Campaigners are planning their next moves after being thwarted in their efforts to prevent a 78metre-high turbine being built in an unspoilt area of west Suffolk.
They claim it will set a precedent for others to be created, cause damage to the landscape of the area around Clare and Cavendish and pose difficulties in transporting the components for the structure through the narrow streets of the villages which are linked by the winding A1092.
Members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee voted nine to four in favour of the turbine, set to be the height of a 25-storey building, at Maple Hill, near Chilton Street, Clare.
It came despite a weight of opposition from a long list of groups and organisations including the town council, Stoke by Clare Parish Council, English Heritage, the Colne-Stour Countryside Association, Suffolk Preservation Society and the Stop Turbines Over Clare (STOC) action group.
But councillors over-ruled the protests and the 170 objection letters and vote through the controversial plans. The location of the turbine, which has 27.5m blades, a 4.2m-wide stem and a main mechanism weighing 30 tons, is near the spot where a similar project was shelved last year because of insufficient wind.
Ioana Parker, chair STOC, claimed: “The introduction of a vertical structure atop a hill in an area as unspoilt as this will cause irreparable damage to the landscape. It doesn’t bode well for future applications and setting a precedent is a huge worry. We now have to consider our next moves and what response, if any, we make.
“Despite all the opposition we were very, very disappointed that it was approved and the committee went against the wishes of the community. It does pose the question that if they are going to allow a single turbine why would they not allow others?”
The group is due to meet again at the end of the month to decide what steps they might need to take.
Clare Town Council chairman Keith Haisman said that its policy is that commercial wind projects should be at least two kilometres from residential property but that plans for the turbine, put forward by applicant James Sills, would only be about 700m.
The council meets again next Thursday, April 18, when a report will be given by Margaret Godwin, a member of the planning committee, who attended the meeting.
She said that one of the main concerns would be the construction of the turbine which would result in large vehicles having to negotiate the narrow roads to the site.
“We need to discuss the decision with the town council,” she said.
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