ANTI-WIND farm campaigners from the North East have hit back after former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott accused them of being Nimbys
In a speech to the British Wind Energy Association’s annual conference at Liverpool yesterday, Mr Prescott blamed countryside residents anxious to protect their “chocolate box” views for 75% of onshore wind farm applications being refused by councils.
Mr Prescott said the record low 25% approval figure is unacceptable and called for councils to accept their obligations to tackle climate change and recognise that wind farms are part of Government policy.
The MP also demanded local authorities identify sites suitable for wind farms and that they stop delaying decisions in the expectancy that the government will overturn their rulings.
But last night, Mr Prescott’s comments were met with anger from anti-wind campaigners in the region.
Andrew Joicey, who farms at Cornhill and who is a member of the Save our Unspoilt Landscape group opposing a turbine scheme at Barmoor near Berwick, said he was speechless.
He said wind power is not the answer to tackling global warming given that there are doubts over its efficiency.
Mr Joicey added: “They criticise Nimbys. If someone has a valid objection under the planning system, they have the right to air it and to make an objection. They should not be criticised for doing that.
“It is not just ‘chocolate box’ views that are brought up against wind farms in the inquiries. There are some genuine planning reasons why these wind farms are opposed – planning guidelines both local and national.”
Mr Joicey said it would be sensible for councils to identify wind farm sites, as long as they do not do so on the advice of developers.
The MP’s comments have also angered Bill Cotton, who fears the prospect of four wind farms being built close to his bed and breakfast business at Wingates, Northumberland, could see it close.
Mr Cotton, a 68-year-old retired lawyer, said: “I bet he (Mr Prescott) does not have a single turbine within the vicinity of his home.”
Speaking at the annual conference of the British Wind Energy Association, the trade body for the wind and marine renewable energy industry, Mr Prescott said: “Basically people who have moved out into the countryside and built nice houses, good luck to them, but they are the ones who don’t want any change.
“People who have moved out of our towns and have a nice chocolate box view, they have bought that and I understand it, but at the end of the day you have got to strike a balance of what is in the national interest and, frankly, they are the ones who will suffer first because these are also areas in danger of massive floods caused by climate chance.
“I want to see kids outside planning inquiries not with ‘save our view, we don’t want this’, placards but with placards saying ’what about our kids and our kids’ kids’.”