Published: January 18, 2014
Pilrow wind farm campaigners face nervous wait as appeal finishes

Campaigners fighting proposals to build four 130m-tall wind turbines near Burnham-On-Sea have a nervous wait to see whether the scheme will get the final go-ahead following the end of an appeal hearing on Friday (January 17th).

Views on all sides of the debate have been heard during the course of the ten day appeal by Planning Inspector Paul Jackson.

The hearing has been considering whether Sedgemoor District Council's decision last year to reject Broadview Energy's planned wind farm at Pilrow Farm, near Rooksbridge, should be overturned.

Representatives from Broadview presented evidence during the public inquiry and other parties, including the campaign group NoPilrow and representatives from East Brent Parish Council, also made statements against the scheme.

NoPilrow claims the turbines would "dominate and adversely affect the landscape character of the area - particularly its open rural character."

Among those airing views was Nicola Collins of East Brent whose family has farmed for four generations in the area. She told the appeal that she has "grave concerns" about the plans, asking "why must this unique and amazing site be put at risk?"

Wendy Christian of Yew Tree Nursery expressed "deep concerns" about the impact on local wildlife.

And Simon Tidswell told the appeal he is also concerned about the impact the wind farm would have on the local bird population. "The wind turbines' blades would pose a serious threat," he claimed.

But John Sturman was one of a small number of people who spoke out in favour of the scheme during the appeal. "It's such a shame that nimbyism is hurting the growth of wind farms," he said.

He claimed that Brent Knoll is an "industrially farmed landscape dominated by the motorway" and that the wind farm would have no impact. "In fact, I think the turbines would add interest to what is a flat landscape," he said.

Michael Hare of Rooksbridge, who lives near the site, told the appeal he is concerned that construction of the wind farm would lead to vibration and damage to his property due to heavy goods vehicles accessing the site.

Locals Nigel Lloyd Jones and David Maund also spoke out against the plans, citing traffic safety concerns.

The public inquiry began on January 8th and finished on Friday 17th. The planning inspector also carried out a site visit to see the proposed wind farm location for himself.

The Planning Inspectorate aims to give a decision within 26 weeks of the appeal. However, because the Secretrary of State has called this in, it will be his ultimate decision later in the year.

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