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Wind farm scheme for Winchester thrown out by planners
10:20am Tuesday 17th June 2014 in News
A PLAN to build a 14-turbine wind farm north of Winchester was thrown out by planners last night.
EDF Energy Renewables wanted to build the two-mile-square wind farm at Bullington Cross, where the A303 and A34 dual carriageways intersect.
Despite a plea by the company for councillors to “do the right thing”, planning chiefs from three local authorities voted by a majority to support officers’ recommendations to refuse the application.
Cllr Thérèse Evans said: “The city council has policies on energy but we also have policies on landscapes and, for me, that is the overriding factor. This is just the wrong site. They are the way forward and we need to reduce our dependence on other fuels. But I don’t think this is the appropriate site.”
The issue divided some councillors with some citing the importance of renewable energy sources.
Cllr Graham Stallard, of Test Valley Borough Council, said: “I’m convinced climate change is real. Renewable energy is part of the solution to climate change and I think we have to support them where we can.”
Supporters said the scheme would act as a boost for the local economy, draw in £5m in additional rates for the county over the 20 years of the project’s duration, as well as £140,000 per year from EDF for community projects.
Ernie Shelton, an EDF consultant, said: “Hampshire will never have another opportunity like this again and I urge you to do the right thing.”
In a rare move members from three planning committees attended the special meeting at Winchester’s Guildhall as the application straddled land overseen by Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley district councils.
Winchester City Council received 1,785 letters supporting the scheme, as well as 1,358 letters of objection and a petition signed by 3,081 people.
A demonstration in favour of the development was held outside prior to the meeting’s start as councillors and public filed into the Bapsy Hall.
Supporter Alan Walker told the meeting: “This is an opportunity to improve the lives of the people who live around the wind farm, to establish Hampshire as a leader in community-led renewable energy.”
But Cllr Stephen Godfrey, who represents Wonston and Micheldever, said a large proportion of the business rates earned from the scheme would go straight back to central government.
Among the main objectors were the Ministry of Defence and the nearby Popham Airfield who said the development would infringe on an important low-level flying training area.
Surveys also found bats living in and around the site of the proposed development, as well as dormice, which have strict legal protection.
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