A beauty spot in one of England’s most scenic regions faces being ruined for ever after a Government official ignored the concerns of thousands of people and gave the go-ahead to a wind farm.
Despite more than 2,000 letters of protest from residents and opposition from councils and politicians, permission has been given for the building of six 100ft turbines on the edge of Wordsworth country, destroying sweeping views across Cumbria that stretch as far as Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Last September Allerdale Borough Council refused planning permission for the wind farm at Tallentire Hill in the Lake District. Last week, however, a Whitehall inspector ruled that the scheme should go ahead after hearing an appeal by the developer late last year.
The wind farm is the latest addition to the “ring of steel” campaigners claim is encircling the Lake District as the Government pushes for more green energy sources, despite experts calling into question the effectiveness of wind power.
Workington MP Tony Cunningham said: “There was always a balance between creating energy and the detrimental impact on the environment and tourism and that balance has long gone.
“By sticking a small number of turbines in a field to generate little and to blight the area is nonsense.”
Figures show that more than 50 wind farms are currently operational in Cumbria, north Lancashire and North Yorkshire or involved in planning applications or public inquiries. Only a handful have been turned down with more applications certain to follow.
The company behind this latest scheme, Renewable Energy Solutions, first submitted its plans in February 2008 but it lodged its appeal in July 2010, two months before Allerdale council’s development panel refused the plans because of the effect on the landscape.
The council threw out the scheme but a three-day planning appeal was held in November where locals clashed with company representatives.
Now planning inspector George Baird has given the scheme the go-ahead. In a 34-page report he said the turbines “would not appear unacceptably dominant or overbearing” and they would not have an unacceptable impact on neighbours’ living conditions.
Among residents’ biggest fears are a decline in tourism, which is worth £1billion a year to the region, and a drop in house prices.
A spokesman for the Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery, which was formed to fight the development, said: “We are not opposing wind turbines everywhere. In a more industrial scene, or offshore, they can be acceptable, but they are quite unacceptable in our beautiful countryside so they must be stopped.
“The Government has set planning policy guidelines for local authorities. These recognise wind turbines can have a major damaging visual impac, but in Lancashire and Cumbria the authorities have too often undervalued this consideration and been over-persuaded by the flawed arguments of developers, who stress the claimed benefits of wind turbines and ignore their defects.”
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