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South Hams turbine bid winds up neighbours

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 15, 2012

ENVIRONMENT Oil 1
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LANDOWNERS and residents in a quiet corner of the South Hams remain angry after the local district council failed to make a decision on a proposal which could see a 46-metre wind turbine erected near their homes.

The proposed 50kW turbine, which is enough to power 35 homes, could be built at Foales Leigh Farm near Harberton, Totnes, but members of the South Hams District Council's planning committee decided to postpone taking a decision and voted for a full site visit.

About 40 opponents to the scheme crammed into the council chamber at Follaton House hoping to see the matter resolved.

Objectors say the turbine would tower over the landscape, would be situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, would generate high levels of noise and shadow and would have a detrimental impact on tourism.

The project had generated 79 objections and two supporters, including the National Farmers' Union which said farmers had to try to diversify their activities to make a living.

The turbine, which is 46-metres high from base to the tip of the propeller, is being proposed by Glasgow-based TGC Renewables on behalf of farmer Ted Chudley.

It is understood the turbine, if approved, would be plugged into the national grid and could generate an income of £30,000 annually to the landowner.

Opponent Dennis Smith, who attended the planning meeting, said: "It would set a dangerous precedent. If they let one be built it will lead to another, then another, then another."

Tom Frost, whose Mill Cottage home is 320 metres away from the proposed turbine, said: "It is the scale of the development and where it is that we object to. If it were to power his farm and not so large we would have no problems with it. But it's purely for profit. If it was moved further from the houses it might not be so problematic."

Marcus Taylor, who addressed the committee meeting on behalf of the local residents, added: "We are not objecting to renewable energy. I have a 7kW turbine on my own land. It is the scale of the proposed turbine that we object to.

"If the proposed turbine was smaller we wouldn't be here There would be no problem."

Tim Mourant, from TGC Renewables, told the meeting: "This project has been deemed by planning officers not to be overbearing and upsetting. For the farmer it is a way to diversify his use of the land."

Members of the SHDC planning committee were split over the issue.

Cllr Trevor Pennington said there was no case for global warming and wind turbines were over subsidised and inefficient. He said: "This will be 138ft high and will have a great impact on an area of great landscape value."

Cllr John Squire added: "What concerns me is that we have no policy to deal with wind turbine applications. If we accept this isolated turbine in a very sensitive area we could get a rash of applications for single turbines. That would be very detrimental to the South Hams."

However Cllr Jacqueline Hodgson said: "We have to take the issue of climate change seriously. It is about taking responsibility for the energy we are using."

Fellow Green party councillor, Robert Vint added: "Farmers do have a right to diversify and move away from their oil dependency. It is the farmers who conserve our landscapes and protect the hedgerows. If we don't allow them to find other sources of income they will not be able to conserve our landscape."

Cllr Julian Brazil said that instead of having single turbines dotted around the landscape upsetting local residents, it would be preferable for the district council to find an area least impacted by turbines and allow a wind farm there.

Following a 11/10 split vote, the committee decided on a full site visit before taking a decision on the turbine.

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