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Watton-at-Stone councillors to oppose controversial plan for Benington wind turbine

Watton-at-Stone Parish Council will be pushing for East Herts Council to reject a controversial application for a Benington wind turbine on the grounds of visual impact.

Around 50 people attended an extraordinary general meeting at the community hall on Wednesday (August 10), at which members were unanimously against the 284ft (86.5m)-high structure proposed for a field by High Elms Lane.

Applicant Andrew Bott has already had a plan for three 390ft (119m)-high turbines in the same area dismissed by a planning inspector in March last year, following a public inquiry.

Resident Keith Luetchford, who lives at the listed building Gregory’s Farm in the parish of Watton and would be the closest to the turbine, said: “After three years of going through the frustration of planning and going to appeal and raising a lot of public and private money to defend the situation, it was eventually rejected by a government inspector.

“This one is 100ft (30.5m) less but it’s too big and still destroys the landscape and affects a listed building.

“Now we have to go through the whole process again, spending time and money to fight the application.

“For me, when I look at it, I think, is it a joke? How can you apply for a turbine in the same location as one that’s been rejected?

“100ft (30.5m) makes no difference. It’s an impact on the landscape and more damage than it’s going to be worth.”

His comments were greeted with a round of applause.

Other fears were raised about the change of use of agricultural land, increased traffic in the village and distraction to horses.

Councillors had previously spoken to 246 Watton residents, of which 70 per cent were against the turbine, 16 per cent were for it and 14 per cent were undecided.

Cllr Emma Waltham revealed that 16 of the 20 people she contacted were in favour of the turbine and on balance she was not opposed to it, but would go with the majority view of the council.

Mr Bott said afterwards: “I thought it was interesting because the only sensible objection is the visual impact and the impact on Watton is very insignificant, except for Gregory’s Farm.”