November 21, 2007

Officers recommend that Baydon Meadow wind turbine be rejected ahead of key planning meeting

Officers will recommend that the application for a controversial wind turbine in Baydon Meadow should be refused at tonight’s Western Area Planning Committee (November 21), despite a demand to find renewable energy sources.

Green campaigners are set to picket the offices of West Berkshire Council tonight to protest against the officers’ decision.

The wind turbine which would be 81 meters in height and effectively provide the Lambourn Valley area with enough electricity to supply 640 typical UK homes, roughly one third of Baydon’s properties.

Applicant Matt Partridge who took his the application to appeal after it was rejected in 2004 is hoping for a better outcome and will be attending the meeting to fight the case for renewable energy.

He said the proposal has a lot of support locally despite uproar from the racing community who feel the rotary blades from the turbine will spook horses.

He said : “There have been 146 letters of support (all individual, unique letters) and only 65 letters of objection (including a petition). In my 14 years of developing onshore wind farms in the UK, I can safely claim that the Baydon Meadow proposal – for a project at the planning stage – enjoys both unusually strong support and unusually low levels of objection, although independent public attitude surveys have shown for well over a decade that wind energy enjoys 80% support from the general public.”

Planning officers will suggest that the application is refused because its impact on the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the impact of the ‘shadow flicker’ on the surrounding residents and horses to the East of the proposed site and the physiological and physical impact on pilots flying into the adjacent airfield.

The recommendation to refuse the application also states that it has not been amended enough since similar plans had failed at a recent appeal.

Despite letters of support received by the applicant from local residents including the Lambourn Sustainability Forum because of it would provide so much electricity through renewable energy, the proposal has caused outrage among the racing community.

The horse racing fraternity are outraged by an application it deems as being potentially dangerous to horses as the noise and flicker from its blades might spook the animals.

Champion Jockey Tony McCoy said: “It is an accident waiting to happen.”

Mr McCoy’s proposed training yard would be under the wind turbine, if it was approved, and he claims such a vital local amenity for the racing industry would be badly affected as trainers wouldn’t want to keep horses near rotating blades.

District councillor for Lambourn Gordon Lundie said he welcomes the debate but thinks the district council should lay down a policy for the construction of wind turbines.

But a polar bear is to be among environmental activists outside council officers tonight, urging councillors to vote through the proposal.

They believe the need for renewable energy outweighs the effect on the local landscape.

Local Friends of the Earth spokesman Adrian Foster-Fletcher said: “Four years ago they turned down this application saying that they were in favour of renewable energy but this planning application was in the wrong place.

“They said they would identify suitable sites, but since they have sat on their hands and pretended that by putting a couple of solar panels on the roof of the town hall they are doing their bit.”

“Despite 1,500 houses suffereing severe flooding, they still consider protecting the view of the countryside from the Membury Services cafeteria is a higher priority than doing their bit to fight climate change,” he added.

By Debbie Gore

Newbury Today

21 November 2007

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