Controversial moves to build a huge wind turbine by the M4 near Swindon have been toppled following a heated debate.
Green-energy pioneers clashed with countryside campaigners in a row over whether the need for renewable energy outweighed the effects on local businesses and the countryside.
One of the country’s leading horse racing fraternities also claimed that the revolving arms of the proposed 265ft pylon – 80ft taller than Nelson’s Column – would spook the horses.
A mile from the Wiltshire village of Baydon and two miles from the famous Lambourn horse-racing community, the turbine was earmarked for a site next to Membury Services.
It would have provided enough electricity to supply 640 typical UK homes and become a major landmark seen by thousands of motorists.
But the scheme at Baydon Meadow in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was rejected by 33 votes to 13 at a full meeting of West Berkshire Council. The site is 200m inside Berkshire, close to the Wiltshire border.
Supporting the plan, Councillor Jeff Brooks called on members to vote in favour the “bigger issue” of climate change, which he said contributed to July’s floods.
He said: “This is about the greater public good. It’s about the planetary good and we really have to make a stand.”
But council leader of the Tory-run authority Graham Jones described the site as “uniquely bad”, as it threatened businesses and a protected area of countryside. He was supported by local airfield businessmen Ralph Jones and Chanelle McCoy, wife of top jumps jockey Tony McCoy.
They claimed the turbine would threaten the safety of gliders flying from nearby Membury airfield and highly-strung young racehorses being trained in the Lambourn Valley.
Livelihoods would be ruined across the valley if industries were forced to move away, they claimed.
The £1 million plan to create clean, renewable energy was first unveiled by landowners Matt and Rachel Partridge in 2002.
The following year it was rejected by council planners and then on appeal because of its detrimental impact on the surrounding area. Earlier this year committed environmentalists Mr and Mrs Partridge revived the project after teaming up with a specialist company called Energy4All. The firm is erecting turbines at Westmill Farm near Swindon after landowner Adam Twine won planning permission following a 10-year battle.
The Partridges said the project dovetailed with Government calls for more renewable energy and are talking with Energy4all over the possibility of mounting an appeal.
Last night Energy4all development director Angela Duignan said: “We are disappointed but not surprised.
“How will we ever deliver a carbon-free future when crucial schemes like this are rejected?”
14 December 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding