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County ban on large wind turbines criticised by campaigners
GREEN campaigners have criticised a blanket ban on large wind turbines and wind farms on county council land – branding it as “evidence-free.”
Council leader Councillor Ken Thornber last week ruled out big wind energy developments on 21,000 acres of council land, including tenant farms and country parks.
A council report said the damage to the countryside from large wind farms outweighed the benefits in generating clean, sustainable energy.
Campaigners challenged why a blanket ban was necessary instead of considering merits of individual schemes, including the impact on the landscape, as required under planning law.
Cllr Thornber said: “I take the view that while Hampshire should prosper, it will not be at the cost of the environment.”
He said the ban did not mean the council had ruled out applications for individual turbines, for example from schools.
Ray Cobbett, representing Hampshire Friends of the Earth, said campaigners asked the council for evidence to support the ban but were just told it was based on similar policies in Wiltshire and Lincolnshire.
Mr Cobbett said: “As far as we can see, this policy is evidence-free and appears to be based almost entirely on subjective opinions by people who don’t like wind farms.”
He added: “Banning wind turbines sends a loud and clear message to every major landowner in the county to do likewise, and says that Hamp-shire supports renewable energy provided we don’t have to produce any ourselves.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Adrian Collett, opposition spokesman for policy and resources, also called for the council to produce evidence for the ban.
He said: “I find it very hard to believe that in a county the size of Hampshire there is nowhere suitable.”
Environment chief Cllr Mel Kendal has travelled extensively in Europe and visited wind farms as a county councillor and member of the climate change committee of the Assembly of European Regions.
He said: “I personally think, in the correct setting, that wind farms look very attractive.”
But Cllr Kendal said he took seriously his duty to protect Hampshire’s “rolling hills” and keep it a beautiful place.