Campaigners in a rural landscape which is said to have reached “tipping point” for wind turbines are celebrating a rare refusal to grant planning permission for a scheme.
Developers wanted to erect a turbine – measuring 260 feet (79m) from base to blade tip – at Hole Farm, Beaworthy.
Officers at West Devon Borough Council recommended the project be given the go-ahead at a meeting last week.
But following a local campaign which saw 177 letters of objection, opposition from all five parish councils and the local MP, the project was unanimously turned down by the council’s planning committee.
Penny Mills, chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in Torridge district, said locals were “relieved and very grateful at the decision”.
“The committee truly understood the impact this huge turbine would have and understood the concerns of the local people,” she added.
“The CPRE had objected to this application because, sited high on the ridge line, the impact on the landscape would have been huge over an enormous area and be seen for miles.
“It was far too large and sited too near the public highway and neighbouring dwellings.”
Opponents of renewable energy schemes in the countryside have been frustrated by the willingness of planning committees to grant permission to schemes. This is partly attributed to the Government’s redraft of planning guidance – the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – which came into effect a year ago.
Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox, said he would formally oppose each and every new commercial scheme in his Torridge and West Devon constituency after the area became a target, adding: “I believe we have now reached a tipping point.”
The CPRE calculates there are already 43 approved single turbines locally, 20 schemes in planning and dozens more in the pipeline, subject to scoping exercises.
However, the festivities remain on hold after the Hole Farm refusal as campaigners nervously await an appeal.
The CPRE says Torridge has yet to win a single appeal by a developer to the Planning Inspectorate.
The application for the turbine, which would have generated 500kW from a position more than 500m from the nearest dwelling, was prepared by Bristol-based One Wind Renewables.
A company spokesman was yesterday unable to say whether an appeal was expected, adding that it was a decision for “the investor”.
A West Devon Borough Council spokesman said: “The reasons for refusal were that the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the amenity of neighbouring properties and it would also have a detrimental visual impact on a wider surrounding area.”