'A VICTORY for common sense and local democracy' — that was the description of a planning inquiry decision that ruled against building three wind turbines within striking distance of Dartmoor. Opponents, who have fought the scheme to build the 81m turbines for the last 18 months, were in jubilant mood following the announcement last Thursday. Inspector Keith Smith dismissed an appeal by developers West Coast Energy following a public inquiry held in Okehampton in June. Ray Quirke, chairman of opposition group ODAT, said: 'We are overjoyed and extremely relieved at the news. These turbines would have blighted our lives. 'There is no doubt that without the support and goodwill of so many people, this scheme could have been bulldozed through. 'I would like to thank all concerned for the wonderful support and goodwill offered.' Jonathan Cardale, chief executive of Dartmoor Preservation Association, said it was a good day for both Dartmoor and Okehampton. He said: 'The inspector clearly took note of all those who came forward to voice their opposition at the public inquiry.' Mr Cardale said he hoped the decision augured well for the Den Brook wind farm inquiry due to start in Okehampton next week. While acknowledging that the Yelland Farm scheme would contribute — albeit in a small way — towards achieving Devon's targets for renewable energy, the inspector found there would be some effects on tourism and the rural economy, and there would be an 'adverse landscape and visual impact'. Mr Smith said: 'It appeared that local residents, the town council and local entrepreneurs perceived the local economy as "fragile". 'It was argued that the effect of the turbines would be to detract from the setting and character of Okehampton to the extent that this could inhibit inward investment and affect future prospects for residents and local businesses.' Mr Smith said he also heard at the inquiry from a number of operators of local hotels, guesthouses and self-catering establishments, who argued that the impact of the turbines would be such that 'some visitors would be deterred from returning'. But Mr Smith said the developers had referred to a number of studies which revealed that 'the longer term effects on public perception and the popularity of locations for tourist activity were largely unaffected by wind farm developments after a period of "adjustment".' In terms of the effect of turbines on the character and appearance of the area, Mr Smith's report described the proposed structures as a 'discordant feature'. 'I consider they would l Continued on page 3