Plans for a green energy project at a farm near Chichester involving the construction of two wind turbines more than 100ft high have been thrown out.
Councillors on the district’s southern area development control committee voted 8-1 to refuse planning permission on the grounds of inadequate information about the noise implications of the scheme.
Fears about a precedent being set for many other similar schemes in the area, and about visual impact, were also expressed during the debate – but not put forward as reasons for refusal.
The development, proposed for Southend Farm, in Selsey Road, Donnington, featured two 50kw white wind turbines.
Planning officers recommended refusal, with the council’s environmental health service declaring this was justified by an increase in background noise levels from the existing situation during the quietest part of the night, from midnight to 4.30am.
But there was no objection from Donnington, Hunston, Sidlesham and Birdham parish councils, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the National Air Traffic Service, the RSPB or West Sussex County Council.
The committee was told the scheme, planned by H Fleming and Son, was intended to generate renewable electricity to supply both the farm business and ‘diversified farm ventures’ including a green wedding venue, with the spill to be sold to the National Grid.
The site had good average wind speeds, which would generate good yields of renewable energy.
Donnington representative Cllr John Ridd said noise was his own significant objection to the application. This was a very quiet rural area, and noise carried on the wind very clearly because the land was so flat.
He also objected on the grounds of visual impact, and because a precedent would be set for other turbines on the Manhood.
“This would be the first site on the Manhood, and the first on the coastal stretch in our district, where we had turbines of this size,” he added.
He supported the project, but on these grounds had to recommend refusal.
Cllr Martyn Bell said he was concerned that unique views of the cathedral from the harbour and the sea would be jeopardised. “We have had a policy over many years of trying and succeeding in stopping visual interruption of the cathedral and its spire,” he added.
Another crucial visual impact would be on views from the National Park. Cllr David Myers said he was told the turbines would not intrude into the views, but he would be voting against the scheme on noise grounds.
Cllr Stephen Oakley said he believed there would be a detrimental impact on the landscape. “Remember, these are more than 100ft high,” he added. And Cllr Quentin Cox said he would be voting to refuse this application purely on the grounds they did not have adequate noise information.
Cllr Tricia Tull was concerned a precedent would be set. “There are plenty of other farming landowners who would wish to follow this.”
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