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Village split over wind turbines

Plans for a wind turbine near Shebbear have stirred up mixed emotions.

More than 160 residents attended a day long consultation over the controversial proposal. But while some were protesting against the scheme, others gave it their backing.

The plans for the single turbine at Alscott Farm were shown at a community open day last week.

Infinergy, a Dorset-based wind farm developer, wants to develop a 500 kilowatt turbine north east of Shebbear.

Of the 129 people who filled in a questionnaire at the consultation, 43 per cent opposed the plans, 4 per cent were undecided and 53 per cent were either very supportive or supportive.

Some 30 members of village and surrounding parishes turned up earlier on in the day to protest with banners and placards.

Their message was very clear – no wind turbines here.

The community open day was held at Shebbear Village Hall from 2pm to 8pm.

Infinergy project manager Richard Seymour said: “We were happy to hear the views of local residents and want to thank those who took the time to come along and learn more facts about the plans.

“We are pleased with the response, which shows that there is a majority in support of the proposed Alscott Farm wind turbine.”

Mr Seymour said: “One of the most frequent questions that came up in our conversations was related to noise.

“We were able to clearly demonstrate to attendees that the turbine’s responsible location meant that residential amenity would not be impacted from the proposal.”

The proposed wind turbine could supply the electricity demand of up to 270 local houses, approximately half of the households in Shebbear Village.

But members of the Shebbear Parishes Protection Group, which is fighting the proposal and another four separate wind turbine plans in the area, say the turbines will dwarf Shebbear and adjoining parishes, degrade the landscape and spoil the tranquillity of the area.

Tessa Osborne, a member of the protection group, said: “Last year we started the group when local residents were concerned about the increasing number of wind farm applications.

“We are not against green energy and we are not against doing something new about energy for the sake of the environment.

“But wind farms are not the way forward. What will come of the beautiful land in 25 years’ time when they are out of date and there is new technology.”

Infinergy says if the turbine goes ahead it would be there for 25 years and after that the company would be responsible for restoring the habit to its original state.

Mary Jannaway of Highampton, said: “We do not want wind turbines in Shebbear. They simply fill up our beautiful and unspoilt countryside with concrete.”

Another villager added: “At the end of the day they are made in third world countries so they are not contributing to the local economy. The only people who truly benefit from this are the land owners and the company which owns them.”

A planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of March.