A challenge to the conscience of a Pembrokeshire company has been thrown down by landowners facing the threat of living in the shadow of the county’s largest wind turbines.
Princes Gate Spring Water has just had planning permission granted for two 86.5 metre-high turbines at Middleton Top, Ludchurch, to help power its new bottleblowing plant.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee last Tuesday voted 8–5 in favour of the plan, rejecting a call for a site meeting.
Opposers to the plan claim that the decision ‘stinks’ and that one of the major issues – that of the health and safety impact on an equestrian establishment 250 metres from the 800kw turbines – was barely touched upon in the officers’ report.
Councillor David Pugh, in calling for a site inspection, warned that the council was in danger of ’putting the lives of children and riders at risk’.
And this has been echoed by Dave Scourfield, of Belle Vue, Ludchurch, who handdelivered information on the risk of turbine movement on horses to each of the councillors on the committee.
Mr Scourfield and his wife Isabel have worked for 30 years breeding, schooling and breaking in horses, and their equestrian establishment is also used by members of a riding club.
They were looking forward to helping their four-year-old great-niece, Ashleigh Morgan-Scourfield, become a proficient horsewoman, but said they would endanger her by doing so on a horse close to wind turbines.
“I would like to ask David and Glyn Jones, of Princes Gate SpringWater, to consider that they could be putting lives like those of this little girl at risk, as well as the health and safety of others,” said 53- year-old Mr Scourfield, who thanked Councillor Pugh and Councillor Tony Brinsden for their support. “We are not against the turbines, but we are against their location.
There is a brownfield site right next to the Princes Gate factory.”
Added Mrs Scourfield: “If those turbines go up, then my life and work will just stop. Surely the council has a duty of care?”
Mary Sinclair, the chairman of the Pembrokeshire branch of the Council for Rural Wales (CPRW), made an immediate appeal to Welsh environmental minister John Griffiths to call the council’s decision in, under an Article 14 direction, but this was rejected.
She added: “Allowing turbines 250 metres from an equestrian establishment is going to set a serious precedent.
“There are up to 18 turbine applications in the pipeline for this area, so effectively the council has given the go-ahead to a wind farm by stealth.”
IN RESPONSE to the criticism, Princes Gate Spring Water’s operations director, Endaf Edwards, said that the permitted turbines ‘are not predicted to have a negative impact on the amenity of nearby equestrian activities’.
He added: “Wind developments are generally considered to have negligible impacts on agricultural activities and livestock, and indeed the first wind farm built in the UK, Delabole, incorporates a riding school and a stud farm within the site. The fields associated with this stud farm run within 50m of the wind turbine and are regularly used to break in young horses. No problems have been reported to date – the Princes Gate Spring Water permitted turbines will be approximately 400m away from any such field.”
Welcoming the planning approval, he continued: “The application had been in planning for ten months and the detailed assessments and information provided demonstrated the acceptable nature of the turbines at our site.
“The generation of our own renewable electricity will support the sustainable growth of the business and this will have significant benefit in the long term to the company and wider community. The main drivers of this project have always been to secure the employment of all the staff and associated businesses.
“The directors and employees have a great deal of empathy with the local community who voiced their objections, but we hope that we will continue to make our county proud with our brand and company ethos.”
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