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Wind farm plan set for public hearing but full inquiry remains ultimate aim  

Credit:  Retford Times, www.thisisretford.co.uk 31 March 2011 ~~

Pressure from protesters and the area’s MP has led to a public hearing into wind farm proposals for a site near Cottam.

But opponents of the plans, currently under appeal after refusal, are still pressing for a full public inquiry into the proposed development of 12 wind turbines up to 145m tall.

Parish councils in South Leverton, North Leverton, Treswell and Cottam had created the Association of Trentside Parish Councils following concern about the proposal.

Now a public hearing into the application, which went to appeal following its rejection last year, has been confirmed by the Planning Inspectorate – though no details of time and location were confirmed at time of going to press.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann, who had written to monitoring body the Planning Inspectorate requesting a hearing, said the decision was a breakthrough, and criticised Bassetlaw Council’s earlier decision not to request an inquiry.

He said: “Wind farms are very controversial and people need to have their say..

“It was a shocking decision by Bassetlaw Council not to have a public inquiry. Clearly, the decision was something to do with money not to have one.

“This is rather a crucial breakthrough because it allows local people who have a strong view against it – and people in favour of it – to have their say.

“It was wrong of Bassetlaw Council to do it on the cheap.”

Bassetlaw Council’s head of community prosperity David Armiger denied the decision against pursuing an inquiry was motivated by cost.

He said: “We were responding to the indication from the Planning Inspectorate that the appeal would be dealt with by written representations.

“It is principally for the appellant and the Inspectorate to determine the best way to deal with an appeal.

“The approach was agreed with members and while cost is always a factor, it was not the principal reason for agreeing to the original request.”

Following the appeal by developer Prowind against Bassetlaw Council’s decision last year to reject the proposals, it was announced the appeal would be dealt with by an exchange of letters with the Planning Inspectorate.

This attracted criticism from the group and Mr Mann, who both warned residents’ views would not be heard by the process.

But South Leverton Parish Council chairman said the hearing was still insufficient and said the Association of Trentside Parish Councils, of which South Leverton is a member, would continue to push for an inquiry.

He said: “We don’t want this hearing because it doesn’t give enough time to allow enough members of the public to speak. We want a public inquiry – this is not good enough.”

To help understand the hearing process, Councillor Muir will be attending an informal hearing relating to an unauthorised change of use of land near Treswell to witness the process in action.

Mr Mann will be holding a public meeting on the issue of wind farms at Sturton Le Steeple Village Hall on Thursday April 14 at 7pm.

The meeting will cover the application for Cottam, as well as projects planned for the Wheatley and Beckingham areas.

Source:  Retford Times, www.thisisretford.co.uk 31 March 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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