Delight as windfarm scrapped. But action groups say fight not over

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CAMPAIGNERS were celebrating this week after learning telecommunications giant BT has withdrawn its plans for a windfarm on land near Clare.

After analysing wind measurements at the Chilton Street site, the company said there was not enough wind to make the project “economically viable” and it would not be going ahead with plans for three 300-foot high wind turbines at Leys Farm.

A meteorological mast was put up 18 months ago so the company could take wind measurements in order to decide whether or not to apply for planning permission.

But a BT spokesman said this week: “After extended wind monitoring and analysis, we have concluded that there is not sufficient wind resource necessary to make a future wind project viable at this location and, therefore, we will not be progressing with the planned development.”

It was part of the company’s aim to generate enough energy for its own future use from onshore wind power projects around the country.

It held a two-day exhibition of its plans in Clare last year attended by 250 people.

Two action groups, formed to fight the plans, said they were delighted with the decision.

But campaigners said they could not rest on their laurels as they gear up to fight another energy company proposal to build up to 10 turbines – even higher than those proposed by BT – on land adjacent to the site.

A planning application is being considered for another meteorological mast, this time 260-foot high, at Canhams Farm in Stoke by Clare on arable farmland. It has been submitted by South Suffolk Wind Energy, a subsidiary of West Coast Energy.

This could be followed by a planning application to build up to 10 wind turbines – each measuring more than 400-foot high – according to Iona Parker, from Stop Turbines Over Clare (Stoc).

She said: “While the BT scheme has been withdrawn, there are now plans for an even bigger wind farm on the next door farm so, while we are very pleased that BT is not proceeding, the fight is far from over.”

The group has amassed a membership of 900 members since being formed 18 months ago and says it still believes Clare is not a suitable place to have a windfarm.

“We think this proposal is far too close to housing,” said Mrs Parker. “There would be issues of noise. We believe this is not a suitable place to have a windfarm.”

Dave Reynolds, who lives in Chilton Street and is a member of the campaign group Clare Against The Turbines (Catt), said it was good news but residents needed to be cautious about further windfarm projects proposals for the area.

“Yes, this is a victory and it is reassuring but we cannot afford to be complacent as I have a feeling that the defunct BT plan might be resurrected under another name.

“BT has backed off because of the pressure of campaigners and the lack of wind, but the other proposal has bigger turbines and they may be able to get better wind readings.

“I don’t think the issue has gone away and I think everyone needs to be vigilant and remain cautious.”

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said the news vindicated the efforts of local campaigners.

He said: “I am delighted that this inappropriate proposal has been withdrawn and very pleased that BT has finally seen the light of day.

“It is a pity that the company did not listen over a year ago when it was made clear that this scheme was totally inappropriate.

“Now I will put full pressure on West Coast Energy to withdraw its unsuitable proposal.

“I will work closely with St Edmundsbury Borough Council to ensure that the local plan can put a stop to the threat of these proposals for good.”