Campaigners celebrating a victory in a long-running battle against plans for a wind farm hope a decision to reject the scheme sets a precedent for similar applications across the region.
Some of the people who had been fighting the plans for five years broke down in tears when North Devon District Council’s planning committee turned down the application to build a wind farm close to Exmoor National Park on Wednesday evening.
RWE Npower Renewables, the company which wanted to erect nine 103-metre turbines on a site at Batsworthy near Knowstone, announced it would now be considering the project’s future.
Bob Barfoot, chairman of the Campaign To Protect Rural England’s North Devon group, said: “This decision will have ramifications across the country – we’ve seen three applications refused now near the borders of Exmoor and, if the applicant appeals, I am sure we would win any subsequent inquiry on that.”
Mr Barfoot added: “I’ve still not had time to absorb it all now – a few members of the public actually broke down in tears when the decision was announced.”
A spokesman for North Devon Council said: “A report from the meeting will go back to our next full planning committee – and this report will outline the main reasons for refusal. Basically the decision was made because of landscape considerations and visual impact; impact on amenity and impact on nearby listed buildings.”
RWE npower renewables developer Chris Nunn said his company was “very disappointed” with the decision. “We have taken great care in the selection of Batsworthy Cross site and have worked diligently with the local community, statutory consultees and officers to ensure the proposal works technically whilst still being sympathetic to the local environment,” he said.
“We consulted extensively with the local community and received a great deal of support for our application: this decision will be a great disappointment to all those local people.”
But Anita Allen, who owns one of the listed buildings close to the proposed site which caused concern among councillors, said: “They have obviously taken on board the strength of feeling against this application by the community.”
The Two Moors Campaign, which has been fighting applications for four wind farms just south of the Exmoor National Park border, described the decision as a “very just victory”.
Secretary Caroline Harvey was jubilant, saying: “The campaign and our supporters have worked tirelessly to prevent our wonderful countryside being ruined by these ineffective industrial monsters.”
Anti-wind farm campaigners across the Westcountry were taking heart at the decision. Jeremy Varcoe, who is fighting a proposed wind farm at Davidstow on the edge of Bodmin Moor, said: “We just have to wait and see whether the powers that be recognise the relative inefficiency of wind turbines and that the benefits they produce do not justify their harmful impact.”
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