Published: 12:00, 23 September 2015
Controversial plans for a windfarm standing three times the height of Nelson’s Column have been dramatically shelved, KentOnline can reveal.
Last week the Kentish Gazette reported how power firm RES Ltd’s proposals had attracted such fierce opposition from local villagers that its scheme looked set to be toppled.
The company hoped to plant 11 turbines as high as 150 metres on marshland near Chislet and Marshside, near Canterbury.
But this week RES appeared to backtrack, conceding it had suspended its proposals.
It refuses to comment on whether public opposition has played a part – but government rules now demand sufficient local support before onshore windfarms can be built.
Chislet Parish Council had already emphatically denounced the plans, and last week a survey in neighbouring St Nicholas-at-Wade showed near unanimous opposition too.
Villagers are cautiously hailing RES’s suspension of its proposals a victory.
Dr Ashley Lupin, chairman of the Stop the Chislet Windfarm Committee, said: “We’re convinced it’s local opposition that has swung it.
“They’re obviously not going to admit it, because they won’t want to see growing opposition for other windfarms they’re trying to build elsewhere.
“But the fact is they need local support and they haven’t got it.
“If they pop their heads up out of the woodwork again then we’re ready for them.”
KentOnline put a question directly to RES, asking the company whether local opposition had influenced the decision to suspend.
Bizarrely, spokesman Alison Jones commented: “There is currently no wind farm to be opposed to, as we have made clear throughout the early phase consultation.”
She went on to say that results of the survey conducted in St Nicholas-at-Wade, while negative, “cannot be interpreted as a majority view”.
A statement from the company put the decision down to uncertainty surrounding Canterbury City Council’s Local Plan – the authority’s blueprint for future housing development in the district.
The plan, currently being considered by a government inspector, has been sent back to the council for tweaking before he resumes his examination.
Amendments to the plan could see the council earmarking fresh sites for housing development and associated infrastructure, beyond those originally highlighted.
In its statement, RES’s development manager Helen Wilson said: “We are aware that there are a number of other developments being consulted upon for the surrounding area alongside the local plan, including new power lines and various proposed housing developments.
“RES has therefore decided to suspend further discussion of its Chislet Wind Farm proposal until the local plan has been progressed further.”
Dr Lupin said opposition campaigners were “happy, but not complacent”.
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