PERMISSION has been granted for an 80-metre tall mast to measure wind on the site of a controversial proposed wind farm in Hampshire.

Winchester city councillors have approved the plan by EDF Renewables on farmland near Bullington Cross.

EDF says they need the mast to gather data to allow them to decide the final design of their 14-turbine wind farm proposed for the land near Freefolk Wood.

A planning application on the 14 turbines is due before Winchester planners next March.

Cllr Barry Lipscomb told the planning committee: “I’m surprised this has not come in earlier. I had thought we needed this to consider the turbine application. I learn today the data is only going to be needed for the later design of the turbines. I wonder whether we need to have this until such time as we may have approved the main application?

“If this mast is not needed to provide essential evidence for the turbine application I’m not convinced it should go up.”

He said he had concerns about the low-flying Chinooks that operate at night between Winchester and RAF Odiham. But planning officer David Dimon said the Ministry of Defence had raised no concerns.

Cllr Kim Gottlieb said he was suspicious of EDF: “I think we should be questioning their motives, particularly as they already know this is a windy place. Why are we looking at this now when they have already decided to go ahead and put in an application? What other reason could there be? It sets a precedent with an intrusion into that space.”

Cllr David McLean said: “It is a temporary structure. If it helps resolve that the final design may be I think we should grant this.”

The committee voted by eight votes to two to grant temporary permission for three years.