February 23, 2011

Inspector goes against council with go-ahead for wind power

Yorkshire Post, www.yorkshirepost.co.uk 23 February 2011

A planning inspector has overruled a Yorkshire council and given the go-ahead for wind turbines on top of a Pennine moor.

Residents and Kirklees Council planners opposed proposals for two turbines on land next to Upper Prospect at Nettleton Hill, Golcar, Huddersfield.

The council had decided the plans were inappropriate in the Green Belt and would have a detrimental effect on the setting of listed buildings.

Council planners said the proposals would also have an effect on residents through the potential for noise and disturbance, as well as possible damage to biodiversity. In conclusion, the council ruled the plans did not pass the “special circumstances” test needed for any development proposed in the Green Belt.

Now planning inspector Paul Griffiths, of the Planning Inspectorate, has overruled the council and granted permission for the two turbines, which will be about 80ft tall.

In a report, Mr Griffiths said he accepted the turbines would be taller than buildings and associated features in Nettleton Hill. But he claimed the wider area is “punctuated by tall communications masts” and “in that context, as objects with a broadly similar functional derivation, the turbines proposed would not appear as wholly incongruous elements in the landscape”.

The report added: “Finally, as objects in their own right, wind turbines can, if properly designed, attain a degree of intrinsic elegance.

“On top of that, the coloured finish, if carefully chosen, can give them a recessive quality.

“The details on (the) drawing…are somewhat sketchy and no indication is given of a coloured finish. However, these matters can be addressed through a condition.”

Mr Griffiths said the council’s own Unitary Development Plan allowed wind turbines provided that they did not seriously harm the character of the Green Belt.

Any harm to the character and appearance of the countryside would be reduced by several factors, including the fact that the settlement of Nettleton Hill has no distinct boundary and so the turbines would not look like isolated elements in the landscape.

The council argued that the turbines would have a negative impact on the area’s heritage, in particular listed buildings in Nettleton Hill.

“The council raises particular concern about ‘Ryecroft’, listed Grade II,” said the inspector’s report.

“Ryecroft is a dwelling, of vernacular derivation.

“It does not sit in isolation and is evidently an historic part of the settlement of Nettleton Hill. Its setting is therefore limited to its curtilage and the area of the settlement immediately around it.

“The turbines would be located a significant distance away, to the north of the settlement, and set at a much higher level. They would not impinge on any significant view of Ryecroft in its context.”

The inspector said the turbines would not have a significant impact on residents through noise and disturbance.

The distance between homes and the turbines meant that the latter would not appear dominant or overbearing.

He concluded that the proposal would secure very significant benefits through the generation of electricity from a renewable source.

“The council and others question the proposal on the basis that the renewable energy it would produce is significantly greater than that required to serve Upper Prospect.

“However, that rather missed the point because the surplus produced would be fed back into the National Grid.

“Far from diminishing it, this magnifies the benefit of the proposal.”

Local councillor Nicola Turner said she was surprised the inspector had overruled the council.

She added: “This is very disappointing for residents. There was a lot of opposition.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/02/23/inspector-goes-against-council-with-go-ahead-for-wind-power/