Kent wind farm rejection may be overruled

Objections to a wind farm by local authorities in Kent may be overruled after Kent's Green MEP Dr Caroline Lucas stepped in last week.

The proposal for a wind turbine development at Romney Marsh was originally rejected by Kent County Council (KCC) on landscape grounds. But Dr Lucas has now called for planning permission to be granted, stating that the potential impact of climate change should far outweigh aesthetic landscaping concerns.

“Of course wind farms must be sensitively designed and sited, but renewable energy generation on an economic scale remains the only viable answer to catastrophe,” Dr Lucas insisted. “As one of the counties most likely to be worst hit by the effects of climate change, Kent has most to gain from implementing solutions, however radical they first seem.”

The proposed wind farm would comprise 26 turbines capable of generating around 78 MW of electricity. Dr Lucas pointed out that this is equivalent to 80% of the amount of electricity currently used by the local borough.

“The wind farm proposal will generate over three quarters of Shepway’s current electricity needs, and any objections must balance this enormous long-term benefit,” she said.

However the leader of KCC, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said that he still found the idea of building 380-foot wind turbines on the local marsh totally unacceptable.

“It’s just not on,” Sir Bruce-Lockhart complained. “Romney Marsh has a wonderful and evocative landscape, big skies, grazing sheep, small historic churches and wild, flat marshland. A development of this scale is totally inappropriate and would destroy this unique heritage.”

He added that he was sure there were a number of other suitable development sites for the wind farm elsewhere in the South East, particularly offshore.

In stark contrast to Kent, Scotland and Wales have approved 30 new wind power projects this week, which will produce around 770 MW, which will double the current amount of installed capacity.

With an another 1,700 MW of projects currently either under or awaiting construction, the wind industry is on track to produce at least 2.5% of the UK electricity supply once all the farms are completed.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) also recently launched a campaign, Embrace the revolution, to raise awareness about wind-powered electricity generation (see related story). It has been backed by celebrities such as Chris Tarrant and Coldplay, and around 7,000 people have already signed up to give their support.

“The UK wind industry is clearly going from strength to strength, building on the base of strong public support,” chief executive of the BWEA Marcus Rand commented. “This is a further powerful signal that the UK is truly embracing the renewables revolution.”

Due to the size of the Romney Marsh development, the final decision as to whether or not the development is approved will be taken by the Secretary of Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, who is holding a public inquiry into the proposed wind farm throughout October.

By Jane Kettle

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