DART and Terry Stewart of CPRE had planned to mobilise objectors to demonstrate ahead of the meeting even telling the Echo that there was strong local feeling and expected a good turn out. He was right but not in the way he expected - the strong local feeling was FOR the wind farm and all but one of the demonstrators at the front door were holding Yes placards.

The day before ugly yellow 'No wind turbines here' signs had been glued to roadsigns all around the area, we put up a few small 'Yes' cards on sticks near the Worgret roundabout but the objectors removed them - obviously not happy with others expressing an opinion!

My feeling was there were more supporters in the room than objectors but the BBC later reported an even split.So the meeting was called to order by Chairman Cllr Wharf who outlined the procedures and ably kept order throughout.

Councilors Goldsack and Ezzard excused themselves on the basis of potential (if tenuous) conflicts of interest although they both spoke as individuals in favour of the proposal.

The Planning Officers report was summerised and it was announced that over 700 letters had been received of which 546 were in favour and just 179 were against. Various consultees including the Chairman of East Stoke Parish Council were then given opportunities to speak.

Then it was time for the public, over 40 people were each given 3 minutes. Lots of good statements on both sides, well mostly the good ones were in support. People from Holme, East Lulworth, Wool and Wareham as well as further afield spoke up. Some residents of East Stoke spoke for the wind farm and some against as did Terry Stewart of Canford Cliffs, on behalf of CPRE.

The issue of the proximity of the Scout camp was raised and time and again we heard how young people were fully aware of the dire need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, a teacher at Bovington reported 90% of his pupils, who live in the area and had studied the Alaska project, were supportive.

Climate change, energy security and the subjective nature of a wind farms appearance were regular topics.

Unfortunately one parish councilor displayed a complete lack of understanding of electricity measurement and based his whole opinion on very incorrect calculations. But for me the most ridiculous quote came from an opponent who described us as "saving the planet to the detriment of others".

Finally, the CEO of Infinergy, Charles Sandham was called to speak.

After a break, the board and other members of the council were allowed to debate despite the odd rant only silenced by the Chairmans threat of turning a microphone off (which received applause from the hall). Cllr.Barnes asked the board to put aside the emotional language and then went on to describe the turbines as monsters, before tabling a proposal to reject the application.

Cllr.Holmes who was not on the planning board then spoke really well in support of the wind farm.

Debate moved onto the planning officers reasons for recommending refusal. After so many people had stood up there and spoken about regarding the turbines as visually attractive, it became clear the officers conclusion that they would have a negative impact on the AONB and landscape was very subjective and unsafe to base a refusal upon.

The potential of noise affecting the scout camp at night however was a more definite concern. Advise was sought as to whether planning conditions could be imposed to limit the noise in sensitive circumstances. This was agreed as being possible and then a couple of councilors expressed opinions that given everything in balance, the project should go ahead as long as there would be no detriment to sleeping scouts.

Another proposal was then tabled and seconded, to approve in principle subject to planning conditions being met regarding night time noise levels and environmental mitigation.

This was voted on and we were on the edge of our seats as 6 hands went up to approve and just 3 to reject.

The room erupted in cheers and applause.

Common sense and morality had battled through.

 

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