Protesters were “tentatively happy” as plans for a third wind farm in the Dengie area were opposed by district councillors.
Residents from across the district filled the council chamber on Monday night to witness the decision of the councillors.
All bar one of the nine members at Maldon District Council’s South Eastern Planning meeting opposed the wind farm, proposed for Turncole Farm, which lies halfway between Southminster and Burnham-on-Crouch.
“We are happy with the decision today but it is only the first part of the process,” said Pip Thorogood, the chairman of Southminster Inhabitants Environmental Group Enterprise (SIEGE).
“There is a long way to go yet. Who knows what will turn up in the future? We are tentatively happy but can’t get too overenthusiastic about the first bit.”
There will be another planning meeting and possible appeal before the protesters can celebrate.
Councillors heard a presentation from officers regarding what impact the seven-turbine wind farm would have on the local area.
Each turbine would have three blades and stand at 125m tall.
There was a lot of emphasis on the cumulative effect that a third wind station, after the two recently passed sites at Hockley in Bradwell and Middlewick, in Southminster, would have on the Dengie district.
There were 551 letters of objection from residents. Visual impact, the change to the character of the landscape and the potential harmful impact on the public were all considered in the recommendation to the councillors.
Landscape planning consultant, Nigel Cowlin, said: “The Dengie’s tranquillity and uniqueness could be harmed by the introduction of a wind farm.
“It is clear that the proposal for Turncole introduces new issues that both Middlewick and Hockley didn’t bring and should be given weight in any future decision.”
Three speakers from the public gallery gave two-minute speeches, including Robin Prior, a member of SIEGE, the Rev Tony Jones and the applicant, Jonathan Knight, of Renewable Energy Systems (RES).
Mr Jones spoke in favour of the wind farm at Turncole and brought 259 letters of support.
He said: “Wind power has been supported by the Government and there are not many places in England that would be better for a wind farm than the Dengie. Even with three wind farms, not many people will be affected and wider roads could bring lasting improvements to the area.”
Consultation had also been gathered from a number of public bodies, such as the 19 Dengie parish councils, of which 18 had objected, with only St Lawrence in support.
Environmental agencies such as Natural England and the RSPB submitted concerns, and Essex County Council’s Highways Agency recommended permission be refused.
Councillor Brian Beale questioned the beneficial impact on the environment, adding: “One wind farm was enough, two was too many and three is far too many. With the 4,000 journeys to just Turncole wind farm and 4,000 journeys back out, the process of this build will create carbon dioxide which is not good for the environment.”
The councillors agreed that they would like some points to be considered at a planning and licensing committee which will further discuss the proposals for Turncole next Monday.
Councillor Penny Channer said: “We need the historic heritage of the site to be considered as well as whether it will be beneficial for the environment.
“We would also like the cumulative effect of the lorries, with the other wind farms to be considered and whether equipment could be brought in by sea.”
Jonathan Knight, of RES, said: “It’s a disappointing result and the traffic that is concerning members will only be a small percentage of that on the road.
“I think we will see the same result from the planning and licensing committee but we will be looking to appeal.”