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Campaigners’ joy at committee’s u-turn

Fresh evidence of a wind turbine’s potential impact on an autistic child led to a u-turn on the application by Melton Council’s planning committee.

The committee had previously voted in favour of controversial plans to build a 200ft high wind turbine in Somerby.

But on Thursday the application was back before the committee, with members asked to consider new information relating to the proposals which had been submitted since January.

The key piece of new information concerned the potential health effects the turbine could have on a local resident suffering from autism.

Independent medical specialist Dr Hanning, who was commissioned by the child’s family, supported their view that noise from the turbine and even the partial view of the rotating blades would pose problems for the child.

The new evidence was refuted by the applicants, Mark and Jane Barnes, who claimed Dr Hanning’s report was ‘fundementally flawed’ as it ‘had relied on false assumptions.’

The committee heard from speakers who spoke out against the turbine plans and from Mrs Barnes, speaking on behalf of her husband, Mark, in support of the scheme.

After hearing views from both sides the committee voted 4-3 in favour of the officer’s recommendation to refuse the turbine application.

The councillors who voted in favour of the recommendation to refuse were John Illingworth, Alison-Freer Jones, Janet Simpson and Mal Sheldon.

The councillors who voted against the recommendation to refuse were Gary Bush, Pat Cumbers and Gerald Botterill.

Councillor Pam Baguley abstained. Having voted in favour of the turbine last time, she said she felt unable to do so this time due to the turbine’s potential impact on the autistic child.

Planning committee members Pru Chandler and Elaine Holmes took no part in the meeting.

The committee gave four grounds for refusal, the fourth being that ‘the proposed turbine would give rise to an unacceptable risk of harm to the health of a local resident’.

At the time of going to press it wasn’t confirmed whether the turbine applicant Mark Barnes intended to appeal.

Reacting to the committee’s u-turn, Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan said: “‘I’m delighted this turbine has been refused and that councillors have seen fit to overturn their original decision. It was clear to me at the time that no-one in Somerby wanted this turbine and I’m sure there’ll be huge relief that the prospect of it being imposed on them has finally been lifted.”