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£4m wind turbine backers to appeal

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

protest:   Wind farm protesters and champions at Follaton House, Totnes

protest: Wind farm protesters and champions at Follaton House, Totnes

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THE backers of a £4million South Devon wind turbine project which was rejected for causing 'sustained and unacceptable harm to the landscape' are planning to appeal.

The two 100-metre tall turbines planned for Luscombe Cross near Totnes were deemed too overbearing on the South Devon countryside for members of the South Hams Council's planning committee.

Totnes Renewable Energy Society and its commercial partner, the Dorset-based wind energy company Infinergy, which is behind the project, say they want to 'make local ownership of renewables a reality'.

Following the planning rejection, they are now considering appealing against the decision to allow the 4.6MW turbines, which are enough to power some 2,100 homes.

Project manager Matt Russell, from Infinergy, said: "This was a unique opportunity to work towards delivering renewable energy targets in the south west.

"We will consider our options including appeal."

Company communications manager Marlies Koutstaal added: "This project was very small compared to some of our other projects with around 50 wind turbines. Some people in Devon are just scared of change."

The scheme was turned down by 16 votes to three.

The project has divided the wider Totnes community in a battle which has lasted more than two years.

More than 300 letters of objections were sent to the local authority raising concerns over the visual impact on the landscape.

A group of local residents even hired a helicopter to show councillors and officers how high the turbines would be if approved.

Several hundred people were in favour of the project and also attended the heated council debate last week.

Ginny Davidson, who opposed the turbines, said: "Common sense has won. The wind industry has to be more responsible in its choice of locations.

"It's not in the public interest to place large turbines too close to people's homes.

"This is not and never has been a community-led project."

Dennis Smith, one of the lead objectors to the scheme, claimed: "The decision is one that reflects the real majority, more than 90 per cent of residents were against this.

"It's not and never has been the best, or only site, for wind turbines in the South Hams. It's just the only one TRESOC have.

"Ruining other people's lives is not a price that needs to be paid and large turbines are not the only option.

"Please remember this is a very rich industry we are up against, it's worth more than £1.4billion a year in revenue."

Mr Smith said the South Hams was already actively pursuing renewables for the region and was on target.

He said: "It makes so much more sense to be looking towards the reduction of consumption, to use local products which encourages the economy and invest in schemes that do not harm your neighbours."

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