Backlash against rural wind turbines

RURAL communities are stepping up campaigns against the siting of wind turbines in the countryside.

They include Lincolnshire County Council, which wants to call a halt to the "unrestrained invasion" of wind turbines across the county.

Council leader Martin Hill said: "There's been a proliferation of wind farms across Lincolnshire in recent years, and we feel that enough is enough. Although we understand the need for alternative energy and are not opposed to all wind farms, we remain unconvinced by the questionable science behind them.

"Not only are these things spoiling our beautiful countryside for future generations, they could also seriously damage our tourism industry."

Other communities have also launched campaigns against turbines.

It comes as a new report says more must be done to ensure communities affected by large wind farm developments can reap long-term benefits from such schemes.

The study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation looks at the ways any negative impacts on communities can be redressed.

Urgent action is needed to ensure growing wind farm expansion is matched by help for neighbouring communities, it warns.

The report says that a mechanism for deals between developers and local people to ensure benefit for the latter must be put in place now - before the next wave of investment takes place.

It outlines the way this can be achieved, namely through the provision and expansion of community benefit funds, in terms of both size and geographic scope.

An expansion of such funds would help improve the economic, social and environmental prospects of affected areas, says the document.

This is particularly important in disadvantaged rural and coastal regions, where the majority of wind farms have been built.

Richard Cowell, of Cardiff University, said: "We are seeing the size of community benefit funds increase in line with the growing scale of wind farm developments.

"That presents a huge opportunity to address the disadvantages faced by those living alongside wind farms, and ensure these communities become more sustainable into the future.

Dr Cowell added: "What we would like to see is those living near wind farms having locally-embedded energy and jobs, as well as money to fund other community goals and schemes.

"By widening the remit of community benefit funds, beyond the village or parish in the direct shadow of the wind farm, more people can share in the benefits of investment, and more significant projects can be realised.

Community benefit funds should go beyond trying to foster acceptance of schemes, said Dr Cowell They should be provided out of fairness, particularly in disadvantaged areas.


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