A PETITION demanding Huntingdonshire planners adopt guidelines that would see an end to wind farms in the district got a sympathetic hearing from the district council last week.

The 795-signature petition covering 30 parishes, which demanded that Huntingdonshire District Council consider a policy that no turbine more than 100 metres tall should be allowed within two kilometres of any dwelling, has little chance of success.

It would virtually rule out any further wind power in the district and would be ridiculed by Government planning inspectors, according to development management committee chairman Councillor Peter Mitchell.

But the petition, eloquently presented by Colin Watters, from Molesworth, proposed that HDC adopt size and distance limits spelled out in the Wind Turbines (Minimum Distances from Residential Premises) Bill presented to the House of Lords by Lord Reay.

Most recent applications to HDC have been for structures of around 125 metres in height to the blade tip and 80 metres to the hub centre.

Councillors agreed to take it into a forthcoming review of planning policy in the light of yet-to-be-revealed Whitehall guidelines - after the May 5 district council elections.

Mr Watters, who said the signatories were not against wind power, described tall turbines as "intrusive, oppressive and overbearing". One in six generated noise complaints, he claimed, and the petitioners' demands were broadly in line with limits adopted by other countries, including Scotland.

But Cllr Peter Bucknell said his constituents in Warboys, neighbours of the largest wind farm in the district, at Tick Fen, had no complaints about noise.

New leader Cllr Jason Ablewhite added that it would be hard for HDC to change its policy on such an 'emotive subject' without Whitehall changing the policy framework within which councils had to work.

Several other members, no doubt with an eye on Thursday's polls, offered varying degrees of support for the petitioners.

Opposition leader Cllr Peter Downes warned of the risk of the landscape between west Huntingdonshire and the Northamptonshire border becoming "a forest of turbines".

Cllr Mitchell insisted that the authority remained committed to promoting and delivering a low-carbon agenda.

He cautioned against capricious refusals of planning consent, and warned planners could lose the chance to control developers' worst excesses by imposing strict conditions on the permissions they did allow.

"With a 2km circle, it would be hard to find a location in Huntingdonshire where it did not overlap a house," he told fellow-members. "If you wish to change a policy, you have to prove there's demonstrable harm in that policy."