Permission has been granted for a 60-metre aluminium tower to be constructed in the heart of Mid Devon moorland – despite fierce objection from local residents.
Yesterday (Wednesday) planners at Mid Devon District Council granted permission for the giant anemometer mast on Bickham Moore, near Oakford, for 18 months.
But concerns were also raised as the mast will be used to assess the area as a possible location for a small wind farm of four turbines.
The application by Coronation Power for the ‘met’ mast received 167 letters of objection from individuals, parish councils and organisations.
Many objectors felt it would be unsightly and obtrusive in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and pose a potential threat to wildlife including birds and bats.
Other concerns were that it would be out of keeping and an ‘eyesore’ clearly visible from Exmoor National Park and that it would damage the natural beauty, characteristics and special qualities of the area.
A significant line of objection was also that the mast would be a ‘precursor’ to a wind farm application, which if submitted, they would also strongly contest.
The Ramblers Association was one of a list of objecting groups. Devon area secretary Eileen Linfoot said: “It is national policy to object to wind farms and such applications.
“There are just so many coming and this is just one of them. We are against wind farms at a local level, unless they are small personal ones or for use on small farms.
“Visual impact is a problem, because in a lot of cases they are visible from a lot of places.
“Locally there are so many coming up in areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as near Smeatharpe on the Blackdown Hills.”
Coronation Power say that an environmental impact assessment covering a range of issues such as landscape and visual impact, land use and ecology would be undertaken, before a decision is made to submit a planning application for a wind farm at the site.
Such a development would have the capacity to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 6,000 Mid Devon homes, they claim.
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