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MP joins bid to stop 'grotesque' turbines

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

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An MP has thrown his weight behind a campaign to stop five turbines which would reach higher than St Paul's Cathedral, and would be the tallest to be built in Devon.

Geoffrey Cox, Tory MP for Torridge and West Devon, has branded the five 126-metre structures proposed for Meddon, near Hartland in North Devon, as "grotesquely large", and warned they would have a "huge impact" on people's lives.

With no fewer than 60 applications for wind turbines currently in the planning system in Torridge, Mr Cox believes "enough is enough".

He has given his full backing to the Stopit campaign group, which is fighting the proposal, and is meeting with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles this week to discuss the influx of applications. He is also writing to Torridge District Council with his objections. The protest group is urging others to follow suit before the consultation closes on October 9.

Developers Wind Ventures said fears about the impact on tourism were unfounded, and all other concerns would be dealt with through the planning process.

It is said the turbines could create enough electricity to power more than 2,000 homes. But Mr Cox said: "These are gigantic, grotesquely large machines which are completely out of place. They are going to have an enormous impact on people's lives and their livelihoods.

"Simply put, they're the exploitation of communities without any significant benefit coming to them and I'm totally opposed to them."

Stopit said the turbines would be visible from the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a kilometre away, as well as from other tourist hot spots.

Spokesman David Westcott said: "The noise and visual impact of the turbines would have a devastating effect on the lives of those living in the area.

"It will be a colossal industrial feature in our rural landscape and tourist businesses already hit by a bad summer feel even less people will visit the area if it is covered with wind turbines."

The group has also raised concerns over more than 2,000 heavy goods vehicle journeys needed for the construction of the site.

Daniel Baird, project manager for Wind Ventures, said: "As we have told the group on many previous occasions, all these issues will be fully investigated as part of the detailed planning process.

"As a responsible developer, Wind Ventures takes these issues seriously and its application must meet rigorous planning controls and regulations which are specifically designed to minimise impacts of wind farms."

Earlier this year, Wind Ventures delayed submission of its planning applications to extend its consultation and ensure that as many people as possible were aware of the proposals.

Mr Baird said research carried out by the company found that 79 per cent of tourists at Clovelly visitor centre favoured wind farms in the area.

He said the earmarked site, where a wind mast is currently providing data towards the application, was an "excellent" location for a wind farm.

He said research by the University of Edinburgh concluded that there was no measurable economic impact of turbines on tourism, and said such opposition was "informed more by fear than fact".

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