Majority of Lincolnshire residents back county council's tough stance against wind farms
Almost 90 per cent of people have backed Lincolnshire County Council's tough stance against wind farms, according to a recent survey by the authority.
The council pledged to stop the "unrestrained invasion" of wind turbines across the county in June last year and the authority's executive moved to resist new wind farm developments.
Just under 4,000 people completed the survey, with 89 per cent of people agreeing with the council’s position.
Under the council's proposals, large wind farms, which can be more than 100 metres high, would not be allowed within 2km of people's homes. Turbines will also be resisted if they are within 10km of a village that has more than ten properties.
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Areas such as the Lincolnshire Wolds will have added protection and more emphasis will be put on the visual impact of developments. Smaller wind turbines, such as seen on farms, will have more support.
The survey also revealed that 63 per cent of people felt wind farms had no role to play in meeting our energy needs and 87 per cent said the county council’s guidelines should be taken into account when new wind farms are considered.
Council leader Martin Hill said: “Clearly our residents feel something has to be done about the unrestrained spread of wind turbines across the county. It also looks that, as far as our residents are concerned, the county council is on the right track.
“We understand the need for renewable energy. However, we can’t ignore the impact wind farms are having on our beautiful and historic countryside for what appears to be very limited gain.
“We need to make sure we balance our need for green energy against inappropriate developments that ruin the very environment we’re trying to protect. We’re confident our guidelines will bring that balance.”
The Lincolnshire Pro Wind Alliance have petitioned the council over claims that the authority has a "negative bias" against wind farms.
The group claims that some councillors are trying to impose their personal views about onshore turbines on the public and are not considering the benefits. It also suggests that creating a policy against wind farms is a waste of taxpayers' money because it is not up to the county council to approve wind farm planning applications.
Group member James Pocklington said: "We're not asking councillors to support wind farms, we just want them to be impartial. They are not engaging with the facts. Wind farms are intermittent but they are efficient and they are excellent at collecting wind energy.
"We disapprove strongly that the county council should spend taxpayers' money to promote councillors' own personal views. There is not going to be an 'unrestrained invasion'. The planning system is robust and we should let it do its job."
Dr Simon Hampton, a psychology lecturer, also claimed the survey did not give equal chances for people to show support for or reject an anti-wind farm stance. He added there was a risk of social desirability bias, where people choose answers they believe are most morally acceptable.
Cllr Hill said: "We can't understand why anybody would object to us asking residents for their views on what is an important issue unless they're worried the results will oppose their own agenda. People are free to disagree with any of our proposals, so any claims of bias are frankly ridiculous.
Our survey was a chance for people to offer their thoughts on wind farms. We were not telling them what to think, and there was no bias to it. We learned their views at no extra cost to the taxpayer."
A report will now be presented to the council’s executive members asking them to endorse a move to make the council’s current position official policy. If they agree, this will go before the full council on February 22 for approval.