Plans to put four towering turbines in the north Dorset countryside have been rejected after it was argued the site was not windy enough.
Hundreds packed the Riversmeet Centre in Gillingham to hear North Dorset District Council development control committee discuss an application by Ecotricity for the wind turbines at Manor Farm, Silton.
After a debate lasting nearly seven hours, there was a standing ovation when members agreed unanimously to refuse on the grounds that the benefit would not outweigh the negative impact on nearby historic buildings, landscape and homes.
In response to several claims that it was not a windy site, Andrew Muir, planning manager for Ecotricity, said the application was justified by regional data collected over 22 years.
Councillor David Milsted, who led the committee’s charge against the plans, said: “It is clear to me that these things will have a damaging impact on the amenity of dwellings.”
His views were echoed by Councillor Geoffrey Miller, who described the turbines, and the impact of any construction period, as “horrendous”.
He said: “We have a responsibility to our electorate.”
Chris Langham, chairman of Save Our Silton, the campaign group which has argued against the wind farm for four years, said: “Naturally we are delighted with the result. Other technologies need to be developed to address climate change, and the issue of low wind has been coming to the fore.”
He and more than 30 other objectors spelled out the effects on the landscape, tourism and residents of north Dorset during the meeting.
Only one, Anna Baker, spoke in favour, representing a Facebook campaign with 680 young supporters of the scheme, a third of whom she said were pupils of Gillingham School.
“I don’t really understand why everyone is so opposed to what are comparable to large-scale sculptures like the Angel of the North.”
But 27-year-old Elise Doran said: “Turbines are built at enormous cost, to the landscape, to businesses, and to my friends and neighbours, my home and my future.”
It was the second application for a wind farm development on the site by Ecotricity. The first, for six turbines, was thrown out in the summer of 2009. The new, scaled-down application was submitted last July.
District council case officer James Lytton Trevers was criticised for recommending approval. His report was alleged to have “crossed the Rubicon from impartial assessment to “very partial justification”.
Speakers cited increasing evidence that turbines did not deliver CO2 reduction because of their inefficiency and the huge subsidy needed to support them.
The Chaffeymoor Grange hotel proprietor Rick Eldridge said 94 per cent of his clientele, when asked, had said the presence of the turbines would stop them booking again.
District council deputy leader Deborah Croney, spokesman for the environment and economy, spoke of the importance of tourism which supported 2,000 jobs in the district.
She also spoke on behalf of MP Bob Walter, who was unable to attend the meeting, but who stressed that there were no longer any regional planning targets for renewable energy schemes which had to be met.
Ecotricity has six months in which to decide whether to appeal against the decision, a possible process for which the council has budgeted £40,000.
Spokesman Mike Cheshire said: “It’s disappointing that North Dorset district councillors seem set on rejecting new sources of green energy for Dorset.”
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