Turbine blows a storm but is it much ado about nothing?

How the turbine could look
How the turbine could look

A farmer’s plans to build a 20-metre high wind turbine to help power his farm are being opposed by a countryside lobbying group, despite assessments playing down the impact of the structure.

John Laming has an eco house with rain harvesters and a ground-source heat pump providing underfloor heating, but wants the 15kw wind turbine to predominantly heat units on his game farm near Chinnor, rather than using expensive propane gas.

But the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England is objecting to the plans for Rowan Farm.

It warns of the noise that will be created, damage to the visual amenity of the area and the potential for more wind turbines to be built in the region if the Henton proposal is approved.

However, a land and visual impact assessment found the turbine could be accommodated without unacceptable landscape or visual effects.

A noise assessment was also carried out on the plans, finding that noise levels generated by the proposed turbine have a ‘negligible impact on the surrounding noise sensitive properties’.

It was also thought that the turbine will preserve ‘the setting, character and appearance of the nearest listed buildings’, which are the grade II listed Old House 577m to the east and the grade II listed Brook House 700m to the south east of the proposed site.

The turbine is also difficult to spot from range in an artist’s impressions of it.

But the lobbying group said: “It’s not just the people of Henton who would be affected by the turbine’s noise.

“Such a tall structure would be visible from Thame, Haddenham and Chinnor and a wide swathe of surrounding countryside including from the Chilterns and the area of outstanding natural beauty.

“Our policy on wind turbines is that while we welcome renewable energy it must not be at the expense of the countryside or its residents, and any wind turbine should be located appropriately.”

Mr Laming says the turbine will not be visible from Thame and that it will only emit a low level noise.

Michael Tyce, chair of the Thame district branch of the group said: “Oxfordshire, being inland and undulating, lacks the constant prevailing winds to make turbines a viable energy-generating option.

“However, even though electricity production would not be significant, it may still be profitable to the developer through subsidies we have to pay through our electricity bills.

“If this is approved it would be likely to lead to a rash of applications to erect turbines in this part of the county, given the financial incentives involved.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the application can visit www.southoxon.gov.uk/ccm/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P12/S2041/FUL

What do you make of the plans? Email thamegazette@jpress.co.uk