The government’s Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has rejected controversial plans for the proposed Pilrow wind farm near Burnham-On-Sea this week.

Broadview Energy wanted to build four 130-metre tall wind turbines on land at Pilrow Farm in Rooksbridge.

But on Friday (August 1st) Broadview’s appeal against Sedgemoor District Council and the Planning Inspectorate’s decisions to refuse the scheme was dismised by Eric Pickles.

The Secretary Of State says the wind turbines would cause substantial harm to the landscape and that this outweighs the need for renewable energy.

David James from the NoPilrow group which has fought a long campaign against the plans, told “I believe I speak for the majority of residents of East Brent and Rooksbridge and all the surrounding parishes when I say I am overjoyed at this decision.”

“NoPilrow has campaigned for three long years against this wind farm. We have always sought to protect the unique landscape of the Somerset Levels dominated by the iconic Brent Knoll with its associated Iron Age Hill Fort from the adverse impact of the industrial scale wind turbines.”

“This democratic decision is the culmination of a vigorous, exhaustive and comprehensive planning system. All parish councils, Sedgemoor District Council, Mr Paul Jackson (the Inspector who conducted the public Inquiry) and now the Rt Hon Eric Pickles, Secretary of State, have all said no.”

David added: “Broadview Energy claims on its website that it prides itself on undertaking a thorough, open and transparent approach to community engagement as it is important to work closely with all interested parties likely to be affected by the development of a wind farm. It is to be hoped that Broadview remembers this ideal and respects the decision when considering their response and not seek a judicial review or as is more likely submit an amended planning application, a few months down the road.”

Broadview Energy says it is considering whether it will challenge this week’s decision. The firm’s Tom Cosgrove, pictured right, said: “We are naturaly disappointed by this decision because when you invest a lot of time and money into a project which you believe to be good and has a reasonable chance of success then it is disappointing when it doesn’t work out as anticipated.”

“We did believe that it was a good site and location for a wind farm of the size we’d proposed so we were pretty confident we would get a positive recommendation and a positive decision but it didn’t work out that way.”

He added: “We do have the abiity to challenge the decision on a point of law, so if we thought the decision wasn’t made lawfully then we could take it to the High Court but I haven’t reviewed the decision thoroughly yet. We will be doing so over the coming fortnight and will make a decision on the basis of what’s contained in the decision.”

“I think it is unlikely that we would challenge. Seeing as the Planning Inspector has recommended refusal on the basis of landscape impact I think it is going to be difficult for us to take the project further.”

Burnham’s MP, Tessa Munt, welcomed the anouncement, telling “I’m delighted for local residents that this scheme, which was opposed all along, has been dismissed. The plans for these turbines meant they would have been located inappropriately in an area of high landscape value. These structures would have dominated our rural part of Somerset and the historic Brent Knoll.”

Councillor Bob Filmer, Chairman of Sedgemoor District Council’s Development
Committee, also welcomed the news.

He told “This is really excellent news that the Pilrow Windfarm appeal has been dismissed by both the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State.”

“Both fully endorsed Sedgemoor District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission because of the significant detrimental impact that it would have had on the landscape character, visual impact and the setting of Brent Knoll.”

“It shows that localism works; where you have a solid and robust Local Plan, inappropriate development can be refused and the Inspectors and Secretary of State will support locally accountable councillors.”

And local Conservative parliamentary candidate James Heappey said: “This is great news for the hundreds of local people who have been campaigning so hard to stop this wind farm from being built. It would have been awful to have those enormous turbines ruining the view from and to Brent Knoll and as the first thing that people would see when entering Somerset on the M5 from the north. But it is not just that they are so ugly that so annoys local people; it is that they are unreliable too.”

“I am hoping that the recent rejections by Eric Pickles of turbines at Huntspill, Rooksbridge and up on the Mendips will be the end for onshore wind applications in this area and that, instead, we can get on with harnessing the completely reliable and predictable power of the tides in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel.”

The full judgement from the government can be accessed online here.

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