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Sedgmoor District Council - Reasons for Rejection

On 8 August 2013, Sedgemoor Distric Council Refused the application on the following grounds:

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 to and from Brent Knoll. A defining characteristic of this part of the Somerset Levels is their flat and level nature; the verticality 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. The local planning authority is of the opinion that the visual harm that would occur to the landscape would not be outweighed by the benefits that the development would bring in terms of tackling climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Accordingly the development is deemed to be contrary to central government policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, particularly paragraph 114 and Policy D4 and D14 of the Sedgemoor District Core Strategy.

The application site is situated between internationally designated sites at the Severn Estuary and the Somerset Levels and Moors. The application site is situated within the broad flight path for birds moving between these two sites.  Based on the level of information received, the local planning authority is unable to conclude that there will not be a significant effect on bird populations cited on the Severn Estuary and/or the Somerset Levels and Moors Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar Sites (in accordance with the Habitat Regulations) thus it is uncertain whether the proposed development will undermine the integrity of these European sites. The recommendation of the 'Test of Likely Significance' under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 carried out and agreed with Natural England was '… that nocturnal surveys, including by use of a radar study, be undertaken and definition of which species were the subject of VP observation, so that effects can be determined with more certainty and provide appropriate operational monitoring and mitigation for the application site so that a Habitats Regulations Assessment can be carried out fully. The application is contrary to Policy D4 and D14 of the Sedgemoor District Core Strategy as well as central government policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework – which is clear that there is no presumption in favour of sustainable development where development requiring appropriate assessment under the Birds or Habitats Directive is being considered.