Power giant E.ON UK has pulled its controversial plans to build a windfarm on the moors above Denshaw ““ but Saddleworth residents have been warned not to start celebrating too soon.
The energy company made its shock announcement on Friday, but was quick to warn that it could be back with an alternative scheme.
Nevertheless, it is a good result for local campaigners, and will buy them more time to raise funds to fight any future proposals.
The plan that has been pulled ““ for seven 106m tall turbines, along with associated access roads and equipment cabins ““ had already been refused by Oldham Council, but E.ON had appealed to the planning inspectorate to reverse the decision and an inquiry was to be held in June.
E.ON then asked for the hearing to be postponed so it could explore the possibility of burying power lines to reduce the environmental impact of the wind farm, which had already been scaled down to five 106m tall wind turbines and one 101m tall turbine after widespread public opposition.
It was after that request for an adjournment was refused that the firm announced it was withdrawing its appeal.
Matt Pinfield, E.ON UK’s project developer, said: “We’re extremely disappointed that the planning inspectorate turned down our request to postpone the public inquiry which would have meant they could have looked at our plans to put the power cables underground.
“We still believe Denshaw is an excellent place for a wind farm and that the changes we made to the design ““ removing one turbine, reducing the height of another and taking the more expensive option of undergrounding power lines ““ made it a very attractive scheme.
“We certainly haven’t given up hope of getting this project approved and of it being able to make a difference in the fight against climate change.”
David Makin, chairman of Saddleworth Moors Action Group (SMAG), said he believed an alternative plan with one less turbine was already on the cards.
He said: “We are certainly not celebrating and we are determined to carry on a very strong fight.
“I would think that over the next few months they will put another application in.
“It will still be a huge industrial complex that is environmentally and visually totally unsuitable.
“This long drawn-out, tedious, and expensive process is thus set to continue.”
Cllr Dave Hibbert, cabinet member for the Environment and Regeneration, said: “We did not agree to the company’s request to postpone the June public inquiry because there was insufficient reason to delay the process and any changes to the scheme could have prejudiced the interests of the council and other parties at the inquiry.”
Head of Planning Services Geoff Willerton added: “We will have to wait and see whether E-ON walk away from Denshaw Moor or submit a further planning application.”
16 May 2007
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