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Go-ahead for wind farm substation

Campaigners hoping to stop a wind farm substation being built in their village have all but conceded defeat following government approval of the scheme.

The development is part of the £1.5bn London Array project, for 341 turbines in the sea between Kent and Essex.

Swale Borough Council had refused planning permission for the substation, at Cleve Hill, in Graveney, north Kent.

But the wind farm developer appealed and the government has now supported a planning inspector’s recommendation.

David Jeffrey, from the Graveney Rural Environment Action Team, said: “There is probably very little manoeuvre in taking the fight any further, but we are waiting to hear from our solicitor.

“The only reason that we could continue is if there was a legal reason in the planning process.”

The campaigners have always said Cleve Hill, in a designated Special Landscape Area, was an unsuitable location for the onshore electricity substation because of potential environmental and congestion problems.

Swale council’s original refusal in June 2006 was based on it being a “bog-standard substation in a protected landscape for what’s supposed to be a beacon of renewable energy for the future”.

Planning officer Graham Thomas added: “We didn’t oppose the principle of the substation, we’re fully behind renewable energy and indeed the project as a whole, but we felt they’d come up with a very crude proposal.”

Mr Thomas said London Array had been asked to come up with new designs which successfully went through a public inquiry.

A statement from the developers said the government decision for the onshore substation was a “major milestone” for the scheme.

The wind farm’s turbines will cover a 90 sq-mile (232 sq-km) area between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex.

BBC News

30 August 2007