March 9, 2011

Berkeley Vale wind farm decision delayed again

By Claire Marshall, Gazette, 9 March 2011

Councillors are concerned by the ‘avalanche’ of criticism they have received about the local authority’s planning department from campaigners fighting against a wind farm application.

The decision on the application for four wind turbines near Stinchcombe was deferred again this week, due to the absence of two senior planning officials from the meeting of the development control committee at Stroud District Council on Tuesday.

However at the meeting the members took the opportunity to point out that they had been bombarded with comments from local residents claiming that the officer’s report into the wind farm application was inadequate.

The councillors also said they felt they had been given insufficient evidence or facts – in a readable format – to help inform their decision.

Cllr Dennis Andrewartha, (Cam West), said: “I think every member is concerned by the avalanche of criticism of this report we are getting from residents in Stinchcombe and across the district “It is becoming intolerable for members to come to a decision with the findings that are placed before us in the report.”

He said he found some of the wind speed data to be like reading ‘gobbledegoop’ and that it needed changing into a digestible format.

Cllr Graham Trave, (Uley and Coaley), called for the report to be completely re-written and in particular to include more detail about current government policy on wind farms.

“I think there is now time for the whole officer report to be re-written.”

He said he believed they were leaving themselves ‘wide open’ to legal challenges without better facts.

He added: “We have a duty of care to get this decision right.”

Head of planning Phil Skill said the report would be re-written to incorporate all the areas of concern brought up by councillors, but large parts that were currently accurate would remain the same.

The application by green-energy firm Ecotricity is for four 120 metre high turbines on farmland Stinchcombe and the M5.

It is likely a decision will now be made at a meeting in April, however a date has not yet been set.

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