Intrepid traveller and well respected fund-raiser Sir Ranulph Fiennes backed supporters of the Two Moors Campaign group when they put a blimp in the sky near Batsworthy Cross.
The blimp, or balloon, was flown at the height of 103m which is the height of the proposed wind turbines at Batsworthy Cross.
Although unable to attend the event himself due to preparation for a fund-raising challenge, Sir Ranulph said in a message: “I wish you every success in opposing these grotesque turbines. As a resident of Exmoor I am horrified by the prospect of seeing these turbines on such a prominent ridge. I am in favour of renewable energy but there must be more appropriate technologies for such beautiful areas as this. Good luck to the campaign – I strongly oppose the erection of these turbines at Batsworthy Cross.”
North Devon MP Nick Harvey released the balloon into the sky so he could see for himself how tall the turbines would stand.
Mr Harvey said: “This was a very graphic demonstration of what is actually being proposed. The height of the blimp once in the sky was quite mind boggling. When standing on the site you really are on top of the world with such commanding views.
“Driving along the link road after the event you could see the blimp for miles. Renewable energy is a tricky issue but with the national grid only able to deal with a certain amount of wind power nationally overall surely we can afford to be choosy and think in a hard headed strategic way about where these turbines should be placed.”
Secretary of the Two Moors Campaign Caroline Harvey said: “A lot of people turned up for the event and in addition to flying the blimp we set out on the ground the outline of a turbine. It only just fitted in the field we were using. The group is not against renewable energy but this proposal is all about money.
“nPower advised last week at a public meeting in Knowstone that they would get up to £75 million in subsidy alone from this site. This is not the best form of renewable energy but for the developers it is the most profitable.”
Development manager for RWE npower, Simon Holt, said: “It is very difficult to compare a blimp to a turbine. The best way to make a judgement on how the turbines will impact visually is to look at our environmental impact assessment document. In that there are photo montages of computer generated impressions of what the turbines will look like once erected. The document is freely available in Barnstaple Library or even Rackenford Shop.
“Meantime, we are looking forward to North Devon determining the application.”
Local resident, Mrs Cole said: “The blimp gave an idea of the height, though not the massive size of these industrial monsters. It would be impossible to fly something 86m in diameter. The blimp was nonetheless visible for miles.
“This was a chance for locals and visitors to see for themselves the real threat to our landscape.”
By Rowena Richardson
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