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Stinchcombe wind turbine decision may mark change in planning policy

Planning policy may have been changed forever by an inspector’s decision to turn down an appeal for a wind farm in the Berkeley Vale.

Last week an independent planning inspector dismissed an appeal from green energy firm Ecotricity to build four 120-metre high wind turbines at Standle Farm, near Stinchcombe.

District councillors said this ruling showed that landscape issues were of greater significance than previously thought.

Philip Skill, head of planning at Stroud District Council, said this week: “The changes to planning policy with the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework, were initially thought to have favoured renewable energy schemes, but this judgement appears to put the landscape issues higher up the agenda, particularly where large developments like wind farms and incinerators are concerned.”

Stroud planners originally refused Ecotricity permission to build the wind farm last April because of its impact on the landscape of the Berkeley Vale.

Ecotricity appealed the decision.

In his report, independent inspector Richard Thomas, who conducted the inquiry, highlighted landscape issues as a key reason to dismiss the appeal.

He cited the impact the turbines would have on the settings of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Stinchcombe Conservation Area, the church of St Cyr’s and Berkeley Castle.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which welcomed the inspector’s decision, said the turbines would have had a negative visual impact on the surrounding communities.

Cllr Geoff Wheeler, leader of Stroud District Council, said the council was pleased with the inspector’s decision.

He said: “It is gratifying to note that the inspector agrees with our councillors on how the effect of these turbines on the AONB can be felt several kilometres away from the escarpment.

“This judgement will have significant implications for the planning application for the proposed waste incinerator at Javelin Park in Haresfield and we would ask the county councillors to read this appeal report prior to making their own difficult decisions.”

Javelin Park is the proposed site for a controversial £500 million incinerator for household waste.