May 13, 2011

Lambs Hill Action Group wind farm fight will continue

by Lindsey Mussett, Evening Gazette, 13 May 2011

Residents say they are determined to halt the spread of wind farms after a scheme they contested won Government approval.

People living in areas surrounding the proposed Lambs Hill wind farm west of Stillington, near Stockton, had a planning application for the site placed on hold while a decision was made over whether the Government would “call it in”.

But the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has now decided the application will not be referred to Secretary of State for communities and local government Eric Pickles.

And that means developer Banks Renewables can now move ahead with the project.

The four-turbine wind farm was initially given planning permission by Stockton Council’s planning committee in March.

That prompted residents to form the Lambs Hill Action Group, which fought the scheme. And a spokesman said today: “We will continue with our questioning of the siting of this and other windfarms in our locality. We now see that this is a bigger issue than just Lambs Hill – this is becoming a regional problem, with wind farm after wind farm being proposed and speedily approved throughout the area.”

The spokesman said all local councils now need to work together to prevent a proliferation of the farms in the region.

But Banks Renewables welcomed the decision to allow its proposal to go ahead.

Development director Phil Dyke said the Lambs Hill scheme “gathered a lot of support” from the local community during a public consultation.

He noted the application was recommended for approval by council officers and supported by a planning committee – and said that showed the authority’s “commitment to generating renewable energy at a local scale”.

“We are very happy that DCLG has decided that there is no need for any further review of our planning application and that we will now be able to take this project forward,” added Mr Dyke. The firm would continue to work with local communities, he said, and would also continue discussions with all relevant parties on how the benefit fund associated with this scheme can best be allocated.

Work is expected to start on site by May 2012.

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