A public inquiry into plans for a large wind-farm near Braunton will start on November 28. Devon Wind Power, the firm behind the plan for 22 turbines at Fullabrook Down, welcomed confirmation of the date for the start of the inquiry, which will be held in the Guildhall in Barnstaple.
Keith Pyne, from Devon Wind Power, said: “We have been keen to get the inquiry under way as soon as possible in order to end the uncertainty surrounding this project.
“We welcome the fact the inquiry will conclude before the end of this year, which should enable a decision to be made on this project during the course of 2007.”
The Fullabrook proposal has been vehemently opposed by anti-wind farm campaigners and councillors.
In December 2005, North Devon District Council’s planning committee recommended the proposal be refused permission. Members argued the wind farm would cause significant harm to the landscape.
There are also a number of key local supporters of the plan, including Ricky Knight, from the Green Party.
But the decision on whether the proposal goes ahead will not be made locally. Because of the proposed size of the project – with the total power rating exceeding 50 megawatts – the proposal has to be determined by the Secretary of State for Energy.
Since the application was made two years ago, there have been at least two significant wind-power related projects in North Devon.
In July, the district council committed itself to a renewable energy action plan, which means North Devon is committed to having one third of its electricity suppled by green methods by 2010. On-shore wind turbines were included in an estimate of how the renewable energy would be supplied.
In August, the Journal revealed that landowner and environmentalist Hector Christie was willing to help the district council meet the target by embarking on a joint wind-turbine venture on his land near Tapeley Park.
Mr Christie said he would give the authority half the rental income from 15 proposed two-megawatt turbines.
He expected a business would pay him £16,000 a year for each two-megawatt turbine sited at Huish, meaning the local authority would get £120,000 per year. The council has yet to formally respond to his offer.
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