Renewable energy has its place in planning for Britain’s future energy needs but do you want a wind farm right on your doorstep?
Proposed changes to Swindon Borough Councils Core Strategy and Development Management Policies mean that safeguards and protections in the old plan which recently helped to prevent Ecotricity from building three gigantic 120m wind turbines on the doorstep of South Marston have been swept away in favour of a blanket declaration that renewable energy projects such as wind energy should be encouraged.
Worse still, the new plan designates specific areas that are Wind Turbine Areas of Search that the revised plan identifies for active consideration and Highworth, Hannington, South Marston and the eastern villages of Wanborough and Liddington are right there on the front line. A map included in the new Core Strategy shows a broad area of land just to the north of Highworth for example, where development of wind farms is considered suitable and desirable.
Last year a concerted campaign saw thousands of Swindon residents voice their concerns about the revised plan in the consultation exercise that SBC initiated and well over 800 people from this side of Swindon specifically wrote in to ask for just one simple protection to be included in the Core Strategy. That there should be a 2km gap between any proposed wind turbines and residential housing. Nothing radical here, it’s been adopted by other Councils and is under debate in Parliament for a national planning restriction. But unfortunately, despite the unprecedented response to the Core Strategy consultation, Swindon Council has to date ignored residents’ requests.
Honda, to its great credit, eventually recognised that their proposed wind turbines were not suitable so close to residential housing and opted instead for a Solar Farm on the edge of South Marston. However, if the same case had to be argued again, Highworth, or any other parishes, wouldn’t have the same protection to make sure the correct decision is reached.
We need to make sure that our elected Councillors are aware of the genuine concerns and get this one simple, 2km rule included, or the whole public consultation process will be seen to be a sham!
Contact your Councillors and your MP to make sure they are aware of your concerns. And you need to do it now, because the consultation period is coming to an end.