Controversial plans to build a huge wind farm north of Grantham were rejected by councillors on Tuesday.
Members of South Kesteven District Council’s development control committee voted 11 to 3 to throw out the plans to build ten 410ft turbines at Thackson’s Well in the Vale of Belvoir, despite planning officers recommending they be approved.
More than 150 people were at the day-long meeting held at The Guildhall, Grantham, which heard from almost 40 speakers.
Members of campaign group BLOT – Belvoir Locals Opposing Turbines – cheered as the result was read out.
The group spent five months campaigning against the proposals, which would have seen turbines built less than a mile-and-a-half from some residents’ homes.
Chairman Pandora Mawer said she was delighted with the committee’s decision.
She said: “I am relieved. The support we had here was completely overwhelming.
“Having given up five months of our lives to do this, we are so relieved that the district councillors listened.
“This has shown how many people do not want this thing in the Vale of Belvoir and now the councillors have agreed with us too.”
Dorset-based wind farm developer Infinergy, which submitted the plans, has vowed to appeal against the decision – a process which could take months and cost thousands of pounds.
Managing director Esbjorn Wilmar said: “We are very disappointed.
“I feel very strongly about this and still believe it is the right site to go to.
“We believe the arguments for are still better than against. We can see the local concern but there is a bigger picture which was not recognised at all. This was only about my back garden.”
The 11 committee members who voted to reject the wind farm plans were given five days to submit their reasons for refusal to lead planning officer Mark Shipman.
Campaigners speak against the plans
MORE than 20 speakers voiced their opposition to the plans at Tuesday’s meeting.
Campaign group BLOT put forward five speakers, including consultant Mike Barnard and Allington resident Justin Barry, who moved to the village a few months ago and told of his concerns about the potential effects the turbines could have on his family’s health.
Jane Davis, from Deeping St Nicholas, told how her and her family were forced to move out of their home after a wind farm, which the planning committee had visited before the meeting, was built 930m away.
She played a tape recording made by environmental health officers of the sound of the turbines. This was later dismissed by sound expert Mike Potts, who spoke for Infinergy, as “noise from the tape recording equipment”.
Four parish councils and three district councillors – Saxonwell representative Paul Wood, Witham Valley councillor Rosemary Kaberry-Brown and Grantham St John’s councillor Stuart Farrar – urged the committee to refuse the application.
Coun Kaberry-Brown, who received 360 letters from opponents of the plans, said: “The English countryside we have cherished for so long will disappear into a midst of white blades. It would be an eyesore to the residents and further afield.
“Out of all the letters I have received, four have been in support of this, and one of those was from someone who lives in Wales.”
Concerns were raised about the effect the turbines could have on nearby Roseland Business Park, at Long Bennington, which employs 700 people at 20 firms.
Speaking on behalf of the Roseland Group, Nelsons solicitor Jon Roberts revealed that a planning application had already been passed to allow concrete firm Bell and Webster to build on the site. If the wind farm application had been granted, the firm’s new office would be just 68m away from the nearest turbine.
Bell and Webster were told by planners that their building could be no more than 15m high so as not to have an “adverse effect on the locality”. At 125m, the planned turbines were more than eight times that height.
Mr Roberts said it would be “irrational and disproportionate” to grant permission for them to be built.
Representatives of English Heritage, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and Leicestershire County Council as well as villagers from Allington, Normanton, Staunton-in-the-Vale and Bottesford also spoke against the plans.
Speakers make the case for the wind farm
SIX people spoke in favour of the plans and Infinergy made a presentation addressing issues raised by anti-wind farm campaigners.
Infinergy chief executive Charles Sandham told the committee that we are facing an impending “climate catastrophe”.
He told councillors that his firm wanted to “borrow the landscape” at the Thackson’s Well site for 25 years as the wind farm would have had to be removed after this time.
Mr Sandham said: “Today is theday we can introduce wind farms.
“We are asking to borrow the landscape for 25 years so we can address immediate issues around climate change then we will go away.”
Mr Sandham claimed that Infinergy’s plans had the support of the Duke of Rutland, whose mother Frances, Dowager Duchess, has campaigned against the proposals.
She was part of a contingent which handed in BLOT’s objections to the application at SKDC’s offices and attended Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr Sandham asked experts who had examined noise, visual impact and archaeology at and around the site to explain their findings to members.
Other speakers in support of the plans included Long Bennington resident Brian Widdowson, John Clark, from Allington, John Chadwick, Beth Hewis, from the Green Party, Jonathan Lincoln from the Sustainable Energy Alliance, and founder Friends of the Earth member John Allison, from Lincoln.
By Jo Hall
14 March 2008
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