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Local politicians vote against billionaire’s turbine plan

Rushen Parish Commissioners have unanimously opposed a plan to erect three turbines overlooking Port Erin bay.

The plan, 14/00632/B by billionaire John Whittaker is to erect three, 10Kw wind turbines at Ballaman, Ballnahowe Road, which is in Rushen parish and overlooks Port Erin.

Each turbine will be 15 metres high, have a seven-metre diameter blade and be grey to merge against the background.

The commissioners raised several objections about the plan at their latest meeting. They said they would have a negative visual impact in an area of high landscape value.

‘The site is already over-developed with the main house and outbuildings, several cottages, a helicopter hangar and pad and two entrances of a design inappropriate for a rural lane,’ they said. ‘The present development is already intrusive on the landscape and three wind turbines would exacerbate this.’

They added the turbines would ‘set a precedent for other parts of the island but, of more concern they would set a precedent for this site’.

They quote from a report by Rushen Eco Energy, which is part of the application, and states: ‘The site usage is very high so it wouldn’t supply all the power but would knock a £6,000 hole in the bill.

‘Multiple turbines may also be considered possible after a single one has proven the principle. Multiple small turbines are likely to be more acceptable than a single large one at this location above the town.’

Rushen’s board said this suggested there could be more turbines in the future and added: ‘ Once the first ones were erected it would be difficult to object to more.’

They continued: ‘If the applicant wishes to save on his energy bills there are other “green” options of which he must be aware. These would not be so intrusive.’

Rushen MHK Juan Watterson has also lodged his objection. He wrote the proposal contravened several strategic policies including number five that says: ‘New development, including individual buildings, should be designed so as to make a positive contribution to the environment of the island.’

He wrote: ‘The siting (of the wind turbines) in such a visible and prominent location from almost all angles … certainly do not enhance this setting.’

He added the turbines would be visible from the ancient burial ground at Meayll Hill, so could contravene Environmental Policy 40 (in respect of the protection or enhancement of ancient monuments).

He wrote: ‘I fail to see how the proposed development cannot be considered to have an adverse impact of the character of the surrounding landscape.’

He quoted from Landscape Proposal 10 in the Southern Area Plan, ‘which presumes against development in this area due to its “largely unspoilt character and appearance [which] would diminish its role in providing a vegetated, undeveloped backdrop to Port Erin, Port St Mary and Cregneash”.

Landscape Proposal II also seeks to remove masts on Cronk ny Arrey, yet this flies in the face of that principle.’

A planning specialist advised resident Hugh Davidson that in the Southern Area Plan the site is classified as within ‘Type H, Coastal Cliffs’ and the guidelines used by planners states that built development should be small scale and ‘vertical masts an d other structures … would be out of place within these highly visually sensitive and predominantly open landscapes.’

Also, Energy Policy 4 in the Strategic Plan 7 requires a formal Environmental Impact Assessment for wind power schemes unless they are for ‘domestic’ use which it would be ‘difficult to accept’ of three 45ft wind turbines.

Professor Davidson said: ‘If approved, this application could have an adverse economic impact on Port Erin in the long term, by starting to urbanise an iconic headland. For over a century, Port Erin’s visitor appeal has been based on its horseshoe-shaped beach, enclosed on both sides by beautiful green headlands. Our predecessors have largely managed to protect this wonderful view. We should do the same, for our community and for our successors.’

As we reported in our front page story about this issue last week, Port Erin Commissioners have requested interested party status in relation to the plan.