Would you turn down £1 million offered to build a wind turbine on your land? That is what one Devon farmer has done – because it would destroy the idyllic countryside.
Devon farmer Tony Dallyn turned down a £1.4 million offer to build a wind turbine on his land because he thought it would ruin the rural landscape only to find himself blighted by his neighbour’s plan.
Tony Dallyn who lives near Winkleigh in the valley made famous by Michael Murpurgo’s novel War Horse, spurned offers from two developers to site a 251ft tall turbine on his Loosedon Barton farm.
Renewable energy firms Murex and MI Grid told him the 500kW mast could earn him between £35,000 and £50,000 a year, adding up to a colossal £1.14 million in 20 years.
But Mr Dallyn, who inherited the farm from his parents and has lived there since 1961, said he would not be able to look people in the eye if he had taken the money and destroyed the idyllic appearance of the rolling countryside.
Now he is fighting plans by a neighbouring farmer, Martin Goddard whose controversial application for a similar 77m device is currently under appeal after being rejected unanimously by Winkleigh Parish Council and refused planning permission by Torridge District Council.
“The papers were on the table ready to be signed to give a company a two year option but we decided we just could not inflict such a turbine upon our neighbours and wider community,” he added.
“It would have been a life changing amount of money which could have financed the next step of the business but (the turbine) would have towered above the hillside and been a huge blight on the landscape.
“I didn’t want to be responsible – our farm is visible from everywhere north of Dartmoor and Okehampton into North Devon.
“The irony is that if we had built a turbine on our farm we would not have seen it from our house whilst the proposed turbine at Bryony Hill would be highly visible and is just 450m away.”
Battle lines were drawn in the sleepy Devon valley last year when developers began eyeing it as the perfect location for as many as 20 new turbines.
Campaigners warned the rash of projects could ruin the scenery and wreck the budding tourist industry which has been inspired by War Horse.
Mr Dallyn, who grows wheat and barley on his farm and hopes to pass the business on to his son, was joined in fighting the plans at Bryony Hill by Mr Morpurgo, who also formally objected.
The celebrated writer said he “vehemently opposes” the proposed tower in Okement Valley – where he lives and describes as an “oasis of peace and wonder”.
A council planning meeting heard how the 70-year-old author was among 100 locals who lodged their objections to the device.
“We will have a random scattering of thousands of these huge wind turbines all over Devon, all over our countryside,” he wrote.
“It is that that I do not want, that I do not believe the people of Winkleigh want, and that now, it seems even the government says it does not want.
“If our democracy means anything, this should not and must not be allowed.”
In a recent map drawn up by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, 11 turbines are currently in planning, with another nine in the pipeline.
Penny Mills, CPRE spokesman for Torridge, was among those objecting to the Bryony Hill Farm development, which is being handled by agents Mi-Grid, based in Blackwater, Cornwall.
Ms Mills, said it could cause “harm to the unspoilt landscape, to the setting of historic and heritage assets, proximity of people’s homes”.
English Heritage has also come out against the application, concluding that it would affect a number of medieval churches in the area.
Mr Dallyn believes the planning officer will uphold the decision to refuse the mast, but is adamant he will not regret turning down the cash even if it is overturned.
“It is a tough one to call and a lot of money to turn down and I can understand why some people would take it,” he added.
“I just feel I would like to leave my small patch of England as beautiful and unspoilt as it was when I inherited it.”
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