Bodmin turbine put up without approval can stay, inspector rules
Planning inspectors have overturned a council decision to tear down an illegal wind turbine built within sight of a crematorium.
The 500kW structure stands on land at Callywith Farm, Bodmin and, at 252ft (77m), can be seen from the Glynn Valley Crematorium.
Agricultural firm Dingle Brothers built it more than a year ago to feed into the National Grid and in turn generate power to run their businesses.
In March this year Cornwall Council hit the firm with an enforcement notice because it had not received planning permission.
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Graham Dingle, a partner in the business, appealed to government planning inspectors who have kicked out the council's decision.
They are allowing the turbine, which is just over a mile from the crematorium, to remain.
Danny Mageean, co-founder of rural campaign group Cornwall Protect, said the inspector had let down mourners who use the crematorium.
He said: "The decision sends out the message you don't need planning permission to build a wind turbine.
"Nowhere in the inspector's report does he even mention this turbine went up illegally.
"We are not against sustainable energy, but we object to turbines or solar panels sprouting up in spots where they are not appropriate.
"The turbine can clearly be seen from the chapel window while mourners are saying their final goodbyes.
"To be distracted by a large moving object at such a sacred moment is incredibly insensitive."
Planning inspector Graham Dudley said reasons for allowing the turbine to continue operating include "bringing about a long term and sustainable improvement to Cornwall's economic, social and environmental circumstances, without harming future opportunities". He added: "The turbine would be a fairly slender object and would have relatively little physical impact on the surrounding countryside, allowing views of the countryside to remain in front of, between and beyond the turbine.
"The use of the surrounding land would also be little changed. The essential existing rural character of the countryside would be retained."
Mr Dudley acknowledged the turbine was visible from the crematorium but added: "It is a considerable distance away, so it is a relatively small feature on the horizon and there would be no noise impact from it.
"While the turbine blade rotation is visible, this is a relatively tranquil movement and I do not consider that the solemnity of the events at the crematorium would be affected by a turbine so far away."
Graham Dingle said he was pleased with the decision and added: "Since it's been working, that turbine has generated electricity that 21 articulated lorries full of diesel would have done. It's a good, clean way to protect the environment.
"We're not being insensitive to the people who use the crematorium – it can be rather peaceful to see going round."
A spokesman for Cornwall Council described the case as "unusual" and said there were no plans to challenge the decision. He said: "We are naturally disappointed with the outcome of this enforcement appeal.
"The council notes and respects the inspector's findings and will continue to work with developers and all interested parties to ensure planning applications are complete and as far as possible address any possible adverse impacts that may arise."
A spokesman for the crematorium added: "We are disappointed with the outcome of the appeal but respect the inspector's decision."