January 11, 2011

Ten day public inquiry set into plans to expand wind turbine farms in Fenland

Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter, Cambs Times, www.cambstimes.co.uk 11 January 2011

A 10-day public inquiry is to be held into Fenland District Council’s refusal to allow two new wind farms.

The inquiry will consider appeals against the decision to block nine turbines at Floods Ferry, near March, and three turbines near Whittlesey.

The public inquiry will be held at The Boat House, in Wisbech, starting on February 2 at 10am.

Both applications – scaled back from 15 to nine and from five to three respectively – were refused by Fenland Council’s planning committee in December 2009.

Ironically it was the last planning committee to be chaired by Councillor Martin Curtis who has since spoken out against more turbines for the Fens.

“There are many of us who feel that Fenland has more than done its bit as far as wind turbines go,” he said last summer.

“It is important people make their voices heard.”

Cllr Curtis, a town, district and county councillor for Whittlesey, added that unlike previous wind farm applications “Fenland now has quite a robust policy in place which provides a basis to resist where previously it was difficult.

“The question is, if the planning inspectorate overturns a local decision to refuse, what next? There would be the potential to challenge the decision in the High Court.”

The Whittlesey Application:

SCOTTISH Power Renewables want to build three turbines on land north of Burnthouse Farm in Turves, near Whittlesey.

But councillors felt that residents would be “adversely affected with regard to the visual outlook due to the close proximity of the wind farm”.

Among those to object was Whittlesey Town Council, which felt there was an “over intensification of wind farms”, and 14 residents who were concerned about noise devaluing of their properties, damage to existing highway and impact on television reception.

The Floods Ferry Application:

AT Floods Ferry near March, the planning committee rejected nine turbines.

The council felt that the proposal would, in visual terms, “result in a harmful material change”.

A host of objections included that of March Town Council, which felt that “too many wind turbines already exist within Fenland”.

Whittlesey Town Council and Doddington Parish Council also objected, as well as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which claimed there would be an impact on bird life, especially Whooper Swans.

Questionnaire responses revealed that although 62% of people felt that Cambridgeshire was suitable for on-shore wind generation, 43% of people thought that wind farms were unattractive. A public exhibition was also held, with around 100 people attending.

What the Ministry of Defence said:

THE MoD sent objections to oppose both proposals, expressing concerns over possible interference with the radars of nearby RAF bases.

The objection claimed that the turbines would “cause unacceptable interference” to the surveillance radars at RAF Cottesmore and RAF Lakenheath as well as the radar at Cambridge Airport.

It would also harm operations at RAF Wittering and RAF Mildenhall.

The MoD report said that the wind turbines would be in the line of sight of these radars and could “mask the presence of genuine aircraft returns”. It claimed that there would be “implications for air safety in the area generally”.

As it stands in Fenland:

THERE are 35 wind turbines currently standing in Fenland, which have the power to provide enough electricity for 40,000 homes.

A further seven turbines have been approved for Coldham and one turbine has also been granted permission, on appeal, for Longhill, March.

Planning permission for seven wind turbines at Grange Farm, Tydd St Mary Marsh, has also been granted on appeal, subject to certain conditions.

In the inspector’s report on this development, published last August, Richard Thomas, said: “Concern was raised by interested parties of the potentially harmful impact that the proposed development might have on local property prices.

“However, the planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another, and these objections do not override my conclusions on the main issue.”

The 35 already established are at:

1 x Longhill March (annual capacity 1,118 homes)

8 x Glassmoor, Whittlesey (annual capacity 8,946 homes)

5 x Ransonmoor, Doddington (annual capacity 5,592 homes)

9 x Stag’s Holt, Elm (annual capacity 10,065 homes)

8 x Coldham, Elm (annual capacity 7,828 homes)

3 x McCain’s, Whittlesey (annual capacity 5,032 homes)

1 x Abbey Produce, Whittlesey (annual capacity 1,006 homes)

Treading Bank Wind Farm Application:

MORE than 100 people attended a Gorefield meeting of FenRATS (Fenland Residents Against Turbines) in November.

Not a single person was found to be in favour of an application to build a six-turbine wind farm at Treading Bank, between Gorefield and Sutton St Edmond. Of 300 questionnaires returned to FenRATS, only two voted in favour of the development.

County Councillor Steve Tierney, who spoke at the meeting, said: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the majority of people in and around my division who have expressed an interest are saying, quite clearly, ‘No Thanks’. It’s not even close. It’s a landslide.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/01/11/ten-day-public-inquiry-set-into-plans-to-expand-wind-turbine-farms-in-fenland/