Two wind-monitoring masts on the site of proposed edge-of-Exmoor wind farms have been met with no objection from Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA).But in giving the masts the green light, planners warned that wind farms would still raise strong objections.
North Devon District Council has consulted with the planning authority on the erection of two temporary 60m masts – one at Luckett Moor, where a proposal has been made for five wind turbines and one at Western Bullaford Moor where six turbines have been proposed.
The monitoring masts, or anemometers, would be put in place for two years, to measure wind speeds and help determine whether the sites would be viable for wind farms.
ENPA planners received 11 public objections to the masts, which will be sited 2.8 miles from the southern boundary of the National Park.
Objectors claimed the masts would damage the natural beauty of the landscape, “cluttering” the area, with the Luckett Moor mast very close to the Two Moors Way path.
Another said it would threaten tourism, seen as a lifeline to many local businesses.
And one said: “I imagine it is highly likely that planning applications for two 60m private radio masts in the area would be refused.
“I therefore request that you recommend refusal of these planning applications, sending a clear message to the applicant that they are totally wasting everyone’s time and our money in pursuing their proposals for this site any further. This site is totally inappropriate for 60m masts.”
The ENPA landscape officer raised no objections, stating that they would not be visible from the National Park.
In his report to the ENPA planning committee, David Wyborn, head of planning, pointed out that while a decision must be made within the boundaries of the Development Plan, policy also stated that “particular care will also be taken to ensure that no development is permitted outside the Dartmoor or Exmoor National Parks which would damage their natural beauty.”
The planning committee made a resolution not to raise objections to the masts – but added: “On the evidence available and following previous considerations of the importance of these sites to the setting of the National Park, North Devon District Council should be advised that wind turbine development on these sites is likely to raise strong objections on visual impact grounds on this landscape of national importance.”
By Kate Helyer
14 June 2007