A 50-metre high wind turbine has been given the green light by a planning inspector after council planners failed to reach a decision.
The 100KW turbine, to be built on farmland in the picturesque South Hams in Devon, was opposed by more than 120 local people and by planning officers themselves.
But the application by A.E.Chudley & Son from Foales Leigh Farm, Harberton went to appeal after South Hams District Council had failed to make a decision in time.
The appeal decision is thought to be the first such case in the South West since June last year, when Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark issued a written statement saying that local people should have the final say on wind farm applications.
As well as the scores of local objections, council officers had prepared a report which recommended that planning permission should be refused for two reasons relating to the impact of the proposal on the landscape and in terms of the perceived inadequacies of the access route.
Planning inspector Paul Griffiths disagreed with them.
Penny Mills from CPRE Devon said they were “very disappointed that an inspector has allowed this large wind turbine of very low output to go ahead.
“The turbine will have a huge adverse impact on the landscape, on heritage assets and on people living nearby.
“It is surprising and disappointing that the inspector has decided that, although there was massive local opposition to the turbine, it apparently had the backing of the local community.
“As far as we are aware, this is the first wind turbine appeal which has been allowed in the South West, since the Written Ministerial Statement of last June, which clearly stated that a wind turbine would only be allowed if it had the support of the local community.”
But Green Party Totnes and Devon councillor Robert Vint said the inspector’s assessment seemed “pretty balanced”.
“Green Party members are generally in favour of renewables, but it depends on the particular case,” Cllr Vint said.
“We have to assess each application. There are times when installations are in inappropriate locations.”
In his ruling the planning inspector said local residents had raised concerns about the impact of the wind turbine on their living conditions.
During a site visit he went to a number of dwellings in the area.
“I detect strongly from the various representations on this subject that residents would regard visibility of a wind turbine from their houses, or gardens, as most unwelcome,” he said.
“That might be the case but being able to see a wind turbine in that way does not, necessarily, equate to a finding that there would be a detrimental impact on the living conditions of the residents concerned.”
We have asked South Hams District Council to explain why it failed to determine the application in time.
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