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Green campaigners relieved at energy giant’s plans to pull out of controversial windfarm

Thank God they have seen sense and done the honourable thing.

Those were the words from a green campaigner after plans to appeal a rejected controversial windfarm in Hampshire were withdrawn.

EDF Energy Renewables confirmed it will no longer proceed with plans to build at Bullington Cross which, as previously reported, was rejected by three separate planning committees at a meeting last year.

Civic chiefs from Winchester, Test Valley and Basingstoke and Deane councils turned down the application last June at a packed-out meeting at Winchester Guildhall, which would have seen the development of 14 turbine, 28MW wind farm on farmland to the north of the A303.

EDF announced its intention to appeal last December but changed their minds in the days leading to the appeal submission date.

Chairman of Keep Hampshire Green, Douglas Paterson, said he was “overcome with joy” at the news.

“We are absolutely delighted,” he said. “After three years of worry it is hard to describe how happy and relieved we are that this ordeal is finally over. “It always was the wrong place to build a wind farm, and our planners, parish councillors and district councillors made that clear last summer when permission was refused. There are places where wind farms are appropriate, but this is definitely not one of them. In terms of wind resource, it would have been in the worst five per cent of wind farm sites in the UK.

“To scar this beautiful stretch of unspoilt countryside for such poor return would have been scandalous, and could have set a precedent for other parts of Hampshire. It is only the distorted subsidy system that drew EDF to this site, and made them determined to appeal the local democratic decision. Finally EDF has recognised that there is no point in pursuing this project any further. Thank God they have seen sense and done the honourable thing.

“We are lucky to live in a country where the feelings and wishes of small people can matter. Many people care deeply about the countryside and for those whose communities would have been blighted, this would have been devastating.”

The plans to build the 126-metre tall masts were met with fierce opposition from local councillors as well as defence chiefs who argued such a large-scale development could disrupt radar systems.

As previously reported, radar operators find it hard to distinguish between low-flying aircraft and wind turbines, causing confusion for civil and military air traffic controllers.

An impact statement submitted as part of the planning application to Winchester City Council cited Bullington Cross as “an extremely busy aviation site with a high density of both military and civil aviation activity.”

The site is used within an MoD low-flying area for battlefield helicopters and 4km of Popham Airfield used by civilian light aircraft.

EDF were contacted but declined to comment further.