Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan has vented his fury at councillors who voted in favour of controversial plans to build a 200ft high wind turbine in Somerby.
Despite villagers’ overwhelming objections, Melton Council’s planning committee voted 4-3 in favour of delegating to permit the application subject to conditions and the further advertising of the application in the Melton Times not giving rise to new objections on new issues which haven’t already been considered.
That means there’s still some hope for campaigners as if the notice does give rise to new objections on new issues, the matter will go back to the committee for consideration.
The notice was due to appear in today’s Melton Times, with additional comments able to be submitted to the council up until February 27.
Villagers packed out the planning committee meeting held at Parkside on Thursday. The committee heard the council had received more than 500 written objections from more than 300 homes.
There were angry cries of ‘shame on you’ and ‘this isn’t democracy’ from villagers after the committee voted narrowly in favour. In favour were Tories Pat Cumbers, Gerald Botterill and Pam Baguley and Labour’s Gary Bush.
Coun Bush said he didn’t think the turbine would have a significant impact on the natural environment, adding he thought the ‘positives outweighed the negatives’.
Coun Cumbers said she didn’t believe there were adverse impacts that demonstrably outweighed the benefits. She added: “It’s not the most beautiful countryside and I can’t support the recommendation to refuse.”
The councillors who voted against the turbine were Conservatives Byron Rhodes, John Illingworth and John Wyatt. Pru Chandler (Con), Elaine Holmes (Ind) and Alison Freer-Jones (Ind) abstained.
Reacting to the decision, MP Alan Duncan said: “I’m dismayed by those who voted in favour. We don’t elect Conservative councillors to go against their community and spoil our rural countryside.
“There were over 500 objections and the planning officers recommended refusal but still some councillors voted in favour. They should be ashamed at their lack of concern for their community.
“I urge everyone to write to the council before February 27 being sure to raise new objections to this turbine so the matter can be voted on again.”
Melton councillor Mark Barnes submitted plans for the turbine on his land at Southfields Farm, to the south of the village between Somerby and Owston.
Objectors’ concerns included the turbine being ‘an intrusive presence for miles around’, it having a detrimental impact upon the landscape as well as nearby equestrian businesses and residents.
Howard Blakebrough, on behalf of Somerby, Knossington and Cold Overton Parish Councils, said: “It will be a monstrous carbuncle of a structure, clearly visible from listed heritage buildings, and will dominate houses at the west end of Somerby.”
Martin Reason, chairman of the Somerby Turbine Opposition Plan, and Somerby Riding School co-owner Tony Stimson also voiced fears about its detrimental impact.
Speaking on behalf of Mr Barnes, his wife Jane said the site had ‘no special landscape designation’, there were ‘no legitimate planning reasons to refuse the application’ and that the turbine would ‘only directly affect three houses’.
She added the turbine was estimated to provide enough electricity to power 300-plus homes – more than 90 per cent of homes in Somerby parish – and that the parish would benefit from the application to the sum of £2,000 per year. She said: “This turbine will be beneficial to more homes than it affects.”
Another speaker on Mr Barnes’ behalf told the committee how dairy farmers had made a ‘serious commitment’ to reduce their carbon footprint by 40 per cent, by looking into renewable energy sources, and that Mr Barnes’ application was part of that.
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