Campaigners who have spent three years fighting plans to build wind turbines near their homes at Westnewton, near Aspatria, have been left disappointed after a planning inspector ruled that they could be built.
Proposals put forward by Broadview Energy Ltd in 2008 for three 350ft wind turbines at Warwick Hall Farm were initially rejected by Allerdale council, but the firm appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.
Following a five-day public inquiry in December the inspectorate announced on Friday its decision to grant planning permission.
Residents formed the Westnewton Action group in 2007 to oppose the plans and voiced their concerns at the inquiry.
John Ryden, Westnewton Parish Council chairman, who is part of the action group, said: “We are disappointed and shocked at the decision.
“Just about every democratic group opposed them, including all the parish councils in the area, Aspatria Town Council, Allerdale and the county councils and their planning officers.
“We are only a small community and that is why they are picking on us.
“This will set a precedent for others who want to build wind farms in the area.”
Allerdale council received 1,850 letters of objection to the plans with only 316 letters of support.
Objections included concern about shadow flicker, noise, the effect on wildlife and the visual impact on the Solway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Lake District National Park.
The campaign was supported by Workington MP Tony Cunningham who spoke at the inquiry and said that more power had to be given to local residents to fight wind turbine developments.
Alan Keighley, a member of the action group who spoke at the inquiry, said he felt the inquiry had become a farce.
He added: “Frankly we are disgusted. I firmly believe through reading between the lines of the reports that the outcome had already been decided.
“We had an awful lot to say at the inquiry and had researched for the last few years and they took no notice of that.
“We put a hell of a lot of effort in for nothing.
“The impact on the village is going to be enormous. They will be a constant visual irritation.”
He added that the turbines would have an impact on home owners trying to sell their houses and would discourage people from moving to the village.
He said: “This is something that will open the flood gates. The bigger companies will have a foothold and plaster them all over Cumbria.”
Broadview Energy Ltd said the project was expected to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 3,500 households.
The firm intends to set up a community fund worth between £12,000 and £18,000 per year to support projects within the local community.
Tom Cosgrove, project manager at Broadview Energy, said: “We believe this to be a good project in a good location and we are glad that a government inspector has recognised this and granted planning permission.”
He added that construction would begin as soon as possible.
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