GREEN groups have criticised a council’s decision to ban large wind turbines and wind farms on its land.
Leaders at Hampshire County Council, which owns around 21,000 acres, have ruled that they will not support big wind energy developments on their land.
They say turbines could have a ‘very significant impact in terms of visual intrusion, urbanisation, damage to historic character and to tranquillity’.
Environmentalists pleaded with Ken Thornber, the Conservative leader, to change his mind, but he went ahead with the ban.
In his submission to the council, Ray Cobbett, from Emsworth, co-ordinator of Hampshire Friends of the Earth, said: ‘This issue goes beyond a decision about what Hampshire County Council does on its land.
‘Banning wind turbines also sends a loud message to every major land owner in the county that Hampshire supports renewable energy provided we don’t have to produce any ourselves.’
A council report says the average on-shore wind farm of eight, 100m-high turbines can cover an area equivalent to 220 football pitches.
The ruling only applies to county council land as the authority is not a planning body.
Decisions on allowing wind farms on other land will be made by local councils or National Park authorities.
Mr Cobbett told The News: ‘We think it’s a very backward step and contrary to the general direction of travel of the government’s energy policy.’
Cllr Thornber said his authority was ‘completely signed up to the benefits of secure, affordable and low carbon energy’.
But he added: ‘It is important that we carefully consider the benefits and impact of large scale wind turbines on our land, whether they might come at the expense of Hampshire’s character and environment, and if they justify the loss of some of Hampshire’s most prized undeveloped countryside.’