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"We must apologise to the residents…"  

Apologies to the villagers living in the shadow of Lincolnshire’s biggest wind farm park have been made by councillors.

Residents in Conisholme deserved an apology, members of East Lindsey District Council said, after mistakes made by the planning department.

That was the verdict of an extraordinary council meeting, when councillors agreed to have an investigation by the District Auditor.

It followed a review by a firm of lawyers, Pinsent Mason, who highlighted a catalogue of procedural mistakes by planning officers.

The main one was that they had failed to notify planning councillors of a landscape assessment in their deliberations over an application by energy firm Ecotricity to build 20 89m-high wind turbines on Fen lane, Conisholme.

As reported, work began last month to erect the turbines.

ELDC chief executive Nigel Howells admitted there had been errors made by planning officers.

But he added there had been no improper conduct and new guidelines and an action plan will be drawn up to prevent a repeat.

A number of senior officers in the planning department had resigned since the planning applications were assessed.

The report by the firm of lawyers cost taxpayers £30,000, it was revealed.

Coun Robert Palmer (North Somercotes, Cons) called for a halt on construction work until the District Auditor had concluded his findings.

He said: “They are monuments to a giant cock-up.”

ELDC officials said halting work was not permitted under planning law.

Labour Group leader Coun Gary Ellis (Skegness) said: “We must apologise to the residents of Conisholme. It must never happen again.”

Former ELDC leader Coun Jeremy Webb (Alford, Indp) said: “We have let the public down.”

Ecotricity’s application was first rejected by planners in 2004, but in a dramatic turnaround a year later their application was approved on condition there was no objection from the National Air Traffic Services Body, which they did.

The turbines are due to begin generating in spring next year.

Grimsby Telegraph

21 December 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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