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Turbine plans rejected

It’s that time of the month again when voices are raised and impassioned speeches are heard – and Mendip rejects another wind turbine.

Not one member of the district council’s planning board spoke in favour of the proposed 103m turbine at Maesbury Quarry – despite being presented with a petition of support with 831 signatures.

The meeting was held in a packed Jardine’s Ballroom at Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet, with as many as 50 members of the public having to either stand or drag in seats from the garden.

First of all those gathered heard the report from planning officer Laura McKay who recommended that the scheme be rejected.

She stated as her reasons: “The proposed turbine, because of its height, size and location, would be dominant and intrusive in views to and from the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Maesbury Castle.

“No wholly exceptional justification has been provided for the harm to a SAM.”

The gathered crowd was split into those for and against the proposal and two people from each point of view came forward to speak.

The first was Susan Tanner, who represented the anti-turbine group AATOM.

Among the points she raised were the visual impact of the turbine, which she said had been dismissed too lightly and that there was a risk to the springs under the quarry which supply the springs at the Bishop’s Palace. She also said that there were no community benefits to the proposal.

Next was William Sanders-Crook, who lives near the site. He said that noise from the turbine would constitute 24/7 aural intrusion.

Then it was the turn of John Calder who spoke on behalf of the developers. He said that the turbine would produce benefits in a safe and sustainable way and that it was not true that everyone was against turbines.

He said: “There is a myth that states ‘everybody hates the look of the turbine’. Like many myths this is unfounded and I strongly urge you to not overlook the 800-plus signatures that have been collected together with the huge numbers that support wind energy, as polls suggest.”

He said that the 25-year life of the turbine would not have the same effect as alternatives such as fracking and nuclear.

Another speaker, Nick Pyatt, who lives near the site, said that we have a responsibility to reduce our emissions to set an example to other countries.

Councillors did not share this view as many spoke strongly against both this proposal and turbines in general.

Councillor Ron Forrest said: “Here we are again. Developers are inundating us with applications as they are aware that this quick-buck bonanza is coming to an end.

“These montrosities are industrialisation and vandalising our green and pleasant land.”

Councillor Nigel Taylor recalled how he used to play in the quarry when he was young.

He said: “The Mendips don’t belong to us. We are the custodians for future generations.”

Councillors Damon Hooton and Nick Cottle said they were not opposed to turbines in general but thought this scheme was the wrong place for one.

Before discussions got under way those councillors heard that the application had already passed to the planning inspector due to “non-determination”. This means that the council has missed its deadline for making a decision and the applicant can therefore go straight to the inspector.

Councillors heard that if they approved the plans the inspector would drop the case but if they rejected it the appeal would be fought as if they had initially refused the plans within deadline.

The board voted to reject the application and therefore to fight the appeal.