HAMPSHIRE county chiefs have confirmed a blanket ban on windfarms on council land despite strong protests from green campaigners.
Members of Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinAcc) and Friends of the Earth failed to persuade the Conservative-run county council to rethink the controversial policy.
Tory council leader Ken Thornber rubber-stamped the ban at a policy and resources meeting yesterday in Winchester after hearing from protestors.
The council’s position is that the adverse impact on the countryside outweighs the benefit in clean, sustainable energy.
But campaigners challenged why a blanket ban was necessary instead of considering the merits of individual schemes, including impact on the landscape as already required under planning law.
Ray Cobbett, representing Hampshire FoE, said campaigners asked the council for evidence to support the ban but was just told it was based on similar policies in Wiltshire and Lincolnshire.
Mr Cobbett said: “As far as we can see this policy is evidence-free and appears to be based almost entirely on subjective opinions by people who don’t like wind farms.”
He added: “Banning wind turbines send a loud and clear message to every major landowner in the county to do likewise and say that Hampshire supports renewable energy provided we don’t have to produce any ourselves.”
Dennis Garrison, a Winchester-based company director, said wind farms were considered tourist attractions in Denmark where they generated 90 per cent of the country’s electricity.
He said they created more jobs and gave a greater return on investment than gas, according to a report by Ernst and Young.
Mr Garrison called for the council to support the development of “centuries-old” wind technology.
Frank Adsett, a Winchester resident, said income generated from the wind farms could help to maintain frontline council services.
Environment chief councillor Mel Kendal said he had travelled extensively in Europe and visited wind farms as a county councillor and a leading member of the climate change committee of the Assembly of European Regions.
He said: “I personally think in the correct setting that wind farms look very attractive.”
But Cllr Kendal said he took very seriously his duty to protect Hampshire’s landscape and keep it a beautiful place to walk, cycle and ride horses.
The environment chief said he had heard arguments for and against wind farms and whether people thought they were “pretty or ugly” 100-metre masts were still visually intrusive.
Cllr Thornber added: “I take the view that while Hampshire should prosper it will not be at the cost of the environment.”
He said the ban did not mean the council had ruled-out applications for individual turbines, for example from schools.
Liberal Democrat councillor Adrian Collett, opposition spokesman for policy and resources, also called for the council to produce evidence for the ban.
He said: “I find it very hard to believe that in a county the size of Hampshire there is nowhere suitable.”
A planning battle is looming north of Winchester after EDF unveiled plans for a wind farm near Bullington Cross.