Planning inspector: ‘Turbine opposition is just a psychological issue’

View of the new wind turbine at Quarrendon fields between Buckingham Park and Berryfields - seen from Oving Road between Whitchurch and Pitchcott
View of the new wind turbine at Quarrendon fields between Buckingham Park and Berryfields - seen from Oving Road between Whitchurch and Pitchcott

District planning officers warned the wind turbine would look unsightly when they refused the proposals two years ago in 2012 – but their fears were ignored by the government planning inspector who oversaw the developer’s appeal.

In a report to councillors at the time, officers said: “The proposed wind turbine given its size and location would be unduly eye catching and dominating to this rural landscape due to the openess and lack of competing structures that exist at present.”

Blades being lifted into place on the new wind turbine at Quarrendon fields between Buckingham Park and Berryfields - seen from the Western Link road PNL-141216-125649009

Blades being lifted into place on the new wind turbine at Quarrendon fields between Buckingham Park and Berryfields - seen from the Western Link road PNL-141216-125649009

However, the planning inspector noted the ‘low’ level of objections numbering about 40 which were received over the wind turbine.

In his final report, the planning inspector said it was ‘essentially a psychological issue and people would take less notice’ of the turbine ‘once they have become accustomed to it.’

There were no objections from the Civil Aviation Authority despite concerns over aircraft, and hot air balloons from nearby Watermead were not considered enough of a collision risk to stop the project.

Arnold White Estates was given a three-year window as a caveat with the planning permission, which runs out next year, before they had to reapply.

Though some residents are concerned about noise pollution, it is claimed that when in operation the noise from the sails will be no higher 43 decibels which is around the same level as a quiet conversation.

Robert Norris, head of communications for Renewable UK, said: “Government regulations set a strict limit of 43 decibels when measured from the garden of the nearest house.

“There’s another limit that wind farm developers also have to meet – the sound level is not allowed to be any more than five decibels above background noise.

“You can stand underneath a wind turbine and have a normal conversation without raising your voice.

“We take people to visit wind farms from time to time, and the look of surprise on their face is always the same: “I thought they might be noisy, but they’re not are they!”

However, residents The Bucks Herald spoke to have reacted angrily to the wind turbine.

One angry resident said: “It looks like a rocket silo. It’s like Blackpool Tower, slap bang in the middle of Aylesbury Vale. No words can describe it.”

Others branded it an ‘eyesore’ and a ‘blot on the landscape’.

Another said she had been in tears for ‘practically the whole of last week’ and others hit out at Aylesbury Vale District Council despite its efforts to stop the structure being built.

A spokesman for the council said it is ‘disappointed’ that the Quarrendon Fields wind turbine has been built – despite it throwing out the planning application back in 2010.

A spokesman said: “We are very disappointed with this decision. As the Secretary of State granted permission for this turbine, there is nothing the council can now do to prevent this being erected.

“We believed that it would be unduly eye catching and dominant in the landscape.”

Following an appeal in 2012, the government inspector, working on behalf of the secretary of state, granted permission for the wind turbine but refused the residential development, leaving some with the wrong assumption it would never happen.

It was considered that the contribution of the wind turbine to renewable energy provision was a significant benefit, and the visual impact would not be unduly harmful.