Controversial plans to build nine wind turbines on farmland near Burnham-On-Sea look set to be approved by Sedgemoor District Council next week.
Despite 550 complaints from residents, the council’s planning officer has recommended that the contentious schemes from Ecotricity and EDF near East Huntspill should be granted permission when they are considered at a district council meeting in Burnham on Tuesday (April 24th).
Ecotricity wants to build four 120m tall huge turbines on land to the south of Poplar Farm in West Huntspill, known locally as Black Ditch, while EDF is seeking approval for five turbines at Withy Farm in East Huntspill.
Both schemes have been opposed by MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, local parish councils and county councillor Mark Healey on the grounds that they will adversely impact the landscape, affect wildlife and cause noise – but no objections have been raised by Natural England, Somerset Wildlife Trust or Sedgemoor’s Conservation Officer.
The recommendation to approve the schemes has this week been attacked by John Wakefield, Chairman of the West Huntspill Wind Farm Action Group.
He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Considering that 98% of the responses from local people and all six of the Parish Councils objected to the wind farms it does raise the question of what kind of democracy we live in.”
“Unfortunately, the commercial aspects of wind farms are not a planning issue – otherwise the applications would have been thrown out long ago as they produce next to nothing and save no carbon emissions whatsoever.”
“Both wind farms lie directly in the flight path of birds that migrate from the Special Protection Areas on the levels to their feeding grounds in the Bristol Channel. The proposed ‘solution’ to the potential carnage is to build the turbines and see how many birds are killed?”
“It’s hard to fathom the logic of this and besides how can this be workable when foxes and birds of prey can remove the carcasses before anyone knows that they are there and the only people with access to the land have a vested interest?”
“All we can hope for is that as many people as possible turn up at the Princess Theatre in Burnham at 9.30am on Tuesday and make their voices heard. We hope the members listen and do the right thing in refusing the applications from those who are only interested in lining their pockets.”
Sedgemoor District Council’s planning officer says in his report on the scheme: “The proposed wind farm and associated infrastructure will not significantly undermine the character or appearance of the local landscape by virtue of its urban fringe context, surrounding waste, industrial development and major transport infrastructure, and by virtue of the nature of the proposed development itself.”
“There will not be an unacceptably adverse impact on the character or appearance of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or the Quantock Hills AONB and views into and out of those AONBs will not be adversely affected.”
“The proposal will also not have an adverse impact on legally protected species or sites designated as being of ecological or biodiversity importance subject to robust post-construction monitoring and mitigation.”
“The turbines will not generate unacceptable levels of noise and should specified noise limits be exceeded, mitigation measures will ensure that the amenity of local residents is protected.”
Sedgemoor’s Development Control Committee will consider the proposals in detail on Tuesday 24th April in Burnham’s Princess Theatre in Princess Street from 9.30am.
The council told Burnham-On-Sea.com that the meeting is being held in a larger, nearer venue to the application sites because of the anticipated level of public interest.
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