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New Green Councillor makes maiden speech on wind farms

Rob Murphy’s speech

Last week EDF, announced another 17% rise in electricity prices.

That’s £85 per year on the average bill…

Prices have nearly doubled since 2003.

In the UK there are already 4 ½ million households living in Fuel Poverty…

So what can we do as elected representatives of one of the country’s largest cities?

Do we try to help wean ourselves off our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels?..

or do we fail to act for the sake of a handful of votes?

The Energy Crisis… and it is a crisis… is both a threat and an opportunity to this city and it’s people…

Wind power is that opportunity.

Now I’ve seen the Save Westwood Country Park website… and it looks very convincing.

…but I prefer to look at the evidence.

Last year a report by the Dept. of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, found the 133 wind farms operating in the UK had caused just one case of Statutory Noise Nuisance in 16 years.

Noise from wind farms is very rarely a nuisance and usually masked by background noise such as traffic or leaves rustling.

The same year the Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors released a report on ‘the impact of wind farms on house prices?’ which found and I quote:

“Apparent changes in [property] value disappear when examined more closely”…and…

“The objections that are raised are often found to be less about genuine local concerns and more about ideological issues”

Under scrutiny the objections to the proposed site fall away, until we are finally left with the fact… some people just don’t like the look of wind farms.

It’s true… but it’s no way to decide an Energy Policy!…

The new administration has made a mistake… Stopping the feasibility study has prevented an objective decision being made, and will deter developers from future schemes.

The new administration has made a mistake… they have shown a lack of leadership.

They have failed to impartially inform the residents around Westwood.

They have failed to properly consider the proposals.

And they have failed to make the right decision for the City of Sheffield .

But it is not too late… the council can change it’s decision today,..

councillors can vote for the best interests of the city and it’s people…

Have no doubt…wind power is a big part of the future…whatever happens today.

The question is whether Sheffield ,.. this great city born out of the Industrial Revolution…will…as it has done in the past… grab it’s opportunity, use it’s potential and lead the way

Or whether it will be dragged kicking and screaming to face today’s new realities?

The motion

That this Council:-

(a) notes the rapidly rising fuel prices and the related problems of energy security, economic stability and fuel poverty;

(b) further notes that Sheffield has a Regional Spatial Strategy target of 10.6 megawatts of renewable energy generation by 2010 and a Sheffield Development Framework commitment of 12 megawatts by 2010;

(c) also notes and accepts the decision of the Cabinet at its meeting on 13th February 13th 2008 relating to Developing Westwood Country Park for Wind Energy:

(d) believes that high energy prices have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable residents of our city;

(e) also believes that renewable energy is an important part of the solution and that wind power is a large and vital component of the necessary mix of such energies;

(f) resolves to continue the feasibility study into the wind farm project at Westwood Country Park, High Green and make an objective decision based on the findings of this study;

(g) believes that to reject proposals for the above wind power project without proper consideration will send a signal to developers that this Council would be unfriendly to future schemes and that this runs contrary to the current administration’ s claims to support business;

(h) directs that consideration be given to allocating 5% of Council profits from this and future renewable energy projects to the local community; and

(i) resolves to encourage financial investment by members of local communities in future projects.

Topics: Climate Change, Rob Murphy