Somerset wind farm plans rejected by Secretary of State

View of the proposed wind turbines Image copyright Ecotricity
Image caption The ruling was four wind turbines would have a 'significant adverse impact' on the landscape

Plans to erect a wind farm in Somerset have been thrown out by the Secretary of State in charge of planning.

Ecotricity wanted to erect four wind turbines at West Huntspill.

It was turned down by Sedgemoor district council, but the company appealed to the planning inspector who held an inquiry last year.

The inspector concluded that the turbines should be put up, but Secretary of State Eric Pickles has ruled against that recommendation.

In a statement Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said the decision was "anti-wind posturing" and he was "disappointed that Mr Pickles would ignore all expert advice to reject this proposal".

He said: "We've worked diligently through the entire planning process, passed every test, including a public inquiry - only to have our application refused by a man that knows little about the subject.

"What faith can anyone have in the planning process when this can happen, when the rules are thrown out of the window on a whim?"

Julie Trott, who lives in West Huntspill and is on the Huntspill Wind Farm Action Group, said she was overjoyed: "To have that decision, after such a long hard slog, it's absolutely brilliant."

In a letter from the Department of Communities and Local Government the Secretary of State said that the scheme would have a "significant adverse impact on local landscape character, scenic quality and distinctive landscape features".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ecotricity claimed the turbines would have produced enough electricity for around 6,000 homes

Mr Vince said the decision was short-sighted: "If the recent floods have taught us anything, it is that climate change is real.

"Our government doesn't seem to get that. It hasn't just cut flood defence spending, it's blocking the renewable energy schemes that can help tackle the cause of flooding."

The statement from the Secretary of State said while the scheme "offers a considerable benefit" in meeting the need for renewable energy, "the harm that this scheme would cause to the landscape and visual impact" outweighed the benefits.

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