Plans to build three 266-feet-high wind turbines on the edge of Dartmoor would be an “unjustified intrusion” into the life of local communities, opponents of the plan told a public inquiry.The turbines, which would be built on land at Yelland Farm, Bowerland Cross, near Okehampton, would be close to the boundary of the Dartmoor National Park and would stand more than one-and-a-half times the height of Nelson’s Column.
Geoffrey Sinclair, representing Okehampton and District Against Turbines (ODAT), told the inquiry: “ODAT’s point is simply that when sites like Yelland are proposed for the largest turbines in the South West of England, this represents one of the most serious long-term threats ever to face the landscape and countryside of Devon.
“In ODAT’s view, these adverse effects are quite simply not outweighed by this particular project’s benefits in terms of power generation on this particular site.”
The inquiry, which was in its last day yesterday, was into an appeal by power firm Yelland Wind Farm Ltd against the refusal of planning permission by West Devon Borough Council.
Mr Sinclair said that ODAT’s objection should not be seen as being anti-renewable energy or against Government policy. “Wind power is increasingly going offshore with the result that standard output capacity from the four operational power stations is now greater than that from the 54 on land,” he said.
Yesterday’s hearing also heard from Dr John Constable, the director of policy and research for the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), which is an independent charity providing data and policy commentary on renewable energy technologies.
He said that Yelland Wind Farm Ltd had claimed their turbines would be able to power 2,180 homes, but the reality was much less and even at peak output the turbines would only be able to meet the peak load of about 560 houses.
David Hardy, representing Yelland Wind Farm Ltd, said that much of the opposition to the proposal was based on emotion. “It is emotion, much of it founded on misinformation and fear which has clouded judgements, including those of elected members,” said Mr Hardy.
He said that the site for the proposed turbines was not designated for the quality of its landscape and pointed out that windfarm development had been approved in or next to areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and next to the Lake District National Park.
“Based on sound evidence, the appellant has demonstrated that the proposed development is of the right size, is in the right place and comes at the right time,” said Mr Hardy.
Inquiry inspector Keith Smith will now consider the evidence he has heard and make a report to the Secretary of State.
By Mark Clough
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