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School wind turbines plan refused  

Controversial plans to build two wind turbines at a Plymouth school have been rejected, after nearly 12 months of wrangling.

City council planning officers recommended the planning committee grant permission for the 20m high turbines at Coombe Dean School.

But in a vote that divided along party lines, councillors rejected the application.

Cllr Kevin Wigens, Conservative member for Plymstock Dunstone, was loudly applauded when he told the committee the 65ft-high turbines would be incompatible with their surroundings, which were mostly bungalows.

“This will be quite simply unbearable for residents, many of whom are retired,” he said.

The school said the turbines, which would be the first at a city school, would save money and promote green energy among pupils.

Coombe Dean headteacher Pattrick Frean told the meeting, which had been moved to the council chamber to accommodate the public interest, changes had been made to the height and positioning of the turbines to accommodate concerns.

He said the plans were opposed by “a self-interested cabal of voters”, adding: “The choice is to treat the world as ours to do with as we please, as borrowed from our children.”

Residents claimed the turbines will be an eyesore, too noisy and will pose a danger to health from flickering shadows and broken blades.

Cllr Nicky Wildy (Lab, Devonport) accused residents of nimbyism.

Norman Proctor, a neighbour and a turbine engineer, gave evidence to the committee. He said the flickering of the turbines posed a risk to epileptics, saying: “It will only be a matter of time before the court cases start.”

He said the environmental benefits had been overstated. The saving of 4.5 tonnes of carbon a year was equivalent to two people travelling to school by car.

Mr Proctor said: “It would be only a matter of time before somebody tried throwing a handful of stone chippings into the rotating blades.”

Cllr Bill Stevens (Lab, Devonport) accused Conservative members of the committee of opposing the turbines for party political reasons.

But Cllr Linda Bowyer (Con, Eggbuckland) denied Conservatives had been pressured to go against the turbines.

Cllr Mark Lowry (Lab, Honicknowle), said: “This is the first opportunity for this council to show its green credentials.”

Cllr Wendy Foster (Con, Plymstock Radford) said she was concerned about the effect of shadow flicker on pupils at the school.

Cllr Wildy pointed out the officers’ report said the impact of flicker was a matter of personal opinion.

The Herald

25 July 2008

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