Campaigners against a planned wind farm at Hemswell Cliff fear a change of government may make the project more likely to happen.
A public hearing into the proposal from RWE Innogy starts at the Lincolnshire Showground on January 27, but it is feared a decision may not be made until after the General Election, when a more pro-wind-farm minister might make the final decision.
Villagers around Hemswell Cliff have spent three years opposing a wind farm, attracting support from Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh and West Lindsey District Council, leading government minister Eric Pickles to ‘call in’ the proposal.
Ernie Coleman of the residents group VOCAT said the hearing is expected to last at least eight days.
“West Lindsey District Council will be putting forward papers on Landscape and Heritage. VOCAT will be supporting the council on both subjects, and raising archaeology as an additional paper. Further papers will be presented by VOCAT (with the approval of the Planning Inspector) on Localism, Tourism and Business, Geology and Hydrology, Equality, Radar and Aviation,” he said.
“Despite the unmistakable strength of the opposition, the developers have wholly ignored the local people and are intent on driving home a scheme that is of interest to themselves and their ‘Green’ hangers on,” Ernie added.
“Government making a decision “can take a considerable time and will, almost certainly extend beyond the next General Election with its risk of a different, wind farm-supporting Secretary of State making the decision.”
However, RWE Innogy UK developer Neil Parnell trusts the decision will “rest purely on its merits,” and said the farm will bring £10 million of construction investment and £100,000 a year for community projects.
“The site is ideal for a wind farm with excellent road access, good wind speeds and a suitable connection to the electricity grid.”
Labour PPC for Gainsborough David Prescott said: “Lincolnshire has exactly the right environment for wind farms but developers need to get buy-in from communities, like Hemswell Cliff.”
“If we want a sustainable energy supply and not be held to ransom by Russia and the Middle East, renewables must play a part. But they must be sited with the consent of the communities. Though I do find it a bit strange that some people say turbines spoil the view but then have no problem with ugly pylons and power stations.”