The movement towards embracing renewable energy could be set back dramatically if plans for nine 120m high wind turbines in the Den Brook Valley are approved, a West Devon councillor has warned.
Cllr Paul Ridgers, who represents the Drewsteignton and Spreyton areas, issued the warning at the session for residents’ views in the public inquiry into the proposed project. The session was held in the Charter Hall, Oke, as part of the inquiry into plans by developer RES to use land in the valley as a site for wind power. A planning application was rejected by West Devon Borough Council earlier this year.
Cllr Ridgers said: “˜What we are seeing in West Devon is a real movement from residents, communities and the council towards embracing renewable energy.
“˜The council has recently approved a wind turbine in Okehampton and many parishes are investigating renewables as part of their parish plans.’
Cllr Ridgers, a member of West Devon Borough Council’s sustainable energy committee, said this was a positive move, but that inappropriately sited development could damage the perception of renewable energy projects.
He said: “˜It would make it difficult to encourage individuals and local communities to embrace renewable technology when the precedent that this particular development would set is the industrialisation of an environmentally sensitive area.’
Speaking in support of the proposal, Stephen Emanuel, who lives at Drewsteignton, said he believed wind turbines to be “˜objects of beauty’.
He said: “˜They have an inspiring directness of purpose on a par with other great icons of civil or mechanical engineering.’
Mr Emanuel also dismissed the claim that wind turbines could damage tourism businesses. He said: “˜I am astonished the Dartmoor Tourist Association can reportedly claim that the wind farm would have any adverse impact on the number of visitors to the area. As a former bed and breakfast host myself, I know how much it would add interest and promote bookings.
“˜This is a small but significant, vital and urgent contribution to the national requirement for sustainable energy. Without it those cherished views we are talking about could terribly soon dry up – or be covered in ice – as a result of climate change.
“˜I would ask: If not here at Den Brook, where? If not now, when?’
More than 40 people registered to address the inspector as part of the public session. Among them were representatives of nearby parish councils such as Bow and Zeal Monachorum.
Bill Poritt, representing the views of Spreyton Parish Council, noted that Spreyton had this year been named as the “˜Best Kept Village’ an accolade bestowed by the CPRE.
Mr Poritt said villagers were “˜proud’ of the lovely area of Devon in which they lived and did not want to see it spoiled by an unwanted wind farm.
A statement by West Devon and Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox was also read out.
He said he opposed the scheme because of the need to protect the fragile economic prosperity of the area. He said to overturn the borough council’s decision and allow the wind turbines to be built would be to “˜play Russian roulette with the future of thousands of people.’
Having held a site visit to locations within the valley, the inspector will now consider the evidence heard during the inquiry before arriving at a verdict.
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