The planning application No 24/12/00018 by Broadview for a wind farm situated at Pilrow, Rooksbridge has been refused by both East Brent Parish Council and Sedgemoor District Council Planning Department.
The East Brent Parish Council objects to the Planning Application No 24/12/00018 for the following reasons:-
1. Visual Impact.
We believe that the application is contrary to paragraphs 6.40 & 6.57 of the Sedgemoor Landscape Assessment and Countryside Design Summary.
The proposed wind farm, by virtue of its scale and the height and appearance of the proposed turbines, would represent an unacceptable visual intrusion into the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels, particularly in respect of the harm to the views from Brent Knoll, Crooks Peak, Glastonbury Tor, The Polden Hills, the A38 road and the M5 corridor.
A defining characteristic of this part of the Somerset Levels is their flat and level nature; the sheer scale of the proposed turbines will be at odds with this character and will significantly undermine it. The character of the landscape will be significantly undermined and harmed in a location which constitutes a key gateway to Somerset. This adverse landscape impact cannot be mitigated against with additional landscaping or other measures such as the colour of the turbines.
This is not an area of countryside designated for its scenic or landscape quality, and is not a National Park or an AONB, this area is also outside of statutory designated areas, but it is, nevertheless, still worthy of protection.
Three previous planning applications for wind farms, by various companies, have been rejected by SDC - amongst other things the main objection being the visual aspect, these turbines proposed by Broadview are, at 130M, taller than any previous applications.
Because the geographical location of the Pilrow site is between the Severn Estuary and the protected areas of the Somerset Levels it is likely that there are ‘flyways’ between the two areas. Policy D4 quotes ‘large scale renewable energy projects in flight lines of birds moving from estuary inland are a ‘Likely Significant Effect’
Core Strategy Habitat Regulations Assessment Vol1. For the Somerset Levels & Moors & Severn Estuary para 2.6 states that Wind Turbines are a ‘Significant Issue’ if in flyways.
Policy D15 - Bats in the Landscape. This calls up map 2 - Bat Risk Zoning in Sedgemoor, this map indicates that the Pilrow site is in an area where ‘Wind Turbines Should Not Be Situated’.
The effect and location of such a development will necessarily impact greatly on the villages of Rooksbridge and East Brent, with some homes less than 1Km from the nearest turbine. It is believed that these homes would fail the ‘Lavender Test’. It is also felt that both villages, to some degree or other, might be affected by noise or ‘shadow flicker’.
The Broadview report says that 2016 homes within the vicinity might lose their TV signal from the current Mendip transmitter and may have to re-tune to another, thereby losing any local news and programmes.
In the reply to Broadview’s scoping document, SDC requested a strategy regarding ‘amplitude modulation’, there appears to be no mention of this in the application.
4. Other Considerations.
We are concerned that with all the costs of the project, there will be very little financial benefit to the local community - the only direct benefit being, perhaps, the use of local stone/aggregates.
Broadview make much of the effect that their ‘community fund’ will have on the local community; at the public meeting of the Mark PC, the Broadview Project Manager stated that the community fund, as offered, is voluntary and that as such if they, Broadview, sell the development on, he would hope that any new owners would ‘honour’ the ‘agreement’.
The planning statement as submitted with the application says that it will be the least environmentally damaging option to leave the development foundations in place at the end of the life of the project - this will mean that many thousands of tons of concrete and steel will be left in place, turning the area into a ‘brown field site’.
Broadview’s Project Manager has stated that at the end of the project life, it will not be Broadview’s responsibility to decommission the site but the landowners.
The site for this development is adjacent to the M5 motorway; this particular stretch, between junctions 21 & 22, is notorious for serious accidents and, it is felt, this development would only add to the distractions for the motorist thereby increasing the risk of these accidents occurring more frequently.
There is a public footpath (AX17/24) on the proposed site that will be very close to the planned sighting for turbine T3. There are formal separation distances required, as per Planning Policy Statement No 22, we are concerned that this requirement has not been satisfied.
We are concerned that the weight and manoeuvring of the largest components for this development will cause some damage to the local road infrastructure.
We, the East Brent Parish Council, for all of the above reasons, recommend that planning application be refused.
Broadview have now lodged an appeal against the decision by SDC. The date of this hearing has been scheduled.for 7th January 2014