A developer planning to build three 126-metre wind turbines near Olveston has been granted permission to erect a temporary meteorological mast on green belt land.
The mast application had faced an outcry from campaigners who had previously said that REG Windpower’s 16-metre high pole would harm the land and the natural habitat around it.
They had also pointed out that the mast was only the first step towards the construction of an intrusive and “unwanted” wind farm.
The temporary pylon, designed to gather wind conditions data on the proposed wind farm grounds, could remain on the site for as long as three years before a formal planning application is put forward by the energy company.
The controversial installation was backed, after much debate, by members of South Gloucestershire Council’s development west committee.
At the meeting REG Power development manager Sophie Hartfield told councillors: “There have been concerns raised over the mast application in relation to the green belt but I would like to highlight that the mast needs to be in this location to provide as much detailed information about wind conditions in the area as possible.”
Yet, unconvinced campaigners appealed to councillors to reject the mast application, as it would harm, they claimed, the fauna and flora in its vicinity.
Cllr Brian Hopkinson, who lives metres away from the proposed site, told members: “I have witnessed the presence of many protected wildlife species in the immediate area of the land and their protection needs to be addressed.”
Olveston Wind Farm Action Group chairman Ian Thompson added that approving the mast was only the beginning for REG Windpower.
“I acknowledge that this meeting is discussing a planning application to erect a meteorological mast, not a wind farm. However, these are inextricably linked.
“Forty-six per cent of the parish electorate responded, a clear 85 per cent of whom are against the development of a wind farm. You should be in no doubt about local opinion.”
Councillors approved REG Windpower’s proposal on the grounds that it would help provide essential data and inform their final decision regarding the three turbines.
Mrs Hartfield said she was delighted with the outcome of the vote. “We are pleased with the decision by the committee to grant consent for the Met Mast,” she said.
“We are now looking at submitting a planning application for the wind farm later this year.”
After the meeting Cllr Hopkinson slammed the committee’s decision.
He said: “It is ridiculous. As councillors we are supposed to look after people and after our environment.”