Fighting a proposed wind farm has cost taxpayers nearly £100,000 – sparking fears that future appeals could pass unchallenged.
A planning inspector is yet to rule on Enertrag’s bid to erect eight turbines between Linton and Great Chesterford, having sat for three weeks in February and several days earlier this month.
A meeting of South Cambridgeshire District Council heard the battle was expected to cost the authority £75,000 in legal fees, and the equivalent of £20,000 in officer time.
That bill could spiral if other parties’ bids for their outlays to be reimbursed are successful.
Cllr John Batchelor, who represents Linton, said he was worried about the “hugely expensive” exercise, which involved seven legal teams, expert witnesses and two inspectors.
He told planning boss Cllr Nick Wright: “This is typical of the appeals process, and my concern is whether we will be in a position to defend decisions made by the council when there are maybe three or four going on at the same time.
“I ask you appreciate that situation and take measures to ensure other villages are as well defended as Linton was.”
Cllr Wright said applicants had a right to appeal against decisions but said some of the blame must lie with Enertrag.
He said: “The Linton wind farm was a complex application and the council had reasonably asked for further information on several matters.
“This information was not provided and yet the developer chose to appeal on the grounds of non-determination of the application.
“As a result a number of issues remain unresolved and this led to the inquiry having to address several issues involving extended input not just from the council but from other main parties too.”
Cllr Wright said the council had applied for costs against Enertrag on the grounds it had failed to address the issue of aircraft safety, but said no decision on this – or the planning application – is expected until November at the earliest.
He said: “At present the plans are to defend each decision taken by this council to the best of our ability.”
Fighting an appeal in 2006 over 15 turbines proposed for land between Boxworth and Conington cost the council £125,000 and more applications are “in the offing”, he added.
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