Plans for what would be Devon’s largest windfarm with 22 360ft tall turbines will come under the scrutiny of a public inquiry today.The inquiry, which has been called by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is into a proposal by Devon Wind Power to build the turbines, each almost exactly twice the height of Nelson’s Column, at Fullabrook Down between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe.
The area has been the focus of repeated applications for windfarms, none of which has ever been successful.
As with previous applications this proposal is being fiercely opposed by a local campaign group, although there are also increasingly vocal support groups.
The Exeter-based firm claims that the 66MW windfarm would provide more than 40 per cent of Devon’s 2010 target for installed renewable energy sources of 151MW. It also claims it would provide enough power for 37,000 homes, roughly the electricity requirements of more than three quarters of North Devon.
Because of the size of the proposal it went straight to the DTI, which called the public inquiry under Section 36 of the Electricity Act. The hearing is expected to last for about four weeks
Devon Wind Power estimated that the windfarm could save more than 150,000 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide emissions.
The firm said it chose Fullabrook Down because it had some of the highest onshore wind speeds in Devon.
Devon Wind Power chief executive Keith Pyne said: “By concentrating a number of turbines on one site we can help Devon to achieve its wind energy targets without further proliferation of turbines throughout the county.
“We welcome this inquiry. We are confident that the facts will speak for themselves – this windfarm will provide a huge boost for renewable energy in North Devon and help to tackle climate change without damaging tourism, wildlife or adversely affecting local house prices.”
Opponents said they are ready to fight the latest bid to build a windfarm in the area and have employed an experienced advocate to act on their behalf at the inquiry.
They condemned Devon Wind Power’s offer of a community fund of more than £1 million once the windfarm was built and said the harm caused to the tourist industry vastly outweighed any benefit from the fund.
Richard Jerrard, the chairman of the Campaign Against Wind Turbines at Fullabrook, said: “Just the hint of such a sweetener is entirely unacceptable and inappropriate at such a key stage in the planning process. It seems that the applicant is prepared to go to any lengths to try to obtain local support.”
Today’s hearing begins at 10am at the Guildhall in Barnstaple High Street.
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