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Wind farms threaten park's unique charm  

Exmoor’s unspoiled landscape and fragile tourist industry could be damaged by “intrusive” wind farms, a report claims.

A warning shot has been fired by the national park’s planning chief as officers consider two controversial schemes near Exmoor’s borders.

One is the plan to build nine turbines, up to 110m (361ft) high, west of Hinkley Point in west Somerset, 10 miles from the park’s boundary.

The other is for nine 103m (338ft) turbines at Batsworthy Cross, near South Molton in north Devon, less than five miles from Exmoor.

Because both wind farms will affect views from and of the national park, it has been asked for its views. In both cases the park’s principal planning officer John Clements recommends no objection is lodged to the specific plans.

But he notes that the Batsworthy scheme will have some “negative” impact and suggests that wind farms in general must not be allowed to spiral out of control near the park.

“The remoteness, wildness and openness of Exmoor are particularly valued characteristics,” reads Mr Clements’ report on the Batsworthy wind farm. “From higher land on Exmoor – such as West Anstey and at Molland Moor – the turbines will be clearly visible and constitute a degree of visual clutter, impacting to some extent on public enjoyment of those special qualities.”

He adds that the wind farm would have a “moderate” impact on views from the park, although not so much the authority should object to the scheme, he added. “It would be appropriate, none the less, to highlight great concern regarding the potential for harm to the National Park’s landscape, special qualities and tourism industry from cumulative, or more intrusive, wind farm development in the area,” he continued.

“Also the absence of an objection to this particular development should not be taken to imply the authority’s acceptance of the suitability of this general area for this type of development.”

Committee members will decide when they meet on January 9 whether to accept Mr Clements’ recommendations about the wind farm plans.

A decision on both turbine plans is expected in the new year from local planning authorities – West Somerset Council in the case of Hinkley and North Devon in the case of Batsworthy.

The concerns over wind farms come just a few days after the national park won a separate fight to stop its landscape being blighted by development. A planning inspector ordered telecommunications giant Airwave 02 to tear down a mast and antennae it had installed without permission at Beacon Down Quarry.


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