CPRE Devon has objected to Torridge planning officers’ decisions to allow a wind turbine at Ashwater to remain just 60 metres from the A388, after it was built in the wrong location.
Penny Mills from CPRE Devon has expressed her disappointment and concern in Torridge District Council’s planning officers after they approved an application to keep a 77-metre wind turbine close to the road at Nethercott Farm, Ashwater, stating that ‘safety should be paramount’.
The planning application was to allow the turbine to remain ‘too close to the road’ after it had been built in the wrong location. The planning officer at Torridge District Council approved this application (1/0046/2017/FULM) in October.
Penny said: “We are all shocked – this is an extraordinary decision. Why put anyone at risk? It could be moved – there is land and space available. Why not move it further away from the road? Surely the council shouldn’t be putting anyone at risk – safety should be paramount.”
Along with CPRE Devon, dozens of local people, as well as Ashwater Parish Council, have objected to the application. Conservative MP, Geoffrey Cox, and county councillor, Barry Parsons, have also objected.
In the summer of 2016, a 77-metre tall wind turbine was built in the wrong place at Nethercott Farm, Tetcott. The turbine’s purpose was to be part of an array of three turbines positioned prominently along the A388.
Although the mistake was pointed out to Torridge District Council’s planning department, the developer sought permission to vary the planning consent to allow the turbine to remain operating in its original place, which has been permitted.
The turbine will now operate for some 25 years.
Penny continued: “We didn’t even know about it (the application); we only found out from the people of Ashwater and then we saw it. It’s amazing really. The turbine could be moved, they can move it, there’s land available to do so!
“It’s just too close to the road. A 77-metre turbine should have been placed further away from the road. It was put in the wrong place, it was pointed out to Torridge District Council and now it needs to be moved.”
Acting for the applicant, MMI Engineering Ltd, based in York, undertook a risk assessment and said that ‘the considered risks fall in the ‘broadly acceptable’ range, which is the lowest category risk’.
CPRE Devon’s main concern is that the turbine and its location is ‘an unnecessary risk’ to motorists and the general public.
Penny added: “Various people, including highways, submitted their comments on this application. The turbine should be moved further away from the road, avoiding any possible risk to anybody.
“This sets a very dangerous precedent. There have been cases of turbines toppling over – locally, as well as nationally – one in Bradworthy fell not too long ago. Why put anyone at risk?”
With the application having been initially received by the council on Friday, January 13 of this year, the planning officer made the decision to approve the application on October 17, despite a total of 46 objections from local people having been submitted.
Torridge District Councillor Pete Watson, lead member for planning, said: “The turbine in question was the subject of a recent planning application which sought to vary the condition of a previous planning application as the turbine had been built in a different location.
“There is in fact no current legislation restricting the siting of turbines in relation to a highway and indeed across the country many have been built that are taller and closer to highways. Many are in business parks, adjacent to football pitches, nightclubs etc.
“While this does not set a precedent our planners carefully considered all of the independent professional risk assessments submitted with the application and determined that the proposals were acceptable.”
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