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Ban on windfarms is 'simply bonkers'
6:00am Thursday 1st November 2012 in News
PLANS for a blanket ban on wind farms on council land in Hampshire have been condemned as “simply bonkers.”
Tory council chiefs say that while the benefits of providing clean renewable energy are recognised there are “adverse impacts” on the landscape.
A county council report said the financial benefits would also be outweighed.
But the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, Cllr Keith House, said a blanket ban would be “irresponsible and, frankly, stupid."
Energy companies pay landowners large sums to lease their land for turbines - cash that could be spent on services.
The local authority is a major landowner with tenant farms, country parks and other land.
The final decision to ban wind farms and large turbines will be made by council leader Ken Thornber on January 24 as executive member for policy and resources.
A council spokesman said: “The leader will report his decision to the first full council after that.”
But Councillor Keith House, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said the decision should be made after a full council debate.
Cllr House added: “Hampshire Conservatives' position on this is quite simply bonkers. Would they rather see a nuclear power station at Fawley, or turbines in appropriate sites?
“Renewal energy is an essential part of future energy security. A blanket ban is irresponsible and, frankly, stupid."
But in a statement, deputy leader and environment chief Mel Kendal said: “We are completely signed-up to the benefits of low-carbon energy but believe that at the present moment large scale wind turbines on our land do not provide a sufficient benefit to justify the loss of some of Hampshire's most prized undeveloped countryside.”
Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Councillor Adam Carew said “We wouldn't wish to see wind farms on areas of outstanding beauty or sites of special interest but an absolute ban is ludicrous.”
Councillor Alan Weeks, the sole Green Party member of the county council said: “The local authority could be using its land to generate renewable electricity and one way is wind farms.
“There are a lot worse eyesores. On the horizon, they can look quite spectacular and - unlike the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth - they generate electricity.”
The proposed ban comes as the council is drawing up a new energy strategy in a bid to cut its energy bill and carbon emissions.
As reported, the local authority has been hit by a £1.4m “green tax” for carbon emissions from services such as street lighting and heating schools.
The policy won't affect planning applications for wind farms on private land such as the one at Bullington Cross, north of Winchester, as city and district councils - not Hampshire - are the decision making bodies.
Energy minister John Hayes has been reported as saying existing wind farm sites and those in the pipeline would be enough to meet green commitments.
But a subsequent government statement said there were no caps on wind farms or change of policy.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: “Onshore wind is one of the cheapest renewables, which is why we've been able to cut the subsidy. It has an important role to play in our energy future.”