The company which lost a controversial battle to create the South West’s biggest wind farm in West Somerset has withdrawn a planning appeal to make way for a fresh application.
Your Energy, acting for West Hinkley Windfarm, has submitted revised plans for a nine-turbine scheme on the same site, west of Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
The original application, for 12 turbines, was thrown out this week by the West Somerset Council planners last October.
Planners and local objectors feared the wind farm would threaten a nearby bat population and compromise safety on land around the power station, both issues which Your Energy says have now been resolved.
The move to withdraw the appeal follows a decision by the Planning Inspectorate not to postpone the appeal date, scheduled for January 2007.
Richard Mardon, managing director of Your Energy, said: “We have decided to withdraw the appeal against the 12 turbine scheme in order to give our resubmitted application a chance to go through the correct process locally.
“The scheme was refused on two issues – bats and nuclear safety – but we believe we have now solved those issues and hope to get a local decision early in the New Year.”
Over the last year, the company has carried out additional ecological surveys and held discussions with key stakeholders.
As a result, the new plans see the three turbines closest to the power station removed and some turbines moved away from bat habitats.
Your Energy says the new scheme would generate enough renewable electricity to supply 10,200 households in West Somerset.
Crispin Aubrey, spokesman for Forum 21, a group which supports green issues in West Somerset, said: “Forum 21 will be supporting the application, as it did with the first for 12 turbines.
“It will make an important contribution to local electricity, and will be clean and won’t produce any carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change.
“In our experience, it is very popular with people in the local area and it is also in line with Somerset County Council’s policy to increase the contribution from renewable energy.”
But objectors from West Hinkley Action Group fear the new plans, although removing three turbines closest to Hinkley B, leave six turbines just as close to the proposed site for a future construction of Hinkley C.
Spokesman John Lucas said: “We will oppose the application as vigorously as we did the first.
“Hinkley C is almost certainly coming and it will produce enough power to supply one million homes.
“We have been quite happy living next door to the power station; it employs so many people and keeps the economy going.
“A wind farm would be twice as tall, twice as ugly, why do we need both?”
Council spokesman Stacey Beaumont said: “The application will be considered afresh, without prejudice, by the council.
“It will take into account the previous reasons for refusal, including health and safety concerns about the possibility of a blade being thrown and environmental concerns for birds and bats.”
She said the Secretary of State has asked for the application to take into account potential prejudice regarding a future construction of Hinkley C.
By Helen Rossiter