October 13, 2011 | Community News
A long-serving local policeman and community servant has given his backing to plans for a new renewable energy generation project near the Teesside village in which he lives and worked.
David Foster was speaking in support of the proposed Lambs Hill wind farm, which has been put forward by County Durham-based Banks Renewables for a site on agricultural land to the west of the village of Stillington, to the north west of Stockton and around three miles east of the A1(M).
Mr Foster made his home in the village in 1974, and as well as serving as the local policeman for 17 years until he retired in 1990, he has also previously held the position of secretary of the local residents association.
And he is now calling for a swift, positive resolution to the planning process for the scheme, which has already been running for almost two years and which is now about to repeat a stage through which is has already passed.
Initial planning approval for the project was given by Stockton Borough Council’s planning committee in March this year, but the project was then put on hold to allow The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to decide whether the scheme warranted further consideration.
In May, it was announced that such a review by the Secretary of State would not be required, meaning that the original decision to grant planning permission still stood, but with the decision having subsequently been challenged on a technicality, it has now been referred back for reconsideration by the Council’s planning committee.
The Lambs Hill scheme encompasses four wind turbines, and would have an installed capacity of up to 10MW of power, which is estimated to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 5,500 homes.
David Foster, whose three daughters also all still live in the village, along with his grandchildren, says: “After spending the best part of four decades here, I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for our community, and I know that the main thing that people here want is for a final decision to be made on the Lambs Hill scheme one way or the other.
“When it comes to energy, I don’t believe we can afford to take a selfish view – everyone needs and consumes the power that schemes like Lambs Hill produce, and it’s far better to have this sort of development in the area than, for example, a power station.
“In my opinion, wind turbines impact far less on the landscape than electricity pylons – there are hundreds of those dotted about the countryside that surrounds Stillington, yet you never hear anyone complaining about them, and I suspect that, just like pylons, wind turbines will eventually become an accepted part of our environment.
“I regularly visit other locations in the region where there are already wind turbines in operation, and the people living there tell me they don’t hear and barely notice them – I personally can’t see why anybody would object to this proposal and hope we get a positive resolution to it soon.”
Phil Dyke, development director of Banks Renewables, adds: “Our Lambs Hill proposals have received a lot of support from across Stillington and the surrounding community from people like David who recognise the importance of generating more of the energy we use from renewable sources.
“The Lambs Hill scheme would produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual power requirements of up to 5,500 homes, and from an economic point of view, it represents a significant capital investment by Banks in the local economy at a time when few companies are undertaking such projects.
“Employment and commercial opportunities for local firms will be created in the construction phase of the scheme, and in addition to this, the community benefits fund that would run alongside the scheme would provide invaluable funding for local volunteer groups and good causes, thus significantly enhancing the community in which it is based.
“Whilst we’re disappointed at having to repeat a stage of the planning process that Lambs Hill has already passed, and concerned about the costs that this process unnecessarily incurs for the local authority in these difficult financial times, we hope that the business, environmental, investment, employment and community benefits of what remains a well-designed and efficient wind farm proposal will once again be recognised by Stockton Borough Council’s planning committee.”