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Turbines under scrutiny

Both pro and anti wind farm campaigners staged protests in North Devon this week.In a busy week for local wind-power enthusiasts and opponents, a contentious planning application delivered to North Devon District Council for the Batsworthy Cross site on the edge of Exmoor was declared invalid and then resubmitted.

Supporters of the Two Moors Campaign -which is opposed to the proposal to put nine turbines on farmland near Knowstone – staged a demonstration outside Barnstaple Civic Centre on Monday morning.

The protestors then submitted a dossier which argued the plan was unrealistic and unsuitable.

nPower submitted a full planning application and design statement for the installation and operation of nine wind-turbines on a 217-acre site with a maximum height of 360ft to blade tip. The application also includes a substation building and access tracks.

But the application was declared invalid at first because the energy firm had not submitted enough copies, a problem it then solved.

nPower said the plan could bring 18 megawatts of power and clean electricity for 8,000 homes.

Two Moors Campaign chairman Ashley Gray said: “We support renewables on a realistic and suitable scale for Devon’s unique environment. Giant and inefficient wind turbines are not the answer to our 21st century needs. We urge nPower to think again.”

But nPower said it had widespread support in the local area for the turbines.

In related news, pro-wind campaigners have spoken out angrily about the amount of paperwork being generated by the imminent inquiry into the Fullabrook Down wind-farm – and any attached costs for local tax-payers.

Georgeham parish councillor Rosemary Brian, who supports the Fullabrook plan, estimated North Devon District Council had spent more than £100,000 compiling evidence to oppose the plan.

She said: “It seems to be an awful lot of money to spend trying to say no to something which most people in North Devon want. The country needs to meet its targets to combat global warming.

“It’s the cost of the consultants. Is it really necessary? The council has picked up the bill.”

The Fullabrook Down windfarm public inquiry will start at Barnstaple Guild Hall on November 28.

The application by Devon Wind Power to build 22 turbines, which it says would provide 66 megawatts of electricity, was opposed by North Devon District and Devon County Councils.

DWP has promised a £3.2 million community fund to support “sustainable projects” in the local community.

* To comment either way on the Fullabrook or Batsworthy applications, write to: The planning department, North Devon District Council, Barnstaple Civic Centre, North Walk, Barnstaple, EX31 1EA. Include your name and address on any correspondence.

You can read the applications on the council website at www.northdevon.gov.uk by following the environment and planning link.