Planners at Sedgemoor District Council have this week recommended that the controversial application to build five wind turbines on land outside Burnham-On-Sea be rejected.

Burnham-On-Sea.com learns that after reviewing the application from Ecotricity and considering the feedback from scores of organisations who have an interest in the application, the planning department is recommending that the application be turned down when councillors make a final decision on the Brent Knoll scheme on Tuesday, August 8th.

In their report, planners conclude: “The Local Planning Authority has systematically analysed the application in line with national, regional and local planning policy. This report has identified the need to support schemes that contribute to the target for renewable energy production set by government. This need, however, is tempered by the fact that wind turbine proposals should not have a significantly adverse affect on the landscape and its character.”

“Policy PCS5 does seek to encourage alternative sources of renewable energy where this does not cause unacceptable harm to the environment, unless there are overriding reasons of public or national interest. It is not considered that there is currently an overriding national interest for allowing this development in such an unacceptable location.”

How the wind farm would look next to the railway line [Photomontage: Ecotricity]“Brent Knoll is an isolated hill formation rising from the low-lying Levels. To site five wind turbines in the foreground of this topological feature when viewed from publicly accessible viewpoints would destroy the character of the special landscape feature and the setting of the rural village of Brent Knoll, and its Listed Buildings on its lower slopes.”

“As such, the proposal fails to accord with PPS22 Renewable Energy, PPG15 Planning and Historic Environment, Policy 64 of the Somerset and Exmoor National Park Structure Plan, and policies PCS5, HE11, CNE2 and CNE17 of the Sedgemoor District Local Plan.”

The Sedgemoor District Council planning report outlines the four reasons why the application should be rejected:

1. Notwithstanding the significant issue of renewable energy provision and the
potential shortfall in the Somerset County target, the proposal would lead to an
unacceptably adverse impact on the character of the landscape. By virtue of the
location and size of the turbines and their associated blades, the proposal would adversely affect local landscape character when viewed from publicly accessible
vantage points and the wider area. This development proposal, and in particular
the mass, height and design of the turbine structures, does not replace, repair or
otherwise add to the stock of features that create local distinctiveness. The
proposal therefore fails to accord with Planning Policy Statement 22 Renewable
Energy, Policy 64 of the Somerset and Exmoor National Park Joint Structure
Plan, and policies CNE2, CNE17 and criteria (a) of policy PCS5 of the
Sedgemoor District Local Plan.

2. The proposed turbines and their associated blades will have an unacceptable
impact on the amenities of a number of properties and their occupiers within the
rural linear settlement of Brent Knoll and in particular the south west of Brent
Street which are within close proximity to the wind turbines by virtue of the
visual effect when viewed from these properties. As such it would not meet all the
criteria (b) within policy PCS5 of the Sedgemoor District Local Plan.

3. The proposed turbines and their associated blades would be seen in close
juxtaposition with the village of Brent Knoll, the Grade 1 listed Church of St
Michael, and in views from Public Rights of Way in the vicinity. The setting of
this Listed Building, characterised by a rural landscape with groups of trees and
woodlands on the lower slopes of the Knoll surrounding the church tower, would
not be preserved and the proposal is therefore contrary to Planning Policy
Guidance 15 (Planning and The Historic Environment), and Policy HE11 and
Policy PCS5(b) of the Sedgemoor District Local Plan.

4. Inadequate information has been provided to satisfy the Local Planning Authority that a satisfactory access to the site can be gained along Stoddens Lane, and the submitted information is not of sufficient quality and accuracy to enable the Local Planning Authority to make a full assessment of the traffic impact of this proposal.

The decision on whether to follow the recommendation will rest with Sedgemoor’s planning committee on August 8th.

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