Residents against plans for two Huntspill wind farms are celebrating after permission for both applications was refused by councillors.
Plans by Ecotricity for four turbines on land south of Poplar Farm in West Huntspill, known as Black Ditch, and an application from EDF Energy for five turbines at Withy Farm in East Huntspill were rejected.
The applications were recommended for approval by Sedgemoor District Council’s planning officials but were met with criticism at a Development Control meeting in Burnham’s Princess Theatre on Tuesday.
Burnham Cllr Neville Jones said: “You cannot come by Crooks Peak and see four turbines in one eye and five in the other. We are talking about nine.
“If this is passed then whenever we hear a plan rejected on the grounds of visual amenity we shall have to have a quiet laugh. The beauty of the levels is not a scene that should be shattered by this monstrosity. I think it should be rejected.” Julie Jones, Vice Chair of Puriton Parish Council, said: “Wind turbine output is miniscule. They would need 300 plus miles of strategically placed turbines to match the output of Hinkley.”
Hundreds of residents have campaigned against both applications. According to a report from the group manager of the development committee 91% of those asked were against proposals by EDF Energy and 81% were against Ecotricity’s plans.
John Wakefield, Chairman of the West Huntspill Wind Farm Action Group, said: “There are many thousands of residents and all six of the Parish Councils who have objected to these plans. If these wind farms are built there will be a 25-year blight on the district.”
Reasons for objections included the impact on tourism in the area, the Localism Bill meaning communities should be listened to and people feeling there was a lack of evidence of benefits.
References were made to previous applications for other developments which were overturned because it was felt they would impact too strongly on the surroundings and countryside.
Chairman of the Development Committee Bob Filmer said: “We’re happy to look at renewable energy if it’s the right development in the right location.
“To introduce structures of these sizes and dimensions would be out of character with the levels. I will not support it.”
Cllr Dawn Hill moved for refusal in both cases on the grounds of visual impact to character by an unacceptable visual intrusion of the landscape and on the grounds of ecology where the council felt there was insufficient evidence submitted for effects on wildlife and a failure to secure a mitigation strategy.
Both were seconded by Cllr Tony Grimes with four against the refusal on those grounds and nine supporting in both instances.
An Ecotricity spokesperson said: “We are disappointed the Planning Committee of Sedgemoor District Council has rejected our application for four wind turbines at Black Ditch; particularly so because the Committee received a recommendation for approval from its own Planning Officer. “We shall closely consider our options, but there is certainly a strong case to appeal the Committee’s decision in due course.”
Dennis Garry, project manager at EDF Energy Renewables, said: “We are of course disappointed that the application has been turned down but will read the comments on this decision carefully before deciding what action to take next.”
The developers have the right of appeal against the decision if they wish to challenge the ruling.
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