Supporters of green energy were celebrating last night after a large wind farm for Essex was given the go-ahead – despite strong local opposition.
Energy giant Npower’s plan for 10 turbines close to Bradwell-on-Sea had been rejected by Maldon District Council in a bid to protect the “peace and tranquillity” of the surrounding area.
But the company took the case to a public inquiry earlier this year and it was announced yesterday the appeal had been successful.
Npower said it was “delighted” at the decision and confirmed more than 10,000 homes would be able to receive electricity from the on-shore development at Hockley Farm.
But Maldon District Council warned the turbines – standing at 121 metres on farmland to the south of Bradwell – would change the historic landscape and character of the area for years to come.
In his decision, Philip Major, the Planning Inspector, said it had been a “finely balanced case” with the need to provide renewable energy weighing heavily in favour of the development.
He acknowledged there would be a major change to the appearance of the Dengie Peninsula but said he was satisfied the essential character of the area would not be lost.
And he even said he thought the towers were “elegant”, suggesting local opposition often lessened once people got used to living near a completed wind farm.
He said: “I recognise that there are many who would be disappointed by the development proceeding in that location.
“However, I am satisfied that the essential character of the area would not be lost despite the changes which would ensue from this proposal.”
He also said there would be no material harm to the setting of the famous St Peter’s Chapel which dates back to the 7th Century.
Opposition group Bradwell and Tillingham Tackling Lost Environment (Battle) were outraged at the decision.
Neil Yates, chairman of Battle, said: “We are obviously very upset with the decision and the consequential damage to the special landscape and environment of the Bradwell Marshes.
“The consequence to local people will in some cases be extreme, with the possibility of severe property devaluation for those living close to the site not to mention noise and light pollution and potential damage from the extraordinary size and volume of construction traffic.
“In the interim we as a body will be seeking professional advice as to what we can best do next and will be meeting to discuss our options over the next few days.”
And Maldon District Council’s head of planning services James Doe said: “The council is extremely disappointed that the Planning Inspector on behalf of the Secretary of State has allowed this appeal and granted planning permission for the ten turbine wind farm at Bradwell.
“Once built, the wind farm will change the historic landscape and character of the Dengie Peninsula dramatically for years to come, with an area of special scientific interest and historic landmarks such as St Peter’s Chapel being irreparably harmed by the imposing turbines.”
Cath Stevenson, development manager at Npower Renewables, said: “There is an urgent need to tackle the causes of climate change and wind farms are the most commercially and technologically advanced renewable to meet the challenge.
“The wind farm at Bradwell will power on average between 8,100 and 10,600 local homes, helping reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce.”
A spokesman said it was not known when work would begin on the site.
By James Hore
13 September 2007
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