Published: 12:00, 02 August 2015
Hundreds of furious villagers stormed a renewable energy firm’s open day to protest against gigantic wind turbines proposed for the heart of the Canterbury countryside.
RES Ltd unveiled plans to build 11 new turbines as tall as 150 metres on marshland near Chislet and Marshside.
The structures – standing taller than the London Eye – will generate enough electricity to power 16,000 homes.
But the proposal has sparked outrage from residents who believe they will blight the rural landscape and damage wildlife.
MP Sir Roger Gale was among those who went to the Chislet Centre to take part in the consultation on Monday night.
He said: “I was asked for a meeting by the company. I told them my starting position is ‘no’ and my end position will also be ‘no’ because I’ve taken the view that, like the national grid pylons, these are totally unacceptable.
“The message to RES has to go out loud and clear. This is a non-starter. Don’t even waste your time and money on a scoping exercise. A planning application would be rejected.
“Please take your project somewhere else, we don’t want it here.”
He pointed out that subsidies for onshore wind energy had been withdrawn, and that government guidelines would give the final say to local people about schemes.
Stop the Chislet Windfarm committee chairman Dr Ashley Lupin says RES will face strong resistance.
Firing off a warning to the firm, he said: “We are determined this is not going to happen. We local people are not the handful of country bumpkins that you were expecting to walk all over. We are passionate, we are angry and we are organised.
“I can assure you we will fight you and this plan for as long as it takes. But we do not want this fight. We don’t want to have to spend all the time and emotional energy in fighting this battle.
“I make this plea: Do not even apply for planning consent, and leave our little unspoiled corner of England, and us, alone.”
But RES project manager Helen Wilson says the turbines will be more than a kilometre from the nearest houses and could bring as much as £137,000 in benefits to the local area.
She said: “This project is viable in a subsidy-free environment. It is a small-size project that we are used to doing.
“We should definitely be looking at renewables for our future and keeping the lights on. This will be providing energy that powers everyone’s iPhones, laptops and everything else. Demands for energy are increasing and finite resources are declining.
“We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and carry on as we are. We need to be doing something urgently.”
She added that research is being done alongside the RSPB and Natural England to assess the impact on local wildlife.
A planning application is still expected by the end of the year.