Judgement day looms – again – for a controversial wind turbine proposed for a hilltop near Frogmore.
The plans, for a 34m turbine at Winslade Farm, have already been approved once by South Hams councillors, before being quashed after a resident brought a judicial review.
But the council’s development management committee looks set to reconsider the proposals, possibly as early as Wednesday, November 5.
An application was first received by South Hams Council last October. Many residents got in touch to share their views, with 50 people writing to object and 30 in support.
And although the planning officer in the case recommended refusal, citing an ‘unacceptable’ impact on the landscape, councillors on the development management committee approved it by five votes to three in May.
The family who owns Winslade Farm said they need the turbine to offset their £25,000-a-year electricity bill. The farm has a 250-strong dairy herd and 120 beef cattle.
But David Hayward, who lives close to the site, fought the decision by seeking a judicial review, initiating a process that could have left him with a £35,000 legal bill if he had been unsuccessful.
Mr Hayward said: ‘It wasn’t an easy decision because of the personal liability. But what I found interesting was that the level of support from across the South Hams was amazing, and people offered money for the case, which made it easier.’
The judicial review focused on four aspects of the council’s decision, which South Hams could fight or accept. It chose the latter, and in August the High Court quashed the decision to allow the turbine because the council had failed to notify English Heritage of the proposal.
The application was opened for comments again, attracting 25 further objections and one letter of support.
Chillington resident Derek Weaving said: ‘People are attracted to the South Hams primarily because of its heritage and unspoilt beauty. Those of us who are privileged to live and work here have a duty to preserve what has taken centuries to develop. This isn’t an obligation that can be cast aside lightly to achieve a short-term commercial advantage.
‘Expert analysis shows that over 90 per cent of Chillington residents would have a clear view of the turbine and over half would see the whole structure. The situation in East and West Charleton would be little better. On a clear day the turbine would be visible in its hilltop position from as far away as Salcombe.’
Mr Hayward said: ‘The challenge is to understand why approval was given in the first place. There’s tremendous support against it and I can’t understand why, if it goes before the development management committee again, it should be approved. Is the development management committee really representing what people are telling them?’
A South Hams spokesman said: ‘While there’s no requirement for English Heritage to have been consulted, there is a formal requirement for notification of the application to have been given in this instance. This wasn’t done and the council has agreed that it erred in this respect.
‘The decision was quashed on the technicality of not notifying English Heritage and not the planning considerations. There would be no change of view on the merits of decisions made on other turbine applications.
‘The council has been ordered by the court to pay partial costs to Mr Hayward and agreement of the amount is currently under discussion with Mr Hayward’s solicitors.’
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