Plans for a mini wind farm near Wellow have tonight (Monday) been rejected by Isle of Wight Council.
In a meeting at Cowes Yacht Haven, which lasted four hours, Isle of Wight Council’s planning sub-committee ditched Infinergy's proposals for five 100 metre (from base to blade-tip) turbines.
Nine councillors voted in line with a recommendation by planning officers to reject the Vectis Wind Farm, with one in favour of the plans.
The scheme, revised since its first consideration by planning councillors in 2011, prompted more than 2000 third-party comments over two consultations. 836 objections were received and 1274 letters in support of the scheme were sent to the local authority. A 554 signature petition was also handed to Isle of Wight Council following Bestival 2011, in support of turbines.
"Disappointed" but plans to appeal
Project Director for the wind farm developer Infinergy Herb Lindlahr said he was "very disappointed. Clearly democracy did not work....I think [the reasons for objection] are quite weak."
Pledging to appeal the decision, Mr Lindlahr said, "Certainly in the coming weeks we will appeal it...the majority are supportive. They want this. A lot of people think turbines are beautiful".
Speaking on Infinergy's behalf during the meeting, spokesman Nick Kilby urged the sub-committee to "stand up for your own courageous eco-Island vision".
Infinergy had offered homeowners living directly nearby the site a £100 rebate and 10% off their energy bills.
At the meeting, the deputy head of planning at Isle of Wight Council, Phil Salmon told members the turbines would have a ‘domineering impact’ on Wellow Millennium Green.
He added they would also cause ‘significant harm’ to the Isle of Wight’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, who represents people living in the West Wight, voiced his opposition to the plans. He had already told Isle of Wight Radio the plans were ‘wrong’ for the area.
He said he supported renewable energy, pointing to two commercial solar installations that are already providing energy to the national grid, to one more being built and to a fourth in the planning stages, all based in the area.
Cllr Reg Barry was the only member of the committee to support the turbines, telling the meeting that he remembered gas works in Cowes when he was growing up, now defunct and removed. He said "You can't wait for technology to reach a point where you don't need wind energy. It is climate change. Ignore it at your peril."
Wellow resident Ann Hassan-Hicks lives in the cottage nearest to the proposed turbines. She told Isle of Wight Radio, "I am so delighted that everybody has taken this decision....for us and for the whole of Wellow and Thorley. The wind turbines are in the wrong place. I'm just delighted."
Around 170 present
Around 170 people were present at the meeting.
Nine Councillors voted to reject the plans, in line with the planning officer's recommendation.
Among them, Cllr Vanessa Churchman told the meeting that she was "not prepared to vote for something that really upsets local people...Why don't we curtail our dreadful human habits of using energy?"
Cllr Paul Fuller insisted he was a supporter of turbines but said in this case, "localism is what we should be about".
Concerns over noise were rejected, but Councillors felt the visual impact of the turbines on bordering AONB land was too great.
Councillor George Brown, cabinet member for the economy and the environment, said: "The Planning Committee's decision to refuse this application is not a signal of a blanket opposition to onshore wind turbines - it merely highlights that such developments must not impinge on the Island’s most protected areas. This is in line with national planning policies introduced by the last government and continued by their successors.
"On an Island where 50 per cent of the land is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this inevitably presents a challenge for developers but we must balance the benefits of such applications against the need to protect the very countryside that makes us such a popular location. Our role is to preserve and enhance the Island’s natural beauty – if that can go hand in hand with renewable energy projects, all the better. The council has already given permissions for wind turbine schemes which were at the time compatible with this aim.
“It is important to note that there are other applications for wind turbines in the pipeline and these will be judged on their individual merits."