PLANNING Inspector David Lavender has granted planning permission for the erection of a 102m high wind turbine and a temporary wind mast following the three day planning inquiry which was held on 25-7 April.
In his decision letter he said that the main issues were the need for wind energy generation having regard to national and regional targets, the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area, and the implication so for the living conditions of nearby residents in terms of visual intrusion.
He concluded that there is a need for wind energy generation, and in particular gave weight to the shortfall in Somerset against regional and national targets.
He was content that the natural beauty of the landscape both within and outside the Mendip Hills AONB would be suitable conserved. Whilst his findings were qualified, he accepted the Council’s case that the setting of two listed buildings would not be preserved and he did not think that the setting of the Chewton Mendip Conservation Area would be preserved or enhanced by the presence of the turbine.
He did not consider that the living conditions of the occupiers of the two nearest properties would be adversely affected by the visual impact of the hill top siting, height, size, rotation and proximity of the turbine.
In balancing the issues he found that there was conflict with the Council’s policy concerning renewable energy, but reached the view that the need for wind energy is a material consideration of such importance as to warrant a decision other than in accordance with the development plan in this particular case. He granted the permission subject to thirteen conditions, one of which is that the development is limited to a twenty-five year life after which the site should be reinstated to agricultural land.
Mendip Councilllor Bill MacKay who is Chairman of the Energy Use and Climate Change Working Group, said:
" I consider that this is a very disappointing outcome. Though I am fully committed to renewable energy in all its forms, this turbine proposal is, as I told the Inspector, too large and in the wrong place.
"There are other parts of the District where wind turbines could be considered in preference to the valued landscape of the Mendip plateau. But Inspectors appear to be under pressure from the Government to assist in achieving targets, to the detriment of the District Local Development Plan.
"Once again, Central Government demonstrates its determination to control Local Government.”
Press release issued: May 22 2006