Residents objecting to a proposed anemometer near Bideford have been advised to save their fight for what might follow – three 110m wind turbines.
North Devon Council planning officer Keith Bines gave the advice at a packed public meeting on Tuesday, held at Lovacott Village Hall.
It was called following an application for an anemometer – which measures wind speeds – measuring up to 80 metres high, at Webbery Barton Farm, Webbery.
The meeting, organised by Lovacott, Horwood and Newton Tracey Parish Council, was attended by about 85 people – only three of whom voted in favour of the proposal.
It followed a similar meeting held last week in Alverdiscott about the same application.
Planning officers from both Torridge District Council and NDC were invited to give advice at Tuesday’s meeting. No one was present from Torridge but Mr Bines was there to speak to residents.
Mr Bines told the meeting that the anemometer application, submitted by Webbery Barton Wind Energy Ltd to Torridge District Council, could not be turned down just because residents feared a turbine might follow.
He said planning authorities had to have a “damned good reason” to turn applications down and said he’d bet a year’s salary it would be approved by the Secretary of State, even if it were rejected by TDC.
He said: “My professional view is that you can spend a lot of time seeking to get the authority to refuse the anemometer, but I would bet a year’s wages the Secretary of State would approve it.
“To be blunt, you need to think about what you really want to fight against, which is not your anemometer.
“They won’t listen to opinions. You need facts and reasons to object for what might come. The advice given from government is that the presumption is in favour of renewable energy, unless there are material considerations. That is where we are and that is the world in which I work.”
The application states the anemometer could be in place for up to three years, to test wind speeds for a potential wind turbine development.
It would be near the proposed site at Alverdiscott of an electricity substation for the potential Atlantic Array development.
Residents raised many concerns with the application, from potential harm to wildlife, to the long term health and social effects of turbines, many of which were backed by anecdotal evidence from those leaving near Fullabrook.
District and county councillor Rodney Cann received a round of applause when said it was a fallacy that taxpayers’ resources were routinely being poured into something which he deemed a waste of money and a blight on North Devon’s landscape.
One resident said the anemometer mast would act as a “finger of doom” over the area, with residents knowing what might follow would be much worse.
And many residents also questioned whether the results from the anemometer, which is proposed to be just more than 1km from the closest properties at Stoney Cross, were subject to proper audit.
Mr Bines said he could not speak on TDC’s behalf, but he had known some turbine applications to be submitted without any mast information at all.
He also told residents at the meeting that the mast also might demonstrate the area has no capability for a wind turbine.
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