FENLAND: New wind turbine policy approved but neighbouring councils come under fire
By John Elworthy COUNCILLORS are confident that a new policy approved last night will give planners better control over growth that has seen Fenland become the wind turbine capital of East Anglia. Although some senior Fenland councillors expressed their r
By John Elworthy
COUNCILLORS are confident that a new policy approved last night will give planners better control over growth that has seen Fenland become the wind turbine capital of East Anglia.
Although some senior Fenland councillors expressed their reservations, Cabinet approved guidelines that will influence where more turbines can be sited.
Councillor Alan Melton, Cabinet member for business and economic development, said Fenland should be proud of its record which has seen 35 turbines built and a further nine approved.
But he said that if "we don't have guidelines to show we are in control, Ministers will grant decisions on appeal or worse still take the decisions for us and we would simply become consultees. That would be a sad day."
He said of the report: "It is a damn good attempt to have some control, not withstanding possible Government intervention in the future."
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But he did have some reservations and wondered if Fenland has already gone far enough in providing turbines.
"Perhaps it's time for other districts," he said, accusing neighbouring Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire councils of dragging their feet on applications.
"It needs to be evened up on a county wide and regional basis," said Cllr Melton.
But Councillor Kit Owen said the report had not dealt with those who objected to all wind turbines and it ought to be possible for parishes who objected not to have them.
"Why can't we say we don't them want them in some places?" he said. "There should be scope to say certain parishes do not want them."
Council officials insisted the policy was simply there to provide a framework for decision making.
Gary Garford, corporate director, said: "Planning has some areas of subjectivity. We are trying to set the framework to enable us to moderate the number of turbines. The balance is difficult to achieve- this framework will enable us to assess merits of each application."
He said there was always going to be objections about the numbers and scale of wind turbines but "we couldn't have a policy that simply says we don't want them here."
Rebecca Yee, head of development services, insisted the document strengthened the policies of the council and would provide "clear criteria" for the planning committee.
Councillor Mac Cotterell argued that people were telling him Fenland had enough turbines.
"Am I wrong?" he said. "Have we not made our feelings felt that we've enough wind turbines?"
Council Leader Geoff Harper said Fenland had been a pioneer of wind turbines through East Anglia and the new policy would now provide much needed technical guidance for the future.