Rob Ireland, of Dittisham, writes:

I am writing out of concern about the wave of planning applications for commercial scale wind turbines in the South Hams.

There are three already at various stages in the planning process within 3km of Dartmouth and Dittisham.

It appears that these have been encouraged by confused central government policy and huge financial incentives to both developers and land owners; as a result it is highly likely that there will be more to come.

These are very large structures; the smallest, near Capton, would be over 100ft and the largest at Hemborough Post near the Sportsman's Arms would be well over 300ft – comparable to a 30-storey tower block. They will dominate the landscape for miles.

Another crucial point is that these are not passive architectural structures, but noisy industrial machines which will severely degrade and urbanise our rural environment.

I have to declare an interest here as one of the proposed turbines would be situated a mere 550 metres from my home.

However, I would like to look at the bigger picture. I believe this is a trend which if unrestricted could affect all of us. There needs to be a proper debate on what kind of developments are suitable in this precious rural area, what we want of our landscape and what the priorities as a community should be, otherwise there is every chance that there will be a number of these large structures around Dartmouth and Dittisham.

I would welcome intelligently planned alternative energy developments, if they are placed sensitively – I am not wholly against wind turbines, especially offshore. However, I believe that it is fundamentally inappropriate in this part of the South Hams.

I see three core reasons for this:

l This is a precious rural environment. The unspoilt nature of the landscape is absolutely central for tourism – a mainstay of the local economy – and as such it should be valued and preserved; commercial scale turbines degrade this. If we permit these developments we will lose what makes the place unique and special with absolutely no reward for the community as a whole.

l Too close to habitation. Commercial scale wind turbines create visual disturbance and very significant noise (around 100db at source – comparable with a heavy lorry passing at short distance) and this makes them extremely difficult to live with. As a result, in Scotland a minimum distance of 2km between habitation and a turbine has been imposed, which I regard as very sensible.

The turbines I refer to in our area are as close as 500m from houses and will have a massive impact on the home owners. In essence, despite being rural, the South Hams is too heavily populated for these developments not to have real negative impacts on significant numbers of people.

l Threat to wildlife. The South Hams is rich in wildlife, some of which is rare. Wind turbines interfere particularly with birds and bats. For example, there are colonies of greater horseshoe bats, which are strictly protected under European law, at Bruckton and Old Mill water treatment works. There is also a winter hibernation site in the tunnels under BRNC and their flyway and feeding grounds are within 100m of one of the proposed turbines at Downton Park Farm. A further example is the noctule bat which flies at turbine blade height and is regarded by Natural England as being at high risk from turbines.

I urge you to think about the repercussions, how these types of development will affect not just you but the community and business as a whole.

If you feel as strongly as I do, you can keep up to date by visiting the planning section on the South Hams Council website.

It is also simple to object to them as they go into the planning process by writing to or emailing the planning department.