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Wind turbine proposal rejected as ‘blot on landscape’

Campaigners have won their battle to block plans for wind turbines near Wincanton racecourse after an appeal was turned down.

Objectors felt the two 34-metre tall industrial wind turbines at Moorhayes Farm near Charlton Musgrove would have been a blight on the landscape.

The planning application was initially dismissed by South Somerset District council but the applicants took it to appeal.

However, last week Planning Inspector Andrew Pykett confirmed he was upholding the council’s decision.

Mr Pykett said the character of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty between north-east and south of the appeal site would not have been seriously affected.

He did, however, state that views would be affected to the west, concluding the turbines would have had “an inevitable adverse visual effect on the landscape”.

He said: “The current technology is still of relatively recent origin, and turbines are difficult to accommodate in attractive and valued countryside landscapes.”

Although 2.5km away, Mr Pykett said the setting of St Nicholas Church in Bratton Seymour would also be harmed by the development.

The applicant Keen’s Cheddar had offered not to operate the turbines on race days at Wincanton Racecourse, after concerns were raised about them distracting the horses. But the assurances did not go far enough for Mr Pykett.

Steve Parlett, general manager at the racecourse, said: “We are pleased that the Planning Inspectorate has come back with a decision so promptly.

“The decision recognised and agreed with our concerns regarding the location and control of the turbines on race-days.”

There were also concerns about the impact on nearby heritage assets Redlynch Park and King Arthur’s Tower.

Peter Reynolds has lived in Redlynch Park for the last three years.

He represented residents from that area at the appeal.

“Everyone in Redlynch is delighted with the decision that this beautiful part of Somerset has been protected,” he said.

“If these two had been allowed to go up, it was a genuine concern we could have seen plenty more appear.

“Concerns from the racecourse and pony club in regard to safety for horses and their riders were also justified by the dismissal. It is good news all round.”

A bridleway near the proposed site is well used by recreational horse-riders.

Stephen Nathan, a Charlton Musgrove resident and regular rider, said the threats posed to horses on the bridleway were just as great as those faced by professional racecourse jockeys.

He said: “The local recreational riders are all delighted at the decision. It now means it will still be safe to use the nearby bridleway and we can continue to enjoy the countryside.”

Traditional farmhouse cheddar cheese has been made at Moorhayes Farm by the Keen family since 1899.

The family refused to comment on the decision.