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Delight as wind farm bid ended

Anti-windfarm campaigners reacted jubilantly to the end of a plan to build 15 100-metre tall wind turbines on the ridge between Boxworth and Elsworth.

Planning inspector Andrew Pykett, who held a three-week public inquiry into the proposal in October and November, has rejected an appeal by an energy company against refusal of planning consent for the development.

Dr Pykett said the windfarm would dominate the character of an area “of quintessentially English lowland landscape in composition, scale and appearance” to the extent that much of its existing quality would be overwhelmed.

He was also concerned that, even in the absence of evidence that the windfarm would distract drivers on the A14, the Highways Agency had been concerned enough to object to the proposal.

Mike Barnard, of Stop Cambridge Wind Farm Action Group, said: “It is a nice early Christmas present.”

However, the group will meet to ensure it is ready to deal with a smaller scheme if one is proposed.

At South Cambridgeshire District Council, where planners unanimously turned down the plan in April last year, planning committee chairman Councillor Nick Wright, who lives in Conington, said: “I am delighted that our decision has been upheld. We carefully considered the original application before refusing it, for reasons including those highlighted by the inspector.

“This was an inappropriate site that was too close to both villages. SCDC supports renewable energy, but planning decisions must always be considered in the context of our local planning policies.”

Your Energy Limited, the appellants, had argued at the inquiry that provision of renewable energy sources in the east of England had already fallen way behind the Government’s 2010 target. It said it was seeking a temporary – 25 years – concession for the installation.

But Dr Pykett said such “temporary” consents were usually followed by applications to replace turbines with more modern ones rather than pull them down.

He was concerned the A14 required more rigorous concentration from drivers than less congested roads.

“There is very little margin for driver error on the A14 in its current condition,” he said.

He noted that there were 145 listed dwellings, eight listed churches, five listed pubs and a listed windmill, all within three kilometres of the proposed site.

He was particularly concerned about the Grade I Holy Trinity Church, in Elsworth.

Mr Barnard said the report would be invaluable in opposing a smaller wind farm if a new proposal were to be put forward.

“The A14 argument would remain, and it would apply just as much to a smaller scheme of, say, five or 10 turbines.