March 29, 2013

Wind turbine refused

29 March 2013 |

An application for a wind turbine at Wapley, south of the B4465 between Westerleigh and Codrington, was yesterday refused by the DC (East) planning committee on the grounds that the special circumstances of the need for renewable energy did not outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.

The applicant said this was the first stage in a project to create a low carbon dairy business, but the application referred only to the wind turbine and officers advised that possible future proposals could not be given weight when determining the application.

Concerns were raised by residents about possible noise and flicker effects at their properties, the nearest of which were less than 300m away. One neighbour had obtained an expert report which challenged the applicant’s noise report and suggested an additional condition be applied. Speaking as the local member I asked whether it would be possible to apply this extra condition if permission were granted to ensure that any noise fears were addressed.

However, it was not the concerns about noise or flicker that led to the refusal, but the impact on the Green Belt. When a development is proposed in the Green Belt that does not fall into one of a small category that are considered appropriate, the applicant has to show that there are special circumstances to justify it. The need for renewable energy is, according to national planning guidance, a special circumstance. As I said in my comments, many of us agree on the importance of renewable energy, including wind turbines. The issues residents raised were about the specifics of the application.

The committee was being asked to balance this special circumstance against the impact on the Green Belt. As this was central to the decision, I had asked the committee to visit the site, rather than simply relying on paper plans. Residents at the site visit (see picture above) felt the harm to the landscape and openness of the Green Belt was significant. After a long debate, a majority of the committee agreed.

The applicant can appeal against the decision to the Planning Inspectorate.

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