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Rejection faces written test  

Credit:  Retford Times, www.thisisretford.co.uk 24 February 2011 ~~

Rejected plans for a large wind farm development in Cottam could yet be approved as the developers appeal.

An application for 12 wind turbines, each up to 145m high, on land near Cottam and South Leverton was unanimously rejected in July by Bassetlaw Council’s planning committee.

Developer ProWind has now lodged an appeal despite the original plan coming under fire for the number of turbines, their impact on residential developments and the sheer scale of the project, which one planning committee member said would “spoil the countryside”.

When the planning committee unanimously rejected the proposals last year, Rampton councillor Jeff Rickells echoed the sentiments of fellow councillors when he expressed concern over the visual impact of the plans.

“These wind turbines are going to be 145m high and there’s 12 of them,” he said at the decisive meeting.

“It would provide no local employment. Although large upon the landscape, Cottam and West Burton provide much employment.

“The residents do not want it and another bit of our countryside would be spoiled.”

The application is now out of the hands of the district council and will instead be handled by the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales, a national body responsible for the deciding of appeals and other planning matters.

Although the district council rejected the plans at committee, it has agreed for the appeal to be dealt with through an exchange of letters, rather than requesting a full inquiry.

The exchange of letters means anyone who made a representation on the original plans is given the chance to send correspondence detailing their views to the Planning Inspectorate as it handles the appeal.

Residents who had formally written to, or spoken in front of, the district council during the initial handling of the application learnt of the appeal when they were invited to write to the Inspectorate with their views.

This week, clerk to the Association Of Trent Side Parish Councils Dave Langmead wrote to the Planning Inspectorate outlining the group’s arguments against the proposal, and requesting a full planning inquiry

Mr Langmead said it was “imperative” residents had a say.

“It’s just strange it’s going to be dealt with on the basis of written representation, despite the fact Bassetlaw Council had refused it,” he said.

“The local population are clearly against it. To not allow them to have a say is unforgivable.

“With all that’s going on with the national Government and decisions being made at a local level, it’s absolutely imperative we have the decision made locally in our view.”

Mr Langmead was supported by South Leverton chairman Gordon Muir, who said the district council should have been prepared to challenge the appeal by requesting an inquiry.

“Bassetlaw Council ought to make provision for a number of appeals,” he said.

“A lot of people aren’t aware it’s going to be dealt with in an exchange of letters.

“To deal with it through an exchange of letters means the public is effectively excluded.

“The first people are going to know about it is when the inspector’s report comes out.”

A spokesman for Bassetlaw Council said the authority had followed the lead of the Planning Inspectorate when asked to conduct the appeal by written representation, but added cost had been one of several contributing factors in the decision not to request an inquiry.

“Ultimately, that decision is down to the Planning Inspectorate,” he said.

“Our planning committee thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to do it by written representation, and we did consult with the planning consultation group.”

He added that letters notifying residents of the appeal and their chance for representation had been sent out as early as possible.

“The six weeks start when the Planning Inspectorate post the letter to us,” he said.

“If we don’t get it for ten days, that’s ten days lost. As soon as we get that letter, we fill in the questionnaire and it goes back to the Planning Inspectorate.”

Source:  Retford Times, www.thisisretford.co.uk 24 February 2011

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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