A six-year battle by energy giants to build a wind farm on the edge of Exmoor has hit a snag at the eleventh hour, according to campaigners.
In October following a public inquiry plans to build nine 103 metre (337ft) tall turbines at Batsworthy Cross, North Devon were approved by the Planning Inspectorate.
The move came after RWE nPower Renewables had failed to win planning approval several times and appealed the latest knock-back.
The farm would generate enough electricity to power the annual average needs of approximately 8,700 households.
Following the Planning Inspectorate’s decision a six-week period followed to allow members of the public time to lodge appeals.
According to protesters, the company’s plans must be put on hold after an unknown local resident last week lodged an appeal on a legal point in the High Court.
Caroline Harvey, secretary of the Two Moors Campaign group and a farmer, welcomed the latest turn of events and said the turbines were inappropriate for the area.
She said: “The Planning Inspector Rupert Grantham approved the application for the wind farm at appeal, overturning the unanimous decision of North Devon Council and against the wishes of seven local parish councils, the Exmoor National Park Authority, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the overwhelming opinion of local residents.
“This is truly the wrong application in the wrong place.
“The inspector’s decision to approve the application against overwhelming local opposition shows the Planning Inspectorate’s total disregard of the Localism Act.
“But as I understand it this appeal by a local resident only concerns the legality of this decision.
“The person who lodged the appeal believes Mr Grantham erred in law.
“We believe the error he made was granting approval at all.”
Protesters argue the development will scar the landscape and disrupt tranquillity. However, Mr Grantham concluded the benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions would be long lasting and outweigh the “limited harm” the turbines would cause.
RWE has always insisted the wind farm is appropriately sited and designed.
Last night a spokesman for RWE said he was unable to contact lawyers acting for the company to check if an appeal had been accepted and if the process had therefore stalled.
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