Concern for bats has scuppered plans to build four wind turbines at Stibb Cross.
Torridge District Council’s plans committee refused an application for four 100m turbines at Galsworthy Farm.
Planners refused the application because two of the turbines would have been close to hedgerows used by bats.
However, Ecotricity, the company behind the application, said it would be happy to move the two turbines to solve this problem.
The council decided that moving the turbines would be a significant change and would have to be the subject of a new planning application.
Since the meeting, Ecotricity has said it is hoping to make another application for the site, although this decision has not yet been finalised.
It may also consider appealing the decision.
Both protesters and supporters turned out to the meeting to express their opinions on the controversial issue.
Despite the refusal, some councillors spoke in favour of the principle.
Cllr Miranda Cox said: “I think we need to get this right, but I hope Ecotricity come back to us and I think that it will go through.
“All national policy is directing us to allow this. All the statistics on climate change say that we need to act in the next 10 years.
“These wind turbines can be removed in years and I see them as a stopgap.
“I live near a main road and I would much rather live by a wind turbine.”
Fellow councillors David Fulford and Royston Johns also pledged their support for the wind turbines.
However, not all councillors agreed. Cllr Margaret Brown said: “I believe this will affect tourism and windmills should stay in Holland.”
Laura Holt from Savenorthdevon.com said: “Wind farms do little towards saving carbon emissions but are profitable investment for developers.
“Naturally we expect Ecotricity will come back with a revised application, and we’re already preparing for this.”
Bob Barfoot, chairman of Campaign to Protect Rural England for North Devon, welcomed the council’s decision.
He said: “We support the drive to decrease the dependence of the UK on fossil fuels, but renewable energy schemes must be appropriately sited.
“There is a danger that, in an attempt to solve wider environmental issues, inappropriate schemes such as this could cause local environmental problems.”
However Green Party member Jon Hooper believed that if Torridge District Council did not act now it would prove costly to the council.
At the meeting, he said: “I represent the vast majority of the local people who support this proposal. I have gone door-to-door and four out of five local people support this.
“We have a 10-year window of opportunity to do something about climate change – can we afford to wait?
“On behalf of the future generations I ask the council to support this.”
By Laura Churchill
6 March 2008
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