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Anger over wind turbine appeal cost

Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox says it is “absurd and dangerous” that a council has had to spend £35,000 of public money on appeals against wind turbine applications.

The Journal can reveal the East Youlstone turbine appeal alone incurred Torridge District Council professional costs of £35,332 after a planning inquiry was held.

The inquiry overturned the council’s refusal of planning permission for two 100-metre turbines at East Youlstone, near Bradworthy.

Costs will also be incurred by TDC for another unsuccessful appeal against the Vaglefield Farm turbine application. These costs are yet to be confirmed. As a result permission was given to erect a 79-metre turbine at the farm near Holsworthy last year.

Out of ten appeals TDC has fought over turbine applications, it has lost nine. The one it won was for a ten-metre turbine at a farm near Holsworthy.

Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon said he is surprised more applicants have not applied for costs.

He said £35,000 is still a huge cost for a small local authority like TDC to bear.

He said: “I deeply sympathise with Torridge. It is absolutely absurd and outrageous the council should have to incur these costs. They shouldn’t have to go filling the pockets of developers to contest these planning applications.

“But if we don’t fight these people we will have a proliferation of turbines, which on this scale is quite wrong.

“Developers pick on small, isolated communities and small isolated local authorities. That kind of figure could start affecting council tax rates.”

Mr Cox said that through his discussions with senior MPs about wind turbines he is hoping a fundamental change in policy will be announced next month.

He said: “I can’t say too much about the change in policy until it is announced but it will bring relief to communities and it is safe to say I believe our argument has been won in government. We can expect to see real changes.”

Councillor Barry Parsons, the leader of Torridge District Council, said: “The number of appeals being upheld is an indication of what the Government wants, not an indication of what the community wants.

“We are trying to take the issue very seriously where it will affect people’s lives. I don’t know any other local authority which has done more. We have written to David Cameron. I have been to see him. Our officers do a fantastic job and we will continue to do so.”

The council has been spared further expense, largely because applicants did not make an application for costs.

Only one successful applicant applied for costs. This was for an application for a 79-metre turbine at Gearns Farm, near Holsworthy. However, the Planning Inspectorate deemed it not appropriate for costs to be awarded to the applicant.