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Wind of change for turbine plans

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: January 29, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

Wind of change for turbine plans

Turbine net

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WIND turbines more than 15 metres (49 feet) tall could be banned in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Under a proposed policy, the structures would also have to be erected within the boundary of the applicant's address, and not in open countryside where they were visible.

The news comes amid continuing controversy over the siting of wind turbines in the district, notably at Morridge Top.

A special planning applications committee meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council is to be held on February 6 to make a decision on several outstanding applications for turbines across the Moorlands.

Now, two more additional applications have been submitted to the authority.

The district council has set up a working group to look at renewable energy, including wind turbines.

At last week's meeting of the group, district council leader Sybil Ralphs said: "Last September, I asked the energy renewable working group to look at a policy regarding turbines. We have had some unbiased comments, suggestions and assistance from a large number of people from across the Moorlands.

"I dislike wind turbines. They are disruptive to the planning committee, intrusive, spoil the countryside, divide communities, and on health and safety grounds no-one has assured me they are safe.

"The aim of producing a policy was to bring the issue to a satisfactory conclusion."

She added: "There are wind turbines in the Moorlands that should not be there, but some have been allowed by Government inspectors on appeal.

"Driving to Ashbourne, you can see them in the open countryside.

"But drive to the Peak Park and it's a different story, as they are less intrusive.

"Regarding landscape, you cannot tell where the Moorlands and Peak Park border is, as the areas are the same.

"My postbag tells me the area is being spoiled and that we have to protect the countryside."

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"Therefore, I am proposing a policy that turbines should not be more than 15 metres high and that they have to be within areas of building and trees near the applicant's site to camouflage them.

"Anything above 15 metres would have to show an exceptional case. I now intend to take this proposal to the council's scrutiny committee, then the full council and then on to Westminster."

Chairman of the working group, Norma Hawkins, said: "I represent the district council at the Peak Park. Officers do not readily accept them as they are hot on landscape issues.

"Landscape areas need looking at. The top of Morridge is not contained landscape."

However, news of a proposed policy was not supported by Liberal Democrats councillors John Fisher and Henry Jebb.

Mr Fisher said: "I feel strongly that we must play our part in reducing carbon emissions. Properly sited turbines do this and wind is in abundance. I do not, however, want them in the Roaches area."

Mr Jebb said: "It is not our right to over-ride planning policy."

Biddulph Moor resident Roger Carter has attended the working group meetings as he is against wind turbines being erected in the countryside.

He said: "Having attended the recent final meeting, it now seems that the presentation by Sybil Ralphs has reset the whole agenda.

"The group responded in a positive manner to these inputs, but it became obvious that more meetings would be required to absorb all the new information and process this into a meaningful policy."

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