- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Emotions high on both sides of the wind turbine debate

A farmer who claimed her life would have been destroyed by a large-scale wind farm broke down in tears as councillors unanimously rejected the scheme.

Anita Coleman, who would have lived about 600m from the nearest turbine, thanked the 13 councillors through sobs of happiness after they branded the scheme for nine turbines at Batsworthy Cross a disaster for Exmoor.

The decision, which was met by raucous applause from the majority of the 300-strong crowd, came after a heated five-and-a-half hour meeting.

In keeping with the size of the application, councillors held the meeting at the Bishops Nympton village hall, in a community which would have been deeply affected by the development.

Forty-five people made passionate submissions for or against the scheme, amid heckling from the crowd, shouts of approval and even allegations of threats and bribery.

Sarah Bryan, a representative of Exmoor National Park, kicked off the meeting and received a deafening round of applause when she spoke of Exmoor as a “small and fragile national park” which must be protected.

Knowstone councillor John Stanbury described the turbines as “dominating structures with abysmal productivity”.

And South Molton estate agent Geoffrey Clapp asked councillors: “Do you want to be remembered for the pointless destruction of this beautiful part of Devon?”

He told them: “Fullabrook is a major mistake. We must not make the same mistake again.”

About a dozen speakers turned out to support the scheme and spoke of bringing North Devon into the 21st Century.

Rosemary Haworth-Booth, of the Green party, said the council could not sit back and do nothing and should instead “lead by example”.

Ricky Knight, also from the Green party, questioned how generic the “reams of objections were” and claimed the silent majority were in favour of wind turbines.

And L’Anne Knight said many young people had embraced Fullabrook, including local schools. It was the older generation which could not accept change, she said.

The councillors, who made their unanimous decision within 20 minutes, also had their say about the scheme.

It was followed by approving shouts, a large cheer and hugs and kisses between those who have campaigned for years against the scheme.

Councillor David Worden said there was no accurate wind speed data, noise data and or ecology information on which to make a judgement.

Councillor Richard Edgell said it was impossible to reach any other conclusion, except that the scheme was at odds with Exmoor’s landscape.

And Councillor Joe Tucker believed turbines should not be built closer than 1,500m from a home.

After the meeting, nearby resident Howard Reeves told the Journal it was “a victory for the people”.