Plans for a 74-metre tall wind turbine for Carisbrooke have been refused, on the grounds of noise and visual impact on properties just metres from the turbine.
In a last minute change to their advice to councillors on the Planning Committee, planning officers recommended that the scheme for a field off Betty Haunt Lane should be refused.
As the meeting began at County Hall on Monday evening, a revised paper was circulated which updated the applicant’s response to more calls for noise assessments from council planners.
In an email received at 12:10 on Monday lunchtime, the applicant told planning officers that they would not be attending the meeting and that they would not be prepared to commit further funds for more noise studies, as had been requested in the council officers’ original report.
This had prompted the change of advice to councillors, who then listened to evidence and debated the application for around three and a half hours.
Principal Planning Officer Steve Wiltshire added that the applicant was anticipating that the scheme would be refused, and that if that were the case they would seek to appeal against the decision.
The meeting heard that the Isle of Wight has a current operational capacity from consented wind energy schemes of 1.8647MW, as of December 2012, against a target of 22.5MW. The proposed turbine would supply around 500KW of renewable energy.
In terms of the turbine’s height, planning officers compared the scheme with other notable structures including Newport Minster at 35-metres tall, and said the original turbines planned for Cheverton Down were 125-metres before they were scaled back to the now existing permission for 52-metre tall wind turbines.
Planning officers said that whilst the turbine would be sited outside of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it would be a “significant feature” in the area of some of the closest properties. There was some debate over how close the nearest house would be, with council officers suggesting it was 430 metres away. This was later disputed by the owner of the property who spoke at the meeting about the potential impact of living just 403 metres from the turbine. However, council officers said that they were satisfied that, in landscape terms, the turbine application was acceptable and that there would be “no substantial harm to residential properties from the siting, scale and dominance of the single wind turbine.”
The meeting also heard about government guidance on noise impact, which gives a limit of 35 decibels in order to protect nearby residents. The applicant was said to consider the sound levels at the home nearest to the turbine were at 35.2 decibels. Environmental Health officers for the IW Council therefore concluded that predicted noise levels would be exceeded, and that a further 2-decibel allowance should be made. The adverse noise impact, the meeting was told by planning officers, constituted a reason for refusing the application.
A number of objectors spoke at the meeting including Bob Denman for anti-turbine campaigners ThWART, who said that the proposal would be hugely damaging to the Isle of Wight and substantial harm would be created by it. He said granting the plan permission would be a fundamental turning point for the Island, giving a green light for turbines potentially anywhere outside the AONB and close to other properties.
Don Prescott, Ventnor resident and objector, said that it was the worst planning report he had ever read, suggesting it was “menacing” in tone and that the scheme would offer no social or economic benefit to the community at all.
Councillor John Hobart, whose ward covers the area, said that there were 13 or more affected properties and asked why they should have to put up with an inevitable change in lifestyle to satisfy the financial gain of the landowner.
In conclusion, seven councillors agreed to refuse planning permission on the grounds of the noise impact and the visual impact on the closest property. Two committee members – Councillor Paul Fuller and Councillor Reg Barry – voted against refusal.
After the meeting, Cllr Barry told IW Radio: “I agree with the officers’ original recommendation for approval – the original report says that it doesn’t have that much impact on the environment.”
Deborah Harris, who spoke during the meeting to object against the plan, lives just over 400 metres from the proposed location. It was the visual impact on her property that concerned the majority of the members of the committee. After the meeting, she told IW Radio she was relieved by the decision: “I’m thrilled to bits – I just hope we’re out of it now and we don’t hear any more about it. It would have been horrendous, we would look straight at it.”
Harriet Kent has lived at New Park Farm on Betty Haunt Lane for the past couple of years, but the property has belonged to her family for over 100 years. She told IW Radio after the meeting: “It’s been a whole year of struggle fighting against this planning application – I think the relief is just starting to set in now!”
Bill Murphy, IW Council’s Head of Planning, admits it may not be the end of the proposals but is confident over the reasons given for refusal. He told IW Radio: “They are material planning grounds and the planning authority will defend those at appeal if the applicant now chooses to appeal the decision.”
The applicants now have six months to launch an appeal, which could spark a public inquiry.
Isle of Wight Radio approached the applicants via their agent on Monday, but they declined to comment on the proposals.
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