Tension is growing between farmers and their neighbours over wind turbines, the latest form of farm diversification.
Torridge District Council approved three more single turbines submitted by farmers during a planning committee meeting last week.
Each of the turbines was just over 34 metres in height.
The applications did not go without objection from councillors as well as people living near the proposed sites.
Torridge District Councillor Jane Whittaker, who sits on the planning committee, asked: “How many turbines do we have to have before it is a wind farm rather than an area with lots of turbines in it?”
The three turbines approved last week are due to be erected at West and East Ash Farm in Frithelstock; Westcott Farm, Sutcombe; and New Loatmead Farm in Bradworthy.
A further application at Little Dowland in Bradworthy was looked at by the planning committee but the councillors requested further information from the council’s sustainability officer.
As well as these turbines there are already nine more operational in the Bradworthy area and a further three are currently going to appeal. Two of these are 100 metres in height – four metres higher than Big Ben.
One of the objectors at the meeting, Richard Joseph, who lives at Frithelstock and is on the parish council, said: “There are 300 residents who are adversely affected in one way or another.
“The wind energy policy is only a guideline so the parish council has created our own policy and this application is in breach of two conditions.”
Another objector to the Frithelstock application Anna Grabis said: “This is contrary to the provisions of the national policy framework.
“North Devon Council has rejected applications very close to this one and I can’t see why it would be acceptable for TDC and not NDC.”
Each of the farmers behind the application attended the planning meeting to explain to the committee why they wished to erect a turbine.
Steve Hunkin, who runs West and East Ash Farm, said his family had been at the farm for five generations and they currently had 180 cows.
He said: “Heating of the sheds and running the milking parlour means electricity is our biggest expense.
“This is a single small turbine, not a wind farm. It is a logical solution.”
Darren Furse, from Westcott Farm in Sutcombe, also said the turbine would help the business be more sustainable.
He said: “We have a dairy herd of 250 cows. We are starting to make improvements and diversify income and protect us from ever increasing energy costs.”
The turbine at Sutcombe was the only application granted permission unanimously by the committee.
Michael Thompson, who runs New Loatmead Farm, told the committee he has 10,100 hens which produce 66,000 eggs a week.
He said: “Our electricity bill is £10,000 a year and we need this turbine to help us stay in business.”
After the meeting Mr Thompson said: “We supply to Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco but they take such a large cut. The egg industry is in crisis.”
Ian Johnson, the South West spokesman for the National Farmers Union, said: “We are going forward into the future whether we like it or not.
“We have to find alternative forms of energy and it is quite sensible that people investigate different types of technology.
“Farmers come to the NFU for advice and we would give them advice that making use of the elements is what farmers have always done.”
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