COUNTY chiefs have confirmed a blanket ban on wind farms on council land in Hampshire.

Conservative leader Ken Thornber announced the controversial decision at a meeting of the full council last week.

Mr Thornber said wind farms took up “enormous tracts of land” and the council would develop an energy policy that looked at alternatives.

The decision has been welcomed by countryside campaigners but green groups have condemned the policy as “very short-sighted.”

It comes after a council report last October said that while the benefits of providing renewable energy were recognised, they had an adverse impact on the landscape.

Chris Gilham, of Winchester Friends of the Earth, said: “Wind energy can make a significant contribution to power generation. At the moment there are few alternatives.”

Mr Gilham said WinACC (Winchester Action on Climate Change) calculated energy produced by five or six wind farms was equivalent to solar panels on 200,000 homes – and there were only about 40,000 dwellings in Winchester district.

He said: “This is very short-sighted. If we don’t have wind farms we have to do something else of that sort of size or reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, for example remove 60,000 vehicles from the roads.

“These are unavoidable pieces of arithmetic if we are serious about meeting climate change commitments.

“The trouble is local authorities are getting the message from Government that climate change doesn’t matter.”

Meanwhile Douglas Patterson, chairman of Keep Hampshire Green which is campaigning against a wind farm at Bullington Cross, north of Winchester, welcomed the move.

He said: “We welcome the signal. But what we would really like is for Hampshire to go a step further and follow Lincolnshire’s lead and recommend there should be 2km between large turbines and inhabited locations or settlements.”

Mr Patterson said the proposed turbines at Bullington Cross turbines would be only 800 metres from the nearest homes.

Hampshire’s new policy would only stop wind farms being developed on country parks and other county-owned land.

Planning applications for wind farm developments elsewhere are decided by district councils.