THE widely panned plan for three giant wind turbines at Honda’s car plant has been scaled down.
Honda and Ecotricity say they are now prepared to settle for just two turbines in response to public pressure – with the one closest to residents’ homes being removed.
But it comes only a fortnight before a council planning meeting was expected to take place, which would have decided whether to allow them to be built.
Now the meeting is likely to be moved to November to discuss the proposal.
Under the new proposal, the size and shape of the two remaining turbines remains the same.
The only difference is the one nearest Highworth Road being rubbed off the blueprints.
Campaigners are claiming it as a victory for public opinion.
Des Fitzpatrick, 64, of South Marston, chairman of lobby group Ill Wind, said: “The expression of massive public opinion in opposition to siting wind turbines so close to homes and schools has forced Honda to think again. It is great to see local democracy having an effect.
“It is clear now that Honda and Ecotricity realised their planning application would fail to meet acceptable standards on noise, flicker and visual impact and that the planning committee would reject it.
“As to the future, we will have to see the revised proposals but if this just amounts to moving the deck chairs on the titanic, we will continue to fight against building giant turbines in inappropriate places.”
And Gina Banks, 44, of Highworth Road, said: “It’s good news – that one was far too close to us. But I’ll be interested to see what happens. It’s positive that Honda seem to be listening to the reaction of people.
“We would still be able to see turbines two and three from our properties regardless. It’s less of an impact of course, but for the guys in South Marston, they’re still 600 metres away.”
Coun Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Nythe), chairman of the planning committee, said: “It’s very unusual to come at the last minute like this. But it shows the company has been very responsible and receptive to change.”
The new proposal was put in jointly with Honda and Ecotricity, the company which will build and install the turbines.
An Ecotricity spokesman said the move does not represent a new planning application, but was only additional information which will be set before the planning committee.
In a joint statement, the companies said: “Taking into account the strength of local opinion at the two previous planning committee meetings, this offers a pragmatic workable solution that addresses the concerns of the local community, whilst enabling Honda to remain competitive in a global market and reduce its environmental impact.
“Honda and Ecotricity still firmly believe that all three turbines originally proposed are viable, and this is reflected in the fact that they have been previously recommended for approval by Swindon Borough Council.
“If this was not the situation, Honda would not have presented three turbines to Swindon Borough Council for consideration.”
Ecotricity has sent 700 letters to residents to explain the change.