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Councillors reject plans for Slyer’s Lane wind farm near Dorchester

Plans for a wind farm near Dorchester have been rejected by councillors.

A packed meeting of West Dorset District Council’s development control committee heard passionate arguments as it considered plans for the scheme on agricultural land at Slyer’s Lane near Charminster.

Officers had recommended refusal of an application by developer Broadview to erect six 115-metre turbines on the site.

Case officer Andrew Martin said concerns had been raised by the Dorset AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) team about the impact of the development on the undeveloped rural character and uninterrupted panoramic views of the surrounding area.

He said: “You are in the heart of the AONB here and the concern is that your appreciation of these special qualities will be compromised by the turbines.”

Concerns were also raised about the impact of the proposed wind farm on scheduled monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas.

Mr Martin said there were positive elements to the proposed scheme.

He said: “The development would have wider environmental benefits, would deliver renewable energy and would contribute to the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr Martin said these benefits would need to be balanced against the negative impacts on the AONB, the immediate local landscape, heritage assets and potential damage to unrecorded Bronze Age barrows at the site.

He concluded: “The case for refusing this on planning grounds is almost unassailable.”

More than 50 people spoke at the meeting, with strong opinions both in support and against the scheme.

Alan Rowley, vice chairman of the Dorchester Civic Society, said: “The significant harm this scheme is going to do is far outweighing the public benefit.”

Dorchester resident Sam Ling said he was speaking up in support of the plans on behalf of his four-year-old son, whose generation would be the ones to feel the impacts of climate change.

He said: “My education, my responsibility as a parent and my love for where I grew up scream to me that I have to do something.”

Another local resident said: “It would be lunacy to actually go against anything like this.

“It is selfish to only think about the view from one’s own window.”

Charminster resident Gwen Yarker spoke of the need to protect the archaeological significance of the area and Ian Gosling from the No Slyer’s Lanes Turbines group raised concerns about the impact of the landscape celebrated by Thomas Hardy.

He said: “It is now accepted that decisions on planning applications must take into account any significant harm inflicted on landscapes associated with our literary heritage.”

Following the public speakers and debate among councillors, Cllr Ian Gardner recommended refusal of the scheme.

He said: “We can’t fall into the trap of thinking that this one particular planning application solves all our climate change problems.

“I think we have to address the damage this particular application would do and whether it’s worth having that damage for this one particular site.

“I don’t think that it is.”

Six members voted against the application, with three voting in favour.