MP set to object to every wind farm plan
A Westcountry MP has issued a blanket objection to all new commercial wind farms after a surge in applications pushed parts of the countryside to "tipping point".
Conservative Geoffrey Cox said he will formally oppose each and every new scheme in his Torridge and West Devon constituency after the area became a target for turbine companies.
The pledge comes as French state-owned EDF Energy Renewables announces plans to build the biggest scheme so far in the district – six towers measuring 377ft (115m) from base to blade tip.
The local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claims Torridge council has abandoned any hope of refusing planning permission after losing every appeal it has faced.
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The CPRE calculates there are already 43 approved single turbines locally, 20 schemes in planning and dozens more in the pipeline subject to scoping exercises. CPRE chairman Penny Mills said Devon County Council had identified Torridge as an area of search in 2004. "That doesn't mean we have to obliterate it with as many wind farms as we have got," she added.
"It has turned from an unspoilt rural landscape to a renewable energy landscape so suddenly it is frightening.
"It is a constant battle and all driven by these subsidies – if you took them away they wouldn't be building them."
The latest plans by EDF would see six turbines at Hollow Panson Farm, St Giles on the Heath, east of the A388, between Launceston and Holsworthy.
The company said the two megawatt (MW) turbines could produce up to 12MW of clean energy – enough to power approximately 6,200 homes and save around 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
EDF says the application has been submitted "following thorough onsite surveys and a full public consultation with local residents and stakeholders".
The application has prompted the creation of the Hollow Panson Turbine Opposition Group, which will meet Mr Cox at Ashwater Village Hall on Friday.
The MP last month objected to plans by ecotricity to build an 275ft (84m) turbine at Witherdon Wood, in Ashwater.
Mr Cox said: "There are now so many turbine applications that the whole of our district is affected.
"I believe we have now reached a tipping point.
"I shall be registering a formal planning objection to each and every major commercial wind turbine application in Torridge and West Devon from now on."
A spokesman for Torridge council conceded that a "good number" of appeals had been lost.
He added: "Our planning committee can only make decisions based on planning rules and regulations – once it goes to appeal it is out of our hands."