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Call to support windfarms

PUBLISHED: 10:52 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:43 01 August 2010

COUNCILS were yesterday urged to "face up to their obligations" and allow more windfarms in the countryside "in the national interest".

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott said Britain's targets for green energy were being held up by rural residents who had moved out of towns and were anxious to protect their "chocolate box" views.

COUNCILS were yesterday urged to “face up to their obligations” and allow more windfarms in the countryside “in the national interest”.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott said Britain's targets for green energy were being held up by rural residents who had moved out of towns and were anxious to protect their “chocolate box” views.

The debate over onshore windfarms in East Anglia hotted up further as the founder of a company behind some of the schemes said decision-making should be taken out of local councillors' hands as they were too easily swayed by Nimby (Not In My Back Yard) pressure groups.

But a council leader insisted local members “had every right” to have the final say on windfarms.

Mr Prescott, who was speaking at the annual conference of the British Wind Energy Association in Liverpool, said councils were failing to meet their responsibilities to tackle climate change.

The conference was told the number of approvals for windfarm planning applications nationally had fallen to a record low of 25pc.

Mr Prescott said: “People who have moved out of our towns and have a nice chocolate box view, they have bought that and I understand it, but at the end of the day you have got to strike a balance of what is in the national interest and, frankly, they are the ones who will suffer first because these are also areas in danger of massive floods caused by climate change.”

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, which has spent the past seven years battling to be allowed to put up wind turbines in Shipdham, near Dereham, said wind energy was the only form of energy-generating technology that was decided by local councillors, and that the government had “left the decisions in the wrong hands”.

Mr Vince said district council members were swayed by Nimby pressure groups who were often the loudest voices, and he called for decisions to be moved up a government level to at least county council level.

But William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said: “It is right and proper that local people are consulted and approving of things built in their own communities. That said, I do not believe in Nimbyism.”

Nick Hoare, a member of Residents of Daffy Green, which has been fighting against wind turbines being put up at Shipdham, described Mr Prescott's comments as a “sweeping generalisation”.

He said: “We have no objection to wind turbines but they need to be put somewhere sensible like out to sea where they would be more efficient.”

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