One of Britain’s best known female executives has angered residents of a rural village over plans to build wind turbines on their estate which will allegedly ruin neighbours’ views but be invisible from their own mansion.
American-born Dame Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson PLC, and her husband Albert Scardino have applied to erect two turbines in the grounds of their £2.5 million country pile.
However, the scheme has been criticised by locals in Suffolk, who claim it will devalue their homes and be an eyesore in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The turbines, one of which will be more than 85ft tall, will spoil the vista from villagers’ cottages yet will not be seen from the couple’s luxurious weekend retreat, it is claimed.
The white turbines will be around 300ft from the nearest neighbours across a field but nearly 1,000ft from their home, which is screened by dense woodland.
Mr Scardino and Dame Marjorie, who is the highest paid woman director of a FTSE 100 company, first raised the idea last summer but withdrew the planning application following resistance from nearby residents.
However, the couple have now submitted a similar application, claiming the turbines are the only way to power their home while making the estate carbon neutral, feeding excess energy back into the national grid.
Neil Downing, 37, a father-of-two, whose home is 800ft from the proposed turbine site, said: “The Scardinos are not going to have to see the turbines from where they live, but we are.
“It seems they will get all the financial and carbon footprint advantages while the rest of us will get all the disadvantages and none of the benefits.
“People are worried about the noise, about the devaluation of their homes and also as this is an AONB. If this goes ahead, what other developments are we going to see here in the future?”
The telecommunications executive accused the couple of “riding roughshod” over residents’ concerns by resubmitting the plans two months ago.
“The whole community is against this yet they have pressed ahead regardless,” he added.
Colin Overbury, 81, a retired lawyer living nearby, said: “These will be a total blot on the landscape. We cannot understand why they have applied for it. They just don’t seem to care how the village feels.
“Not only will it ruin one of our few remaining unspoilt landscapes but it will have an effect on the house prices of the village too.
“They say they want a zero carbon footprint but they hardly ever live there. It is just a rich man’s toy.”
Dame Marjorie banked £9.6 million last year in her role as CEO of Pearson PLC, the world’s largest book publisher, which owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times.
Mr Scardino, a former governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is non-executive chairman of the sealed bidding website Auctionair, and of the vaccine development company Immunovaccine Inc.
The couple bought the18th century property seven years ago, which is set in 56 acres of woods and parkland on the banks of a river.
Although the couple are not on the electoral roll there and are understood to spend most of their time in London and overseas, they have since undertaken a series of improvements to make the estate more energy efficient, including installing solar panels, and applied to build the two turbines last year.
After withdrawing that application, they submitted revised plans in March which reduced the height of one of the turbines from 85ft to 70ft.
However, the new application was met with 40 objections from residents in the nearest village, which has a population of around 200.
It claims that “no feasible alternatives exist to these turbines” but that the sites “have been selected for minimal visual impact to neighbours”.
It concedes that it would mean building on AONB land but that they would not be visible from public areas and that the sound would be drowned out by noise from passing cars, trains and aircraft.
Suffolk Coastal District Council is expected to make a decision on the application later this month.
Mr Scardino, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and Dame Marjorie were unavailable for comment yesterday.
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