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Disappointment as giant turbine ruling overturned

Campaigners have lost their long-running fight to stop a giant wind turbine being built in the heart of the Leicestershire countryside.

Water firm Severn Trent was refused planning permission to build the 132m-high (433 ft) structure next to the A6 near Rothley, but that decision has now been overturned by a Government inspector.

Opponents of the scheme say the massive turbine will be visible for miles around and will ruin the natural appearance of the picturesque Soar Valley.

They were supported by members of Charnwood Borough Council, who agreed and threw out the scheme.

Other residents said they were concerned about the impact of noise and shadow flicker from the spinning blades.

Planning inspector Andrew Pykett, who reviewed the project, said he accepted there would be an effect on the landscape but he found the benefits of the turbine’s renewable energy production were greater than the damage caused to the countryside.

Rothley borough councillor Diane Wise, who is the council’s cabinet support member for planning, said: “It’s hugely disappointing but there’s not a lot more we can do.

“People are sorry it will go ahead because it will be an eyesore on the landscape. It will be huge and I am not convinced it will have the value Severn Trent says it will.

“Our planning officers did their best during the appeal but they could not convince the inspector.”

The company says the scheme will generate enough electricity to supply 1,900 homes for a year.

The turbine will power the nearby sewage treatment plant in Wanlip and surplus energy will be sold and fed into the national grid.

Rothley parish councillor Olwen Jones said: “It will be staggeringly high and we are still concerned there will be shadow flicker and noise. The nearest homes will be only a few hundred metres away..”

Jon Beeson, renewable energy projects specialist at Severn Trent, said: “We are hopeful this development will become operational in 2012.”

The council could face another wind turbine appeal after it rejected Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) plans to build four 126m-high (413ft) structures in the countryside near Queniborough.

The firm has not yet confirmed it will challenge the decision, but opponents say they are certain that will happen. They are concerned the Rothley approval will influence any future appeal.

Mike Jones, chairman of the of the SPR Out campaign, said: “Our wind farm would be a much larger development and would affect more homes so we will still have a strong case.”