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Controversial wind farm plans rejected

Plans for a wind farm on the outskirts of Polegate have been rejected – for a second time by district planners.

Members of Wealden District Council rejected plans for a three turbine wind farm by seven votes to four on May 8.

Councillors went against their planning officers’ recommendation to allow the amended proposals by Galliford Try Renewables’ (GTR) to create Shepham Wind Farm.

The energy generated at the site was set to go into the National Grid for use across the country.

The planning application was a revision of an earlier proposal for five turbines, which was withdrawn in July 2012 following council officers’ recommendation that consent be refused.

Many of the area’s town and parish councils, except Hailsham, opposed the plans.

A Polegate Town Council )PTC) spokeswoman said: “The resident responses received by the council indicate that this decision reflects the views of the majority of Polegate residents.”

Speaking after the meeting, Michael Clewett, planning chair at PTC, said, “We have been opposing this for 18 months and we are delighted with today’s decision. We recognise there will most likely be an appeal and that will also be vehemently opposed.”

A GTR spokeswoman said they were extremely disappointed by the committee’s decision despite officer’s recommendation for approval.

She said: “We have worked very closely with the council, statutory consultees and industry experts to produce what they deemed to be an acceptable planning application. We will now wait for the formal decision notice to be issued before considering our options.

Hailsham resident Mike Hodgson and Hailsham Town Council member Steve McAuliffe spoke in favour of the scheme at the Planning Committee meeting,

Mr Hodgson, a Yes to Polegate Wind Farm spokesman, said they were disappointed by councillors decision. He said: “Many local people do support the scheme. It would have produced a substantial amount of clean energy and helped bring down polluting emissions in Sussex.”

Roy Van-der-Kief, a resident who lives opposite the proposed turbine site, was one of three people to speak about the plans and he pleaded with councillors at the meeting.

He said: “Please don’t gamble with our local community, to sentence hundreds of families to disturbed sleep, to living under these overbearing machines.

“This should not even be an option to consider. The cost is too great. Green energy should go offshore.”

Yes to Shepham Wind Farm also spoke about the need for clean, renewable energy at the planning meeting.

Cllr John Blake, a member of the planning committee, said, “I would rather not have them but I understand the need for them.

“This country is on the cusp of an energy crisis. If we have a harsh winter we are in danger of having energy cutbacks.”

Cllr Blake said fellow councillors should not ignore the central government policy to approve renewable energy applications and said if the planning committee refused permission GTR would most likely take the case to appeal.

He added: “Most appeals for renewable energy plans are being allowed.”

He explained he did not think the council had a ‘significant and demonstrable’ case against the wind farm and a successful appeal would result in a significant cost to the council.

But Cllr Steve Harms said, “These things are going to be a least the height of Big Ben and twice the height of the tallest building in Eastbourne. These are going to be in your face and will produce very little renewable energy.”

The turbines were refused on the grounds that they would be dominant and intrusive on the landscape.