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Old Down Country Park owners blast wind farm plans

A wedding venue has lambasted plans for a wind farm near Olveston claiming it would be detrimental to its business.

Arron and Katya Banks, who own Old Down Country Park, invested £4 million into the restoration of the former stately home in the hope of tranforming it into a top hotel.

But all their efforts will have been in vain, they have claimed, if two 130-metre high turbines are erected in the valley opposite the manor house blotting the “breathtaking” view from the estate – which is the property’s strongest asset.

The couple said: “As the owners of the estate, we strongly oppose the plans which will wreck the landscape.

“We have invested £4million into the project creating the park and a wedding events venue, serving local people.

“One of our biggest unique selling points is the view which looks over to the Welsh hills. The windmills will destroy the view and also destroy property values for everyone that lives in the local area.”

Not only would the development proposed by REG Windpower, which submitted a planning application for the wind farm at the start of the month, be an eyesore in the rural setting, they said, but it would ultimately make their business “unviable” and lead to redundancies.

“We have created over 30 rural jobs for local people and this development would almost certainly render the wedding business unviable,” they added. “If the council pass this application our business will be blighted, leading to redundancies and the possible closure of the estate.

“Old Down Country Park and manor has been a labour of love and to be honest we find it unbelievable that anyone in the local area would welcome the area being blighted by the construction of these turbines.”

The project caused huge controversy in the area when first proposed by REG Windpower. A campaign was launched by Olveston Wind Farm Action Group backed by Olveston, Pilning and Severn Beach and Aust Parish Councils to fight the scheme.

Despite strong local opposition, REG Windpower, which originally hoped to build three turbines, scaled down its project and instead lodged an application with the local authority for two.

The company said the development would help meet the energy needs of 2,800 to 3,100 homes.