduled ancient monuments and a Roman road.

“No cumulative effects with other wind farms in the area are anticipated,” they claim.

At Southoe, where TCI Renewables plan three turbines between the village and Grafham Water, the action group has attracted the support of Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.

“Local residents are concerned about the difficulty of getting into Southoe and the huge equipment that will disrupt life in the village. I have no little sympathy with that.”

He has told HDC planners: “I am fully supportive of the concept of renewable energy- including wind farms - but I firmly believe they need to be sited in appropriate locations and evidence provided for the viability of such projects.

“Concerns have been raised about the scale and magnitude of this development, which seems out of character with the surrounding area, and the proximity of the development to both Grafham Water and Little Paxton Pits.

“Furthermore, I understand that during the eight-month construction phase there will be considerable disruption on the A1, with heavy goods vehicles entering the site via this busy trunk road.”

He added: “My constituents are understandably concerned about the increased potential for accidents. The parishes of Southoe, Diddington and Buckden have long-standing concerns about the safety of this stretch of the A1 and have been campaigning to get the Highways Agency to invest in better junctions to reduce the accident rate.”