PLANS for a blanket ban on wind farms on council land in Hampshire have been condemned as “simply bonkers”.
Tory council chiefs have said that while the benefits of providing clean renewable energy are recognised, there are “adverse impacts” on the landscape. A county council report said that the financial benefits would also be outweighed.
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 on whether to ban wind farms and large turbines will be made by council leader Councillor Ken Thornber on January 24 as executive member for policy and resources.
A county council spokesman said: “The leader will report his decision to the first full council meeting after that.”
But Councillor Keith House, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said that the decision on any ban should be made only after a full council debate.
Cllr House said: “Hampshire Conservatives’ position on this issue is quite simply bonkers. Would they rather see a nuclear power station at Fawley, or turbines in appropriate sites?
“Renewable energy is an essential part of future energy security. A blanket ban is irresponsible and, frankly, stupid.”
Cllr 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.”
In a statement, deputy council leader and environment chief Councillor 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 under-developed countryside.”
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.
The local authority has been hit by a £1.4million ‘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, near Whitchurch, as district councils, and not Hampshire, are the decision-making bodies.