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Comment- Asfordby decision is a victory for localism

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27 March 2014

The news that the proposed Asfordby wind farm has been rejected by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, was a huge relief to everyone who would have been affected by it.

It has been a long slog, with the applicant first appearing on the scene all the way back in 2010. The campaigners have shown incredible tenacity to continue their opposition to the turbines at every stage. Many of them have become self-taught experts in all things wind power related! They had a handle on every last detail of the application and were fantastically organised and thorough in making their case.

Back in 2011 I succeeded in getting the company to fly a blimp at the site of the proposed turbines and was shocked at just how huge they would have been. It was clear that this would have been an unacceptable blight on the landscape that was thoroughly unwelcome to the local community.

I have backed the campaign group all the way, strongly opposing the application to the Council and in person at the subsequent Public Enquiry in Melton. It ended up being a close run thing that, without the intervention of Eric Pickles, might not have had such a positive ending. I had been lobbying him hard since he took the decision to call-in the application, and was delighted he came down on our side in the end.

Ultimately, then, this is a victory for localism, not ‘nimby’-ism.It is clear that although it is vital that we diversify our energy supply, the solution cannot simply be to plonk wind farms down in communities that don’t want them. That is why the Government has taken a number of steps over recent years to make sure that local opinion is given greater weight in planning matters. 

Some communities may be prepared to host these types of wind farms, but in cases such as Asfordby, where I never met a single person in favour of the turbines, their voices ought to carry the day. I am glad, then, that several years of hard work has paid off and that we have finally seen the back of this hugely unpopular application.  

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This article first appeared in the Melton Times on Thursday 20th March.

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