A CONTROVERSIAL application to build a wind turbine at a primary school has attracted over 600 responses that have been sent to the district planning department.

Stroud District Council said the application for a 15 metre high wind turbine at Blue Coat School, Wotton-under-Edge, has created more interest than applications for major housing developments in the area.

In total the district council’s planning department has received over 420 signatures in favour of the wind turbine and over 200 against the proposals, ahead of the meeting to decide whether to grant planning permission being held on Tuesday.

The 420 names in support were mainly signatures on a petition submitted by Blue Coat School. The council has received 104 written responses to the application, 68 per of which objected, 19 per cent supported and 12 per cent commented on the proposals.

Objectors raised concerns over the impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the visual effect the turbine would have and health and safety.

John Forster, who has lived in Wotton for 37 years, said his main concern was that beautiful countryside was being "eaten away" by industrial structures.

"My main objection is that it will look very conspicuous, especially on the pretty escarpment which should be protected. It is a high price to pay for environmentally friendly energy – the countryside is a precious commodity.

"Also people are beginning to realise this source of energy is so unreliable."

However Caroline Allison, a parent who is helping to lead the environmental project on behalf of the school, pointed out that a wind turbine is a structure that could be removed when better environmental alternatives are discovered and it would leave no mark on the landscape.

"This is going to be quite a small turbine, much less intrusive than people think. When it goes up people will be surpirsed by how little it is."

Mrs Allison, who has experience working in the renewable industry, said they had researched all the different eco-friendly technologies and found that for the money wind turbines were by far the best.

Using a calculation based on the average wind speeds the turbine would produce around 40 per cent of the electricity the school needs and the turbine would be part of a package of environentally friendly measures including solar panels and encouraging children to save more energy and be less wasteful.

"This will give children an awareness of our impact on the environment and will allow them to discover renewables first hand," added Mrs Allison.

Planning officers at the district council have recommended the application be approved, subject to comments being received from the environmental health officer and the report says that "the turbine would not have a significant adverse impact on residential and visual amenity in accordance with local plan policies".

Phil Skill, head of planning for Stroud District Council, said: "With renewable technology so topical, this 15 metre tall, six kilo-watt turbine has created more interest, both for and against, than applications we have had for major housing developments.

"As a planning authority it's great to see people becoming engaged in the process."