Jubilation as turbine plans are abandoned
Plans for two large "community" wind turbines in the picturesque South Hams have been abandoned, developers say.
The controversial application for two 100m (325ft) high turbines near Luscombe Cross outside Totnes was turned down by planners in February.
Now, Infinergy, the commercial partner of applicants the Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC), has ruled out an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
Infinergy's managing director Esbjorn Wilmar said a revised plan for a single turbine had been considered, but it was felt this would also be "unlikely" to get consent from the district council.
"Given the resources of the local opposition groups we expect any appeal to be comprehensive in scope and likely to be determined at an inquiry," he added.
"An appeal would introduce additional costs which are difficult to determine and that we simply cannot accommodate in our development budget."
The company spent six months assessing the cost and risk of appealing the decision as well as conducting a feasibility study for a single, 77m turbine on the furthest spot of the two locations in relation to Harberton Church.
The Tresoc board and the "overwhelming majority" of its members wanted to appeal or scale down plans for the Totnes Community Wind Farm but Infinergy's investment committee concluded that the commercial risk was too high.
Ian Bright, Tresoc managing director, said he "regretted" but "understood" the decision. "Local residents, both for and against, have learnt a lot about the realities of wind power through following this application," he added.
Tresoc now plans to focus on development of other community-owned renewable energy projects in biomass, tidal, hydro and solar power.
South Hams District Council voted 16 to 3 against the turbines because of the "sustained and unacceptable harm to the landscape" and concerns over the visual impact and effects on the historic environment. The proposals divided the community of Totnes with many supporters on one side backing a 4.6MW scheme to power 2,097 homes, while many others protested it would be a blot on the landscape.
An objection was raised by English Heritage because of its perceived impact on the nearby Luscombe Cross monument and the Grade I-listed parish church of St Andrew at Harberton.
Opponents, the Harbourne Community Action Group, said "good sense" had prevailed. "This never was a community-led or community-supported project, although it had been dressed up as such by a professional PR machine from a multinational corporation," it added in a statement. "The residents of Harberton and Harbertonford were overwhelmingly opposed to it – 90% of the total letters received by South Hams District Council from the villages affected expressed objections.
"We, the real community, objected strongly to this inappropriate proposal, which would have been so damaging to neighbouring families, the landscape, our heritage and the wildlife."