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Wind farm inquiry goes into extra time

Extra time has been given so that more residents can have their say on a controversial wind farm application.

The inquiry, originally expected to last eight days, will now continue until August 23 and is expected to last 11 days.

An appeal 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 the protest group kNOll to Wind Farm, Brent Knoll Parish Council and Burnham and Highbridge Town Council.

Halfway through the inquiry into the plans, members of the public had their turn at making their voices heard.

More than 50 people from around the Brent Knoll area gathered in The Princess in Burnham to hear residents argue their points.

Anita Peach, of Brent Street, said the turbines would have a negative impact on village events. The 49-year-old, whose property is about 560m from the nearest proposed turbine, said: “Brent Knoll was one of the first Somerset villages to revive the tradition of wassailing, where toast is nailed to a tree to encourage healthy apple growth. We also have Shakespeare in the Garden and Jazz on the Green which are two hugely popular outdoor events. The constant sound of the turbines would put performers off and distract the audience.

“The village fete and farmers’ market symbolise rural country living. If the turbines are built the whole ambience will be impaired.”

Brent Knoll historian John Page, who lives in Battleborough Lane, spoke about the rich history the village has. John, aged 70, said: “The Knoll is known as the mount of frogs and the home of giants and there are plenty of myths and legends. The village is an integral part of the rich history of Somerset. The county council has also applied for World Heritage Status for Somerset and this development would seriously impact on its plans.”

Speaking on behalf of Brent Knoll Parish Council and Burnham and Highbridge Town Council, parish clerk Michael Endacott said: “Our main objections are related to planning issues. Obviously we have to accept that renewable energy is a good thing, but we also have to weigh up the impact on this particular neighbourhood. We feel The Knoll is a unique feature on the landscape and turbines would have a negative impact on the village, Burnham and The Knoll itself.”

Protest group kNOll to Wind Farm also had several members present at the planning inquiry. Speaking to the Weston & Somerset Mercury, spokesman Andrew Manning said: “Our main argument is regarding the visual impact the turbines would have on the village. The wind farm would be damaging to the environment and have a negative effect on the economy. People come to Somerset because it is a beautiful tourist attraction. The turbines would put them off and make property prices drop as well.”

The inquiry continues.

Weston & Somerset Mercury

20 August 2007