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Campaigners celebrate as appeal into wind farm proposal near Oldbury is rejected

Campaigners were celebrating this week as the company behind controversial plans to erect four 127-metre high wind turbines near Oldbury lost its appeal.

Developer Wind Prospect’s proposal to build a wind farm in Stoneyard Lane was initially rejected by South Gloucestershire councillors in March last year on the grounds of visual impact.

The firm appealed and made its case at a public hearing chaired by planning inspector Alan Gray in November, where the district council and protesters also outlined their opposition.

In a report published on Monday, the inspectorate ruled that introducing a large industrial development to relatively unspoiled grounds would be detrimental to both the landscape and nearby listed buildings.

Mr Gray concluded in the document: “The proposed development would have serious implications for the character and appearance of the rural surroundings in terms of landscape, the historic environment and the amenity of public rights of way.

“So serious, in my opinion, that they outweigh the benefits of renewable energy production.”

He added that although the wind farm was not meant as a permanent feature, it would still take its toll on the local population and the scenery.

“I have not reached this conclusion lightly and have considered the temporary nature of the development,” he wrote.

“However, in this case temporary means a two year construction period followed by 25 operational years.

“That is a very long time and I am not therefore persuaded that the temporary nature of the development would greatly reduce the adverse impacts.”

Hill Parish Council chairman and campaign frontrunner Cllr Thomas Jenner-Fust told the Gazette after he received the news: “It’s absolutely great. I am very glad that common sense prevailed.”

Cllr Matthew Riddle (Severn, Con) was also delighted with the appeal’s outcome.

“It is the right decision,” he said. “The damage to the landscape would not have been outweighed by the relatively small amount of energy produced by the wind farm.

“The three parish councils of Hill, Oldbury and Rockhampton have worked very hard. They have done a tremendous job and they have been rewarded for it.”

He added that this might set a precedent for another wind farm project near the M48 in Ingst put forward by REG Windpower.

“This ruling also has huge implications for the proposed wind farm development at Ingst because not only do you have the same serious implications for the local landscape that you had at Oldbury, but the Ingst site would also be in the green belt,” he said.

Wind Prospect development manager Jonny Murphy said: “We are extremely disappointed that our appeal was dismissed. We believe that Stoneyard Lane is still a very good site for a wind farm, demonstrated by the fact that it was initially recommended for approval and didn’t receive any objections for government bodies such as Natural England or English Heritage.

“There is a real need for projects like Stoneyard Lane wind farm to help meet our renewable energy targets and secure the UK’s energy future.”