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Dartmouth Councillors set to visit site of planned turbine for blackawton

SOUTH Hams councillors are to visit the site of a controversial 112ft wind turbine planned on a 50-acre farm at Blackawton.
About 50 objectors to the scheme at Newlands Farm crowded into Wednesday’s meeting of the district’s development management committee at Follaton House that was being recommended to approve the scheme.
Councillors took just five minutes to support a proposal from chairman Cllr Robert Steer to look at the site before coming to a decision.
Afterwards Brian Perks, on behalf of the objectors, said it was ‘a sensible decision’.
‘It is a special site and many members have not had the opportunity to look at the beautiful environment we live in,’ he said. ‘A lot of information was posted on the website this morning which we have not had the chance to look at in detail.’
The application – believed to be one of five proposals for wind turbines within a two-mile radius in the South Hams countryside – attracted about 70 letters of objection to the council.
The 50kW installation would provide around £17,220 worth of electricity per annum for poultry farmer Roy Rowden, councillors were told in a report to the committee.
But protesters fear it will be an eyesore in the countryside and residents in the nearby hamlet of Capton have expressed concerns over noise and shadow flicker.
There are also concerns about bats and that the wind turbine will harm the area’s tourism industry.
But an planning officer’s report to the meeting said the proposal would not significantly damage the landscape or be unneighbourly and would offer benefits in terms of renewable energy and improve the economic performance of the farm.
The three-blade hub with a small hut on grade three agricultural land would be situated in an Area of Great Landscape Value and be just over a mile from the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It is the latest in a series of proposals for wind turbines that have sprung up across the South Hams countryside causing concern in many communities.
A design and access statement presented to the meeting said the electricity produced would offset the farm’s electrical consumption – costing about £10,250 per year – with any surplus being fed back into the local distribution network.
Nearby Dittisham Parish Council raised objections to the plan, focussing upon landscape character and residential amenity, and Dartmouth Town Council recommended refusal on the grounds of visual intrusion.
But South Hams Council’s landscape officer found ‘a wind turbine of the proposed size would have a moderate affect and therefore would not result in a significantly harmful and adverse impact on the overall landscape character’.
From distant view points beyond a mile, the proposal would also have limited overall impact on skylines where the backdrop ridges rise above 600ft, the committee was told.
However, conditions attached to the recommended approval would see noise limitations to protect neighbouring properties, alongside a cut in speed of the wind turbine as a precaution to protect high-risk bat species, with a monitoring strategy.
Neither the Ministry of Defence nor Civil Aviation Authority raised objection to the ‘small scale’ wind turbine and suggested there would be little impact upon displays at Dartmouth’s annual regatta.
Councillors are set to visit the site on Monday, February 10.
Cllr Paul Coulson said there should be a cut-off time for accepting supporting information on applications.
‘We received a great deal of material at a late stage in the process which many people have not had the chance to assimilate and assess,’ he said.
‘We need to allow for proper public consideration and we are putting decisions at risk if we accept late material.’

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