Winds of change as district council shifts focus to solar energy in Huntingdonshire


- Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council wants to restrict planning applications for large scale wind farms in a bid to ‘protect the district’s landscape’ for the future.

The authority has decided against allocating any sites that could be suitable for new wind farms within the draft version of its Local Plan to 2036, which, if approved, could make it more difficult for large-scale turbines to win planning approval.

Councillor Robin Howe, former executive leader, said: “We have granted some of them [wind farms] but several of the wind farms were granted on appeal so we, as a council, refuse the application, in a couple of instances, then the decision is overturned by the inspector.

“There hasn’t been an enthusiastic embracing of wind turbines in this district historically anyway but we still have a number of very prominent wind turbine sites across the district and, per capita, we have a high number of turbines compared to other counties in England.”

According to Cllr Howe, the district, along with neighbouring Fenland, are among areas with the highest amount of wind turbines in the country, along with Cumbria and Devon.

He said: “We thought in order to protect our landscape we should restrict the number of new turbines that come forward.

“We don’t think that residents like to see them from their homes, we think that when they are installed they can create trouble for the residents because of noise and so we thought in the interest of harmony we’d say we don’t want to see anymore.”

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Instead of wind turbines the council will look at generating renewable or low-carbon energy from solar farms.

“We think we do our bit as a district, we generate a lot of power through renewables now, we have many large solar farms and we have a large number of turbines,” Cllr Howe said.

“The solar farms are something that we do encourage, we think they are much less intrusive, they give a value to the land owner but they give value to society as well so we would welcome more solar farms in the area but we definitely don’t want more applications for wind turbines.”

The plan comes after the authority carried out a consultation on wind energy at the beginning to the year to hear views from residents on how they think it should be managed and developed in the area.