Plans to build two 70-metre wind turbines in a picturesque Westcountry location are under scrutiny again, two years after they were rejected by council officials.Farmers Robert and Carol Bradford have appealed after West Devon Borough Council threw out their proposal for the development on land at Beech Farm, Lamerton, a mile from the western boundary of Dartmoor.
The authority raised concerns over the visual impact of the turbines on the Dartmoor National Park, and on the nearby Tamar Valley – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
But the Bradfords claim the environmental and community benefits of the 70-metre turbines – which are one-and-a-half times the height of Exeter Cathedral – should outweigh such concerns. The couple, who are representing themselves, say the turbines will produce enough power to supply 1,000 homes on the local network. The scheme would be run as community trust, generating £5 million over its expected 25-year life span for the Lamerton area, they claim.
Yesterday marked the first day of their appeal, held at Tavistock Town Hall.
It will fall to Government planning inspector Richard Tamplin to determine in whose favour the balance should swing.
West Devon Borough Council laid out its case yesterday. The authority’s town planning officer, Edward Persse, said the application, a mile and a half from Brentor Church, would have a “significant adverse visual impact” on Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley.
He said the council accepted the need for renewable energy developments to meet Government targets.
He said: “As a council, we recognise the benefits of renewable energy – that’s clear. We certainly accept that there are benefits, but in this particular instance they don’t outweigh the negative impact to the environment.”
Mr Persse denied that the council was creating a “buffer zone” around the designated protected areas, in which no wind turbine applications could be built. He said the Lamerton proposal was outside an area identified by Devon County Council for the possible development of renewables projects.
The council appointed an outside firm to carry out a landscape assessment of the proposal. Mark Holland, landscape architect with Chris Blanford Associates, said the turbines were “industrial-sized”. He said: “The turbines would detract from the wild and open moorland and the surrounding landscape.
“They would detract from people’s ability to enjoy and appreciate the rich diversity of the national park which makes it so special. They would also attract from the enjoyment of the AONB.”
He said an environmental study carried out to support the turbine proposal was “flawed”, because it failed to follow the methodology which it set out to do.
He said his own assessment, following the same guidelines, led to the conclusion that there would be a “key significant” visual impact where the first study had found it would be “neutral”.
The hearing continues today, when the Bradfords are expected to put their case forward.
By Louise Vennells
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