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Cumbria council leader attacks ‘bizarre’ wind farm decisions

Cumbria County Council leader Eddie Martin has criticised the planning process which ignored public opinion about building wind farms in Westnewton and Tallentire.

In a letter to the Minister of Decentralisation Greg Clark, Coun Martin said the planning process was “bizarre and undemocratic.”

The Dearham councillor wrote the letter after the Planning Inspectorate approved plans for turbines near both villages after appeals, despite overwhelming public objections.

Coun Martin said: “These two applications elicited thousands of public objections followed by two public inquiries which cost Allerdale Borough Council £52,000.”

He said that compelling arguments against both wind farms had been given by many highly qualified people, but the inspector had dismissed them.

“His judgement is simply not convincing,” he added.

Coun Martin said it was bizarre and undemocratic that applicants could appeal against planning decisions but that people who would be affected for years to come could not.

He added: “The only recourse for these villages is the High Court and a judicial review and only then on administrative matters and at a high cost.”

Coun Martin said that four years ago the county council had passed a cross-party resolution calling on the Government to halt the influx of wind farms in Cumbria because of concern over their impact on the countryside and tourism.

He said the current government was talking about giving more freedom, choice and local control to communities, but this was not happening in relation to wind farms.