Plans for a wind farm at Batsworthy Cross near Knowstone have been recommended for refusal by Mid Devon District Council.
The application by nPower for the nine-turbine wind farm will be decided by North Devon District Council, but Mid Devon, as the neighbouring authority, was asked to comment. Planning committee members discussed the case at their meeting in Tiverton last Wednesday.
Five representatives of those opposed to the scheme attended the meeting, including Two Moors Campaign secretary Caroline Harvey and Robert Barfoot from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.
Richard Delf, of Higher Swineham, Oakford, raised concerns about the proposed wind turbines’ effect on the surrounding area.
He said: “The site is on the fringes of Exmoor and alongside the Two Moors Way; both are considerable attractions for visitors to North and Mid Devon, so the turbines would have a negative impact in an area of landscape beauty.
“It is also very close to the A361 North Devon Link Road, already a dangerous road. Drivers would be distracted by turbines.”
He said the plan should be rejected on the grounds of its detrimental effect on businesses, tourism and residents in Mid Devon.
Anita Cole of West Batsworthy Farm echoed these sentiments in her speech to the committee.
She said: “My life, and those of the population around it, will be devastated by this. We are sacrificial lambs; extensive research shows it will affect us. Please, please, don’t sacrifice our lives.”
Caroline Harvey presented a petition against the plan, containing 831 signatures.
She said: “In a relatively sparse area this is a considerable number of people prepared to stand up and be counted. The site is already 260m above sea level, in line of sight between two National Parks. It’s an inappropriate location for turbines.”
The proposed site is 10km from Thelbridge and 6km from Witheridge. Head of planning and regeneration Jonathan Guscott said the development would have no significant noise or vibration impact on Mid Devon due to the distance, but the matter for debate was its visual impact.
Cllr Linda Holloway felt the committee should vote against the proposal.
“You are going to be able to see these artificial structures at a distance, and I can’t accept that because it has a negative impact on a lot of people,” she said.
Cllr Alan Griffiths said the turbines would detract from an “area of outstanding landscape value”.
He added: “The effect on tourism in North Devon has been heard, and it will also have a potentially detrimental effect on Mid Devon’s income from tourism.”
The committee voted 12 to 3 in favour of raising a formal objection to the plan, because of the impact on the landscape, tourism and the effects on residents living in a sizeable area of Mid Devon.
Ashley Gray, chairman of the Two Moors Campaign, said councillors had made an “informed and environmentally sensitive decision”.
“I very much hope North Devon District Council and the Exmoor National Park Authority will take note and act to stop the industrialisation of rural Devon.”
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