The lives of two farming families would be blighted for decades if a wind farm was built near Gargrave , councillors agreed this week.
On Monday every member of Craven District Council’s planning committee, with the exception of the chairman, ignored officer advice and voted to reject the scheme for three giant turbines planned for Brightenber Hill.
Earlier, in a packed Gargrave Village Hall, they had heard impassioned pleas from the owner of Ash Tree Farm and the tenant of Haugh Field Farm to reject the second application in four years by EnergieKontor UK.
Jonathan Beresford, of Haugh Field Farm, said he feared noise from the structures – each the size of Big Ben – would exacerbate his tinnitus and possibly lead to him having to leave the farm.
He told councillors that he felt honoured and privileged to look after such beautiful countryside and asked to be allowed to continue to do so.
“There are some places that make you feel like you are on top of the world, and I feel like that most days. It is my privilege to look after this land. My business and my family’s future is in your hands, “ he said.
Elaine Dawson, speaking on behalf of Ian and Eileen Coates, of Ash Tree Farm, the closest to the site, said three years ago they had taken out a large mortgage to buy the farm on the belief that there was to be no wind farm nearby.
They had later been approached by EnergieKontor with offers of financial incentives in exchange for their support.
“The wind farm would destroy our quality of life, the reduction in number of turbines will not eliminate the horrific effect on our home,” they said.
Gargrave councillor Simon Myers (Cons) questioned why EnergieKontor had felt it necessary to offer the Coates money in exchange for their support when they claimed the removal of the two turbines closest to the farm made the project acceptable in terms of the property’s residential amenity.
“One man’s bribery is another man’s contractual agreement, ” he said.
“People in business do not give money away for no reason and if EnergieKontor felt objections had been removed, they wouldn’t have offered £275,000 because there wouldn’t have been any need.”
Coun Myers added he was no horse rider but he questioned claims that there would be no adverse impact on Craven Country Ride, which had trails very close to where the turbines would be sited.
He believed the ride was used by both inexperienced as well as experienced riders and a horse startled by a wind turbine could result in a claim being made against the business and an increase and possible withdrawal of insurance cover.
“This is the wrong application in the wrong place and we must protect the lives of the individuals who live and work in this beautiful landscape.”
Coun Alan Sutcliffe (Cons), who proposed refusing the scheme, dismissed officer concern that the council risked costs being awarded against it if the application was turned down and Energiekontor appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.
Coun Sutcliffe said he had viewed where the turbines would be sited from the inside of Ash Tree Farm and believed it would ruin the lives of Mr and Mrs Coates and their young family.
Coun Sutcliffe said he was the only person, with the exception of the appeal inspector who upheld the council’s previous refusal three years ago for five turbines, to view the site from the vantage point of the upstairs rooms.
“I would urge councillors to think carefully and search their consciences deeply, is that a suitable environment for a 13-year-old’s bedroom,” he said.
Coun Stephen Place (Ind), who supported the original application, said he believed the balance had shifted now the scheme had been reduced.
Coun Robert Mason (Ind) said he could not inflict the turbines on both the farming families and the whole of Craven.
Coun Robert Heseltine (Ind) said it was clear that the majority were against the proposals and councillors could not ignore that.
Coun David Ireton (Cons) said a reduction in the number of turbines meant less energy but the same impact on the landscape.
Following advice from planning officers, the committee agreed to refuse permission on the grounds of the “unacceptable dominant and oppressive impact” on the occupants of Ash Tree Farm only.
In addition, it was felt that the very serious adverse effect was not outweighed by the energy and environmental benefits of the scheme, which had been reduced by the reduction in number of turbines.
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