The applicant behind plans to build a wind farm on land near Arborfield, Lower Earley and Shinfield has been told it must take down a temporary data gathering mast.
The planning committee at Wokingham Borough Council last week refused a request from the Partnerships for Renewables (PfR) to keep an anemometer mast at the site in Rushy Mead for a further 18 months.
PfR, which this month filed plans with the council to install four wind turbines on a site owned by the University of Reading, had proposed the extension so it could continue monitoring the wind speeds in the local area.
However, despite the plans being earmarked for approval by planning officers, the committee threw out the blueprints on the grounds the applicant had not demonstrated the need for a continued loss of a countryside amenity.
Members also questioned why the mast, which has been collecting data since September 2008, was still needed when an application for four turbines has already been submitted.
The latest application also proposes the installation of a permanent anemometer alongside the quartet of turbines, so further questions were asked about why the applicant wanted to retain the mast.
At the council meeting last Wednesday, October 13, members spoke at length about the plans, with some throwing their support behind the idea of gathering more data.
The committee also heard representations from Arborfield Parish Council, protest group Householders Against Rushy Mead (HARM) and ward members for Arborfield and Shinfield, Councillors Gary Cowan and Charlotte Haitham Taylor.
All spoke against the application, with Cllr Ashley Wright, from the parish council, asking “to support the people and local parish council and deny the extension of something unnecessary”.
Jan Heard, spokeswoman for HARM, told the meeting how she found the whole idea “ludicrous”, while Cllr Cowan described the 70-metre high mast as being a “blight on the countryside”.
He said: “There is nothing to be gained by keeping it up.”
Mark Cupit, head of development management at the council, stressed how the more information the applicant can gather in relation to the local wind speeds, the better.
His argument was echoed by Cllr Jenny Lissaman, ward member for Bulmershe and Whitegates, who was in favour of keeping up the mast, which is due to be pulled down on Tuesday, December 7.
Tony Duffin, from PfR, said: “The data gathered from the monitoring mast to date has enabled us to refine the site design and gain enough confidence that the site is windy enough to host wind turbines.
“Gathering an additional 18 months of data would have increased the statistical robustness of our data, but not having this additional information does not materially impact our plans.”
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