Benington farmer defends wind turbine plan

THE farmer behind plans to erect a 284ft wind turbine in a village has hit back at those who are opposing the proposal.

Andrew Bott has submitted a planning application to East Herts Council for a wind turbine to be erected on his land on High Elms Lane in Benington.

The application is strongly opposed by residents who have formed the Stop Benington Wind Farm Action Group and by Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire.

Mr Bott’s application follows a failed attempt to get three turbines installed on his farm - rejected on the grounds that it would impact negatively on nearby listed buildings and Green Belt land.

The new turbine is not on Green Belt and is 100 feet smaller than the originally planned structures.

In last week’s Comet, Mr Heald said he remains concerned about potential damage to the environment and risks to wildlife, particularly bats.

But Mr Bott said that the original application for three larger wind turbines did not produce evidence that it would negatively impact on wildlife and that “this is a smaller wind turbine, further away from the woodland, so there is even less chance of affecting the wildlife”.

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Addressing residents’ concerns about the visual impact of the turbine, Mr Bott said: “Because of the steep sides of the valley and the vegetation, it’s extremely well screened. Gregory’s Farm has the most major view of it, but it’s not dominating.” He suggested residents campaigning against the proposal are “massively overestimating the visual impact”.

Mr Bott said the installation of the turbine will make his farm carbon neutral. “My driving force is protecting the environment,” he insisted.

“Everything I do relies on the natural environment, and if we don’t protect it then my job virtually becomes impossible.”

Sean Clennell, who has lived in Benington for 17 years, is campaigning in favour of the wind turbine.

“I don’t understand why people are against it,” he said.

“All fossil fuels are running out and getting more expensive.

“Wind farms are going to happen - the world has got no choice.”

Mr Clennell continued: “Those who say they are an eyesore on the landscape - what about power stations?

“People just want the source to be on someone else’s doorstep.

“I think wind turbines are elegant anyway. If you ask me, they are works of art.”

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