Work starts on 112ft farm turbine ahead of planning consent.

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WORK has started on a controversial wind turbine development near Chulmleigh before being given the go-ahead by council planners.

The application for a 35-metre generator at Mounticombe Farm is not set to be determined by North Devon Council’s planning committee until November 7.

But in a move that has angered some local residents, preparatory work has already been carried out at the organic family-owned dairy farm.

Keith Marriott, who lives in Chawleigh, told the Gazette that foundations and a concrete access track had been laid in the last couple of weeks.

“It feels as though they are flouting the whole democratic planning process and by doing so they are treating the parish council and neighbours with a high degree of distain,” he said.

“Parish councils at Lapford, Chawleigh and Chulmleigh represent some 3,000 residents and all have recommended refusal. I understand there are around 150 written objections to this proposal.”

John Wetherill, from Chulmleigh, said he would be able to see the turbine from his home at the top of the village.

“You don’t do this kind of work without a good reason,” he said. “It’s wrong that people ride roughshod over public opinion.”

Julia Newbould, who lives at Cheldon Barton, around a mile from the proposed development, said: “It’s totally against planning rules as I understand it. Most people are very upset at the thought of it and that it is going ahead without planning permission.

“My fear is that they have been told it’s going to get the go-ahead, but other applications within yards of this one have been turned down previously because they were considered to be completely inappropriate.

“It just seems completely wrong; the turbine is the size of a 10-storey building – 112ft – it can’t be right. It will stick out like a sore thumb.

“The hand of man is almost non-existent here in terms of buildings. The countryside is very pretty with lovely rolling hills.

“It will look dreadful and so will all the others that follow; there are a lot of planning applications waiting in the wings if this one succeeds.”

A spokesperson for North Devon Council said: “The applicants are aware that the work that they have carried out is at their own risk.

“Should the planning application fail, enforcement action will be considered to remove the unauthorised works.”

A similar planning application was submitted to Mid Devon Council by the same applicant in October 2011 but was withdrawn after a large number of local objections were raised.

The latest proposal falls on North Devon’s side of the fence and according to the agent acting on behalf of the applicant, is in a ‘less visually intrusive location’.

A supporting statement submitted to planners on their behalf said that the proposed development would produce ‘significant economic, environmental and social benefits’.

It added: “The proposed wind turbine is robust, quiet and safe in design. It will contribute towards renewable energy generation and make an important contribution to the sustainability of the farming enterprise operated by the applicants at Mounticombe Farm.”

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