United Kingdom

United Kingdom

PM misses chance to back wind

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Prime Minister Tony Blair missed an opportunity to prove his green credentials when he failed to support plans for a wind farm close to his Sedgefield constituency in County Durham. Blair, who claims that tackling climate change will be one of his priorities during the current UK presidency of the G8 nations, would have clearly seen the four turbines proposed by EDF Energy from his home.

EDF wanted to build a 5.2 MW wind farm at Trimdon. However, members of Durham City Council turned down the application against the recommendation of their planning officer who said the project fitted national, regional and local policies. Durham City planners say the application prompted 66 letters of objection and a petition for and against the scheme.

A local protest group claims its prime objection is that the turbines would create subsidence affecting residents living nearby; the site was once part of Trimdon Grange mine. Blair's agent, John Burton, wrote to objectors saying: "I agree with many of the points you raise. While both Tony and I support the development of alternative sources of energy, they need to be situated in the correct place. Large turbines shouldn't be sited near housing developments and, in the case of Trimdon Grange, built on land that is liable to subsidence."

Durham City Council planning officer Peter Herbert says subsidence was not one of the committee's reasons for refusing the application. He adds that neither Blair nor his agent objected to the proposal, and the adjoining Sedgefield local authority raised no objection. EDF claims it has not decided whether to appeal against the decision.

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