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Turbine for Ratherton Farm near Holsworthy approved despite falling fears

Fears for public safety have been heightened following the approval of a further wind turbine, a week after two turbines collapsed.

The 77 metre turbine at Ratherton Farm, near Holsworthy, was approved by Torridge District Council’s (TDC) plans committee on Thursday.

This followed the collapse of a 35 metre turbine at East Ash Farm in Bradworthy, near Holsworthy on January 27 and a second collapse of a turbine nearby at Winsdon Farm in North Petherwin in North Cornwall on January 30.

Sarah Blake, who lives in Buckland Filleigh, is concerned the council is not taking the threat to public safety, which she believes turbines pose, seriously enough.

She said in a letter to councillors and officers: “Why would it not be appropriate for the council to refuse to determine (rather than pre-determining, as at present) any further applications until the Health and Safety Executive’s concerns have been addressed?

“Surely safeguarding and protecting local people should be paramount.”

“Why is TDC ignoring and not addressing, as a matter of urgency, the very serious public health and safety issues arising from wind turbines, including noise and shadow flicker?

“TDC are failing in their obligations and responsibilities to their communities.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also been appalled by the decision.

Penny Mills from the CPRE said it was not just public safety that should have meant the application was refused and she highlighted English Heritage’s response to the application.

She said: “The CPRE are absolutely appalled that this large wind turbine has been approved as there were clear, valid reasons for objection, in particular that English Heritage had strongly objected and described the application as ‘wholly inadequate’.

“It is also shocking that only one week after incidents of two local turbines failing and collapsing, the safety/distance element did not appear to be a concern to the council.

“The nearest dwelling is only 460m away from the turbine.

“This is unacceptably close for a turbine of this size, and you would have thought that safety would have been at the forefront after the recent accidents.

“Debris can be scattered a long way. This sized turbine should not have been approved in this location so close to a neighbouring property.”

But the council’s development and enabling manager, David Green, made the council’s position clear on the public safety aspect at the beginning of the plans committee meeting on Thursday.

He said the planning department considers where turbines are sited, to ensure public safety has been addressed, but all other matters to do with public safety were outside the remit of building control.

He said: “We are aware of a number of e-mails in relation to the wind turbine collapse.

“We have contacted the developers and we are discussions with them.”