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Parishioners outraged over church’s plans for turbines

Churchgoers feel the Church of England has acted disgracefully after discovering the Diocese of Exeter hopes to place six turbines on farmland in North Devon and Torridge.

The diocese, the body who oversees C of E matters in Devon, wants to put up three lots of two 25 metre turbines in fields at East Anstey, Chittlehampton and Black Torrington.

They would be on the church’s land which is tenanted and worked by farmers.

But people who live near to the land where the turbines could be placed are outraged the diocese has chosen to invest in wind power.

Richard Hopton, 50, who lives in Chittlehampton, said his front door would be 200 metres from the turbines.

He said: “It is a disgrace, there has been no consultation had I not gone on a rumour we would’ve been left in the dark.

“They state in their proposal a consultation would happen with local communities from March onwards but we have heard nothing.

“They have given themselves the deadline of October 1 which coincidentally is the date that the feed in tariff for putting power into the national grid goes down.

“It is entirely driven by money, it is not acceptable to let the church dress this up.”

Mary Jannaway, who has lived in Black Torrington for the last 12 years, thinks wind power is right for the environment but the church is using the turbines as a cash crop.

The 63-year-old said: “The church is taking the Government’s subsidies paid for by our taxes and cashing in.

“It is immoral because the church has a duty to look after its parishioners.”

In a statement the diocese has said: “The Church of England in Devon is committed to protecting and preserving God’s creation, through shrinking its carbon footprint, and is working to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

“In recent months, we have worked with parish churches across the county to install solar PV panels, which generate green energy.”

The Church’s long term strategy includes looking at developing appropriate renewable sources of energy on its land and buildings.

The statment said: “We are currently working with tenants on three farms to find the best possible site to put two small wind turbines.

“The turbines are much smaller than those used in commercial projects and being quiet, are designed to fit well into agricultural and rural areas.

“They will not affect farming activities.”

The Archdeacon of Barnstaple, David Gunn-Johnson, said: “The Diocese is committed to working to protect God’s creation.

“The production of more renewable electricity in Devon will not only reduce our carbon emissions and protect our environment, it will also help safeguard the planet for our children’s future.”

The planning applications for the sites in East Anstey and Chittlehampton have been submitted to North Devon Council and the Black Torrington application has been sent to Torridge District Council.

The diocese has confirmed a consultation process has now begun.