A new wind farm development on land near Penistone could move a step closer if councillors approve an application to install a mast there to monitor air conditions over the next two years.
Barnsley Council has not received any planning application for a new wind farm, but was approached with a “scoping report”, normally a precursor to that process, over a year ago.
The legal situation is complex, because it must consider the application to install the temporary mast on its own merits even though it may be linked to a future planning application.
Planning councillors are being advised to accept the scheme, even though the site is on green belt land, because under rules which govern such areas it is deemed acceptable.
The slim 50 metres-tall mast would not, in the opinion of planning officers, cause a significant visual impairment.
There is also a clause in the green belt rules that allows normal restrictions to be overridden if there are special circumstances and the generation of renewable power is considered an important consideration.
There has been one letter of objection to the scheme, raising the issue that the location, off Whitley Road at Blackstone Edge, Crowedge, is an area of outstanding natural beauty and three councillors have lodged objections.
A report to planning councillors, who will meet next week, states that research has already been conducted to establish wind speeds in the area.
The application is for an anemometer, which carries various devices for measuring wind characteristics. That information would help determine the most appropriate type of turbines for the conditions there, should any future development proceed.
Although council officials are recommending that councillors approve the application, they stress the decision would not set a precedent for any future development, which would have to be decided should a planning application be submitted.
Two “scoping reports” have been submitted to the council by energy firm E.ON for sites in the area, but council officials have already established a policy for their preferred form of any future development, which would be for one scheme.
That would involve decommissioning the existing wind farm at Royd Moor, which a report to coun-cillors states is becoming inefficient compared to new turbines.
The report states: “The outcome of this application, if favourable, by no means sets precedence for future development on the site. This application should be assessed on its own merits.
“The department has received scoping reports in respect of two wind farm proposals on the Royd Moor ridge.
“The first report was submitted on behalf of E.ON who are owners (in a joint venture) of the Royd Moor wind farm. This proposal was in respect of three turbines (100m to blade tip), on a site beyond Royd Moor known as Blackstone Edge.
“The second was submitted on behalf of a local landowner for six wind turbines (up to 80m to blade tip) based on land at Spicer House Farm off Browns Edge Road.
“Officers have expressed strongly and without prejudice that any further wind farm development on the Royd Moor ridge should comprise a single scheme of identical turbines that includes the decommissioning of Royd Moor wind farm. This would help prevent an uncoordinated proliferation of turbines on this ridge and the consequen-tial impact on the landscape.
“If two separate wind farm schemes – with different turbine heights and design – were submitted contrary to advice then they would have to be considered on their merits.”
By Paul Whitehouse
4 January 2008
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