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No turbines for Prestleigh

A proposed wind turbine on the Bath and West Showground, near Shepton Mallet, has been rejected by planning chiefs – citing the impact on views.

Councillors at Mendip’s planning board brought up plenty of reasons to turn the turbine down but “visual impact” was considered the most legally sound.

In his report to the board, which recommended approval, planning officer Oliver Marigold said: “The development would safeguard the amenities of occupiers of local residential properties and users of the footpath network.”

This was contested by Chris Norman, who had been chosen to speak on behalf of the villagers of nearby Prestleigh.

He believes that the effect the turbine would also stop tourists wanting to stay at the Prestleigh Inn and neighbouring B&Bs.

Mr Norman said that the impact of the turbine would be enormous for everyone living in the village – that it would be “overpowering”.

He also said that the blades rotating would be distracting for drivers.

This was a view echoed by Councillor Gloria Cawood, who is not a member of the board but represents the ward.

She said: “The reasons given for recommending approval hardly hold water when set against the harm to the occupiers of local residential properties and the pub.”

It was particularly the potential impact on the pub that caused Mrs Cawood concern.

She said: “Prestleigh with no church and no village hall is bad enough.

“But Prestleigh without a pub is unthinkable.

“How does this development safeguard local amenities?”

Speaking on behalf of the applicants, Jane Guise said that the site had been chosen to minimise the impact on local settlements and that not being seen from Evercreech was a factor.

She said: “We have genuinely tried to meet energy needs and minimise impact.”

The board then discussed the impact on people’s views and the effect it might have on other businesses. The planning manager, Matthew Williams, cast doubt over whether these issues would stand up at appeal.

He said: “Through the planning system we cannot protect views over private land.”

He added that despite how people might feel, for the purposes of planning the pub counted as private, not public, space.

Councillor Damon Hooton said: “Although the inn is a private business for the purposes of the people who go there it’s a public space. A wind turbine would affect the business of people wanting to stay there.”

When it came to a vote, 11 councillors voted against the proposal while one abstained.

Councillor Nigel Taylor said: “Those who live there do not want this turbine. The National Planning Policy Framework says that we should approve it unless there is significant harm.

“I would contest that there is demonstrable harm.”