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Councillors say wind turbines off Thanet coast should be painted green to avoid damaging tourism

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

Councillors claim the colour and size of wind turbines off the coast are damaging tourism in Kent - with some urging for them to be painted green so they blend in more with the landscape.

Swedish energy company Vattenfall plans to expand the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm to make it the biggest in the world.

An addition 34 turbines would join the current 100 off the coast around 7.5 miles from Foreness Point in Margate by 2021.

Thanet Offshore Wind Farm is around 12km off Foreness Point, near Margate
Thanet Offshore Wind Farm is around 12km off Foreness Point, near Margate

The new energy sources are set to tower over the originals as the company plans to build them 250m tall, while the current ones measure at 115m.

Cllr Rosalind Binks (Con), who represents Broadstairs, told her colleagues at the growth, economic development and communities cabinet committee on Thursday (January 10) how these machines could affect tourism.

She said: "I still have my reservations but only about tourism because when they are only 100m high most people don't even look but when they are 250m high and nearer, there could be a problem.

"I don't want to stop windfarms, I think they are an excellent idea, but I do think Vattenfall have to think about tourism and not just all these cheap options."

She claims Vattenfall and similar companies should have to "take a little bit of financial hit" and replace the wind turbines rather than build more.

She added: "Anyone at KCC who's involved needs to remember this as well because it's Broadstairs that actually sees them.

Thanet Offshore Wind Farm
Thanet Offshore Wind Farm

"I know other towns see them as well but we have been the ones impacted by these 250m-high monstrosities."

Cllr Seán Holden suggested a change in colour of the turbines as "it would be nice if they were dark brown or dark green".

He said: "It would be nice if the wind towers could be painted any colour but white to help the environment and, quite frankly, tourism."

Chairman Alan Ridger agreed, saying: "I think this is an excellent suggestion. They do stand out, don't they? They don't need to and they would blend in better with a bit of paint."

However the councillor in charge of economic development at Kent County Council, Mark Dance, said these machines are the "sensible way forward".

"It would be nice if the wind towers could be painted any colour but white to help the environment and, quite frankly, tourism..." - Cllr Seán Holden

Cllr Dance said: "Windfarms are the sensible way forward. It is green energy, it produces jobs and we do it better than anybody else.

"We have got a really good name for ourselves in the wind farm industry and we try to get as many local Kent companies in the supply chain.

"I know there are around 10 windfarm catamarans running over Ramsgate and that's an awful lot of skippers and crews for maintenance, which is working very well in the industry."

Tom O’Reilly, Vattenfall’s Project manager for the Thanet Extension said: “We welcome the feedback from local representatives.

"We are determined to keep going with our positive dialogue with local people about Thanet Extension and its potential to increase the generation of homegrown electricity free from fossil fuels whilst growing the local economy.

“As part of our two-year consultation, a local survey in Thanet found that 91% of businesses that responded had not been affected or had seen a benefit from the existing wind farm.

"And many said that they expected to benefit further from an investment in the extension of Thanet.

"That survey also revealed a strong desire to see the wind farm extension become an asset to local tourism.

“We have listened, so we are progressing plans which will bring a number of renewable and climate change inspired installations to the area.

"Work to develop the community’s ideas will continue this year.”

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