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Wind of disapproval as turbine appeal fails

A government planning inspector has thrown out an appeal to overturn Lichfield District Council’s refusal for a wind turbine at Curborough.

Severn Trent Water submitted the plan, claiming the turbine would provide enough “clean renewable energy” to power around 1,398 households a year, based on average annual UK consumption of 4,700KWh.

Councillors turned down an application for the turbine at Curborough Sewage Treatment Works in March 2010.

Severn Trent lodged an appeal but that has now been dismissed by The Planning Inspectorate.

“From my inspection of the site and surroundings and my consideration of all the representations, I find that there are three main issues in this appeal. They are the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the local landscape and the surrounding area; whether or not the development would cause harm to the significance of Lichfield Cathedral and its setting; and the effect of the development on the amenities of nearby residents,” the inspector said.

Severn Trent’s scheme involved a single turbine which would have stood 126.25m high from its base to the tip of the highest blade, with a blade diameter of up to 92.5m and a height of 80m from ground to hub.

The plan was of “typical modern design” with a tubular tower and a concrete base about 18m square.

It would have connected directly into a small electrical substation which is already at the works off Watery Lane.

The Planning Inspectorate found that, in terms of national and local policy, there was support in principle for the wind turbine.

But the inspector added: “Wind turbines such as this are prominent structures by their very nature.

“The question is whether the effect of the proposed turbine is such that the nature and appearance of the area would be so adversely affected that its particular characteristics would be harmed to an unacceptable degree.

“It is apparent from the inspection of the site and its surroundings and from an examination of the visual material that the turbine would be clearly visible from viewpoints close to the site.”

The inspector commented that Lichfield Cathedral is “quintessential” to the character and development of Lichfield: “Views are uninterrupted by landscape features such that the cathedral spires dominate the skyline and one’s eye is drawn to them.

“I find that to place this turbine in this location would reduce the visual impact of the spires when viewed from the south west and severely diminish the visual dominance of the cathedral over the surrounding area.

“This would be detrimental and harmful to the appearance and the character, and hence the significance, of the cathedral and its setting.”

The inspector’s report discusses how the turbine would affect the 26 properties located within 850m of the appeal site, with a particular impact on properties just 450m away.

“They have habitable rooms, including living rooms, which would have clear, uniterrupted views of the site across essentially open land. In these circumstances, because of the distance involved and the juxtaposition of the properties to the turbine, I conclude that this tall, rotating structure would be overwhelming, obtrusive and unavoidable to the residents of these properties such that their amenities would be unacceptably impaired.”

Ruling that the appeal should be dismissed, the inspector added: “In reaching this conclusion I have had regard to all other representations made, but none is sufficient to outweigh the considerations that I deem to be paramount.”

Lichfield District Council’s planning committee originally rejected the turbine as “domineering and overbearing” to views from local homes. It said the application would have a negative impact on the local landscape and would also spoil views of Lichfield Cathedral.