VILLAGERS and campaigners are celebrating after councillors threw out a controversial plan to build a 70 metre wind mast in the York green belt near Copmanthorpe.

A packed public gallery in the council chamber at the Guildhall erupted into cheers and loud applause this afternoon as a planning sub-committee rejected the plan by Banks Renewables, which hoped to use the mast to collect data to support a wind farm application on the site.

The company will now study the refusal reasons before deciding whether to appeal.

Graham Auton, vice-chairman of the Copmanthorpe Wind Farm Action Group, said: “We are absolutely delighted common sense has prevailed against the machinery of big business."

He pledged it would help the council fight the case should the company appeal. In the meeting, he told councillors: “It is all about location, location, location. Unfortunately for the developers, it is more about money, money, money.”

Justin Hancock, of Banks Renewables, who put the company’s case to the meeting, said on leaving: “York is surrounded by a green belt. Is this a new policy, that of no wind farms within the city’s area?”

Phil Dyke, development director for the company said: “We are very disappointed that the City of York Council’s planning committee members have chosen to reject this planning application, especially given the fact that it was recommended for approval by the council’s officers”.

The committee voted eight to one to reject the application on the grounds a wind mast was inappropriate for a green belt and would be detrimental to the area because of its height, design and its effect on the visual amenity of the Copmanthorpe area and the “historical character of York”. Coun Lynn Jefferies voted against the rejection.

Committee chairman Brian Watson, at the request of three local children aged nine to 16, read out their email, saying they wanted the mast because green energy was important for the future and they had a Facebook page with 67 supporters in favour of the mast.

At the end of the meeting, Coun Julie Gunnell criticised the campaigners for heckling their email and other statements in favour of the mast during the meeting.

Council officers arranged an audio feed from the west area planning sub-committee meeting to a committee room so more than 100 members of the public could attend.