Controversial plans for 13 wind turbines on Claughton Moor were unanimously rejected by city councillors this week – but their opposition may count for little after Lancaster City Council missed a planning deadline.
Monday’s planning committee meeting was held after the 16-week national target for applications to be heard, giving developer Community Windpower Ltd the right to appeal for the decision to be made by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry.
It took up that option ahead of this week’s meeting, during which councillors nevertheless went through the motions of discussing the application for the 415ft high turbines.
Several residents living near the site raised concerns about the scheme, which includes a new access road and tracks leading to each turbine.
Anne Shaw, who runs a caravan park near Ingleton, said she feared it would have a negative impact on the region’s tourism trade.
John Hart labelled the plans “a disgraceful project”, saying the turbines would be taller than any cathedral in Britain.
Gillian Cropper, senior project manager at Community Windpower, said the scheme would help meet the area’s alternative energy targets.
She added that it would create local jobs and said the firm was offering £500,000 for community projects. But councillors voted unanimously against the scheme and their views will go to the planning inquiry.
Coun June Ashworth said: “The Lune Valley is a valuable asset to this district in terms of tourism and recreation. If such a scheme is allowed to proceed I think it would be a real shame for the area.
“We pride ourselves that we can provide a beautiful city, a beautiful coastline and a beautiful countryside – let us not spoil it for future generations.”
A city council spokesman said the delay in considering the application had been caused because the authority had given Community Windpower more time to address the concerns of statutory consultees. She added that satisfactory responses had not been forthcoming and that the appeal had been lodged after a date had been set for the planning committee to consider the application.
The application follows a larger plan for 20 turbines, which was rejected in March 2010.