Photo: Windmill in Norfolk
Within weeks the World’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to address the greatest challenge of our time - Climate Change - which threatens our very survival. Meanwhile, last week, the planning committee of the Tory controlled Stroud District Council, in their wisdom, refused Ecotricity permission to put up a single wind monitoring mast in Stinchcombe! This decision was contrary to the advice of council officers, who considered the mast in accordance with national and local planning policy. The mast is needed to assess the suitability of the site for future wind turbines which could generate around a quarter of Stroud’s electricity needs.
The Stinchcombe site, alongside the motorway, is one of very few in the District that has sufficient wind, is outside the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is not ruled out through interfering with aircraft radar or other constraints. The nearest house to the single slim monitoring mast is over 400 metres away.
There were only two Councillors who bucked the trend, a Liberal Democrat and a Green. All of the Labour and Conservative members voted for refusal - which is interesting, for while David Cameron and Gordon Brown attempt to woo green voters, their foot soldiers block the very actions scientists say are so urgently needed.
Even if some people are not convinced about the imminent threat of climate change to our landscape and food supplies, it is certain that our energy supply in this country is going to become critical in the next decade. Currently we import around 30% of our energy. Due to the decline in North Sea oil and Gas, by 2020 we will import around 80%. This puts us in a very vulnerable position, as we can be held to ransom by other countries.
As a country we have some of the World’s best wind resources - but we ignore them. Gloucestershire is the worst performing county in the South-West in developing renewable energy - it is a disgrace. On-shore wind is the cheapest and quickest way to bridge the energy gap – and investing in wind could stimulate our local engineering heritage and create thousands of jobs. Wind turbines can even be taken down and moved elsewhere if no longer needed – they have a temporary and very limited environmental impact.
The Green Party has the political will and policies to lead – and our elected councillors don’t just talk green – they vote for the things that really matter for our children and our planet. Where do you stand?
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud