A debate over a proposed wind farm near South Molton has been re-ignited by campaigners for and against the scheme.
The views from Yes2Wind in North Devon, The Two Moors Campaign, and independent local campaigners came as a planning application for nine turbines at Batsworthy Cross, near Knowstone was submitted to North Devon District Council.
As the application by npower renewables was registered on Friday, independent local environmentalists presented the council with evidence of the threat of wind turbines to endangered wildlife populations.
“This is not a ‘green’ technology,” said Joanne Bell from Yelland.
“This is the money-making scam of the century that is wiping out our already declining bird and bat populations all over the world – and we have photographs of sliced up birds and bats to prove it.”
And on Monday, supporters of the Two Moors Campaign argued that npower’s public consultation had lacked detail, accuracy and clear information.
Campaigners from the group delivered a ‘Dodgy Dossier’ to councillors, which they said highlighted “errors and inconsistencies that have been the hallmark of the process so far”.
“From shortcomings in npower’s literature and problems with the exhibition material, to commitments on their website which failed to materialise, the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ documents it all for councillors’ benefit,” said Two Moors Campaign chairman Ashley Gray.
“These giant power companies have made vast exaggerations of the CO2 savings possible and undervalued the impact on the landscape and people’s livelihoods from this industrialisation,” he added.
The controversial scheme – for nine turbines of a maximum height of 103metres, unit transformer enclosures, substation building, anemometer, access tracks, and ancillary equipment – met with fierce criticism when it was first announced by npower in late 2005.
Since then, the power company said it had conducted a number of site studies and had sought feedback from in-depth public consultation.
Project manager Simon Holt told the Gazette that the site would have a capacity of around 18megawatts, producing enough electricity to meet the average annual demand of up to 8,000 homes.
“This is equal to more than a fifth of all the homes across North Devon and takes into account times that the wind farm will not be generating as much during times of low or no wind speeds,” he said.
As Mr Holt urged those in favour of wind power to get behind the project, Yes2Wind in North Devon delivered a message to the district council – a 332-signature petition in support of the scheme.
Organiser Jackie Morningmist from South Molton told the Gazette that the signatures from wind power supporters were collected at South Molton pannier market during four visits since March this year.
“At our first display of wind power information in March, so many people asked for a petition to sign that we realised we had to return the next month,” she said.
“It is obvious that people are very aware both that renewable energy has an enormous part to play in combating global warming, and that we in windy North Devon are in a prime position to do our bit by supporting local wind farms.
“We spoke among others to some people who had lived near the Cornish turbines who said that noise was not an issue. We also spoke to many who find turbines an attractive feature of the South West landscape,” she added.
Council planning officer Keith Bines told the Gazette that the Batsworthy Cross application was now subject to an environmental impact assessment and would enter into a 21-day minimum period of consultation expected to expire in early December.
“We have a 16-week target date and it’s highly unlikely that any decision will be made on the application until the New Year,” said Mr Bines.