Wind turbine applications ‘up 500 per cent’ in Torridge

A silhouette of a Fullabrook turbine looking out towards the Bristol Channel.

A silhouette of a Fullabrook turbine looking out towards the Bristol Channel. - Credit: Archant

Report states North Devon and Torridge District Councils have received twice as many applications for turbines as any other authority in Devon.

A REPORT received by Torridge District Council has show the region has had a 500 per cent increase in wind turbine applications since 2010.

Torridge’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard North Devon and Torridge have received at least twice as many applications as any other authority in Devon.

In 2010/11, the council decided on six turbine applications, compared to 28 in 2012/13.

So far seven applications have been decided on in this financial year, with another 29 still pending a decision.

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Councillor Brian Redwood, chairman of the committee, said: “We know that the council has tried to balance the commercial and environmental needs for these turbine applications.

“At times we have vigorously resisted some where the effect of an installation was felt to be detrimental to the local landscape or neighbouring properties.

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“But the simple facts are startling: of the 10 applications refused permission last year, nine were appealed to the planning inspectorate and six of the seven, a whopping 90 per cent decided so far, have been overturned and approved.

“On only one occasion has the council’s decision to refuse been supported.

“I do not want residents to give up objecting to these planning applications where they feel genuinely affected, but it appears the inspectorate is giving very little weight to them.”

In 2012/2013, the council spent around £38,000 on specialist reports and fees to defend a decision to refuse permission for one application, only to have the decision overturned at appeal.

Cllr Redwood added he felt the council’s definition of ‘adverse’ and ‘cumulative’ was different from the planning inspectorate’s.

“Sadly there would appear to be only limited grounds on which the Council can refuse applications of this nature and it would appear public opinion is in itself not sufficient reason,” he said.

Councillor Philip Collins, leader of Torridge, said it was ‘extremely frustrating’ from the council’s point of view.

He said: “We’re between a rock and a hard place in our attempts to reconcile local feeling and central government’s support for such developments with their new energy bill.

“Planning decisions can only be made on planning grounds but even these are open to interpretation.

“In one recent case the council’s assertion that the development would have an adverse effect on neighbouring properties was found to be ‘indefensible’ by the independent planning inspectorate who ruled on the appeal.”

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