A controversial bid to build five wind turbines on the outskirts of Burnham-On-Sea was unanimously thrown out by district planners on Tuesday morning (August 8th).

Sedgemoor District Council’s Development Control Committee decided not to allow Ecotricity to use the Inner Farm site to build its proposed wind farm – much to the delight of protesters fighting the plans (above).

How the wind farm would look next to the railway line [Photomontage: Ecotricity]Councillors threw out the application after considering the overall case and hearing from local groups.

At the meeting, members of FORCE (Families for Clean Energy) spoke out in favour of the development, while opposing organisation KNOll to Wind Farm outlined why it believed the scheme would not be in the best interests of the area.

After the decision, Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun outlined the three key reasons for refusal. These were as follows:

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 ural 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.

The applicants, Ecotricity, have six months if they wish to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

KNOll to Windfarm ‘delighted’ with the decision…

Spokesman Andrew Manning told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “This is a triumph for local democracy, common sense, and the application of planning policy.

“It has been clear to us for some time that under the criteria set out by Central Government under PPS22 the proposed location for this wind farm was inappropriate because the environmental, economic and social amenity implications would be so significant. The application also was contrary to a signficant number of local planning policies.”

“This view has been shared by the three local Parish Councils consulted, by over 90% of respondents to the application, by the Council’s officers, and now, unanimously, by the Councillors themselves.”

“Whilst it appears that Ecotricity, the proposed developer, may appeal against this decision, we trust that, if this is the case, the appointed Planning Inspector will consider this particularly site on its own merits – or clear lack of merits as we understand Government policy intends.”

“As KNOll to Windfarm has stressed all along, after all, this is a debate about the suitability of this particular location, not about global warming, the Government’s energy policy, forms of renewable energy, or nuclear power.”

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