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Green light for giant turbines between near Winchester

Planners have approved some of the biggest wind turbines in Hampshire on rolling downland near Winchester.

City councillors backed the scheme for three 25-metre turbines between Crawley and Sparsholt.

The developer Kirton Farm says it will use them to generate electricity and make its plant-growing operation more sustainable.

Residents objected saying they would wreck the countryside, drive down property prices and set a dangerous precedent.

Christopher Tovey, of Sparsholt Parish Council, said the claimed energy benefits of the turbines were unproven.

Mr Tovey added: “Crawley Downs is not a suitable site for a wind farm. This is not just a local issue. This is a test case of great importance that will decide the future of protected landscapes. This will put all other ‘character areas’ at risk”.

He said he believed the proposed turbines would be the tallest in Hampshire.

After the meeting, a Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) spokesman said they were not aware of any larger schemes in the county.

The organisation has pledged to oppose wind turbines if they damage the character of the countryside.

Back at the hearing, applicant Derek Taylor of Kirton Farm Nurseries told the planning committee the turbines would generate 90 per cent of the power needed for his expanding business. It employs 25 full-time and 12 seasonal staff.

Cllr Roger Huxstep said he was worried that if permission was granted for three, the farm could come back with plans for more.

Andrew Rushmer, planning officer, said that would make it more like a commercial wind farm and so different planning criteria would apply.

Cllr Barry Lipscomb said although the turbines would be clearly seen their impact would be muted by the much more intrusive glasshouses and polytunnels already at Kirton Farm.

There were three letters of objection but 33 in favour from environmental supporters including Sparsholt Women’s Institute. The vote was nine to none to approve the proposal.

This is only about the third or fourth wind turbine to be approved in the Winchester district. Sparsholt College recently got approval for a 16-metre turbine and permission has also been given for one in the southern parishes.