Objectors to a wind turbine planned for a hill top in the South Hams have launched a last-ditch attempt to get it stopped by asking Government minister Eric Pickles to lend his weight to their campaign.
South Hams councillors have twice granted permission for a 34-metre high turbine at Winslade Farm, near Frogmore.
In May this year, councillors on the development management committee appro-ved the plans, but objectors applied for a judicial review and in August a judge quashed the decision.
The application was resubmitted, and councillors once again granted permission earlier in December. But, within hours, the Department for Communities and Local Government had written to South Hams Council development manager Malcolm Elliott demanding he call a halt, to allow secretary of state Mr Pickles to consider whether to ‘call in’ the application.
A spokesman for the Friends of the South Hams, a group set up to oppose the turbine, said: ‘Following support from Sarah Wollaston MP, DCLG was lobbied by Friends of South Hams and the community.
‘The application was recommended for refusal by the council’s senior planning officer and all of its relevant experts, including the AONB, because of the detrimental impact. For these reasons it is understood that the DCLG is investigating.’
A decision is expected in January on whether Mr Pickles will take over responsibility for the case from South Hams Council. A planning inspector would then be appointed.
Cllr Julian Brazil has written to the DCLG on the matter. He said that he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ that the case had been put on hold.
He wrote: ‘This application has come before the development management committee at South Hams Council twice. On both occasions it has been approved by the democratically elected councillors. On both occasions it was supported by the democratically elected Parish Council of Frogmore and Sherford.
‘However a small group of determined and motivated objectors, who oppose all wind turbines, have now caused this delay.’
A South Hams Council spokesman said: ‘We have received formal notice from the DCLG not to grant permission without specific authorisation.
‘We now wait to see what the Secretary of State decides.’
A spokesman for the Friends of the South Hams added: ‘SHDC’s planning officer and their experts worked very carefully to ensure their recommendations were legally sound.
‘Their reasons were well founded and very clear that the application should be refused. Six councillors voted against the application and five for. However as one councillor, who had voted against in May, arrived 30 minutes late his vote could not be included.
A spokesman for the farmer who is applying for the turbine said: ‘We thought we were there, but now they’ve requested that the secretary of state call it in.
‘Hopefully he’ll realise how ridiculous it is. This is just one single, small turbine, it’s not as if it’s a massive wind farm.’
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