For those living close to Fullabrook Down, there is a feeling that their life has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
They fear that the noise produced by the twenty-two 110m turbines as the 90m propellers turn will be unbearable. Some even think they will not even be able to sell their homes in the beauty spot between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple.
However, they deny any accusation that their call for the turbines to be rejected is based on any “nimby” view.
Peter Kingdon lives just 700 yards from the future site of seven of the turbines in Ash Barton, near Braunton.
He said: “There are literally hundreds of people whose lives will be affected by these things. No one wants them, not the councils, nor the local community.
“But this does not mean we are opposed to sustainable power. There are other projects that would be far more productive.”
One such project is the proposed offshore windfarm in the waters close to Lundy Island. This project, say the experts, would be highly productive because of the continual winds that would drive the turbines.
Critics say this is not the case for their land-based alternative.
Caroline Harvey, secretary for the Two Moors Campaign group, which is fighting the creation of windfarms to the south of Exmoor, said: “The Government designated the South West as a place for trials of sustainable energy.
“But the problem is that windfarms are the cheapest of these to create.
“However, the green credentials of windfarms are very much overrated. When the wind stops they do not generate power – they cannot replace other forms of power generation altogether.
“People come to Devon to get away from everything. They want to see unspoilt countryside. These turbines are great big moving industrial objects, they will catch the eye in a way that is not desirable in the countryside.”
The landscape at Fullabrook Down is some of the highest land in North Devon. It is feared that when the 22 turbines are introduced, they will be seen from miles away.
In the consultation process, both North Devon district and Devon county councils advised the Government that the scheme should be rejected. Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon, Nick Harvey, joined the throngs of people opposing the scheme.
Last week, the Government decided to press ahead, despite public views.
Many claim its decision further showed how, rather than decentralising power, it was actually taking it further away from the very communities that were meant to be empowered.
Speaking after the decision, North Devon District Council leader Mike Harrison said: “We are shocked and disappointed by the decision.
“Regrettably, it seems this decision typifies the way government thinking is going, as evidenced in the new planning White Paper, with its emphasis seemingly on moving decision-making closer to the centre, and further from the communities who will experience the consequences of those decisions.”
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has long opposed windfarms, claiming that there are more effective forms of power.
North Devon CPRE chairman Bob Barfoot said: “Both the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State have apparently ignored the massive amount of damage that this proposal will have both on the landscape and the quality of life of those that work and live nearby.
“The inspector admitted that the proposal was in conflict with a number of county and district development plan policies, but considered that the benefits of the scheme overrode all other considerations.”
The turbines are so tall that they will have to have warning lights on them.
Mr Barfoot said: “The requirement to light these turbines at night with high-intensity red lights would magnify the visual impact, but this appears to have been given little weight by the Government.
“There would be a total of 44 red lights on the turbine towers; these lights would flash as the blades passed them and would be highly visible throughout the local area, throughout the Taw and Torridge estuaries and over much of North Devon and Exmoor National Park.”
He argued that the CPRE was not opposed to renewable energy. “But not at the expense of the countryside and those living and working within it,” said Mr Barfoot.
The environmental movement welcomed the news claiming a rare victory in the fight for sustainable energy.
North Devon Green Party spokesman Coun Ricky Knight said: “This has been a traumatic time for all of us – but the wait has been worth it. What a fantastic David and Goliath result for us. We are a small, if growing party with a massively important agenda and this result proves we have accurately reflected the real needs and preferences of the majority of people here in North Devon.”
16 October 2007
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