A public inquiry into a controversial wind farm application began on Tuesday.
The inquiry, which is expected to last eight days, was launched after plans to build five wind turbines at a farm off Stoddens Lane, near Brent Knoll, were refused by Sedgemoor District Council.
Next Generation, a subsidiary of renewable energy company Ecotricity, is appealing against the authority’s decision but faces opposition from pressure group kNOll to Wind Farm, Brent Knoll Parish Council and Burnham and Highbridge Town Council.
Around 50 people packed in to The Princess in Burnham to hear the inquiry.
Before each party gave opening statements, inquiry chairman Robin Brooks, a chartered town planner, outlined the most important aspects of the case.
He said: “The main issues are the impact of the proposals upon the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape and on Brent Knoll’s listed buildings including the Hill Fort and St Andrew’s Church.
“The energy contribution of the wind farm should be weighed against any adverse impact.”
He also mentioned noise and the visual impact of wind turbines upon Brent Knoll residents.
Marcus Trinick, representing Next Generation, cited a Government White Paper on meeting the energy challenge and last year’s Stern report which outlined the economic case for acting now against climate change in his opening statement.
Gavin Collett, acting on behalf of the district council, said: “We need to balance the national desire for renewable energy against the effects it will have on the countryside and its inhabitants.”
Tina Douglass, representing kNOll to wind farm, said the energy company had ‘misunderstood or ignored the importance of the Knoll to the landscape of the Somerset Levels’.
She added: “They have ignored its cultural heritage, undervalued the nationally important monument which crowns it and have failed to appreciate the damage which this development would do to those assets and the economy of the area.”
The inquiry continues.
13 August 2007
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