Villagers fighting plans to build three 90m wind turbines in the South Hams are to appoint independent experts to assess the impact such a scheme could have.Cornwall Light and Power (CLP) plans to resurrect an application withdrawn by Npower in January last year.
It involved building the turbines – which would measure just 10m less than Nelson’s Column – on land at Goveton, near Kingsbridge in South Devon.
CLP plans to carry out extra studies, which the old proposal lacked, before its application is formally submitted to South Hams District Council.
But people living near the site, who fought the last proposal, have raised fears about noise, effects on health, the visual impact and the possible loss of tourism.
Gary Watson, spokesman for the Buckland-tout-Saints residents’ association, said: “Our group is not opposed to renewable energy, but it needs to be in the correct environment, which doesn’t affect people’s lives or the landscape we have enjoyed for so long.
“These things are considered far too little when power companies are looking at possible sites.”
Mr Watson said the group planned to employ its own landscape and planning consultants, to carry out assessments.
But Tristan Mackie, of CLP, said the wind speeds at Goveton were good, making it a desirable site. He said the turbines would produce enough energy to provide power for 2,000 homes.
He said Npower withdrew because the company was told its application lacked detail, not because of community opposition. He added that CLP was carrying out additional noise impact assessments and investigating the effects of the scheme on the landscape.
He said every option had to be looked at in the urgent race to combat climate change.
Jeremy Smith, another member of the residents’ group, said the plan was “horrendous”.
He said: “I think the impact on businesses and the number of visitors coming to the area is going to be tremendous. The effects on tourism seem to be quite substantial.
“We are also very concerned about the health side of things. There’s a growing body of evidence that the high-frequency sound these turbines produce is really quite detrimental to health.”
But Mr Mackie said there was “no evidence” of any impact on health.
He said: “There can’t be any health issues, otherwise the Government’s scientists wouldn’t allow turbines to continue doing what they do.”
He said the Goveton scheme would contribute to Devon’s target for producing 105MW of energy through onshore wind farms by 2010. Currently, only 3MW are produced from inland turbines at Bradworthy, North Devon.
Mr Mackie said: “The 4MW this scheme would produce may not sound like much, but it would certainly be a start towards Devon reaching its target.”
By Louise Vennells
11 December 2006
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