A series of wind farm applications that could mean 24 turbines being erected within sight of a national park have been branded unacceptable by councillors.
Applicants have submitted four separate proposals for developments around Mid and North Devon – all within a few miles of Exmoor.
The plans range from between two and nine turbines. But if they are all approved, it will mean 24 more windmills springing up in the scenic area.
Devon County Council’s development control committee meeting, which will give guidance to the district councils that will make the ultimate decision, said the combined impact of all the turbines would spoil the landscape.
Members recognised the need for renewable energy sources and many said that any one of the applications alone might be acceptable. But the majority felt that the density of smaller applications in the same area should not be allowed.
Jeremy Yabsley, who represents South Molton Rural, gave a representation on plans for four turbines at Bickham Moor, Oakford, at the meeting on Wednesday. The Tory councillor, whose brother is behind one of the other proposals, said he was speaking on behalf of residents when he told members: “I would urge you to consider this application for four turbines not in isolation, but as part of the 24 turbines proposed in the locality.”
The other applications are for two turbines at Cross Moor, nine at Three Moors and nine at Batsworthy Cross. They have all sparked objections from Exmoor National Park and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, as well as a number of individuals.
Conservative Councillor Rodney Cann said there was “real concern” about the flurry of wind farm applications: “It’s a threat to the character of rural Devon as far as I can see. The accumulative effect is significant.”
And Liberal Democrat Councillor Frederick Tucker said: “Where is it all going to end? To my mind it’s nothing more than a quick fix.”
But Lib-Dem councillor Rob Hannaford supported the proposals. He reminded councillors that the authority was committed to green policies, and said: “You can’t have it both ways.”
The authority’s development manager, Malcolm West, told members that the county was in line to achieve 76 per cent of the target of 151 MW of electricity being produced by renewables by 2010.
He said each application’s contribution towards achieving the full amount had to be taken into account. But it had to be balanced against the impact they would have on the environment.
He said of the proposals combined: “The impact would indeed by quite significant, but that does not mean that they should each be deemed unacceptable.”
Councillors voted for a site visit to both Bickham Moor and Three Moors. Meanwhile, members recommended refusal of an application for three turbines at Goveton, near Kingsbridge, South Devon, on the grounds that its energy output did not justify the impact on the landscape.
By Louise Vennells
25 January 2008
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