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North Cumbria windfarm applications fall as public opposition grows  

Credit:  By Julian Whittle, News & Star, www.newsandstar.co.uk 2 November 2010 ~~

The company behind plans for a windfarm at Cumwhinton, near Carlisle, has yet to decide if it will table fresh plans after its original scheme was thrown out.

Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that wind energy companies are being discouraged by the strength of opposition to onshore wind farms.

Carlisle City Council dealt with just two planning applications for wind turbines in the year to March, down from seven the year before.

The 2008 applications included controversial proposals for three turbines at Newlands Farm, Cumwhinton.

Councillors turned down the scheme, arguing it would be “seriously detrimental” to the landscape.

Bolsterstone Innovative Energy appealed triggering a public inquiry last autumn.

Planning inspector Paul Griffiths upheld the council’s decision to refuse the turbines but allowed Bolsterstone to put up a wind-monitoring mast, so leaving the door open to a future application.

A spokeswoman for Bolsterstone said that “no decision” had been made on whether to proceed with the mast or submit another planning application.

Nationally, there has been a 50 per cent drop in planning approvals for wind farms and a 30 per cent fall in the number of new wind farms coming on stream, partly because of the recession.

Changes to planning laws due to be announced later this year will give more powers to local councils and make it harder still for wind-farm developers to get planning consent.

Bolsterstone’s barrister at the public inquiry, Vincent Fraser QC, argued that the Cumwhinton turbines should be allowed to help Cumbria meet targets for wind energy set out in the North West regional spatial strategy.

He said: “The target for Cumbria is to have 13 to 18 onshore windfarms with an installed capacity of 210 megawatts by 2010, rising to 15 to 21 windfarms and 247.5 megawatts by 2015.

“Installed capacity last year [2008] was 88MW. It is important to remember that these are minimum targets. It is a matter of great concern that, at both a national and local level, these targets are not being met.”

However, one of the first acts of the incoming coalition government was to scrap the regional spatial strategy, so weakening the wind-energy lobby’s case.

Not all wind-energy developers have given up. West Coast Energy recently appealed against Allerdale council’s decision in July to refuse test masts at Carwath Farm, Rosley. Councillors said the masts would be an eyesore and guy wires a hazard to protected barn owls.

A 33ft mast that Carwath Farm Wind Energy, a subsidiary of West Coast, put up last October without planning consent was also refused permission.

Source:  By Julian Whittle, News & Star, www.newsandstar.co.uk 2 November 2010

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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