“I dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission …”
Inquiry opened on 9 June 2009; Accompanied site visits made on 2 & 3 July 2009; by Philip Major BA(Hons) DipTP MRTPI, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Appeal Ref: APP/X1118/A/08/2083682 Land at Paul’s Moor, Wester Bullaford, West Moor, north of Knowstone, South Molton EX36 4QH.
- The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
- against a failure to give notice within the prescribed period of a decision on an application for planning permission.
- The appeal is made by Airtricity Holdings (UK) Ltd against North Devon District Council.
- The application Ref: 45489, is dated 16 October 2007.
- The development proposed is the erection and operation of nine wind turbines and provision of ancillary wind farm infrastructure.
1. I dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission for the erection and operation of nine wind turbines and provision of ancillary wind farm infrastructure at land at Paul’s Moor, Wester Bullaford, West Moor, north of Knowstone, South Molton EX36 4QH.
37. There are several main issues. These are:
- The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the landscape, and on the setting of the Exmoor National Park;
- The cumulative effect of the proposal when considered with the proposed developments at Cross Moor, Bickham Moor and Batsworthy Cross;
- The effect of the proposal on the living conditions of local residents, with particular reference to visual impact and noise;
- The effect of the proposal on ecology;
- The effect of the proposal on tranquillity, tourism and cultural heritage.
63. The relatively large extent of the setting of Exmoor which would be covered by this wind farm would, in my opinion, result in visual intrusion to that setting which would be likely to detract significantly from the experience enjoyed by visitors to the National Park. The effect of the wind farm would be to create a substantial area of movement quite out of character with the setting of the National Park. In my judgement this would be seriously damaging to the setting and enjoyment of Exmoor. Whilst I accept that the harm would be geographically limited principally to the southern slopes of Exmoor I believe this to be a key location of the National Park, from which its enjoyment is concentrated in views out to the south.
64. So the effect on the character and appearance of the area, and the setting of Exmoor, can be summarised thus. The visual experience will vary from location to location, and will be of a major and substantial intrusion in places. There would be substantial localised harm to landscape character. But from some places there would be levels of visibility and intrusion which would not, in my judgement, be so harmful as to weigh against the proposal. However, the setting of Exmoor would also be harmfully affected by the extensive nature of the proposal and this would impinge upon the appreciation of the special qualities of the National Park. The proposal would therefore be in conflict with relevant landscape protection objectives of RPG10 Policy EN1, Structure Plan Policies ST1, CO1, CO2 and CO6. In that I have found the proposal harmful there is also conflict with Structure Plan Policy CO12 notwithstanding that part of the site is within the area of search. I also find conflict with Local Plan Policies ENV1c), ENV4 and ECN15A). In the draft RSS there is conflict with part of Policy SD3, Polices ENV1, ENV2 and ENV3.
120. Although PPS22 indicates that renewable energy developments should be capable of being accommodated throughout England, that is qualified by the need to address environmental, economic and social impacts satisfactorily. In this case environmental impacts have not been satisfactorily addressed in my judgement. The scheme as proposed would simply be too harmful in this location and would tip the scales too far against the objectives relating to protection of the landscape and National Park. This is a finely balanced decision and does not mean that all proposals in this locality would be unacceptable, but I find that this one would be. I have considered whether it would be possible to impose conditions to enable the development to proceed, but find that it would not.
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