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Blow as wind monitor mast gets go-ahead

A wind farm developer has won its appeal to install a 70m high monitoring mast in the South Staffordshire countryside.

The wind monitoring mast, earmarked for agricultural land south of King Street, Blymhill, was allowed by Planning Inspector Alan Gray who concluded it would have “no significant impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.”

The decision to allow the appeal by Bristol-based Wind Prospect was published on Friday. The company appealed against South Staffordshire Council’s refusal of planning permission earlier this year and a public hearing was held at the council’s Codsall offices last month.

Local residents have also fought against the proposed mast, fearing it will open the gates for a wind farm which will blight the countryside.

Wind Prospect has submitted an application to install six wind turbines at the site, which has also been rejected by South Staffordshire Council, but an appeal has yet to be lodged. Wind Prospect has said an announcement will be made in the autumn.

Tony Lendon, chairman of campaign group King Street Stag (Stop Turbine Action Group) which opposed the mast proposal, said: “Obviously we are disappointed (with the mast decision) but it didn’t come as a surprise.

“We are waiting to see if an appeal goes in for the wind turbines, which we will definitely be fighting.”

Mr Gray said: “I have sympathy for the concerns of local residents and this decision will doubtless be met with considerable disappointment.

“Local concern about the increased prospect of wind turbines as a consequence of the mast and its dater is entirely understandable. However, policy encouragement for renewable energy and sustainable development adds weight to the case for the mast and the data it would provide would inform any potential consideration of wind energy production on or near the site.”

Work to install the mast will begin by February 2012, Wind Prospect has said, and it will remain at the site for up to two years.

Paul Grimshaw, development manager at Wind Prospect, said: “We’re delighted that the Planning Inspector agreed with our reasons for appeal and has granted planning permission for this mast.

“We had a strong case for appeal and our application met both local and national planning objectives so we’re pleased that this has been recognised.

“We do understand that applications like this can cause local concern. However, as acknowledged in the Inspector’s report, the Government’s drive for renewable energy adds weight to the case for the mast as it will provide important information about wind speeds at the site.”