Criticism at the length of time given for the public to air their views on the wind farm proposal at Carsington Pastures has led many to register their opinions over the plans, which could see four 330ft wind turbines erected a few hundred metres from Carsington and Brassington villages.
Derbyshire Dales District Council has been swamped with letters, with strong comments being put forward on both sides of the debate.
Among the responses received by planning bosses, criticism has been levelled at the district council for the limited time given for comments to be made on the complex and contentious designs.
Carsington resident Adam Summerhayes has been studying the proposals, and wrote a strongly worded letter in our letters pages last week.
Of the many points he made against the wind farm, one was that the consultation period was a fraction of what had been recommended in the industry.
On hearing of the extension he said: “This can only be a good thing, but it still doesn’t represent the time the public should have been given.
“It’s certainly a good move on the planning department’s behalf, and is more than welcome, but we should have been given more time by the applicant.
“According to the wind industry best practice guidelines, we should have been given two years to make our feelings known.”
Paul Wilson, planning services manager for the district council, explained why the deadline was being lengthened. He said: “It is the policy of the district council to engage the communities of the Derbyshire Dales as widely as possible on all planning applications and the proposals for Carsington Pasture are no exception.
“While the statutory period of public consultation on planning applications is 21 days, the district council will accept representations on any application beyond this deadline up to and including the date of determination of proposals.
“At the present time, the district council are not in a position to advise of the timescale for determination since there is a significant amount of work yet to be completed.
“Individuals should therefore continue to submit their representations either through the district council’s website at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk or by writing to The Planning Services Manager, Derbyshire Dales District Council, Town Hall, Bank Road, Matlock, DE45 3NN.”
The council was also criticised for not consulting with nearby communities before the application was received. But Mr Wilson said: “During pre-application discussions with West Coast Energy, the district council advised, on at least two separate occasions, the importance of engaging the local community in a meaningful dialogue in respect of these proposals.
“While there is no statutory requirement for applicants to undertake pre-application consultation, the district council are disappointed that West Coast Energy did not consider it appropriate to do so in this case.”
A spokesman for Severn Trent Water, who own Carsington Reservoir, said: “We have considered the proposal and feel that in terms of our activities on site it does not have a direct effect in terms of visitors or wildlife.
“As a company, we strongly support sustainable energy sources and are even assessing heat exchange and solar power methods at Carsington Water.
“However, we realise that the wind turbine proposals have provoked a big response in the area and without looking at these plans in depth, it would be wrong of us to form any immediate judgement.”
By Gareth Butterfield
14 March 2007
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