The multi-million pound Wellow wind farm, which has generated more opposition than any other Island planning application, looks set to be refused – unless councillors defy their own officers.
The authority, which employed expert consultants to weigh up the planning issues, was today (Friday) issuing the report which details just why the six turbines are recommended to be turned down.
Its contents were awaited with bated breath by applicant Your Energy and by objectors headed by ThWART (The Wight Against Rural Turbines).
News of the refusal conclusion came out two days before the report was published in a letter from the IW Council to the 2,200 people who made representations.
Councillors will consider the report at what is certain to be the biggest Island planning meeting yet on Monday, October 30, at Newport’s Medina Theatre.
If councillors follow the recommendation Your Energy will have to decide whether to appeal.
Your Energy yesterday (Thursday) said it awaited publication so it could analyse the reasons outlined by planners.
Project manager Patrick Gereats said: “Having followed the progress of this project through from its origins at Vestas six years ago, I am confident it is the right project in the right place. In our judgement the environmental benefits of the wind farm combined with the benefits to the economy far outweigh the environmental impacts.
“I hope the people of the Island, who recognise the increasing urgency to take action to combat climate change, will make their views known to their elected decision-makers over the next week.”
Managing director Richard Mardon said: “We are disappointed the recommendation has gone this way. We have spent a long time demonstrating that the environmental impacts have been minimised and mitigated. We see no reason why a recommendation for approval cannot be the end result.
“A negative course of action means the IW will miss its renewable energy targets for 2010.”
Your Energy wants to build four turbines with a ground-to-blade-tip height of 327ft and two 360ft tall and associated equipment on farmland south of Wellow.
ThWART spokesman Ray Tucker said: “We are obviously pleased the planning officers are recommending refusal of a proposal that would do much damage to the Island’s landscape, tourist industry and wildlife.
“We have said all along the site at Wellow is totally inappropriate for an installation of this type and size.
“We now hope the committee will accept the officers’ recommendation. It will then be time for all of us to fully encourage the development of other, well-researched and well-presented ways of providing renewable energy for the Island.”
Cllr Ian Ward, cabinet member for the environment, planning and transport, said: “This has been a very complex application and one with a potential large environmental impact, which we needed to assess thoroughly.”
# The planning report can be viewed at www.iwight.com
By Richard Wright
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