Campaigners have won the first battle in their bid to block a nine turbine windfarm from going ahead.
Councillors dramatically refused the planning application from Peel Energy, for land between the Asfordby villages and Ab Kettleby, by six votes to four.
But Peel, which expressed its ‘disappointment and surprise’ at the decision, which went against the planning officer’s recommendation, said this week it was considering whether or not to appeal.
The application had attracted 800 objections and was fought by campaign group STOP which railed against the ‘industrial scale’ of the proposed development. It said the turbines – up to 125m to the tip – were too big and too close to people’s homes.
At the meeting of Melton Council’s development committee protestors raised numerous concerns covering issues such as visual impact and noise, shadow flicker, flood risk, proximity to homes, scale of the development and fears the windfarm would be detrimental to neighbouring villages and to Melton’s tourism economy.
In the end, however, the application was rejected mainly on grounds of impact on designated heritage assets and visual impact on the local landscape.
Jonathan England, Peel’s develop- ment director, said: “We are disappointed and surprised at the committee’s decision. We still have every confidence in the suitability of this former mine site for wind power generation.
“We are disappointed that the committee did not concur with the evidence we submitted with the planning application, nor the expert opinion of Melton Council’s planning officers.
“We will now consider our position to appeal the decision.”
Peel said the windfarm, which would have an operational life of at least 25 years, would provide enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 8,500 homes.
Many consultees did not object to the application but Leicestershire County Council, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, English Heritage, MP Alan Duncan, four parish councils and more than 800 local residents did, leaving councillors will a finely balanced judgement to make.
Emma Musson, on behalf of STOP, said: “The refusal is a victory for Melton’s rich heritage and interlinked rural landscape – assets that cannot be replaced and should not be taken for granted.
“The site, in a valley, is not one identified independently as suitable for wind turbines and the region has relatively low wind speeds.
“The impact and lasting damage that would have been done to the area and surrounding conservation villages outweighed the benefits and Peel could not guarantee that the 6,000 people living closest to the site would not suffer from noise, particularly at night.”
STOP thanked all its supporters for their efforts.