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Small victory for objectors as wind farm plans are reduced

Plans for an industrial-scale wind turbine development near Tolpuddle are being scaled back – to the delight of objectors.

More than a thousand people had objected to the scheme, originally for ten turbines with protestors collecting more than £12,000 to fight the proposals.

Now the company behind the scheme, West Coast Energy, has said it will reduce both the size and the number of turbines being proposed.

Campaigners say they are delighted with the move – but have pledged to fight on and stop any turbines being built at all.

Their opposition continues despite a promise by the company that one of the turbines would be “owned” by the community, bringing an estimated income of up to £100,000 a year for local projects.

What is now being discussed is a scheme for five turbines, each of them 115metres, compared to the originally proposed turbines each of 126.5 metres.

In an email from West Coast Energy, shown to View from Dorchester, a company spokesman said: “We are indeed exploring the option of reducing the size of the wind farm, and in due course should a revised scheme be put forward to the district council you will have a further opportunity to make comment…

“The decision to revise the number of turbines and turbine dimensions has been taken following a period of reflection, during which the various statutory and other consultee responses, including the local community, have been taken into consideration. There are several grounds of concern consistently raised and the revised scheme is considered to address these.”

The change in scale of the scheme will now almost certainly result in further delays to the project, possibly by as much a year, as local planning officers insist on a new application being submitted, rather than accepting the quicker route of allowing the company to amend its current proposals.

TAINT (Tolpuddle Against Industrial Turbines) chairman Richard Slocock said: “Even one giant wind turbine is wholly unacceptable and there is always a strong possibility that once permission is granted for five they will apply to add more. It is impossible to mitigate the horrendous damage to the landscape and blighted communities. Taint remains implacably opposed to the imposition of giant wind turbines”.

Among the objections to the original ten turbines being proposed were claims about the effect the structures would have on the landscape, fears that they could create a distraction for drivers on the two busy main roads which skirt the site.

Some have argued that they are simply not needed because the county can meet its target for renewable energy from biomass, heat pump, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and hydro renewable energy resources.

Critics also point out that there is no viable way of storing energy created by wind farms so there would still be a need to have other forms of generation for the times when it is either too windy, or there is not enough wind, for the turbines to operate.

“We are worried about the effect this development would have on nearby residents and the consequences for tourist attractions such as Athelhampton House and the Tolpuddle Martys Museum,” said one objector in a submission to the district council.

Meanwhile the search for oil is about to get underway on a swathe of land to the South East of Dorchester stretching to Winfrith Newburgh and Sutton Poyntz at one extreme and including land around Broadmayne, West Knighton and Owermoigne, but not as far as the coast.

Tesla Exploration International will be carrying out seismic surveys across the area from this week on behalf of Egdon Resources UK using a convoy of four tractor units, mainly on public roads, but with some tests also being carried out on farm fields.

Parts of the area have been explored before, including test wells near Martinstown and Chaldon and although oil bearing rocks were found the companies involved at the time said that further development would not be economically viable.