Plans for a wind turbine have been approved – despite pleas from an Olympic legend that it would ruin her world-class horse training business.
Durham County Council planning officers this week gave the go-ahead to the controversial application to build the 23.5-metre turbine at 1 Waterside Cottages, Wycliffe.
The site is about 150 metres from Karen Dixon’s equine business, which trains racehorses worth up to £500,000. She wrote a passionate letter to the council, saying if the plan goes ahead the animals could be made to bolt by the swishing blades, causing the rider or horse to be maimed or killed. Mrs Dixon rode for Britain at four Olympic games, winning a team silver in Seoul in 1988. She said the turbine would have a “destructive and irreparable impact on our business”.
Her objection was backed by the British Horse Society. Spokeswoman Susan Rodgers said: “In Germany, the Olympic trainer Klaus Balkenhold experienced this problem when a wind turbine was erected 1,000 metres from his training yard. The horses became impossible to train and the American dressage team refused to go to his yard. He was forced to sell his premises and move away.”
Whorlton and Westwick Parish Council also protested, along with Thorpe and Wycliffe Parish Council and 15 residents. Two letters of support were received.
But planning officer Steve Teasdale said there is “no tangible evidence that this development would inevitably produce specific reactions by horses, whether they are racehorses or riding school horses.”
Mr Teesdale added that planning guidelines gave a presumption in favour of renewable energy. Villagers are dismayed because the decision was made by planning officers not councillors at a committee meeting.
One resident said: “No one requested that it go to a committee before the requested deadline.
“One would have thought a representative at county level would have done this.” Mrs Dixon was unavailable for comment.
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