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Villagers' victory as turbine plan refused

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

Villagers' victory as turbine plan refused

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Residents are celebrating triumph after plans were rejected for a 46-metre wind turbine in their Devon village.

Campaigners led by Dennis Smith, who discovered rock band Muse, fought against the proposals in the Harberton valley near Totnes.

They feared that a turbine at Foales Leigh Farm would tower over the landscape and generate high levels of noise and shadow.

Despite a recommendation from the National Farmers' Union to back the plans, South Hams district councillors rejected the proposal by farmer Ted Chudley for a 50kW turbine on his land.

In the report following a site inspection last month, the planning officer admitted the turbine "may just break the skyline". The planning committee decided it would result in "significant harm" to the character and quality of the landscape, which is designated an Area of Great Landscape Value.

They also deemed the turbine, sited less than 250 metres from the nearest residence, would generate an "unacceptable noise disturbance" and have an "adverse effect" on the look of the area.

Objectors had pointed to a number of "errors" in the planning officer's report, including distance from buildings and the number of listed buildings in the area.

Dennis Smith, who was one of 80 opponents to the scheme, said: "We are all delighted about the council's decision. It was in the wrong place and the wrong size.

"Although this was never a personal matter against the farmer, there is an awkward atmosphere in the community and doubtless a bitter taste in the applicant's mouth.

"Who can blame landowners for being seduced by developers when there is so much funding available from central government? But decisions to allow turbines now have to stand for 25 years, during which onshore wind energy will become an expensive joke."

The turbine would have generated enough power for a school or small hospital and was expected to yield an annual income of £30,000 for the landowner.

Fellow resident Anita Chisholm said: "The application in a tranquil valley was typically inappropriate, and one that should never have got on to the planning table. We don't want this area spoiled, or any others like it.

"The Government National Planning Policy Framework is a free-for-all. Local councils are able to pick and choose pieces of the guidelines that suit the developer."

The objectors' group vowed to continue pressing the council for a "proper policy" regarding turbine applications to protect the residents and the landscape.

An application from the Totnes Renewable Energy Society and their partners Infinergy for two 100-metre commercial wind turbines at nearby Luscombe Cross is awaiting a decision from the council.

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