A pressure group opposed to the development of windfarms in Cumbria claims the county is “under siege” from companies planning to build turbines on the upland landscape.
The Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery (FELLS) has sent a letter to councillors and MPs across Cumbria highlighting what it says is the increasing number of windfarm proposals across the county.
Enclosed with the letter is a map showing sites around the Lake District National Park with more than 30 windfarms at the scoping or planning stage, including the controversial sites near Shap and Berrier Hill near Greystoke.
The Government has set a target for the UK to generate 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. However, FELLS said the “unrealistic” renewable energy target for the county fails to take into account that more than half the area is protected by national park designation which means that extra pressure is put on areas such as the Eden Valley.
Chairman of FELLS Tim Kimber said: “Although a few might be deemed to be acceptable, many are sited in completely unsuitable areas. The letter asks councillors at all levels of government to continue to be bold and vigilant and to work to protect this unique county for the enjoyment of future generations.
“The regional authorities simply looked at land area and the wind profile of the county without making allowance for its unique nature.”
Kyle Blue, who was a member of the group opposed to the Whinash windfarm, which was rejected after a public inquiry in 2005, said: “The public inquiry highlighted the importance of the countryside to Cumbria and its economy. It is therefore essential that these intrusive developments are closely monitored and only sited where appropriate.”
In September, Cumbria County Council approved a Wind Energy Supplementary Planning document which sets out guidelines for future planning decisions for windfarms in the county and some feared it would be used as a hit list’ identifying potential sites for windfarm development.
However, cabinet member responsible for environmental wellbeing Coun Ian Stewart said that this was not the case.
“As an upland, rural county, Cumbria is a place where developers are already looking for opportunities to create windfarms and that is not going to go away. That is why we need to have robust, coherent guidance to help consider the complex planning issues on what is a controversial subject. It will help communities, planning authorities and wind energy developers,” said Coun Stewart.
7 December 2007
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