No windfarming at Aston Lodge – for now

Cheers! Aston Lodge celebrate the wind turbine planning refusal
Cheers! Aston Lodge celebrate the wind turbine planning refusal

November 12th, Stone Cricket Club: Aston Lodge residents celebrated the throwing out of plans to site wind turbines above their estate – but their fight may not be over yet. On 31st October, 200 of them had attended the Borough Council Planning Committee meeting which was due to vote on Hallmark Power’s proposal to erect two 45 metre turbines on farmland overlooking Aston Lodge.
Residents had launched a campaign to get the plans refused, holding two public meetings and gathering over 500 signatures in support. They showed the meeting their own visual impression of the wind turbines as seen from Aston Parkway.
On behalf of the objectors Carol Keogh told the committee: “The turbines will dominate the skyline to the same extent as a 15-storey block of flats. They will significantly change the Stone sky and landscape.”
Speaking in support of the application, James Mountain from Hallmark Power claimed that the impact on visual amenity would be minor. The turbines would be sited at a sufficient distance from houses, with the nearest being 440 metres away.
Spearheading the objectors’ campaign, Town and Borough Councillor Philip Jones referred to new planning guidelines issued by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles according to which the need for renewable energy should not override community concerns.
“Is it any wonder the community have come together?” he asked. “There has not been any pre-application negotiation with the community. The applicant said he hadn’t got the time. Is that because the wind turbines subsidy is to be reduced in five weeks’ time?”
Councillor Malcolm Millichip then proposed the application be refused because of its visual impact, not just on Stone but on the Moddershall Valley conservation area. Seconded by Cllr Ann Edgeller, the motion was rejected unanimously. “The Council has listened to the community,” Cllr Jones told the Gazette. “There were no deaf ears at Stafford last night.”
The decision however may be subject to appeal. “We feel that the site is suitable for the proposed development,” said James Mountain of Hallmark Power. “This was reflected in the case officer’s recommendation for approval. “