This article highlights a problem increasingly facing wind energy development in Australia: the fact that a noisy minority of anti-wind advocates often appear to be the voice of a community and hide often high levels of broader community support for wind projects.
A stand out quote: “We see this too often, the small loud minority being mistaken for the voice of the people. And planning committee members feeling they have to refuse a project; even when officers of the planning department recommend consent – on the mistaken pretext of public opposition”.
Survey shows support for wind park in Berkeley Vale
PLANS to create green energy from a wind park in the Berkeley Vale have been widely welcomed, a survey has revealed, despite a long-running campaign opposing it.
An independent survey of 500 people in the Stroud district showed overwhelming support for Ecotricity’s plans to build four 120 metre high wind turbines on land between Stinchcombe and the M5 motorway.
The results have been released by the Stroud-based energy firm just one month before councillors from Stroud District Council are due to meet to decide whether to grant planning permission for the wind farm.
The phone survey, carried out by GfK NOP, showed that 66 per cent of those questioned said they supported Ecotricity’s proposals for a wind farm in the Berkeley Vale with just 12 per cent against, while two thirds said they would be happy to live within three miles of a wind turbine.
However the results have been criticised by campaign group Save Berkeley Vale, which has pointed out that the calls were made mainly to the GL5 area around Stroud and Nailsworth, which is several miles from the location of the proposed wind park.
Jack Sant, of Save Berkeley Vale, said the survey results were “irrelevant” to the debate, and he hoped that the councillors would base their decision on ‘facts’ alone.
“I am not at all concerned by this survey,” said Mr Sant. “In my experience the outcome of such a survey is heavily influenced by the nature of the questions.”
He said that the important things to consider were the impact on the immediate area, such as visual impact on houses, noise and light disturbance and loss of business to local companies. He added that he believed Ecotricity was overstating the benefits of wind turbines.
Dale Vince, founder and chairman of Stroud-based Ecotricity, said: “We see this too often, the small loud minority being mistaken for the voice of the people. And planning committee members feeling they have to refuse a project; even when officers of the planning department recommend consent – on the mistaken pretext of public opposition.
“With this survey we’ve shown very clearly that there is an unarguable and considerable majority in favour of more windmills in Stroud and specifically at Berkley Vale.”
Thursday 6th January 2011
By Claire Marshall
From the Gazette