IN DEPTH: Second turbine approved for Heath and Reach

Turbine supporters at the council offices last week
Turbine supporters at the council offices last week

The approval of a second wind turbine in Heath and Reach was hailed as a positive step for green energy last week.

Councillors voted narrowly in favour of the 140ft structure, to be erected at Checkley Wood Farm.

The current Double Arches turbine

The current Double Arches turbine

It will be a duplicate of the Double Arches turbine situated a little over 400ft away.

Speaking before the CBC planning committee last Wednesday, Heath and Reach parish Councillor Paul Green said: “The residents feel really let down by this application as there have been complaints ever since the original turbine was imposed upon them.”

His views were backed up by Cllr Budge Wells, who referred to turbines as “predatory robots” blighting the countryside.

This was ridiculed as “hyperbole” by Cllr Tom Nicols, who highlighted the need for renewable energy to help tackle climate change.

Cllr Nicols said: “I don’t want nuclear power in my authority... If anyone doesn’t want a site for wind turbines and thinks there is some magic alternative, I will put forward their ward as a proposal for a nuclear waste depository.”

After discussion, councillors voted with six in favour, four against and one abstention.

Ken Barry of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth said: “This is fantastic news from Central Bedfordshire Council. We urgently need to take action on climate change especially in light of the hurricanes in the Carribean and Florida.”

The new turbine will produce enough energy for 1,200 local homes, with no taxpayer subsidy and will pay around £16,000 in business rates.

According to the government’s independent committee on climate change, the UK needs to double its low-carbon energy generation by 2030.

But not everyone was pleased.

Stop Checkley Wood Turbine was established as a lobby group last year and has campaigned hard against the application.

The group stated: “SCWT is extremely disappointed by the decision. Of equal concern is the process followed by the council. Objectors to the development were able to clearly identify technical failings and breaches of both local and national policy.

“This decision was made for the benefit of people unaffected by the harm caused which has been so freely admitted and yet, brushed aside in the name of ‘Very Special Circumstances’.

“There is nothing special about this site other than the harm that will be caused to the green belt and the amenities of local communities.”

The group added they felt it was in the public interest the decision be subjected to a judicial review.