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Giant windfarm would spoil area's beauty

A plan to create England’s biggest windfarm would spoil a beautiful area of North Devon countryside, it was claimed at an inquiry yesterday.The plan is for 22 wind turbines each 360ft tall, which Exeter-based Devon Wind Power (DWP) wants to build at Fullabrook Down near Ilfracombe.

Opponents say it would have an adverse impact on the landscape including parts of the North Devon coast that have been designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Yesterday was the opening day of a public inquiry into the application.

Tony Bohannon, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, told the hearing: “This development will be a vast, highly visible industrial edifice totally out of place in this valued landscape”

The inquiry, which is being held in Barnstaple Guildhall, heard from Patrick Robinson, the advocate for DWP, that if Devon was ever to meet the target of 151MW of renewable energy by 2010, then schemes such as DWP’s 66MW proposal for Fullabrook would be needed.

Mr Robinson said there would be landscape and visual impacts, and there would have to be a balancing exercise taking into account the benefits.

“While there will be disputes about the extent of those impacts, we take this opportunity to state the inescapable truth that the need for this type of new generating capacity is such that some local impacts will need to be tolerated,” he said.

Because of its size, the application went straight to the Department for Trade and Industry, which called the inquiry.

Although North Devon District Council (NDDC) could not formally determine the application, the authority ruled that if it had been able to make a decision, it would have refused it on the basis that its benefits were outweighed by the impact on the area.

Peter Wadsley, advocate for NDDC, said that previous inquiries had highlighted the value of the landscape in rejecting the proposals.

“These judgments on the nature and quality of the landscape are important because the landscape is essentially the same and the need to protect it is as great as ever,” he said.

Yesterday’s hearing also heard from Geoffrey Sinclair, advocate for the Campaign Against Wind Turbines (CAWT), who said the organisation was concerned at the “inappropriate location” of the turbines.

“CAWT believes that the desire of local inhabitants to protect the landscape and visual qualities of their hinterland or backyard is an honourable duty.

“I trust that the simplistic charge of Nimbyism will not be heard at this inquiry,” he said.

But supporters of the windfarm warned that the increasing challenge of climate change meant urgent action was needed.

Hector Christie, of the Friends of Fullabrook Windfarm, said: “It makes me sad at the bickering between pro and anti when the reason we are here is because we all care passionately about the environment.

“The desperate situation is we will not have a world for our children unless we take serious action now.”