Rochdale council could face significant legal costs if it moves to block the construction of a windfarm on the hills above Watergrove reservoir.
That was the stark warning given to Rochdale Township planning sub-committee this week by a senior planning officer.
London-based Coronation Power, formerly the British Wind Energy Association, is looking to revise the access used to build Crook Hill wind farm, which will constitute 12, 125m high wind turbines, seven in Rochdale and the remaining five over the Calderdale border.
The plans were opposed by Rochdale council in 2008 but approved on appeal to the Secretary of State the following year.
Rochdale and Pennines planning sub-committees met this week to discuss two new applications, one revising the existing approved access from Calderbrook and the other suggesting a new access route via Shawforth in Rossendale.
At the Rochdale meeting, Coun Tom Bailey asked if the council would face legal costs if the applications were refused.
He was told it would, and they would probably be ‘substantial’.
After long discussions, both planning sub-committees voted to recommend approval of the applications. They now to go to the regulatory committee for a final decision.
The revised Calderbrook application makes alterations to the existing planned access route and the developer claims the changes would make a better ‘topographical fit’.
The alterations involve the routes and alignment of tracks used to reach the turbines, from the existing approved access point of Higher Calderbrook Road.
But it is opposed by the Friends of the South Pennines, who say the revised route would cause devastation to the moorland and fails to address their existing concerns about the construction of the windfarm itself.
The Shawforth application is opposed by local residents, who are worried about how close the large vehicles involved would come to their homes.
If it is approved, the access via Calderbrook would not be required.
Rossendale council is also being consulted.
Coun David Barnes, Whitworth’s deputy mayor, told the Rochdale meeting: “Such a route would destroy the environmental infrastructure of the whole area.”
The regulatory committee will decide on the plans on June 23.
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