A long-standing battle by horse owners in South Cambridgeshire against a proposed wind farm will go to public inquiry this week.

Locals have fought plans for a 13-turbine farm between the villages of Balsham and West Wratting for over two years. And South Cambridgeshire District Council rejected planning for the site in June 2007, because of the detrimental “visual impact on the landscape”.

Jacqui Burke of opposition group Stop Wadlow Wind Farm, said: “Riding is one of a number of rural pursuits which are vital to our local economy — along with hunting and shooting — that have not been considered by the developers.

“We shall argue at the inquiry that the turbines should be sited away from bridleways and that this area is not renowned for high winds. We are optimistic we have a strong case.”

Horse owner and joint-master of the Thurlow hunt Annie Fenwick said: “We live beside the proposed site. Turbines can be disturbing and this is one of the most unspoilt areas of South Cambridgeshire — the turbines will be visible from Lincoln.”

The company proposing the wind farm, Renewable Energy Systems (RES), said the wind farm would supply the annual equivalent of 16,700 homes — or 32% of the houses — in South Cambridgeshire with electricity.

RES spokesman Amy Bambridge said there would be little impact on the environment.

“Objectors are inevitable, but in this case they are in the minority,” she said. “We don’t see why it won’t go through.”

And some horse owners support the wind farm.

Edward Keymer, who plays polo and hunts with the Thurlow, said: “People want electricity, but don’t want anything to do with it. If South Cambridgeshire wants electricity, they should contribute to its generation.”

The inquiry starts on 9 June at the council’s Cambourne offices. But the project has been called in by central government so the inquiry inspector will make recommendations to Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The owner of the proposed site, John Latham, failed to return H&H’s calls.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 June, ’09)