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Public inquiry call in Somerset wind turbines battle  

Credit:  Western Gazette, www.thisissomerset.co.uk 18 November 2011 ~~

A full public inquiry into plans for controversial wind turbines in Charlton Musgrove has been called for after councillors voted against the latest proposals.

Applicant Keens Cheddar failed to provide information South Somerset District Council required for a full visual assessment and instead lodged an appeal for non-determination of the application within specified deadlines.

Despite councillors on the council’s area east committee unanimously objecting to the two 34 metre turbines at Moorhayes Farm, government policy favouring renewable energy sources could sway the decision for the applicant at appeal. South Somerset is currently well short of meeting targets for the generation of renewable power.

Anti-turbine campaigners and councillors have now called for a full public inquiry into the application amidst fears taking the decision out of local hands will enable the turbines to go up.

Councillor Nick Colbert said: “The public feel very let down. To restore the public faith we need to call for a full public inquiry and I suggest that as a committee we recommend this.”

If the applicant was to win an appeal and seek costs, the bill would be footed by the South Somerset tax payer.

The application has been widely criticised by neighbouring parish councils for not following national guidelines to show the potential visual blight on the landscape.

Details in submitted planning documents have also been found to be inaccurate.

Brian Russell, who is renovating Aviaries Farm and the two towers leading to the original Redlynch Deer Park, fears if the turbines are approved it would negate the restoration project and have a detrimental affect on tourism.

He said: “It seems extraordinary that this planning application has got to this stage.

“There seems to be two types of planning routes for applicants to take – one for wind turbines and one for everyone else.

“What has been provided by the applicant is sub standard, misleading or just plain wrong.

“We should be demanding a full public inquiry to hear this appeal rather than one just based on written submissions.”

A report from the district council’s landscape architect said the turbines would not cause significant landscape harm.

However, documents from the applicant said the effect of flickering caused by the rotation of blades would extend no more than 64 square metres whereas it would be almost four and a half times that at 287 square metres.

Submitted photographs showing the turbines’ location also proved to be inaccurate.

One of the main objectors has been Wincanton Racecourse but agreement was reached to not use the turbines on race days as the flicker caused by the turbines is considered distracting for horses.

However, a nearby bridleway is used by recreational horse riders throughout the year.

Councillor Mike Beech, representing Tower Ward, said: “I am very disappointed with the actions of the planning officer in this case and I am very angry.

“A visual impact assessment is required as part of national guidelines and this was not provided in the original application.”

Residents of Redlands Park expressed concern that if these turbines are agreed to it will clear the way for a full-scale wind farm to be developed.

Wincanton town councillors raised no objections to a similar application put before them at Monday night’s meeting for two 46 metre high turbines at High Winds Farm, Elliscombe Lane, in nearby Holton.

The applicant listed on planning documents is Jim Ravey, a wind and solar energy planner from Glasgow based eco-firm The Green Company.

Source:  Western Gazette, www.thisissomerset.co.uk 18 November 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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