OPINIONS clashed between rival camps at a site inspection ahead of the planning bosses’ decision over plans for a wind farm near Olveston.
Campaigners both for and against the proposed development by the M48 came face to face in a last-ditch attempt to sway planners and councillors on Friday, April 26.
While developer REG Windpower’s plan to erect two 130-metre turbines in Ingst was welcomed by green-energy advocates, the "unsightly" farm was resolutely rejected by many villagers from the get go.
The opposition formed the Olveston Wind Farm Action Group (OAWG) in 2011 and was gradually backed by parish councils including Olveston, Pilning and Severn Beach, and Aust.
OWAG chairman Claire Barnard told the Gazette: "There has been an overwhelming number of letters written around this application, 664 in total, with almost 90 per cent against the development.
"At 130m in height the proposed turbines would be giants in the beautiful Severn Vale landscape, too large and too close to people’s homes.
"Given the inefficiencies associated with wind power, the contribution that these turbines would make would be minimal and not enough to warrant construction in the green belt.
"We hope the councillors took on board our concerns, and ask that they reject the application."
But supporters stood their ground according to Sustainable Thornbury member Alan Pinder, making their case to planners.
Although not as vocal, many villagers and nearby residents were in favour of REG Windpower’s project, he said. He added that all but one of the supporters present at the inspection lived within four miles of the proposed development.
"The atmosphere was very intimidating," he said. "We know supporters from Olveston who did not feel they could come because of fear of harassment.
"Objectors were trying to say we wouldn’t like these wind turbines near us, but that is absolutely not true.
"I understand why people are afraid of such new development and I support their right to object, but they have been caught up by the myths and scaremongering.
"When the turbines are up they will realize their fears are totally unfounded."
South Gloucestershire Council’s development west committee members is expected to make a decision about the plans before the summer.