ANTI wind farm campaigners have attacked a planning inspector’s report which allows nine giant wind turbines to be built on Bridlington’s coastline.
But opponents to the plans appear to have lost their battle to stop the 425ft high wind turbines being built close to the cliff top at Fraisthorpe after planning inspector Ken Barton rejected hundreds of objections from residents, parish and county councils, and Bridlington’s MP.
At a public inquiry into the plans held at Bridlington Town Hall in November, Bridlington’s most famous resident David Hockney, whose record breaking recent Royal Academy exhibition celebrates the local landscape, wrote to say that the turbines “would deface the landscape and the seafront of Bridlington Bay”.
South Cliff resident John Elsom, who spoke at the inquiry and has opposed the plans for almost two years, said: “I am devastated that the inspector has given so little room in his report to the considerable opposition that had grown in Bridlington.”
Mr Elsom said that Mr Barton’s report had simply glossed over important concerns - such as the negative effect he believes the turbines will have on tourism.
“There were objections from 360 households, parish and town councils, East Riding council, the majority of villagers in Fraisthorpe, our local MP and of course David Hockney, whose work is responsible for bringing numerous visitors,” continued Mr Elsom.
“These turbines will spoil the view of Bridlington Bay for the enjoyment of our residents and visitors. The inspector made an ommission in his report by not explaining just how tall these turbines will look.”
East Wolds and Coastal ward coun Jane Evison said: “I am absolutely incensed by the decision. I just cannot believe it.
“Whatever argument we have to protect tourism in Bridlington, and the Wolds landscape, would appear to now be useless. We have been ignored.”
Bridlington north ward coun John Wilkinson, chairman of East Riding council’s environment and renovation overview and scrutiny committee, said: “In ignoring the overwhelming volume of objections from everyone other than the landowner, the inspector must have had his mind made up before the inquiry began which means that the whole exercise was a pointless waste of everyone’s time.
“I am afraid that this is an indication of the wholesale erosion of democracy in this country when our leaders pretend to have consultation with the public and then do as they wish.”
Anti wind farm campaigner David Hinde, from Bempton, criticised a “crass” report, which “gave no thought” to the people living only half-a-mile from the site, local residents, or the area’s many visitors. He also criticised Bridlington MP Greg Knight - who himself is a vocal opponent of wind farms in East Yorkshire - for not attending the inquiry in person.
Mr Knight claimed he was “bitterly disappointed by the appalling decision” but rejected Mr Hinde’s criticism, saying he gave written evidence to the inquiry and that there was no reason to think that oral evidence was more valid.
He continued: “I think the inspector is misdirected. All the evidence and public opinion points to the appeal being rejected. I think people in Bridlington have a right to be angry as the wrong decision has been made.”
Bridlington Town Council, Carnaby, and Barmston and Fraisthorpe parish councils rejected the plans, MP Greg Knight, and a majority of local villagers.
The November inquiry was held after East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee took longer than the statutory eight-week period to make a decision on the plans, however their planning committee later unanimously refused the proposal.
Maureen Bell, secretary of Bridlington Civic Society, said that she felt “very unhappy and depressed” about the decision.
In the report Mr Barton accepted that the turbines would cause “substantial harm” in the immediate vicinity and “slightly harm” some wider views, but he claimed it would not dominate the wider landscape.
He added: “Some local residents, but not the council, have expressed concerns that the proposal would adversely affect tourism in the area.
“However there is little evidence from other parts of the country that wind farms in areas with at least local landscape designations have led to an adverse impact on tourism.”
Last year, High Court Judge Mrs Justice Lang upheld a decision to refuse an application to build four turbines near Great Yarmouth ruling that the coalition Government’s renewable energy targets did not outweigh the value of the beauty of the countryside.
But Mr Barton said in his report: “Notwithstanding comments by Mrs Justice Lang, I conclude the benefits, would in this case, outweigh any adverse impacts.”
Campaigners also say they are worried about the cumulative visual impact of the turbines when seen in conjunction with turbines already at Lissett and others planned for close by.
Nobody at TCI renewables, the development company who submitted the plans, was available for comment.