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Campaigner Penny Mills furious after work started on Holsworthy turbine without planning permission

A rural campaigner claims planning regulations were flouted after work began on a wind turbine site without permission.

Penny Mills, chairman of the Torridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said she was disappointed work to build a temporary access road at Ratherton Farm, Holsworthy, started without the district council’s consent.

Plans to put up a 77-metre turbine on the farm were approved by the district council in February.

However, this month a separate application was submitted to form a one-way temporary agricultural access.

The access was to allow workers to build the permitted turbine, but work began before council officers had considered the application.

Mrs Mills said a section of the hedgerow was destroyed. She said: “I cannot understand why the applicants had not followed the planning process.

“They didn’t wait for this application to get permission, they just went ahead anyway.”

Part of the hedgerow was demolished and a new access onto the A388 road was created this month.

Workers have now sealed up the access point.

Officers at Torridge District Council will now come to a decision retrospectively.

Philip Collins, leader of Torridge District Council, said: “The enforcement officer visited the site and was informed that the access was required to accommodate abnormal loads, which, because of their size, could not reach the site via the route originally intended.

“It was confirmed to him that no further deliveries would be made to the site and that the opening would be sealed and the hedgerow reinstated.

“I understand developers are reinstating the hedgerow which is exactly what the enforcement officer would have required them to do.

“It’s now up to the planning process to determine the application.”

Mrs Mills said that by not waiting for permission the situation had made a mockery of the planning process.

She said: “This could easily create a precedent that everybody can ignore planning procedures and then just ask for retrospective permission after they have done everything they want.

“The entrance has been put back, but clearly the hedgerow will have to be replanted. Of course it won’t be the original with the same ecological value as the original.”

Peter Wonnacott, planning and development adviser working on behalf on the applicant, did not wish to comment.