A round of applause rang out after councillors voted unanimously to reject plans for two 150ft (46m) high wind turbines in rural countryside.
Members of South Derbyshire District Council’s planning committee described proposals submitted by John Bowler, of John Bowler Energy, as unacceptable in the planned location, to the south of Burnaston Lane, Etwall.
Protesters holding up signs proclaming ‘Say no to wind turbines’ crammed into the district council offices, in Civic Way, Swadlincote.
However, the fight isn’t over, as the applicant ‘took the decision out of the council’s hands’ by going straight to an appeal to be decided by an independent planning inspector. The council’s refusal will only serve as a guide for the inspector.
The applicant said the nearest home to the turbines was 300 metres away, and the turbines would be 100 metres from the nearest footpath. He said the site, design colour and materials would minimise the impact on the landscape, and that the development would be screened by vegetation.
He admitted that there would be an impact on the landscape but not to a point where it would have a detrimental effect on the character of the area that would warrant refusal of planning permission.
However, the latter point was argued by both Brian Wolsey, a member of the opposition group, BERATE, and Councillor John Lemmon (pictured), who represents Etwall on the district council. Both claimed the application went against the council’s own environmental planning policy.
Mr Wolsey said: “Environmental planning policy states that the development in the countryside should be essential to rural-based activities or unavoidable and that the character is not affected. This turbine will not serve the rural environment, and turbines are not unavoidable in the countryside so this would be contrary to the council’s policy.”
Councillor Lemmon added: “To grant this I consider it would send out a message that erecting a turbine would be acceptable in any location in South Derbyshire.
“Evidence shows we are not against turbines, in many cases. In Etwall we have seven for the benefit of rural-based activity, all on farms, all are a great deal smaller and located in less prominent positions.
“Anyone approaching the area from a considerable distance away will see an intrusion in the skyline. It will affect the quality of life, the character of the countryside and will fail to safeguard and protect the wildlife.”
In refusing the application, the councillors reached a deadlock on whether to ask for the planning appeal hearing to be informal – allowing members of the public to attend.
It was left to planning committee chairman, Martyn Ford, to cast the deciding vote – asking for the opportunity for an informal hearing, if the planning inspector agrees.
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