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Is ‘speed mast’ a precursor to new wind farm?

South Gloucestershire planners are due to visit a site to see if it is suitable for a mast to measure wind speed.

But residents near Olveston fear the proposed meteorological mast will herald a scheme for a wind farm.

Bath-based REG Windpower has applied to erect the 16-metre mast on land close to the M48 and M4. It is proposed to be in place for three years. The site is in the green belt and the company would have to give special reasons for the development to be allowed.

REG Windpower has not yet applied for permission for actual wind turbines but has held public meetings and staged exhibitions, resulting in opposition from parish leaders and residents to having a wind farm in the area.

Horse breeders Sarah Pomfret and her partner Brian Hopkinson, both South Gloucestershire councillors, have already said they would oppose any application for turbines as they fear the structures would spook their rare breed Cleveland Bays and could force them to shut down their stud farm in the hamlet of Ingst.

The proposed meteorological mast would be supported by steel guy ropes and carry wind speed measuring equipment, together with a weather vane. It would also measure noise. It is planned to put it on open arable farmland 600m south of Ingst and 1.5km west of Olveston.

Olveston Parish Council said green belt rules meant the mast should not be allowed and a number of residents have sent objections to planners.

They said the application was a precursor for a wind farm, which was more suited to brownfield locations or offshore. They also questioned its impact on wildlife and said local roads would not cope with vehicles needed during construction.

South Gloucestershire planning officer Simon Penketh said: “Objections received set out that the application is a precursor to proposed development of three wind turbines at this site. At this stage no planning application has been received for the wind farm itself.

“It is acknowledged the proposed mast is related to potential wind farm development associated with this site. However, this application is submitted for the consideration of the proposed mast only and should be assessed on its merit.”

But landowner farmer Stuart Lyons said nearby pylons and two motorways made the site suitable.

Planners are due to visit the site on Friday and the application will be determined at a later date.