Planning permission has been refused on appeal for a cluster of three 100m wind turbines in South Devon.
The inspector concluded that the scale of the turbines would have an unacceptable effect on the local landscape character and views from local roads and footpaths. He also concluded that the development would harm the setting of the listed Church of St Peter at Buckland tout Saints by fundamentally altering the historic skyline. His overall conclusion was that these effects provided a compelling objection to the proposal.
On noise, the inspector concluded that the ETSU-R-97 guidelines were not to be applied inflexibly, as ETSU was only a framework for the measurement of noise which gave indicative noise levels. He also was unconvinced that ETSU dealt fully with amplitude modulation or blade swish as it could arise in the case. The inspector accepted a number of concerns raised about the noise assessment, and concluded that the degree of harm arising from noise had to be taken into account notwithstanding the proposal's compliance with the ETSU guidelines. The inspector concluded that the proposal would significantly increase noise levels at nearby properties, with the sound of the turbines being readily apparent in the countryside setting, so that it would have a marked impact on the local noise environment and on occasions detract from the residential amenity of those living nearby.
As to the benefits, the inspector held that the shortfall against the regional target for renewable energy generation for 2010 was not so great that additional weight should be given to the benefits of the scheme beyond those already inherent in Government policy. The inspector recognised that Government support for renewable energy projects is not unqualified, and that as this proposal did not address its environmental impact satisfactorily it was in conflict with a key principle of PPS22.
Richard Honey appeared for the local residents' association at the inquiry, whose case focussed on local landscape and visual impact, effect on the historic environment, and noise.