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Batsworthy Cross windfarm plan is rejected by council  

Credit:  North Devon Journal, www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk 30 June 2011 ~~

Five years after plans were first submitted, councillors have rejected proposals for nine wind turbines on the edge of Exmoor.

North Devon Council’s planning committee rejected the Batsworthy Cross scheme at a packed meeting in Bishops Nympton.

Afterwards one councillor criticised the time it had taken for the decision to be made.

Paul Yabsley, a member of the planning committee, said the council needed to get its act together.

He said: “This community has suffered a lot of angst over the years.

“Residents have had to live with the stress, and what for? Nothing.

“We should not be wasting so much time, money and effort on this. We need to get our act together as a council.

“We are going to have to build wind turbines at some point, but we need much more defined guidelines, at the start of the process, to get it right.”

Mr Yabsley said the process was also unfair on developer RWE Npower, which he said had invested a lot of time and money in the scheme.

Chris Nunn, project developer, said the company was deciding whether to appeal the decision.

He said a decision would not be made until after the council’s next planning committee on July 13, when councillors would agree in detail the reasons for refusal.

If RWE Npower appeals the decision, it will be the third wind farm planning application to reach a planning inspectorate in North Devon in four years – costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Fullabrook application was refused by the council in 2005 and overturned in 2007, after a four-week public inquiry.

The Three Moors site near Knowstone and the Bickham Moor sites were also part of a planning wrangle, which concluded last year in a two-part public inquiry.

The inspector agreed with NDC’s and Mid Devon Council’s decision to indicate refusal for the applications because it would “ruin the face of Exmoor”.

At last week’s meeting, a coalition of objectors urged the council to follow the inspector’s argument and reject Batsworthy Cross on the same basis.

But supporters of the scheme said the council should approve the scheme – in part to avoid a costly appeal, which they claimed was inevitable.

Mr Nunn, who spoke at the meeting, said: “The proposal met all requirements.

“We consulted extensively with the local community and received a great deal of support. This decision will be a great disappointment to all those local people.”

He also said the company would have invested £1,000 into a community fund, for every megawatt produced per year by the wind farm.

Mike Kelly, planning manager, said the council was in the process of rewriting its policy on renewable energy.

The outline reasons for refusal were: the adverse impact on the landscape of Exmoor; loss of amenity for residents and the adverse impact on historic buildings.

Source:  North Devon Journal, www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk 30 June 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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