Wind farm plans run out of puff

MONEY-spinning plans to build new wind farms on publicly owned land in East Cambridgeshire have been halted.

Land at Whitehall Farm in Littleport and Wolvey Farm in Coveney had been identified by county council officers as ideal sites for new turbines but the plans are set to be shelved for “a number of years” in response to public opposition.

The authority says the move will cost the public purse less than �10,000.

Cllr Steve Count, cabinet member for resources and performance, said:

“By and large, people don’t want turbines on their doorsteps. Communities know best whether those wind farms are right or wrong, and so it’s the county council’s view that it shouldn’t be making matters worse.

“That is why we have looked again at our plans for developing wind farms on our own land. We are progressing with other environmentally friendly initiatives, including fitting solar power to barn roofs, as well as investing in land and water management, all of which have little if any impact on surrounding communities.”

County councillors agreed back in February that the two East Cambridgeshire sites would be among four sites across the county that were ideally suited to new windfarms.

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As well sites in Littleport and Coveney, land in Warboys and Farcet was also considered.

The decision was made after a nine-month trawl of the council’s 33,000 acre estate by officers and experts and more than three years of debate among members.

The council hoped that, by renting the land to wind farm developers, it could generate up to �900,000 per annum, with the corresponding rent for the agricultural land lost to the turbines valued at just �1,000.

The authority also agreed in February, to reserve the ability to invest in new wind farms as well as investigate opportunities for generating solar power.

At the time, the council’s director of finance, Nick Dawe, said: “The further development of wind energy on council land will contribute towards diversification and enhanced income streams and improve commercial prospects from the farms estate.”

At a meeting of the council cabinet scheduled for Tuesday however, the plans are expected to be deferred.